Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Cell Phones, WiFi, and Health

When North Coast Holistics had an office in the Jutila Center, one of the signs on our door read, "Please turn off cell phones before entering." We hoped this precaution would help raise awareness about the electromagnetic radiation emitted by mobile phones and reduce exposures to that radiation, as well.

Press coverage of this issue can be confusing. The cell phone industry insists its products are safe, but enough studies suggest health problems that doctors and scientists have raised concerns. In 2008, University of Pittsburgh's Cancer Institute advised employees to limit cell phone calls to three minutes or less, and warned that children should use mobile phones only in emergencies. In 2009, the Environmental Working Group released a report about cell phones' potential danger to children and included radiation rankings to help buyers choose lower-radiation phones.

If you and your family use cell phones or WiFi, there are several sites where you can get more information about their potential effects on health. Below is a list of links which I recently compiled for a friend. I'm posting them here with the hope that they can help others with personal decision-making about cell phone / WiFi use, as well as providing more in-depth information and examples of news coverage on this issue.

1. http://www.gq.com/cars-gear/gear-and-gadgets/201002/warning-cell-phone-radiation?currentPage=1
This piece by Christopher Ketcham is one of the best I've ever seen about cell phones and wireless technologies generally. It appeared in the February 2010 issue of Gentleman's Quarterly.

2. http://www.gq.com/cars-gear/gear-and-gadgets/201002/warning-cell-phone-radiation?printable=true
This link retrieves a printable, all-one-page version of Ketcham's piece.

3. http://cell-phone-dangers.com/research/cellPhonePrecautionPittsburgh.html
This is the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute announcement referenced above, which made news as it warned about cell phone use with a list of 10 precautions to follow. In my opinion these are excellent guidelines, if one is going to use cell phones at all (the best protection is to not use them).

4. http://www.epidemiology.pitt.edu/news/News_Display.asp?link=357
This gets to a university press release about the precautionary statement above.

5. http://www.ewg.org/cellphone-radiation
This is the 2009 Environmental Working Group (EWG) report about cell phone radiation which raised concerns especially about their use by children. As mentioned above, their site also includes rankings of radiation levels from phones to help consumers choose lower radiation models (if they use cell phones). EWG also did a series of blog posts about the issue around the time they released their report:


6. http://electromagnetichealth.org
This is the home page for an advocacy group concerned with electromagnetic radiation (EMFs) and health, which seeks to establish biologically-based standards for electromagnetic radiation exposures.

7. http://www.microwavenews.com
This is probably the best overall site for unbiased-by-industry information on cell phones and wireless technologies. Written by journalist Lou Slesin, it contains a wealth of information on non-ionizing radiation from cell phones, WiFi, etc. and the health effects of same. It includes many links to further articles.

8. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/issue/5138-2009-999839997-1345066
This link gets you to the table of contents for a special issue of the journal Pathophysiology which looked at EMF research. Not everyone will want to read the full text of these scientific papers, but just scanning the titles in the table of contents tells a story.

9. http://www.healthandenvironment.org/?module=uploads&func=download&fileId=565
This list of links accesses news coverage of the 2008 Congressional hearings on cell phone safety which were convened by Dennis Kucinich.

10. http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2010-02/disconnected
This article from Popular Science contains a tag line under the title that says "Your cell phone does not in itself cause cancer...." Note that this statement has not been proven and actually contradicts information further along in the same article. In fact, some have complained that this piece contradicts itself in several places. Still, it contains thought-provoking information about non-cancer effects of non-ionizing radiation and is worth a look.

11. http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/telecom/2009-09-08-cellphone-radiation-safety_N.htm
This links to a news release about the Environmental Working Group's report on cell phone radiation (see above).

12. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,389881,00.html
This is one of the articles that came out late in the summer of 2008 when cell phones were big in the news. This was partly due to the precautionary memo from University of Pittsburgh's Cancer Institute, and partly due to the Congressional hearings investigating cell phone safety.

There's plenty more out there, but I hope this can provide a start for those interested in learning more about this topic. If you have further questions or comments, I invite you to leave them in the comments section below.

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