Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Cell Phones: Cancer Risk?

The NPR NEWS HOUR cell phone story tonight missed at least one if not two serious and obvious questions. The first is that "ear pieces" are nowadays mostly wireless. Why NPR interviewer Jeffrey Brown didn't ask expert Dr. Black why wearing wireless earpieces (Bluetooth headsets) is safer than using cell phones themselves, is an obvious oversight. My educated guess is that, due to the lower output power of BT devices, headsets are of lesser concern. But they typically stay on the head all day, emitting at least intermittent signals. So, this is of potential concern.

The second missed point addresses relative danger of exposure to other sources of microwave radiation (e.g. leakage from microwave ovens) and to the radiation from hundreds of radio and TV stations and their electromagnetic waves that are (ironically) bringing many of us the news of this exact story. These and other radio frequencies such as short-wave, fire and police communication, and numerous other frequencies of electromagnetic radiation are careening through our bodies all the time and have been since the advent of radio. Many of those signals (especially TV and radio) have to travel much further distances than a cell phone signal (which only has to reach the closest neighborhood cell receiver) and so are substantially stronger. They are also running through our bodies and brains 24/7. Has anyone done a study to determine whether living with constant bombardment of these TV and radio signals (and now WiFi) increases cancer? (Another obvious question missed in the interview.) True, a cell phone transmitter is placed adjacent to the head, while a TV transmitter is typically miles away. But what is at issue is the power (amplitude) of the signal and the frequency of the signal. A cell phone is typically a single signal (possibly s second signal for Internet data on smart phones that can receive and send both at the same time). But the aggregate milliwattage of all the radio signals in the atmosphere of a typical metro area must be considerable.

The way this story is being covered on all the news outlets exposes the scientific naivety of many journalists, and leaves the public prone to confusion and even to wasting their money on so-called cell-phone 'safety devices' such as the 'Bio-Chip' and other untested, and often phoney gadgets pawned by con artists and hucksters like snake oil, claiming to reduce the chances of brain cancer.

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