By Marcie Barnes
Summarized from an assignment I completed for:
JOMC 710 "Computing Concepts and Issues: Power Tools for the Mind"
Professor Deb Aikat, Ph. D
April 9th, 2009
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Most of us are familiar with the possible dangers of radiation from things such as nuclear power plants, microwave ovens, x-rays, and power lines. New technology has introduced a few more devices that have entered the debate over what levels of radiation are harmful: the cell phone, and more recently, the wireless network. Because cell phones are used by 83% of Americans, and by some for the majority of their day, exposure to cell phones and the radiation they omit should be a top-of-mind issue. Similarly, wireless networks, commonly known as wifi, are popping up all over the country and the world, including public schools, in order to connect laptop and web-enabled phone users to the Internet. Both of these technologies may be causing a greater health risk via the radiation they emit.
FIVE FEARS OF THE ISSUE
1) General decline in public health: There are a bevy of research-proven illnesses attributed to overexposure to radiation, including: asthma, sleep disorders, anxiety disorders, attention deficit disorder, autism, multiple sclerosis, ALS, Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, cataracts, hypothyroidism, diabetes, malignant melanoma, cancer, heart attacks and strokes (including in young people) and "radio wave sickness". The more people are exposed to these devices and the towers associated with them, the higher the chances are that illness may ensue at some point.
2) Forest die-off, reproductive failure and population decline - these things have been found in many species of birds, as well as ill health and birth deformities in farm animals near microwave towers. Possible implications could include disruption of the food chain that could lead to extinction, contaminated food supply via direct exposure or from the birth defects and degradation of the animal's genetic material.
3) Privacy concerns - Some people are beginning to feel "invaded" by the proliferation of microwave radiation in our cities and towns, and even some of the most rural areas are no longer safe havens for those who may choose to live or spend time away from towers. Lawsuits could become more prevalent if more people fall ill and the link between radiation from wireless devices and illness is proven.
4) Major loss of productivity and well-being - Non-diagnosed, symptomatic effects of radiation sickness including things such as nausea, headache, fatigue, weakness, and depression could vastly effect the productivity and well-being of Americans.
5) Increased risk for children and teens - Those who are using these devices at a faster and faster pace are those perhaps most susceptible -- most likely because of their thinner skulls and developing tissues. This youtube video shows a study done in 1997 that reveals the higher amount of penetration in children: (Paul Fitzgerald: EMF expert and founder of the Research Center for Wireless Technology)
1) Cell Phone Radiation News Bureau
2) Electromagnetic Frequencies Blog
3) Wikipedia Entries on Mobile Phone Radiation and Health and Wireless Electronic Devices and Health
5) C-Net's Quick Guide: Cell Phone Radiation Levels
6) The dangers of Wi-Fi radiation
7) 5 tips to limit your cell phone risk
*Air on the side of caution - Use an earpiece instead of holding the device to your head, particularly for longer conversations. Bluetooth devices are a better alternative to holding the phone up to your head, but a wired headset with a ferrite bead or a hollow-tube device are the expert's choice. Keep conversations to a minimum. This simple yet effective piece of advice can save you quite a bit of radiation. Think back to the days when cell calls were .80/minute, and this one's easy to do. Avoid long conversations in locations, such as rural areas or enclosed areas, where a cell phone's network signal is weak. A weak signal makes the phone emit more power so it can connect to a faraway cell tower.
* If you buy your preteen or young teenager a phone, make sure he or she follows the above precautionary measures. Parents should be vigilant about their children's using speakers or hands-free devices, and about limiting the number of calls and amount of time their children spend on the phone. A comprehensive list of strategies (for both young and old) is found here: http://planetgreen.discovery.com/food-health/reduce-your-risks-from-cellpho.html
* File complaints to the Federal Trade Commission, the nation's consumer protection agency, and your local government officials about your concerns about lack of space to go to be "free" of technology radiation.