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It’s small but smart and the single most obvious thing about us metro manics. We can’t bear to be away from it at all times and it’s a bit rough to imagine life without it now. You guessed it. Our precious Smartphone. And just as omnipresent is the cell phone, as ubiquitous is the debate on cell phone radiation risks.

Young or old, rich or poor, the most defining facet of this modern world is the cell phone revolution. For most of us, it’s a bleak world out there without our smartphone. In-fact did you know that there is an actual new phobia in modern day psychology called Nomophobia? It’s the fear of being out of mobile phone contact! There are even apps now that count how often we touch our smartphone to show our addiction. New research conducted by British psychologists shows young adults use their phones an average of five hours a day – that’s roughly one-third of their total waking hours! (Source)

Sad but true, the most enduring love story of our times is our affair with our Samsung or iPhone.

And the thought that this indispensable part of our lives could be health hazard breaks our heart. For years the health and research community has been talking about the potential health risks. The much dreaded word ‘Cancer’ has been uttered as well and we’ve refused to listen. But this problem is being extensively researched in all parts of the world. Even though the results are still inconclusive, there is enough evidence to link cell phone radiation to health issues. So we, at UrbanMeisters, sat up and took notice. And here’s a lowdown of the problem for you Busy Bees.

 

Cell phone radiation- the much dreaded word

No this isn’t the science forum so we won’t get into the sub atomic details but keep things simple. Radiation is energy travelling in the form of waves or particles. It’s all around us in natural forms from the earth, sun etc and even in man-made forms like gadgets and machinery. It’s agreed unanimously through the medical world that exposure to radiation is never a good thing even though this phenomenon has been harnessed for a lot of ‘useful’ things like medical diagnosis of illnesses etc. Read details about radiation and health here.

So we establish that radiation is not a welcome thing. But how does the cell phone fit into this picture? We know that cell phones emit electromagnetic radiation because they use radio frequency waves to make and receive calls and carry information. Your 4G, wifi, bluetooth and LTE connections are are all guilty as charged. But we should point out here that mobile phones produce non-ionizing radiation- the more benign variety of radiation, and that too at an extremely low frequency level. And there in lies the conundrum. Radiation from cell phones was ok at a time they were just gadgets to make life easier and had a need based use. However, cell phone is not a simple gadget anymore.

 

So is there a risk?

The scientific community is not entirely up in arms against cell phones but this is definitely a growing concern. There is no denying that an increased amount of radiation from smartphones can actually harm us by tissue heating. Yes this is not frequent as most of this heating is absorbed by our skin and other superficial tissues causing a negligible rise in temperature in the brain and other parts of body, but it’s effects are still there.

A divided verdict but enough risk analysis for a call to take action

To give you both sides of the coin, we will mention here that the World Health Organisation has stated: “To date, no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use.” (Source)

But we cannot also ignore that:

  1. Firstly, cell phone usage has grown exponentially in the last decade. As key opinion leader Dr. Belpomme says,  “more than the dose it is the repetition of the dose that makes the poison.”  
  2. Secondly, we use not just cell phone but many other data devices emitting similar radiation all the time- tablets, PCs, wifi routers etc. And their usage is just as prolonged and heavy.
  3. Thirdy, with the rising use of cell phones among younger people, we need to except a longer lifetime exposure.

Thus our exposure to this kind of radiation has grown by leaps and bounds

Various research groups around the world are focusing on this area and in fact there is much pressure now on WHO, UN and government organisations to help develop strict regulations concerning use of cell phones and other devices that create electromagnetic fields. Leading scientists are expressing concern like Dr. Martin Blank form Columbia University: “Putting it bluntly (cellphones) are damaging the living cells in our bodies and killing many of us prematurely… We have created something that is harming us, and it is getting out of control. Before Edison’s light bulb there was very little electromagnetic radiation in our environment. The levels today are very many times higher than natural background levels, and are growing rapidly because of all the new devices that emit this radiation….”

There is even a growing amount of pressure from the medical research community for Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS) to be more thoroughly recognised as chronic and dangerous conditions caused by devices like cell phones, microwaves etc by international and national health institutions (Source). A research has firmly concluded that ‘a high and growing number of persons are suffering from EHS worldwide’ and this condition is causing serious damage to health, professional and family life.

Finally there is also a strong movement in the medical world to urge governments and health institutions to implement stricter guidelines on use of electromagnetic field-based Wireless Technologies to counter this growing menace. Watch some dangers of electromagnetic hypersensitivity brought about by cell phone radiation and wifi devices in this extract of the French TV show “Comment ca va bien”.

While the jury is still out on whether this technology really adversely effects us, let us recognise that it certainly poses a risk and we should sit up and notice. 

