Quantcast
Health

Do You Do These 5 Things With Your Cellphone That Health Officials Say You Shouldn’t?

By April M. Short

Radiation from your cellphone could be bad for more than just your mental health, California state health officials warn.


The California Department of Public Health has just released the first-ever guidelines on avoiding too much exposure to the radiation cellphones emit. State officials said one of the reasons for releasing the guidelines is that statistics show cellphone use is at an all-time high, with 95 percent of Americans using cellphones each day, Pew Research Center noted.

Karen Smith, of the state health department, said there is widespread public concern over cellphone safety, according to a San Francisco CBS station.

Perhaps another reason the guidelines are coming out now is due to pressure from researchers and others.

Psychologist and UC Berkeley professor Joel Moskowitz sued the health department in 2009 for its refusal to release information on the risks of cellphone use to the public. He won the lawsuit this spring. "People are being injured and harmed by the delay in having this information accessible to them," Moskowitz told San Francisco's CBS News affiliate.

Potential Risks

Cellphone use may increase the risk of cancer, but the scientific evidence so far is inconclusive, mainly due to the relatively short period of time cellphones have been around.

Cellphone radiation could be harmful due to the type of radio waves the devices emit: non-ionizing radiation. Tissues close to phone antennas—which exist inside of every smartphone—can be heated by the radiation, as the FDA, American Cancer Society and National Cancer Institute all recognize. When you hold your phone up to your head, those nearby tissues include your ears and brain.

Some studies have linked cellphone radiation exposure with brain tumors and other brain cancers, as the American Cancer Society acknowledges, but most studies have not shown conclusive evidence one way or another. Because cellphone use has only been widespread for a few years, as ACA noted, it is impossible for any study to conclude what the long-term health effects of exposure could be.

Higher levels of exposure to non-ionizing radiation are known to impact the health of human cells and DNA, but whether cellphones can expose us to those higher levels is a question researchers are still working to answer.

AlterNet ran an article by Christopher Ketcham in 2011 exploring the widespread reports of cellphones and WiFi making people and animals sick. For the first time in human history, Ketcham noted, people are being exposed to electromagnetic frequencies from cellphones, WiFi and digital meters 24 hours a day. He quotes David O. Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the State University of New York, who said, "Radio frequency radiation has a number of biological effects which can be reproducibly found in animals and cellular systems. We really cannot say for certain what the adverse effects are in humans. But the indications are that there may be—and I use the words 'may be'—very serious effects in humans."

While the National Cancer Institute's official stance is that cellphones likely do not emit high enough levels of radiation to affect human health, at least in the short term, its fact sheet on cellphone safety states: "Radio frequency exposure from cellphone use does cause heating to the area of the body where a cellphone or other device is held (ear, head, etc.). However, it is not sufficient to measurably increase body temperature, and there are no other clearly established effects on the body from radio frequency energy."

Other research shows that cellular phones could potentially lower sperm count, cause headaches and interfere with sleep, hearing and memory retention.

CNN medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta warned in 2012 that the risks of cellphone radiation are largely unknown. See the video, below:

An Atlantic article from earlier this year notes that a study published in PLUS ONE concluded there is a "'significant' association between long-term mobile phone use and the risk of glioma," a type of brain tumor.

"But the actual significance of the link is questionable," the Atlantic piece stated. "The data they used spanned 11 studies between 1980 and 2016, but the researchers themselves acknowledged the evidence is limited and much of the data is 'poor quality.' The biggest takeaway, then, may be their conclusion that more study is needed." As in the U.S., European health experts continue to argue over the potential risks of cellphone radiation amid lack of long-term studies. A large-scale cellphone health study, the COSMOS project, is currently working to track the phone usage and health of more than half a million people across Europe. The study began in 2007 and will continue for the next two to three decades.

The New Guidelines

Since the long-term risk of cellphone use is unknown, why not take some simple, commonsense steps to reduce radiation exposure just in case? This was the apparent thought process behind California's new guidelines.

The risk of cellphone radiation exposure can increase or decrease exponentially based on some simple do's and don'ts. It's a matter of tweaking a few basic habits.

Here are five things not to do, according to the California guidelines for cellphone health, How to Reduce Exposure to Radiofrequency Energy from Cellphones.

1. Don't hold your phone up to your ear.

"Use the speakerphone or a headset instead," because "wireless (Bluetooth) and wired headsets emit much less RF energy than cellphones." The guidelines also suggest sending text messages rather than talking on the phone whenever possible.

