Mobile phone radiations and their harmful effects
Harmful effects of mobile phone radiation have become a debatable issue these days. Mobile technology uses electromagnetic radiation in the microwave range which is known to be harmful to human health. Other digital wireless systems, such as data communication networks, wifi also produce similar radiation.Mobile phone radiation has become a concern and poses serious health risk.There is a famous quote by Thomas Grey "Where Ignorance is bliss,'Tis folly to be wise". I wish we could say that today.We need to become aware of radiation pollution before it is too late.
Regardless of the fact that mobile phones does harm us still we cannot part with them. We need it to communicate with our near and dear ones when away. We use it to pay bills, to connect to internet, Google maps. The list is endless.Indeed it has become indispensable today.
Mobile phones-A necessity today
What do research bodies state?
While World Health Organization has stated that mobile phones or their base stations are not responsible for cancer we are still not very convinced.This statement was based on some scientific and medical research.Some national radiation advisory authorities have recommended measures to minimize exposure to their citizens as a precautionary approach Although they too have no clue on the harm it can cause after long exposure(more than 10yrs).
Today more than 70% of the world population is dependent on mobile technology. One can very well imagine the influence and the impact. Mobile subscribers have surpassed 5 billion and still growing rapidly. China leads having 833 million users followed by India. Half a billion people accessed mobile Internet worldwide. Mobile has slowly overtaken PC as the most popular way to access internet.
The 13 nation INTERPHONE project conducted by EU countries, Japan, Cananda, New Zealand and UK- the largest study of its kind ever undertaken has been published and did not find a solid link between mobile phones and brain tumours. However The Interphone researchers have taken an average user as one, who uses mobile phone for 2hrs in a month whereas in India many people use cellphones 1-2hrs a day.
Harmful effects of cellphones
Many scientific studies have been conducted to investigate the harmful effects of electromagnetic radiation emitted by mobile phones. The European Commission Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) published its assessment in 2007 to conclude that exposure to RF fields is unlikely to lead to an increase in cancer in humans."
The human head absorbs part of the radio waves that are emitted by a mobile telephone handset.The radio waves emitted by a GSM handset can have a peak power of 2 watts.Other digital mobile technologies, such as CDMA2000 and D-AMPS, use lower output power, below 1 watt. The regulatory agencies in each country regulate the maximum power output from a mobile phone.
How it works?
The mobile phones and the base station check reception quality and signal strength, the power level is increased or decreased automatically, depending upon the location,i.e,whether you are inside the building or outside.The rate at which radiation is absorbed by the body is measured by the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR). SAR varies from country to country. In the USA, the Federal Communications Commission has set a SAR limit of 1.6 W/kg, averaged over a volume of 1 gram of tissue, for the head. In Europe, the limit is 2 W/kg, averaged over a volume of 10 grams of tissue.
While using mobile phones for long duration we have noticed its thermal effect.Thermal effect or temperature effects of mobile phone use can cause considerable damage. Our head becomes dielectric material and is heated which is induced by the electromagnetic field. Most of the heating effect occurs at the surface of the head, that results in increasing the temperature.This temperature is not of very high magnitude and our brain's blood circulation is capable of disposing of excess heat by increasing local blood flow but in rabbits, the cornea of the eye gets affected and produces cataract when exposed to 2-3hours.Cataracts was not detected in the eyes of monkeys exposed under similar conditions therefore premature cataracts have not been linked with cell phone use as they have lower power output.
The Electromagnetic radiation emitted by mobile phones cause significant damage to DNA.It can interfere with the natural process of DNA replication and repair resulting in mutation.Cells are responsive to an increase in temperature due to the presence of thermoreceptor molecules which activate a series of second and third messenger systems, gene expression mechanisms.These molecules also produce heat shock proteins which act as a defence against metabolic stress induced by the heat generated by mobile phones.
Some Studies consider the increase in temperature of less too small to affect the thermal equilibrium of cells and therefore ignore its impact.Nevertheless heat is generated by mobile phones when used for long duration,this fact cannot be rejected outright.