The Risk Assessment- the serious stuff

Let’s first tackle the elephant in the room. Cell phone radiation is being increasingly linked to cancer, notably brain cancerAccording to Dr. Belpomme, 80-90% of cancers are linked to the environment. He explaines the “explosion” of cancer through life style and pollution: chemical pollution, pesticides, electromagnetic fields produced by wireless technology. 

Corroborating the findings of his French colleague, Swedish expert Dr. Lennart Hardell concluded through his extensive studies that:

  • The patients who spent per day the most hours with their cell phone were 2x as likely to develop brain tumor compared to those who used them the least.
  • The patients who used their cell phone or cordless house phone for more than 25 years had 3x the risk of brain tumor, compared to those who had used wireless phones for less than 1 year.

Dr. Belpomme and his team also explain that electromagnetic fields trigger major effects in the brain, notably an opening of the blood-brain barrier. This allows mercury and other toxics to pervade into the brain where they can cause illnesses like Alzheimer’s.

We mentioned before, even WHO has classified radiation from cell phone as ‘possibly carcinogenic’ to humans. This means WHO thinks that the link is credible, but research is still being built around the case to examine to links more concretely (Source).

The Risk Assessment- other health hazards

While they sort out this healthcare crisis, let’s examine some of the other health hazards associated with cell phone radiation after prolonged use:

  • Headaches caused due to slight rise in blood pressure- radiation causes tissue heating after all.
  • Increased stress levels– The constant ringing, vibrating alerts, and reminders can put a cell phone user on edge (Source)
  • Fatigue
  • Fitful sleep and other sleeping disorders– Studies are being conducted extensively to establish noticeable links between sleeping disorders and cell phone radiation.

So you just have to start thinking smartly about your smartphone. And parents, you have to be careful because children are at the most risk from this type of radiation. You see children are more vulnerable to radiation as compared to adults (Source). So ignore this warning at your own risk and those of your loved ones!

 

So what do we do? Be smart about the smartphone

Smartphones are an indispensable part of our work and social lives. Business, entertainment, and social interaction, all are driven by mobile technology in this day and age so it’s not easy to weed this out. WHO has announced for this year a formal risk assessment of all studied health outcomes from radiofrequency fields. In the meantime we can definitely take these 6 precautionary steps to reduce the effects of radiation from cell phones:

  1. Restrict use of the phone, keep calls short and use landlines to make calls as far as possible: We’re too addicted to this lifestyle of constantly being on the phone. Apart from physical risks this poses many psychological risks as well. Let’s spend some time away from the phone and smell the roses and the coffee! Trust us, the world will not come crashing down if you’re away from your phone for more than 10 seconds.
  2. Keep device away from body: Keep a distance with the device and keep a distance from the radiation. So use headphones or speaker mode while speaking on the phone. Don’t store it on your person in pockets etc. Keep it in bag, table or special kits created for this purpose. Also, instead of tucking phones under your pillow with love just turn off or put airplane mode. This is especially crucial for children as their bodies are especially porous to radiation.
  3. Texting is better than calling: Again the idea is to keep device away from body so text away to glory busy bees.
  4. Make calls when the signal is strong: Research shows that radiation exposure increases dramatically when cell phone signals are weak. Besides what’s the point of putting up with broken voices and screaming to make the other guy hear you properly?
  5. Replace your current phone with a low-radiation one: Yes, this is possible. Check out the emission levels of phones brand and model wise here and make a smart buying decision.
  6. Switch off the wifi box at night: This is not only good to decrease exposure to radiation from wifi devices, but it’s also more ecological to shut down electronic device when not in use. Also wifi source should be at least 2 meters (7 feet) away from where we sit and sleep.

There are many solutions and products in the market now  to protect from cell phone radiation, e.g.:

  • Some electro-sensitive people sleep under anti-radiation tissue as it creates a Faraday Cage or use anti-radiation painting
  • There are EMF detectors (classic ones) and now even some apps on iPhone that help controlling or gauging this problem
  • Also there are products to shield the body from cell phone radiation, like Cell Shield (an electromagnetic wave absorber for mobile phones) or the Pong Case (a case that reduce the exposure to cell phone radiation).

Before being able to give you a recommendation, UrbanMeisters will do more thorough research on their efficacy. We will check this in the very near future and report.

Cell phone radiation is definitely not something to be taken lightly. It’s an increasingly recognised health hazard which we need to keep in check now. It will be a key mission of UrbanMeisters to examine this pollutant more closely, keep giving you all the important information and shot out in public for more relevant research and action.

Yes Busy Bees, it’s time to outsmart your smartphone a bit.

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