Are Cell Phones The Miracle That May Become A Nightmare?
Electro Magnetic Radiation, commonly known as EMR, is something that most ordinary people do not understand. We leave such matters to the physicists and are not really interested in how they are created or what they do – we only want to know what they produce. Unfortunately, this attitude of chosen ignorance can be hazardous to our health. The title alone should be a hint, after all anything with radiation in it is not going to be good for the human body. EMR are in fact energy waves that surround us – they come from all our electrical and electronic equipment. And even while we have surrounded ourselves with the equipment that produces them, we are still uncertain exactly what effects they have on people.
A great deal of research is now taking place on EMR waves due to the increased amount that are flooding our environment. The story of radiation is one that epitomizes the failure of human beings to understand the dangers of many of their inventions. Marie Curie, who in fact discovered radium, died as a result of this same discovery. Unaware that prolonged exposure to radiation was dangerous she learned the hard way and contracted cancer which killed her. Today we take a great many more precautions and when it comes to equipment like microwaves or even X-Rays we are given warnings as to what safety measures to take. Ironically, at the same time that we behave as if we have learned the lesson of caution, we continue to take risks. Risks in the form of allowing mobile phone companies to put up relay stations near residential areas, but that is nothing compared to the fact that the world as a whole has fallen in love with mobile phones and most of us, happily place these machines, which give off radiation, next to our heads, on a regular basis.
The dangers of cell phones is a controversial subject since we have all become so dependent on this form of communication and it is tied up with big business. Many people are claiming that this has in fact had an impact on the research and that the supposed disagreements are not based on science but on political and financial considerations. Others claim that the issue has been stirred up to a sensational level by the media who are happily cashing in on the scare they have created.
Both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the scientific advisory body of the European Parliament have announced that neither telephone relay stations nor the phones themselves are harmful to human beings. In their 2004 report: What are Electromagnetic Fields: Health Effects WHO explained that the way in which the waves are spread nowadays is not like it was when the original models came out, and all sorts of safety measures have been added. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in America made a similar claim. Thus with three different sources coming out with the same reassuring comments there appears to be no reason for the controversy to continue. But regrettably, the bodies that are making these declarations are not objective. They all belong to some form of political organization and as such have an affiliation that may be in direct competition to the research. And as long as the bodies that have a political and financial interest in these results fund the research, then the results are automatically questionable.
Before this starts to sound too much like a conspiracy theory it is necessary to look at the objective scientific responses that show there is a potential danger to cell phones. Dr. George Carlo originally conducted extensive research on behalf of the cell phone companies but he lost that position when they were very unhappy with his findings. Dr. Carlo has become one of the leading skeptics regarding the dangers of cell phones and is trying to point out that we know very little about the long term effects. He explains that it is somewhat like tobacco and cancer. For a long time this was denied but it came to the point where it was impossible to refute any longer. But he also points out that there are approximately 1.9 billion people using cellular phones and hence the number of people exposed to danger is much greater than anything that the world has seen before.
The negative side of the question was also clearly revealed in an inquiry made in 2009 by Australian National University. This project involved people who had been using cell phones for a minimum of ten years and the end result showed a connection between brain cancer and extensive use of cell phones. On the basis of this report, the National Cancer Institute wants further investigation into three aspects. They want the tissue that is closest to where the cell phone is held examined because they believe that this area is particularly vulnerable to any waves. They also want to know if the number of hours spent on the phone has an effect and they too believe the number of users is a relevant issue. In line with this the American Cancer Association want to have some sort of table as to which phones are the most damaging and this comparison should also include hands free devices.
A major reason for these conflicting reports as to whether cell phones are dangerous or not is due to the fact that they have not been around long enough for the full impact to be revealed. At present the Australian research on people using them for ten years is the longest time that has been measured. Not does this research take into account the incremental increase in usage over the past three to four years. And since the long term effects cannot as yet be calculated, Dr. Carlo’s suggestion that we take certain precautions, such as, not allowing children under ten to use a cell phone, is sensible. The campaign conducted by Oprah Winfrey to try and get people to pledge that they will not talk on the phone while driving, even on a hands free set, is also sensible. And if everyone can agree on these two principles, it is a least a place to start until we have more long-term data.
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