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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: Baylor3217 on September 06, 2013, 10:20:26 AM

Title: Cell Phone use and health concerns
Post by: Baylor3217 on September 06, 2013, 10:20:26 AM
LIke many of us in the corporate world, I'm tied to my phone.  I probably have wifi on in my pocket or in my hand 10+ hours per day or laying in bed holding the phone basically against ones stomach and reading, doing email, etc.

On top of that, starting to use TalkaTone when I can means more Wifi voice usage generally (or 4g when away from a hot spot).

When I talk on the phone I almost exclusively have the phone away from my head as I have headphones plugged in or wireless bluetooth in my car (not using a wrap around the ear blue tooth).

I've often wondered the impact to my hands for holding the phone this long or stomach from reading in bed or on the couch.

Any insight into research done on this and what I may be able to do to help limit exposure?
Title: Re: Cell Phone use and health concerns
Post by: destron on September 06, 2013, 10:25:14 AM
Are you talking about cell phone radio waves causing cancer? There is no credible evidence showing that cell phone (or wi-fi) use has any effect. There is credible evidence that cell phone use does _not_ increase the incidence of cancer, including large scale multi-decade studies the Norway and The Netherlands.

"So cell phone radiation is below the danger threshold, but what about damaging effects even at those low radio levels? To quote the study: "The group found no evidence that the low-level fields around mobile phones and other transmitters increase the risk of cancer, impair male fertility, cause other reproductive damage or lead to other diseases and adverse health effects."

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health cites an influential Danish study in discussing possible cancer risks of cell phone use. The massive, 18-year study looked at 360,000 cell phone users and found no evidence of increased cancer rates."

There is plenty more information out there. I would say that you do not need to limit your exposure for those reasons, but the only way to actually limit your exposure would be to use the cell phone less or place it on your desk at arm's length when you are not using it.
Title: Re: Cell Phone use and health concerns
Post by: Jamesqf on September 06, 2013, 11:46:52 AM
AFAIK the only health impact of cell phone use comes from talking while driving (or walking, etc).

But if it bothers you, why do it?  It's perfectly possible - and IMHO easier & faster - to read email on a computer than a cell phone.
Title: Re: Cell Phone use and health concerns
Post by: Nords on September 06, 2013, 01:02:28 PM
LIke many of us in the corporate world, I'm tied to my phone.  I probably have wifi on in my pocket or in my hand 10+ hours per day or laying in bed holding the phone basically against ones stomach and reading, doing email, etc.
I'd say the biggest danger is to the relationship with whoever else is trying to hold your hand or share your bed.

That viral video "I Forgot My Phone" hits pretty hard considering that there's almost zero dialogue.  But then, if nobody was using their phones then there'd be more face-to-face dialogue...
Title: Re: Cell Phone use and health concerns
Post by: BlueMR2 on September 06, 2013, 04:18:55 PM
I have a hard time seeing how a cellphone would realistically cause any problems.  I'm certainly open to be proven wrong by a properly executed scientific study though.  Some random info that comes to mind:

- Cellphone radiation (scary word, but it's accurate) is non-ionizing.  What does that mean?  It means it doesn't strip atoms of electrons at any power level.  You could have a 10000 watt cellphone on your side and you're not going to get classic ionizing radiation poisoning (like Fukushima, Hiroshima, etc.).

- Cellphone radiation DOES cause heating.  Some of them are in the exact same band as your microwave oven.  100 watts of that right next to your head will cause heating in the brain and eyes.  Most likely damage is loss of eyesight due to bubbles forming in the eye.

- Your cellphone does not use 100 watts.  It's much lower than that.  :-)  I don't have current figures off the top of my head, but I recall older ones running .25 watt.  I'd be surprised if it's over 1 watt.  You know those little handheld CB radios we all ran around with as kids.  5 watts most of 'em.  GMRS radios.  5 watts.  Note that FRS is much lower.  I think those are .25 watt, but it's due to avoiding interference and not any specific concern over radiation.  Different frequencies that don't heat up the body as fast too, but still (although, FRS/GMRS are at the bottom end of the sensitive to heating range)...

- Time of exposure is critical.  If it's hanging on you hip, it's only doing periodic quick tower checkins.  If you talk on it for 8 hours straight, it's transmitting a much larger percentage of the time.  In your hands while you watch streaming video, you're getting a lot of exposure time.  Playing non-networked app game, not so much.

