Considering that we spend most of our waking hours pretty much attached to our mobile phones, it’s no surprise that we all worry about the potential health risks they hold.
And, seeing as there’s so much information about mobile phone radiation out there (a lot of it discrediting that it’s harmful), we decided to catch up with Monica Amarelo, Director of Communications for EWG and Olga Naidenko, Senior Science Advisor for America’s Children’s Environmental Health about what mobile phone radiation actually does…
Seeing as NHS Choices have been quoted saying ‘concerns have been expressed that prolonged or frequent exposure to this radiation may increase a person’s risk of health problems’ and World Health Organisation (WHO) have said: ‘Mobile phone radiation is possibly cancer causing and we advise that it’s important for mobile phone users to minimise exposure,’ it’s time to take notice, now.
Back in 2011, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer declared the kind of radiation emitted by mobile phones as a ‘possible carcinogen’ based on studies that found increased gliomas and acoustic neuromas in long-term mobile phone users.
This means that if you regularly carry or use your phone in your clothes’ pocket when it’s on and connected to a wireless network, you may be exposing yourself to radiofrequency radiation.
Am I exposed to the same radiation when I browse the internet as I am on a call?
‘Radiofrequency energy is a form of non-ionizing radiation given off by cellular and portable phones, Wi-Fi routers, baby monitors and countless other devices. Scientific studies have linked electromagnetic radiation from long-term cellphone use to an increased risk of brain cancer and other health problems. Some research suggests that electromagnetic radiation interferes with our body’s natural processes — even damaging our DNA. While mobiles emit relatively weak electromagnetic radiation, it still affects nearby cells and tissues because the devices are used frequently and kept close to the body.’
‘Mobile phones emit radiation whenever they transmit the signal outward, toward the mobile tower. Some amount of radiation is emitted no matter what the activity, even when the phone is on, but not in use. Speaking into the phone would produce more radiation emission than receiving a signal, such as during a data download.’
‘Mobile phones also emit the most radiation when they are attempting to connect to cellular towers. A moving phone, such as used while riding a train, or a phone in an area very far from cellphone towers, has to work harder, giving off more radiation. Users can avoid using their cellphones in elevators or whenever the signal is very weak if they want to reduce their exposure, experts say.’
How does your mobile phone case contribute to the problem?
‘Most mobile phone cases are made by companies other than the original manufacturers. Phone cases can partially block the antenna, making the phone work harder to transmit a signal and intensifying the radiation that strikes the user’s head and body. Using a case also can lead to dropped calls and depleted battery power.
Is Wi-Fi as risky as phone radiation?
‘Distance matters – the closer the body is to the source of radiation, the more radiation users will absorb. Phones are frequently used directly next to the body, and the potential for radiation absorption is great. Wi-Fi routers are typically farther away, decreasing exposure. Some experts recommend against keeping a Wi-Fi router next to the bed or the bedroom but rather placing it in the area of the house where people spend less time.’
What about tablets and laptops?
‘When using tablets and laptops, there are two things to keep in mind: distance from the body and type of use. Like phones, these wireless-enabled devices transmit more radiation when they send the signal out – for example, when talking into a tablet. A good rule of thumb is to keep the tablet or laptop on a table or supported by its own stand, rather than holding it on your lap.’
What about phones and children?
‘Some studies suggest that cellphone radiation can make the blood-brain barrier more permeable. While these investigations are ongoing and not all conclusions have been confirmed. Children’s and teens’ brains and bodies are developing and growing rapidly. Age and head/body shape differences matter when it comes to radiation absorption. The brain of a child or slight woman, with their smaller, thin skull bones, would absorb significantly more radiation than that of a large man. The solution is to teach children and teens how to use a special headset and speaker phone rather than having them hold the phone close to their ear while they talk.’
While research on the effects of Wi-Fi and cellphone radiation on our health is ongoing, it might be an idea to reduce your exposure by increasing distance from the phone (use the speaker phone when possible).
There are devices like the R2L sticker which has been tested and shown to reduce the amount of radiation absorbed into your brain by up to 70%. How does it do it? It takes all radiation emitted by the phone and all other wireless devices and converts it into electricity which is harmlessly discharged as light.