Cell Phones-Are They Helpful or Harmful to Us?
The debate has been going on for as long as we’ve had cell phones. They can summon help when we are in trouble, and allow pretty much instantaneous contact with the people we love. They can help us find our way when we’re lost, and help us check out at a store with the wave of a hand. We all know that cell phones operate within radio frequency bands, acting as receivers and transmitters of RF to help us do the things that we do. The real ongoing debate and concern is whether or not the radiofrequencies are harmful to our health and well being. That debate becomes more heated as cell phones prepare for 5G, Fifth Generation New Radio.
The Chicago Tribune printed an article on 08/21/2019 that stated that several major cell phone manufacturers had exceeded the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) of 1.6 Watts per Kilogram or less averaged over the volume containing a mass of one gram of tissue that is absorbing the most signal for cell phones. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) responded to the challenge, saying that it takes claims of non-compliance with its regulations seriously and proceeded to commence its own testing program of the implicated phones to determine if the phones comply with the FCC standard.
The FCC had the companies whose phones that the Chicago Tribune said didn’t comply with the standard provide them with samples of the phones in question AND also bought a number of the same phones from random sources to assure a non-biased study. The SAR testing uses standardized models of the human head and body that are filled with “Tissue Simulating Liquids” that simulate RF absorption characteristics of different types of human tissues. Each phone was tested while operating at its highest power level in all of the frequency bands in which it operates, with the phones placed in various specific positions against the head and body models to simulate the way that different users typically hold a cell phone, including either side of the head, in the pockets, etc. Modern cell phones have a very large number of sensors, transmitters, and antennas which need to be configured for testing purposes to ensure that the tests are taken in a “worst-case” scenario when relating to exposure. In this case, the tests were performed under the same operational modes used by the lab that conducted the study for the Chicago Tribune. The tests were performed by the FCC between 08/30/2019 and 09/23/2019. All cell phones tested by the FCC produced 1-g SAR values LESS than the 1.6Watts/Kg specified by the FCC, meaning that the phones comply with FCC regulations and that all of the phones are compliant with the FCC Standard.
One important thing to consider, the SAR was established in 1996 and reflected the average daily use by a 200 pound male with an exposure time of six minutes per day. In 1996, a phone was JUST A PHONE, in today’s world, a phone is not only a phone, but a portal to games, news, social media, and electronic entertainment. The AVERAGE TIME SPENT ON SMARTPHONES IS NOW 3 HOURS AND TEN MINUTES/DAY, with college students and college-age individuals spending nearly nine hours per day on their phones. Cell Phone Addiction is becoming a real problem with 98% of 18-28 year olds sleeping with their phone, 1 in 3 people would rather give up sex than their phone, 95% of people performing some activity with their phone just before they go to sleep. So, no doubt about it, the FCC standard is no longer based on real-life situations. We are likely getting much more exposure than was recommended in 1996, but the real question is still likely “What are the long term effects of RF energy on my health?”
The truth is that we don’t know the definitive answer to that question. There are people waving their fists in the air, one side complaining that the radio waves will be the death of us while the other swearing that they are completely harmless. Many of the arguments devised to prove whether they are safe or harmful use much higher frequencies than we are normally exposed to and still there is no positive correlation between our exposure to radio waves and the condition of our health.
In practical theory, this RF radiation does not have enough energy to ionize (remove an electron from) atoms like the higher frequency end of the EMR spectrum. Sources of ionizing energy cause cell mutations and are known carcinogens. There have been some reports of RF Syndrome. There are no specific symptoms associated with claims of EHS (Electromagnetic HyperSensitivity), and the reported symptoms range widely between individuals. They include headache, fatigue, stress, sleep disturbances, skin prickling, burning sensations and rashes, pain and ache in muscles and many other health problems. In severe cases such symptoms can be a real and sometimes disabling problem for the affected person, causing psychological distress. Despite these claims, there is still no hard scientific basis to link such symptoms to electromagnetic field exposure.
Thanks to CNET for this video!
In summation, we are all exposed to ambient RF radiation every day, along with Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR) at the higher frequency end of the spectrum (Gamma Rays, X-Rays, Ultraviolet Light, and Visible Light), which are known to be harmful in large doses over time. The wavelengths used in cell phone technology are well above these wavelengths and at a lower frequency, meaning that they have much less energy than the higher frequency EMR mentioned above. At this point, there is no real established link between health and RF radiation.
Taking steps to cut down “screen time/phone exposure time”, using a speaker phone to avoid holding the source close to your head, using “pocket protection” (if you’re a male) to shield your phone from your testes while in your pocket, will all cut down on your exposure to phone based RF. Additionally, wearing clothes that have RF shielding (read more), meaning that they are made of metalized textiles will help to lessen exposure to the ambient RF present at all times in our natural environment. If you are really interested in making your home as free as possible of RF exposure, there are many ways of shielding your house from penetration of radiofrequency waves (Architectural Shielding), as well as curtains, bed sheets, and blankets made of metalized textiles are available to LESSEN, not ELIMINATE your RF exposure. Like it or not, we’ll always have some exposure to RF radiation, it’s Natural!!