- Radiation absorbed drops off rapidly with distance.  Planted on the side of your face, you absorb a LOT more than if it's on the table next to you.  Maybe I should reverse that...  You don't get much when talking on it and get much LESS when it's a foot away...

- I'm a ham radio operator and we have a lot of guys in the clubs that run a whole lot more power, a whole lot closer to the body (we have FCC exposure guidelines to follow, but they allow for MUCH more exposure than anyone will ever get from a cellphone) and there is no issue with us getting cancer or anything else at any accelerated rate.
Title: Re: Cell Phone use and health concerns
Post by: Dee18 on September 06, 2013, 04:57:40 PM
thank you all for this information!
Title: Re: Cell Phone use and health concerns
Post by: Baylor3217 on September 06, 2013, 05:02:33 PM
thanks for the info guys.  much appreciated.

I'd say my biggest side effect is my right hand heating up from holding it for extended periods of time to read work related stuff. 

Having a laptop in your lap probably isn't much better or worse so it's 6 of one I'd think from that standpoint.
Title: Re: Cell Phone use and health concerns
Post by: TLV on September 07, 2013, 08:42:41 AM
The heating up you notice in your hand is probably from the CPU (ie it feels hot to the touch) rather than the radio.
Title: Re: Cell Phone use and health concerns
Post by: Daley on September 07, 2013, 09:44:29 PM
Baylor, there's a few things that should be considered in your question. BlueMR2 hit some solid points, as did Nords, but have a few other things to chew on given the thought processes. I do think these are things worth bringing to the table to consider.

1) No, there's no conclusive evidence that there's a link between cancer and non-ionizing microwave radiation from GSM/CDMA and WiFi networks. That said, we're still less than a decade into the levels of exposure we're subjecting society to. As for the shaky studies both proving and disproving any adverse health effects with non-ionizing radiation, it's safe to say there's bias and corruption on both ends. Everyone has an agenda to prove, and people with agendas manipulate numbers and throw out datasets that disprove their pre-concluded ideas.

2) Something doesn't have to cause cancer for it to be unhealthy or cause a negative impact on a living organism. Even high enough levels of non ionizing microwave radiation can cause cellular damage through heat and other means. There has been preliminary evidence linked to cellular DNA and structural damage with microwave radiation, even at really low levels. This comes at no surprise however, where there have been MRI studies that have shown that a solid hour of standard cellphone radiation exposure can increase brain tissue temperatures by measurable amounts. Once more, however, we're still far too early in the game to know what sorts of ill effects will be seen with lifetime low level accumulation. The hubris of man is that he always thinks that what he knows right now is the pinnacle of knowledge and scientific discovery. That may be true insofar as it's all mankind knows, but mankind really still doesn't know squat. We're still making regular discoveries that void out conclusions that we thought we'd already etched in stone with health and biology regularly. Clearly, we need more good studies.

3) This radiation can do damage to living organisms, otherwise there wouldn't be SAR limits on devices. The debate becomes "how much" which ties back to the first two points. Fortunately, we're dealing with mostly flea power broadcasting in the greater scheme with handsets, and has been pointed out it doesn't take much distance to massively drop off exposure levels. No, we aren't talking about holding a 1000W microwave oven against your head, but when dealing with unknowns, why not simply err on the simple side of caution instead of being a slave to technology or potentially bad science? It's not difficult.

4) There's the social erosion and psychological impact aspect as well. Being attached to these things perpetually isn't a healthy place to be mentally. It distracts from life, it's addictive, and it reduces your ability to unwind, relax and simply be bored... and boredom is a good thing. Being at the beck and call of a little electronic device is no way to live, no matter how many people have fooled themselves into thinking it is.

There's a reason why I approach my guide the way I do and push for home use with VoIP carriers. We clearly don't know enough from a scientific standpoint yet to be fully in agreement to the risks associated with this sort of technology and constant exposure even at these levels on a regular basis, so I advocate against using the cellphone unless absolutely necessary. This has a two-fold effect: 1) it limits your exposure on the safe side of the argument spectrum, and 2) it saves you massive amounts of money in the process. That's what you'd call a win-win.

As for my lack of citation with the points... normally I cite the living daylights out of posts, but I'm deliberately omitting them this time around to encourage research by all parties.