Are Cell Phones Safe?

By: Elyssa Gardea

Are cell phones safe?

9/19/2013 – Are Cell Phones Safe? – The FCC, FDA, and peer-reviewed studies say there is no scientific evidence proving that cell phones cause health problems, while other peer-reviewed studies show cell phones may cause tumor growth, DNA damage, and decreased fertility. Hundreds of millions of Americans use cell phones and many of them wonder if there are health risks. Read our new top pro and con arguments, "did you know?” facts, and updated background section on whether or not cell phones are safe.

People who say cell phones are not safe cite peer-reviewed studies showing an association between cell phone use and tumor growth, DNA damage, and decreased fertility. They say cancers take 20-30 years to develop and cell phone studies have monitored periods of 10 years or less. They highlight the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s classification of cell phone radiation as a possible carcinogen. Phones may also cause accidents like when you text and drive you may seriously get in a car accident.

"ABC News episode investigating the dangers of driving while talking on a cell phone."

The RF radiation from cell phones is contained in the low end (non-ionizing portion) of the broader electromagnetic spectrum just above radio and television RF and just below microwave RF. At high exposure levels, non-ionizing radiation can produce a thermal or heating effect (this is how microwaves heat food). Exposure to the high end (ionizing) radiation of ultra-violet light, X-rays, and Gamma rays is known to cause cancer.


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Pros

  1. Use of a cell phone while driving is not inherently unsafe. Many activities that distract drivers are much more dangerous than talking on a phone. Research shows that cell phone use is a factor in less than 1% of accidents and that adjusting the radio or CD player, talking with passengers, or eating, and drinking while driving are all responsible for more accidents than cell phones. [7] [8]
  2. Numerous peer-reviewed studies have found that cell phone use is not associated with an increased risk of brain tumors. An Oct. 20, 2011 study of 358,403 Danish citizens – the largest study of its kind to date – concluded that "there was no association between tumors of the central nervous system or brain and long term (10 years +) use of mobile phones." [39] A July 27, 2011 study found that there was no association between cell phone use and brain tumor risks among children and adolescents. [50] Numerous other studies published from 2001-2013 have similarly concluded that there is no association between cell phone use and the development of brain tumors. [1] [41] [42] [45] [46] [49]
  3. Radiofrequency radiation from cell phones is non-ionizing and is not powerful enough to cause cancer. Ionizing radiation, including x-rays and ultraviolet light, produces molecules called ions that have either too many or too few electrons. Ions are known to damage DNA and cause cancer. Cell phone radiation, like radio, TV, and visible light radiation, is non-ionizing and lacks sufficient energy to add or remove electrons from molecules, and therefore it cannot ionize and cause cancer. [2]According to the authors of a 2005 peer-reviewed study of 3.7 million Swedish residents, a "biologic mechanism that could explain any possible carcinogenic effect from radiofrequency radiation has not been identified."


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Cons

  1. Numerous peer-reviewed studies have shown an association between cell phone use and the development of brain tumors.According to a Mar. 2008 meta-analysis of cell phone studies there is a "consistent pattern" connecting cell phone use and an increased risk of developing glioma, a type of brain tumor. [12] A Mar. 31, 2009 study found that long term cell phone use (10 years +) "approximately doubles the risk" of being diagnosed with glioma on the same side of the head where the cell phone is held. [51] In Apr. 2013 another study of Swedish cell phone users also found an association between cell phone use and the development of glioma and acoustic neuroma - a benign tumor formation on the nerve near the ear. [52] Other studies published from 2005-2013 have similarly concluded that there is an association between cell phone use and increased risk of developing brain and head tumors. [13] [53] [54] [55]
  2. Using a cell phone while driving, even with a hands-free device, is unsafe and makes accidents more likely. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that driving distractions, including the use of cell phones, contribute to 25% of all traffic crashes. [14]According to researchers at the University of Utah people who drive while talking on their cell phones are as impaired as drunk drivers with a blood alcohol level of 0.08%. [16]
  3. Children may have an increased risk of adverse health effects from cell phone radiation. According to American Academy of Pediatrics President Dr. Robert Block, when cell phones are used by children, "the average RF energy deposition is two times higher in the brain and 10 times higher in the bone marrow of the skull," than for adults.[68] A July 2008 peer-reviewed study shows that children under the age of eight absorb twice the amount of radiation into their brain tissue as adults due to their lower skull thickness. [17]