In recent years, there has been a lot of discussion about cell phone radiation and its impact on our bodies. A study recently released by The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) spurred the debate even further when it investigated the role that cell phones have on our brain activity. While the report didn’t decisively link health detriments to cell phone usage, the ongoing questions have certainly made it easy for us to question what the long-term effects really are. And with the way in which technology is being adopted by our kids at younger ages than ever before, it’s even more important to investigate if cell phone usage is a health hazard.
Dr. Ann Louise Gittleman, New York Times best-selling author of The Fat Flush Plan and Zapped: Why Your Cell Phone Shouldn’t Be Your Alarm Clock and 1,268 Ways to Outsmart the Hazards of Electromagnetic Pollution recently answered some questions on how real this danger is and what we can do to minimize any damage to our developing kids' bodies.
With the sheer amount that kids/teens are credited as using their cell phones, how much of a risk is radiation for them?
Time will only tell. When we do have definitive data, it will be too late to have prevented the long term biological effects of the microwave radiation - like brain metabolism changes, activation of heat shock proteins, and DNA damage - emitted from cell phones. Children and teenagers are five times more apt to get a particular kind of brain cancer known as glioma if they use mobile phones before 20 years of age, according to noted Swedish oncologist, Lennart Hardell, MD. His research was especially revealing because it showed that risks were elevated depending upon the hours of usage, intensity of the power, and the age of the child.
Today's children will be chronically exposed to cell phone radiation for many decades longer than adults who first started using cell phones in their thirties or forties. Today, an estimated 31 million kids - 10.5 million of them pre-teens - are on their cell phones on average 3.75 hours a day. That's a lot of close exposure to microwave radiation. Holding a cell phone near your head is like holding a low-powered microwave oven close to your brain.
What about toddlers and cell phone usage? Is it only a danger to them if they are speaking on the phone, or are they exposed by simply being near the phones?
To put your question in perspective, let's put it this way: In Russia, scientists and government official have advised that anyone under the age of 18 should not use a cell phone. In France, there's a ban against marketing mobile phones to young children. There are studies suggesting that in addition to brain tumors, children's cell phone use could result in hearing loss (if they use it an hour a day or more) and the death of the auditory nerve cells. One Indian study found that cell phone users who were on the phone for sixty minutes a day over four years experienced damage to the DNA in roughly 40 percent of their cells. A cell phone can emit microwave radiation from the antenna within six inches of the body so the farther away you keep your phone from your toddler, the better.
By the way, having a digital cordless phone is considered to be more of a health risk than cell phones. Swedish researchers warn that cordless phones are much more likely to cause brain tumors than cell phones. The digital cordless phones are constantly emitting microwaves at full strength from the charger - even when you are not making a call - and when the handset is off the charger. So, do be extremely ware of those DECT digital cordless phones in the bedroom, especially.
I read that because young kids' brains are developing, cell phones are especially risky for them. How much of this claim is valid?
Children are always the most vulnerable victims of electropollution. The pioneering studies conducted by Om. P. Gandhi of the University of Utah demonstrated that when it comes to electromagnetic fields, children’s thinner skulls and bones allow them to absorb twice the amount of radiation as grownups. Radiation can more deeply penetrate their brain tissue which is more conductive than an adult’s because it contains a higher concentration of fluids and ions. One study found that a cell phone call lasting only two minutes causes brain hyperactivity that persists for an hour in children.
When/how do cell phones emit radiation?
Cell phones function in the electromagnetic spectrum assigned to radio waves. The frequency of the cell phone carrier wave is lower than that of the microwave oven or a wireless Internet connection and lower than radar or satellite stations. But it is not the intensity of the power that is the problem, it is the pulsating signal that impacts the body. Cell phones emit microwave radiation from their antennas, the majority of which are now embedded in their phones. The most intense field is within the 7-inch diameter range around the antenna while the field itself can be measured about a foot from the antenna.
How can we limit cell phone radiation for ourselves and our kids?
Limit the frequency and length of calls to about two minutes max.
Let your fingers do the talking with texting instead.
If you cannot use the speaker mode, than consider an air tube headset which is non-conductive.
Avoid making calls in cars, elevators, trains, and buses. The cell phone works harder to get a signal out through metal, so the power level increases. Any metal container like the car or elevator will also cause the waves to bounce around boosting their intensity.
Keep an eye out of the bars. Don't use your cell phone when the signal is weak or when you are traveling at higher speeds in a car or train; this automatically boosts the power to maximum as the phone attempts to connect to a new relay antenna.
How is cell phone radiation measured?
Cell phone radiation is measures in the microwave band of radio frequency radiation. It can be measured in your home by an electromagnetic specialist. I have used consultants from buildingbiology.net for this purpose.
What are some of the electronic 'Feng Shui' tips you recommend?
Room by room you can practice what I call "electronic feng shui by moving furniture and appliances to help create a safer EMF environment.
In the bedroom, clean up your bedroom - not the clutter, the electronics. Since you will be spending nearly a third of your life here, it’s the most important to zap-proof. Remove or unplug all TVs, radios, digital alarm clocks, cordless phones, cell phones, and electric blankets. Some very sensitive individuals turn off the power to their bedrooms at night. For baby’s room: move the baby monitor. Baby monitors emit high magnetic fields, but if you’ve reduced your (and your baby’s exposure) in other ways, it may be worth keeping, if just for your peace of mind. Make sure to keep it at least six feet from crib and bed. Wired, of course, is preferable to wireless. Position the child’s bed/crib as far away as possible from water pipes, appliances, computers, garage door openers, black box transformers, and fluorescent lights.
In the kitchen, inspect the microwave. If it is an older model or has been used whereby the seals and door can become loose, you will need a qualified service person to inspect and repair the leaks. Better yet, use a toaster oven to reheat foods and go back to an electric or gas stove.
In your bathroom, go manual with the razor. The magnetic fields around electric levels produce a very large field a mere six inches away. Even hair dryers are suspect. They pack a powerful EMF wallop to the tune of 25 mG field around the motor and even around your hand and head. EMFs can be biologically harmful at much lower level like 1 mG and below.
In your living room, great room, family room, invest in power strips. A power strip will allow you to shut off all of your electronics so they are generating an AC magnetic field. Think about replacing your plasma TV with LCD screens.
In the home office or den, don't cradle your laptop and get back to corded phones. Get wired wherever possible to lessen the wireless load.
While these answers are alarming and may prompt you to throw your cell phone away, resort to living as a Luddite and only communicate via two cans and a string, the reality is that we can’t life completely free of electronics. While long-term effects are still being researched, it’s wise to heed the simplest advice of experts like Dr. Gittleman and other experts about cell phone usage and at least keep the phone away from your head and body as much as possible, use a Bluetooth earpiece and limit cell phone usage for your young kids.
Will this ongoing discussion change the way you/your kids use cell phones? Have you already made changes based on these potential health risks?
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