Studies from around the world are now being released with some startling news about using cell phones. A Swedish study reports that radio waves from mobile phones penetrate deep into the brain not just around the ear. Researchers found that using your cell phone for 10 years or longer will double the risk of getting an acoustic neuroma – a tumor on a nerve connecting your ear to your brain – and children, because they have thinner skulls than adults and nervous systems that are still developing, are particularly vulnerable to it.
But it’s not only long term use of cell phones that’s of concern; short-term use also can have adverse effects. Scientists at the Spanish Neuro Diagnostic Research Institute in Marbella have discovered that a call lasting just two minutes can alter the natural electrical activity of a child’s brain for up to an hour afterwards. Doctors fear that disturbed brain activity in children could affect their mood and ability to learn and lead to psychiatric and behavioral problems.
Britain’s advisory body on radiological hazards, the Health Protection Agency has urged parents to limit their children’s use of cell phones, recommending that younger children use cell phones only in emergencies. But, here in the U.S. there are no precautionary guidelines and toy companies are teaming up with wireless companies and going after kids as young as five. For example, LeapFrog’s “TicTalk” and Mattel’s “My Scene” sell simple phones with five speed-dial buttons – kind of a cross between a phone and a pager. As kids get older and are exposed to more advanced phones, they’ll surely be pressuring parents for an upgrade.
Even my 10-year-old daughter, who goes to a Waldorf-inspired school where electronic gadgets are discouraged, asks regularly for her own cell phone. She’s making her case by naming all the kids she knows (there are many) who have them. I’ve told her not until the manufacturers make them safer to use. Also, I’m aware that kids aren’t just using their phones to talk. They’re text messaging, taking pictures, playing video games and surfing the Web, which opens up a whole new set of concerns.
Cell phones have certainly become a big part of life. There are over three billion of them in use on our planet. According to a 2005 survey by the ad agency BBDO Worldwide, 75 percent of American cell phone owners had it turned on and within reach during their waking hours, 59 percent wouldn’t think of lending their cell phone to a friend for a day, 26 percent said it was more important to go home to retrieve a cell phone than a wallet. About half of American teens aged 13-16 have a cell phone and now companies have their sites set on 9- to 12-year-olds, or ‘tweens, as the next untapped market for cell phone use. But before you’re persuaded to go out and buy your child a cell phone, think twice before hooking them up.
According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, aside from the increased risk of a brain tumor, the following problems can occur with long-term cell phone usage:
Damage to cell membranes
Decreased intracellular communication between cells which impairs bodily functions
Increased deposits of heavy metals into your cells, which increases the production of free radicals. This can decrease cellular production of energy thus making you overly fatigued
Increase in childhood autism
Plus, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Americans discard 125 million phones each year, creating 65,000 tons of waste. These old phones – many containing hazardous materials like lead, mercury, cadmium, flame retardants and arsenic – are now the fastest growing type of manufactured garbage in the nation.
It’s not realistic or practical to give up our cell phones, but here are some suggestions on using them more safely:
Use a headset, whenever you or your child uses a cell phone.
Limit your child’s use of a cell phone to essential purposes only and keep the calls short.
Use a speaker phone whenever possible.
It’s probably best to keep your cell phone away from your body – do not clip it on your belt or put it in your pocket. Instead put it in your purse or backpack.
Never hold an infant while talking on your cell phone because its skull can absorb radiation easily.
Switch off your phone when you go to sleep to reduce EMF (electro magnetic field) exposure.
Before making a call check the number of bars that indicate reception – a good signal means that the phone is using less radiation to transmit.
Charging your phone creates a high level of radiation, so charge it in another room.
Consider attaching a chip or shield to your phone to reduce the effects of EMR (electromagnetic radiation). Several companies offer these and can be found online.