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The Risks of Cell Phones In Regards To Health

Updated on September 11, 2014


Technology is advancing in ways that is astonishing, but at what cost? There have been many negative and positive observations on the advancement of technological objects. This paper will focus only on the negativity of cell phones. Cell phones have recently received much criticism, particularly when the cell phone disrupts social norms and the dangers of misuse. Cell phones had increased the social ability by allowing almost constant communication anywhere and anytime. Ironically this often this occurs to the point where it interferes with face to face interactions and everyday life. Another criticism is the distraction of using cell phones while driving motor vehicles, which contributes to the credence that cell phones are one of the major causes of car accidents. Both are excellent examples of the negative aspects of cell phones, but interestingly there is yet another example that I will touch on: Does cell phone usage affect our health? More specifically, do cell phones cause damage to our bodies and attention span? This paper will explore the negative effects of cell phone use in cars, the classroom, and finally the health of a individual.


Transportation and Cell Phones

There is surprisingly a lot of laws regarding cell phones and driving. Eight states have prohibited the use of handheld phone for everybody driving and many other states will allow citations for cell phone use by novice and bus drivers (GHSA 2010). In the case of texting, over thirty states have prohibited the use while in the car. The laws are not surprising knowing that twenty-eight percent of accidents nationwide are from the direct result of cell phone use (Halsey 2010). In fact, in 2013, it was found that over 660,000 people use cellphones either to check a text, to get a call, to make a call, to make a text throughout a single day (Edgar Snyder 2014).

A single text makes an accident 23% more likely and talking on the phone can make the driver responses like that of an elderly driver. So it is very dangerous to text and drive or call and drive. However driving is not the only transportation that is threatened.

People walking, riding bikes/skateboards/rollerblades have a similar experience of more injury and fatal accidents happening because people are looking down constantly at their phones instead of paying attention to their surroundings. This makes pedestrians a lot less likely to see any warning signs of danger around them or may not notice the light to cross the street is red because they are not paying attention.

Cell Phones and Education

Cell phones are not only causing a series of car accidents but are a major problem in both grade schools and colleges. Go into any classroom, grade school or college, and there will be at least one student looking at their cell phone or texting during class. Even when teachers or professors ban the use of cell phones students will still be utilizing their cell phones in class. Cell phones do not only distract the owner of the phone but everyone sitting around them. In a study performed in Philadelphia Colleges Ed, Worthman, Matthews, and Wetterau found that students who were subjected to one telephone ring during a video in which students were required to take notes and then do a test did worse in note taking and the test than students in the control group (Ed, Worthman, Matthews, Wetterau 2010). With internet now on cell phones the number of students on cell phone has increased and it is hard for teachers to monitor cell phone use. Some teachers have demanded that cellphones be handed on them before class to ensure nobody uses it.

Cell Phones and Health

There are disturbing reports of cell phones causing many forms of cancer, but is there truth to that? As with all electrics and mobile devices, cell phones have a low level of radiation. It is found that the average radiation emanating from cell phones is 300 HZ to GHZ and usually takes three to five years for results to show up on medical tests (McGregor 1998). Alan McGregor is trying to find out what type of cancer is more probable and believes that cancers of the neck, cheek, and brain are the most probable. Although the largest study to date on the effect of radiation from cell phone use on people were unsuccessful to find a link between cancers and radiation from cell phone use.

Even though there is no evidence to tie in radiation level of cell phones to cancer there are some cities who have taken the radiation level to heart. In San Francisco, a local law was passed that calls for retailers to list the radiation levels of the cell-phones they carry (Hunnicult 2010). The law would allow citizens to know what level of radiation they are receiving with any phone they want, the average watts (SAR) that a person should bring in a day is 1.6 watts per kilogram of body tissue. This is interesting because the question now is if each cell phone company has different watts and if so why?

The worry of radiation is not just for owners of cell phones but for people who live around cell phone stations as well. Cell phone stations are known to give off more radiation then in cell phones. Researches done around the stations are not just looking for cancers but changes throughout the internal body (neurotransmitters, red blood cells, white blood cells, and other internal structures). In a study performed by Yildirim, Zamani, and Okudan, they were looking for the effects of cell phone use on the micronucleus frequency (MF) and chromosomal aberrations (CA) in human blood cells. It was found that people who live around cell phone stations had a MF of 8.93±3.51 and a CA of 6.97±1.52; control group had averages of .36±.31 and .75±.61 (Yildirim, Zamani, Okudan 2010). The experimental group (people living near the stations) have a major increase in micronucleus frequency and chromosomal aberrations.

