In 2002, researchers partnered with the cell phone industry to conduct significant scientific studies on the health risks of cell phones. The FDA supported many studies in response to public concerns that radiation from cell phones may pose health risks. The contract between the FDA and the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) allows the FDA to select scientists and oversee the projects, while the CTIA provides funding. Both entities were adamant that the cellular industry should not influence the research.
Because cellular communication is a relatively new innovation, health experts are divided on the reliability of the most recent conclusions drawn by researchers. Still, while most current studies are inconclusive, many recommend precautions. The FDA suggests separating the body and antenna as possible (Yi, 2001). Shin recommends using phones with less radiation. "Of the test results I have come across, the Ericsson T20 line has had poor results in terms of emitting low amounts of radiation. Any phone with an antenna that extends away from the head is recommended."
Kim also advised that children should not use cell phones because "growing children probably have a higher risk of cancer due to their rapid growth and increased cell division rate." He also recommended using cell phones for less time since he believes very long exposure may be damaging.
Dr. Joseph Mercola, author of the Total Health Program, reports that he has known for many years that cell phones are dangerous yet has had a cell phone for well over a decade. However, he uses his phone about five minutes every year. According to Mercola (1999): "It is for emergency purposes only. Most individuals have no clue of the harm that they are exposing themselves to by putting that microwave transmitter next to their head."
Mercola observes that there is no need to abandon this technology, as it very useful. The simple solution is for consumers to buy a new cell phone that would allow you plug in a hands free headset. Older phones do not have the pin adapters, but many of the newer models do. This moves the phone away from the most important area of the body, the brain.
According to Mercola: "Ideally, it would be best to keep the phone as far away from your body as possible; but attaching the phone to your belt or pocket that is far better than putting it next to your brain. This is also true for the portable phone in your home. Throw away your current model and get one of the newer ones that allow you put a headset on and talk without holding the transmitter next to your head. Portable phones have far less radiation than a cell phone, but they still transmit radiation."
Because cell phone are a relatively new technology, there is a lack of long-term research on their possible health effects. It is difficult to prove that any product or exposure is completely safe, especially when there is no long-term research available. The following summary from the Food and Drug Administration Center for Devices and Radiological Health (1999) offers the following recommendations to people concerned about risks:
If there is a risk from these products -- and at this point we do not know that there is -- it is probably very small. But if people are concerned about avoiding even potential risks, there are simple steps they can take to do so. People who must conduct extended conversations in their cars every day could switch to a type of mobile phone that places more distance between their bodies and the source of the RF, since the exposure level drops off dramatically with distance. For example, they could switch to: a mobile phone in which the antenna is located outside the vehicle, a hand-held phone with a built-in antenna connected to a different antenna mounted on the outside of the car or built into a separate package, or a headset with a remote antenna to a mobile phone carried at the waist. Again the scientific data do not demonstrate that mobile phones are harmful. But if people are concerned about the radiofrequency energy from these products, taking the simple precautions outlined above can reduce any possible risk."
According to Yi (2000): "Even though current studies cannot verify that short-term cell phone usage is not harmful, long-term effects cannot be determined for years to come. Cell phones may be a hidden epidemic of the future. Not until it was too late did we know the hazardous effects of seemingly harmless activities such as sun bathing, smoking, and using lead paint."
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