Blood-brain barrier effects
Swedish researchers found a leakage of albumin into the rat brain via a permeated blood-brain barrier which was caused by exposure to microwave radiation. Microwave are electromagnetic waves having wavelength ranging from one millimeter to one meter .This confirms earlier work on the blood-brain barrier by Allan Frey, Oscar and Hawkins, and Albert and Kerns. Other groups have not confirmed these findings in cell or animal studies.
Many nations carried independent studies trying to find a link between use of mobile phones and risk of cancer.In 2006 a large Danish study(420,000 users) found no connection between mobile phone use and cancer incidence both for long term as well as short term duration.The German Federal Office for Radiation Protection considers this report inconclusive.On the other hand Research team of Sweden found an increased risk for brain tumors caused by long term use of cellular and cordless phones.So far many independent research has been going on to establish a link between mobile phone use and cancer incidence.
Some claim heavy use of mobile phones can cause cancer especially when used for more than 10 years. It increases risk of Brain cancer-Glioma(cancer of glial cells that support the central nervous system and accoustic neuroma(a tumor in the brain on a nerve that is related to hearing).Interphone study agreed that at highest exposure levels risk of Glioma cannot be ruled out but left it for further investigation.
The International Journal of Epidemiology published a combined data analysis based on study of glioma and meningioma, the most common types of brain tumor.The authors reported the following conclusion:
"Overall,no increase in risk of glioma or meningioma was observed with use of mobile phones. There were suggestions of an increased risk of glioma at the highest exposure levels, but biases and error prevent a causal interpretation. The possible effects of long-term heavy use of mobile phones require further investigation."
Many independent health and government authorities have commented on this important study.The authors concluded that the study was biased and had errors.They found there was an effect of mobile phone use on brain tumor risks in adults but most likely it was too small to be detectable by even a large multinational study of the size of Interphone.Nevertheless it is still an issue of concern.
Mobile phone radiation protection
Mobile industry is a billion dollar industry and very influential. Even if hazardous effect of mobile phones is established the mobile industry cannot recycle the old handsets with new ones that address all health concerns.That will itself cost billions. General awareness has been established today and people have started taking initiatives to protect themselves.
Top Ten Protective Tips to prevent mobile phone radiation
- Talking while driving.This is a common example and we have been warned not to use mobile phones while driving. It has led to accidents. Hands free kits are used during driving but we are still not attentive. Driving and talking on mobile don't go together. Use Speaker phone.While making a call keep your phone away till you are connected. During establishing a connection more radiation is emitted.
- Minimum use of cell phones. If you have an alternative i.e, a Landline try to avoid mobile phones.
- Limit its use around small children as children are the most affected. EMR penetrates the skull(75%) in children under 5years,50%under 10years and 25% in adults.Don't gift your child a mobile phone.You will be endangering their lives.Studies have shown that children under 20years are the most affected ones.
- Wider use of hands free and earphone technologies such as Bluetooth headsets.
- Use Speaker phone. While making a call keep your phone away till you are connected. During establishing a connection more radiation is emitted.
- Wired headsets act as antenna so avoid them.
- Hold your handset at the bottom so that you don't block the antenna.
- Strictly avoid using mobile phones in the elevator. The signal strength is less and the cellphone sends out more radiations to establish connection.
- Avoid keeping cellphones in your pockets. Radiations cause heart diseases and infertility problems.
- While purchasing a new handset select the one with low SAR(Specific Absorption Rate).
- Buy an EMF guard device to prevent your body from these electromagnetic radiations to some extent.
Mobile phone batteries also need to be checked regularly. Subjecting a battery to abuse or conditions for which it was never designed can result in uncontrolled and dangerous failure of the battery. This may include explosion, fire and the emission of toxic fumes. Many cases of battery explosion also has been reported so the phone battery cannot be ignored.
Updates on cellphone radiations
Mobile phone use alters brain activity.There was 7% increase in brain metabolism in the region closest to the cellphone antenna.