2. Try not to use your phone if you're in a fast-moving vehicle.

"Your phone puts out more RF energy to maintain connections to avoid dropping calls as it switches connections from one cell tower to the next unless it is in airplane mode," the guidelines state.

3. Avoid using your phone when you have one or two service bars showing.

"Cellphones put out more RF energy to connect with cell towers when the signal is weak," the guide notes.

4. Don't carry your phone in your pocket, bra or holster close to your body.

The guidelines suggest you carry it in a backpack, briefcase, purse or elsewhere, so that the device is kept several inches away from your body. A few inches can make a difference, it notes. Also, put phones on airplane mode when carrying them close as the devices don't emit RF energy when in airplane mode.

5. Never sleep with your phone under your pillow or near your head.

Karen Smith from the state health department suggests keeping your phone at least an arm's length away from your body when sleeping. You should also turn your phone off or on airplane mode while you sleep, the guidelines note.

Reposted with permission from our media associate AlterNet.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Renewable Energy
A prototype of GE's massive new wind turbine will be installed in the industrial area of Maasvlakte 2 in Rotterdam. GE Renewable Energy

World's Largest Wind Turbine to Test Its Wings in Rotterdam

Rotterdam's skyline will soon feature the world's largest and most powerful offshore wind turbine.

GE Renewable Energy announced on Wednesday it will install the first 12-megawatt Haliade-X prototype in the Dutch city this summer. Although it's an offshore wind turbine by design, the prototype will be installed onshore to facilitate access for testing.

Keep reading... Show less
Insights/Opinion
Colorful, fresh organic vegetables. fcafotodigital / Getty Images

A New Diet for the Planet

By Tim Radford

An international panel of health scientists and climate researchers has prescribed a new diet for the planet: more vegetables, less meat, fresh fruit, whole grains and pulses, give up sugar, waste less and keep counting the calories.

And if 200 nations accept the diagnosis and follow doctor's orders, tomorrow's farmers may be able to feed 10 billion people comfortably by 2050, help contain climate change, and prevent 11 million premature deaths per year.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Children's books about the environment. U.S. Air Force photo / Karen Abeyasekere

This State Might Require Public Schools to Teach Climate Change

Reading, writing, arithmetic ... and climate science. That doesn't have the same ring as the "three Rs" of education, but Connecticut could one day require the subject to be on the curriculum, The Associated Press reported.

A Connecticut state lawmaker is pushing a bill to mandate the teaching of climate change in public schools throughout the state, starting in elementary school.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
NASA's ICESCAPE mission investigates the changing conditions in the Arctic. NASA / Kathryn Hansen

These Eye-Opening Memes Show the Real 10-Year Challenge

Before-and-after photos of your friends have probably taken over your Facebook and Instagram feeds, but environmentalists are using the #10YearChallenge to insert a dose of truth.

Memes of shrinking glaciers, emaciated polar bears and coral bleaching certainly subvert the feel-good viral sensation, but these jarring images really show our planet in a worrying state of flux.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
Vial containing swab from a deceased duck, collected for testing during the 2014-2015 avian influenza outbreak. © 2015 Erica Cirino, used with permission.

Could Trump’s Government Shutdown Cause Outbreaks of Wildlife Disease?

By Erica Cirino

The current U.S. government shutdown could worsen ongoing wildlife disease outbreaks or even delay responses to new epidemics, according to federal insiders and outside experts who work with federal wildlife employees.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
Vegan raw cheese from cashew nuts. byheaven/ iStock / Getty Images

Vegan Cheese: What’s the Best Dairy-Free Option?

By Ansley Hill, RD, LD

Cheese is one of the most beloved dairy products across the globe. In the U.S. alone, each person consumes more than 38 pounds (17 kg) of cheese per year, on average (1).

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Insights/Opinion
Sun setting behind the Fawley Oil Refinery in Fawley, England. Clive G' / CC BY-ND 2.0

Even Davos Elite Warns Humanity Is 'Sleepwalking Into Catastrophe'

By Jessica Corbett

Ahead of the World Economic Forum's (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland next week—which convenes the world's wealthiest and most powerful for a summit that's been called both the "money Oscars" and a "threat to democracy"—the group published a report declaring, "Of all risks, it is in relation to the environment that the world is most clearly sleepwalking into catastrophe."

Keep reading... Show less
Energy
Robusta coffee beans growing on a tree. Dag Sundberg / Getty Images

60% of Wild Coffee Species at Risk for Extinction

If humans don't wake up now to the threats posed by climate change and habitat loss, we may be in for a permanently sleepy future. A study led by scientists from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew found that 60 percent of wild coffee species are at risk for extinction.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!