September 9, 2010
My daughter just started junior high, and really wants a cell phone. She even gave me a rather lengthy report she typed up, about how badly she wants a phone, why she thinks she needs one, and what she will do to earn it. It was actually quite cute. Made me feel kinda bad about shooting her down.
Since she approached me with a written report, I felt maybe it would be best to respond in the same manner. For years my answer to her question “Mommy, when can I have a cell phone?” has always been “When I think you need one.” And that was it. Clearly it was time to give her more information.
For my response, I researched kids and cell phone safety. I knew it wasn’t going to be good – I mean, in Europe there is already talk that cell phone use contributes to brain tumors and cancer – but I was still alarmed by what I learned. For instance, did you know that when a cell phone is being used, it is surrounded by a field of radiation that surrounds 6-8 inches? So guess what happens when you put that phone up to your head? The radiation PENETRATES YOUR SKULL! In 1997, Dr. Om Gandhi, Professor of Electrical Engineering at University of Utah, conducted a radiation study and found that in adults, it permeates about 2″ into the skull. But children are at a much higher risk level, because their bones are much softer, since they are still developing, and their brains contain more fluid, which allows deeper penetration. In fact, Dr. Ghandi’s study showed that the radiation penetrates about 5″ into the skull of a 10 yr old, and almost goes all the way across the skull, one side to the other, in children age 5.
And according to Lund researcher Bertil Persson, death of brain cells is visible under microscope after exposure to radiation from cell phones. Great! So I can cook my daughter’s brain AND kill her brain cells at the same time! And as if this weren’t all bad enough, a study conducted by researchers at University Hospital in Sweden shows that kids who start using cell phones before age 20, are 5 times more likely to develop both tumors and neuromas! I’m sorry, but it is not that serious for her to have a phone. It’s simply not worth her health. Now it may be a bit extreme, but just to drive the point home to her, I included the following images in my letter back:
If you have already given your child a cell phone, here are some tips that can make it a bit safer:
Use the phone in speakerphone mode whenever possible. This significantly reduces radiation exposure.
Avoid using your phone in a moving vehicle (car/train/bus), as it pulls in more radiation when it repeatedly has to connect to a new relay tower.
Do not use your phone when you have a weak signal, because the phone is pulling in more radiation when it has to work harder to get a signal.
Do not store the cell phone close to your body. Carry it in your purse/bag/backpack instead of your pocket. Studies show cell phone use can contribute to lower sperm count in men, and carrying it on your hip or in your pocket makes it worse.
If you must carry your phone on your body, make sure the keypad is towards your body, and the back is positioned away from you.
Do not charge your cell phone near your body. Do not leave it on your nightstand as you sleep.
Choose a cell phone with lower SAR (Specific Absorption Rate) numbers.
Now this leads me to a different type of phone. The cordless home phone. I don’t know why, but I always thought cordless phones were safer than cell phones. I’m pretty sure someone told me that at some point. However, in this research I learned that they’re not. They are not any safer than cell phones. Greeeat. Time to bust out my grandma’s old rotary phone. But I do feel good knowing that I took the time to sit down and research this topic instead of just brushing my daughter off, and wrote a letter back to her, on my laptop… in my dining room… where I’m taking advantage of my wi-fi… and probably nuking myself that way too. Oink.
References:  http://cellphoneradiationusa.blogspot.com/2008/04/why-headsets-arent-safe.html  http://www.safespaceprotection.com/EMF-News-and-Info-Article/news-cell-phones-linked-to-brain-tumors.aspx  http://www.safetyissues.com/site/children/cancer_risk_from_cell_phones_higher_in_children.html  http://www.clevelandclinic.org/reproductiveresearchcenter/docs/agradoc239.pdf
Image Source: Quiring, Lynn. “Radiation Penetration.” Image. CellPhoneRadiationUSA.blogspot.com 21 Apr. 2008. 03 Jun. 2011. <http://cellphoneradiationusa.blogspot.com/2008/04/why-headsets-arent-safe.html>.
Dees, Davo. ‘AT&Tumor’. Image. DeesIllustration.com Publication date unknown. 03 Jun. 2011. <http://www.sl-webs.com/deesillustration/artwork.asp?item=459&cat=politics>.