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Mobile Phones and Electromagnetic Pollution

By: Helena Stratford - Updated: 10 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Mobile Phones Electromagnetic Pollution

Most of us have one and many of us couldn’t do without one – but what if you were allergic to them?

We’re talking mobile phones. A 40-yr old Debbie Bird is allergic to them. But why? Could they be damaging the health of the rest of us?

Mobile Phones And Health

People like Debbie are hyper-sensitive to the rays which mobile phones emit. She is part of what is thought by some, to be a growing number of people who produce a reaction to electromagnetic pollution.

Long highlighted as a problem by environmentalists and sufferers, such reactions are still largely ignored or seen as exaggerated.

However, exposure to electromagnetic fields and the radio frequencies from mobile phones has been linked with the development of cancers, early onset dementia, brain tumours, lack of concentration, and interruption of sleep.

The Jury Is Out

While the studies that have made these links are not conclusive, the scientists say that neither would they expect them to be at this stage, since mobile phones have only been in extensive use for about a decade, whereas many cancers can take longer than this to develop.

However, it is believed that the current trend in their findings would point to taking precautionary steps to avoid over-exposure.

So What Are Electromagnetic Fields?

Electromagnetic fields are areas of energy emitted either naturally (from positive and negative electrical charges in the atmosphere) or by man using electric and magnetic energy. Electromagnetic fields are present everywhere, are invisible to the human eye, and can vary in strength depending on frequency or wavelength.

Radio Frequency

Mobile phones (and other forms of telecommunications) use high frequency radio waves in order to send messages over long distances. These are radiofrequency fields (RF) and emit waves of between 10MHz and 300 GHz.

These non-ionising radio frequency fields can penetrate about a centimetre or so into the body, depending in the strength of the frequency, generating heat which in most people, is resolved.

This thermal effect has previously not been thought to cause any harm, but studies are only now beginning to look more specifically at consequences of heating areas of the head (and brain), where most mobile devices are held.

Government Practise

Current guidelines from the government and the World Health Organisation are that there is little cause for concern over exposure to electromagnetic fields or radiofrequency fields from mobile phones and similar such devices. However, they advise taking the following precautions if you are at all concerned.

Reducing Exposure

Keep your exposure to RF waves to a minimum. So that when you are making a call or sending a text message on your phone, hold the phone away from your body as this is when the unit will be actively sending strong signals.

A phone will also maintain connectivity with nearby base stations at regular intervals when in standby, so keep it in a place which is not near you.

Using a hands free device is a safer option than holding a phone next to your ear. This is because the RF field strength gets weaker the further away from the handset it is and so if your handset is away from your head, the RF field you’re exposing yourself to will be less.

A child below the age of 16 is advised to only use a mobile phone for emergency calls only and if you want to reduce your own risk, then keep calls to a minimum and even try to do without it!

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New studies keep coming out on this and they keep contradicting each other. What it means is that we really don't know, and no one's yet been able to give definitive guidance on how safe mobiles are. To be on the safe side we should probably at least make sure that our children don't use mobiles much to ensure they don't really run any risk (to be fair, kids seem to prefer texting to talking). But I think many of us would love to know the real answer on all this, one way or another.
Cathy - 4-Jul-12 @ 6:07 AM
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