By 2020, more than 5.4 billion people worldwide will have a mobile phone. It’s safe to say that mobile phone technology has taken the world by storm.
But are they safe to use?
Here, Mike James and Best VPN take a look at the potential hazards caused by your mobile phone…
Ever since their arrival and subsequent meteoric rise in the 1990s, the debate has been raging over the health and safety implications of mobile phones. So, what’s the problem?
Mobile phones communicate via radio waves, a type of low-energy, non-ionising electromagnetic radiation, which is a class of radiation that also includes visible light, infrared and ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Electromagnetic radiation has the potential to damage the cells in the human body and there have long been concerns that prolonged exposure could be harmful to our health.
The International Agency for Research of Cancer (IARC) classifies electromagnet fields (EMFs) from mobile phones as ‘possible carcinogens’, though no conclusive evidence exists at this point to suggest that prolonged mobile phone exposure increases the risk of cancer. Scientists don’t have all the answers, simply because it may take another 20-30 years for symptoms to develop. Did you know that a brain tumour typically develops undetected for at least 20 years before diagnosis? It’s enough to make you wonder.
Since the 1990s, countless research studies have been carried out by the scientific community to investigate and establish the possible health effects of mobile phone use. So far, no solid proof exists to suggest that mobile phone use causes any specific health problem. The official line is that it’s ‘unlikely’ that radio waves from mobile phones increase the risk of any health problems.
This should be enough to allay any fears we may have. However, research conducted by other respected scientific institutions paints a different picture.
- The 2010 Interphone Study by the World Health Organisation concluded that using a mobile phone for 30 minutes a day over 10 years increased the risk of developing a brain tumour.
- An international group of scientists published a 2009 review in Surgical Neurology Journal, concluding that they had established a link between long-term mobile phone use and brain tumours developing on the side of the head where the phone was held.
- A 2012 study carried out on mice at Yale School of Medicine showed that mobile phone radiation exposure during pregnancy affected the offspring. Professor John Wargo concluded that ‘the scientific evidence is sufficiently robust showing that cellular devices pose significant health risks to children and pregnant women. […] The cellular industry should take immediate steps to reduce emissions of electromagnetic radiation (EMR) from phones and avoid marketing their products to children.’
Researchers on both sides of the argument concede that longer term data beyond the last 20 years simply doesn’t exist; we just don’t know.
Interestingly, even the NHS website – and there surely can’t be a more authoritative voice in terms of the nations’ health – has recommendations on how you can reduce your exposure to mobile phones, should you be worried about any harmful effects.
They advise the following:
- Make short calls and only use the mobile phone when necessary, particularly for children. Also consider alternative forms of communication, such as sending text messages (phones emit less radiation when you text than for voice communications) or using a landline.
- Use a hands-free kit to keep the phone at a safe distance from the user’s head. The level of radiation absorbed by your head and body decreases substantially, even with a small distance. Use a headset or speaker mode.
- Phones in stand-by mode should be kept away from the body. Even when your phone is not being used, it sends out intermittent signals, meaning electromagnetic waves are still being transmitted and received.
- Only use the mobile phone when reception is strong, as a weak phone signal causes the phone to use more energy, meaning more radiation exposure.
- Check the SAR (specific absorption rate) of the particular mobile phone as part of your purchasing decision. Retailers have a duty to make this information available; it tells you how much radio wave energy is absorbed in the body.