Okay, there is increase in the micronucleus frequency and chromosomal aberrations but what does that mean? Micronuclei is a small round spherical chromatin bodies found within the cytoplasm outside the nucleus and its assays are used to test for many mutagens, carcinogens, and chromosomal damage (Yildirim, Zamani, Okudan 2010). If a person has a big number of Micronuclei than it is presumed that the individual has been around radiation and the body is affected by it. Chromosomal aberrations basically are damage done to the chromosomes. An increase of chromosomal damage results in chromosome abnormality which is how many of the cancers forms (Yildirim, Zamani, Okudan 2010).

Putting Radiation of Cell Phones in Perspective

In some small way, cell phones could be dangerous but to put it in perspective, if cellphones should be labeled as dangerous than televisions, microwaves, computers, and other electronic objects should be labeled as well. Cell phones carry such a low dose of radiation that if a person stays on for an insanely long time (at least two weeks) nonstop, than maybe there will be some sign of chromosome damage. In fact, clothes help offset the dangers of cancer. Reports of cellphone cancer usually appear because a person held a cellphone under their bra or underwear or socks where the cellphone was constantly touching skin.

Cell phones hold more danger in what kind of environment the person is in than how it affects the body. Radiation levels are not high enough to cause enough damage unless the cell phone user is aggressive when it comes to constantly being on their cell 24/7 for weeks nonstop or would be unsafe in how they carry their phones around, like putting it in a spot where the cell is constantly touching skin. Instead the focus should be regulating cell phones in schools and not texting/talking in the car or while walking or riding bikes, and etc.

In Conclusion

It is interesting that an invention that is supposed to help with communication could have so many faults. Why is there so much research focused only on the negative affects of mobile phone use? Yes cell phones are a big problem in driving and school situations but that is not the phone’s fault, but whether the people who decide to use them. There is not enough evidence to points to cell phone use causing cancers because everything emits radioactively including even the soil and rocks around us.


End, C., Worthman, S., Mathews, M., & Wetterau, K.. (2010). Costly Cell Phones: The Impact of Cell Phone Rings on Academic Performance. Teaching of Psychology, 37(1): 55

GHSA (2010), Cell Phone and Texting Laws, Governors Highway Safety Association: The State’s Voice on Highway Safety,

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Hasley III, Ashley (2010), 28 percent Of Accidents Involve Talking, Texting on Cell phones. The Washington Post,

Hunnicutt, Trevor (2010), Cell Phone Radiation Law Passed in San Francisco, The Huffington Post,

HZ. (n.d.). The American Heritage® Science Dictionary. Retrieved November 15, 2010, from website:

Jones, Larry (2009). Radioactivity, PickensSchool District,

McGregor, Alan (1998) Who Lanches Mobile-Phone Hazards Study, The Lancet, 351(9098): 276

Yildirim, M., Yildirim, A., Zamani, A., & Okudan, N.. (2010, April). EFFECT OF MOBILE PHONE STATION ON MICRONUCLEUS FREQUENCY AND CHROMOSOMAL ABERRATIONS IN HUMAN BLOOD CELLS. Genetic Counseling, 21(2), 243-51.


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    • jonnycomelately profile image

      Alan 2 years ago from Tasmania

      Melissa, you have done well to help in a clearer understanding of "radiation."

      Radiation is not a "thing." It's a happening. It means an emission of energy in a specific direction, in other words in an outward direction from a central point.

      Energy that radiates can be in various forms. It can be electro-magnetic, for example radio waves, micro waves, infra-red (heat), visible light, ultra-violet, X-Rays, Gamma rays and Cosmic Rays. It can also be in the form of sound, which is not electro-magnetic but a physical variation in pressure within a medium, whether that medium be gas, liquid or solid.

      So there is no point in getting frightened by radiation without getting to know the nature of the radiation.

      The major danger, as you have so rightly pointed out, is in the silly use of equipment which can emit radiation (energy) in one form or another.

      People are much more likely to take notice of something which has an aspect of mystique about it, rather than if there is a known and obvious physical danger from its use.

      For example, you might find there is a greater incidence of death from using mobile phones at a particular time of day. It might be the times when people are driving home from work..... using the phone while driving the car. Pretty obvious really, but do people think rationally?

      I have seen mums pushing their bubs in a wheel chair, facing forwards, so there is no communication with the child....yet chatting busily with someone on the mobile phone.

      We all need to get our priorities right and start to think with a bit of intelligence.....and stop being mesmerized by fancy technological ideas.