Cell Phone Dangers - Potential Health Risks

By: Matthew Hick

Possible dangers of cell phones are a highly debated subject. Some are indisputable and others have strong advocates and meet with opposition simultaneously. As more studies are conducted the discussion will continue to draw controversy and concern.

Cancer warnings: The possibility or probability of cancer causing effects from cell phone use and exposure to cellular towers is a controversial topic. With over 200 million wireless phones in use and all the 195,000 plus cell towers that receive and transmit the signals to these devices are we safe? Are there dangers associated with living in near proximity? This is often a hot topic in the news when studies of negative findings are reported.

Some scientific studies have suggested a link between cell phones and brain cancer. It's difficult to know whether these results are reliable. Although it is reassuring that the majority of published studies did not find any danger of cancer, there is not enough information available to say that this concern has been disproven.

Wireless telephones are two-way radios. When you talk into a wireless telephone, it picks up your voice and converts the sound to radiofrequency energy (or radio waves).

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) each regulate wireless telephones. FCC ensures that all wireless phones sold in the United States follow safety guidelines that limit radiofrequency (RF) energy. FDA monitors the health effects of wireless telephones. Each agency has the authority to take action if a wireless phone produces hazardous levels of RF energy.

Hearing loss: If you use a cell phone for more than 60 minutes a day, a new study finds that your hearing may be compromised.

The study, "Audiological Disturbances in Long-Term Mobile Phone Users", was presented at the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation's Annual Meeting & OTO EXPO conference by Dr. Naresh Panda. Findings were that those who used their phone for more than an hour each day, for more than four years, had noticeable losses in high frequency hearing. Long-term use of a cell phone also may cause inner ear damage and can lead to high frequency hearing loss, researchers found.

Users of cell phones are warned to look out for ear symptoms such as ear warmth, ear fullness, and ringing in the ears (tinnitus) as early warning signs of an auditory abnormality. Dr. Panda also suggested the use of earphones, which were found to be safer than holding a mobile phone up to the ears.

Distractibility is certainly a contributing factor in motor vehicle accidents. Answering, calling or texting from a cell phone while driving will detract from the attention given to the task at hand. Twenty million drivers having the chance to interact with a wireless device while driving is not something easily ignored. Another point of view often raised is whether it is any more distracting than casual conversation in the vehicle, adjusting the radio, changing a CD, drinking a cup of coffee, or handing an item to a child in the back seat? Several states have laws prohibiting cell phone use while driving. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety lists states and localities with bans in effect.

News reports had linked the sharp decline in the honeybee population with mobile phone RF signals. Those claims have now been squashed. A three-year scientific study conducted at U.S. universities has uncovered a virus that is thought to have come from imported bees and royal jelly and then spread through apiaries, causing the death of the bees. The research also suggested factors such as the practice of transporting bees in closed trucks may put the bees under stress and make them more likely to contract the virus. The next step in the research is to infect a sample of bees with the virus to see if it is definitely to blame.

The following organizations can provide additional information and resources in regard to health and safety of cell phones.

-Federal Communications Commission.
-Food and Drug Administration.
-National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
-World Health.

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