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HEALTH

Gellnhone Hazards And Recbmmendations


Mobile phones have been found to cause changes in the brain activity, reaction times and sleep phtterns. The length of cellphone call affects the intensity of these symptoms. As it's not possible for us to stop using mobile phones altogether, precautionary measures are needed to avoid their ill effects
non-ionising ladiatiorl.
These are charactedsed

showed an increased lisk of traffic ac-

by energy per photon of less than about 12 election volts (eV),

cidents when mobile phones (either handheld or with a hands-Iree kit) are used while driving.
a major concern. When

wavelengths greater than 100 nanometres (nm) and frequencies


lower than 3x Hz. In Iesponse to pubL0r5

Electromagnetic interferer1ce is also mobile phones are used close to some medical devices

lic and

governmen-

tal concern, the World

(including pacemakers, implantable defibrillators and certain hearing aids), there is the possibility of interfelence with their operation. Other health effects o{ using mobile
phones include changes in the brain activity, reaction tirnes and sleep pattems.

Health Organisation
(WHO) siarted the International Electromagr.retic Fields (EMF) Project in 1996 to assess the

Radiation absor?tion. Part of the raoio wave' emitted b1 a celJphone is


absorbed by the human head. The rate at which the ladiatioll is absorbed by the human body is measured by the specific absorption rate (SAR), and its maximum levels for latest handsets have been set by governmental regulating agencies in many countries. SAR is defined as the time de-

scientiJic evidence of
possible adverse health

RAJIV I(UMAR SIIIGH

effects of electromagnetic fields. Given the imnense number of people who use mobile phones, even a small increase in the incideDce of adverse effects on health could have major

rivative of the incremental energy


absorbed by or dissipated in
ar.r

incre-

obile phones use electromagnetic radiation in the nlicrowave range, u'hich


harmlul to human health. They communicate b)' iransmitting radio waves through a netrvork of fixed anma1, be

public health imlrlications.

Because

nental mass contaired in a volume


eiement of a given density. SAR values are heavily dependent on the size of the averaging volume. ln the USA, the Federal Communications Commission (ICC) has set ar SAR lirnit of 1.6W/k9 averaged over a volume of one gram of tissue, for the head. In Europe, the limit is 2W/kg averaged over a volume of 10 grams of tissue-

exposure io the RF fields emittecl by mobile phones is generally more than a thousand times than from base stations, there is a greater likelihood of
any adverse effect of handsets.

tennae called base stations. Ra(lio-lrequenL\ r a\ P. .rre ele.-

Health hazards
A large number of studies have been
perlormed over the last t\'vo decades
to assess vi'hether mobile phones pose a potential healtir rjsk. An assessment was published in 2007 by the European Commission Scientific Committee on Emergng and Newly ldentified Health Risks (SCENIHR). The research clearll'

tromagnetic fields, and unlike ionising radiation such as X-rays or gamma

1avs, cannot break chemical bonds nor cause ionisation in the human body. All radiations and fielcls of the elechomagnetic spectrum that do not normally have sulficient energy to produce ionisation in matter are tennecl as

Measurement of SAR value is a complicated process and comprises a phantom human head, specially developed liquids, a robot fitted with a neasurement Probe and a mobile phone powered up to its maximum
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certjfied powcr leYel. Tlrcnnal efiects. Tissue hcating is the principal mechanisn of inieraction betr,r'een radio-frequency energy and lhe hurr.'r bod1. l i.rue i- a Jiele, tr.L material u'hich is heated by rotatiolls rrl L'nl.rr |'r,'l. rul.- in.lucc,l b1 lJte n
r

HrnrH

fects. These studies proved that stress proteins occur for extrenely low frequencies (ELF) ar.rd radio frequencies which have very differcnt energl' 1erels. Some stuclies indicated a leakage of alburnin into the brain via a permeated blood brain barrier. Several other

REFLEX (Risk Evaluation of Polential

Environmental Hazards from Low Energy Electromagnetic Field Exposure Using Sensitive in-vitro Methods) indicated some evidence of DNA danrage of cells in in-vitro cultures, damage

to chromosomes, boosted rate of cell


division and alterations in the activity
of certain genes. Carcer. A multinationai case-contiol study on adults, INTERPIIONE, coordinated by the Illternational Agency fcr Re.e.u. lr orr ( d n, ( r (lA RC). ir\ e. ti

crou'ave rac1i;rtion. At the frequencies used b1' mobile phones, most of the energy is absorbecl b,y the skin ancl other superficial tissues, rcsuliing in neglitiible temperature lise in the braiD or an\. other organs of the

>iuJie- .rrdir.rtrd thal ihe blooJ-brJin balrier breaks clown with exposure to
low-intensity cellphone f requency. Cogflitizte effects. Thc inpact of cellphone radiation on coinitive func tions of hunans has bcen studiecl b1, severill resear cher's. These studies corrfirnccl slou'er response to a spatial working mcnory iask t'hen erposcd
to cellphone racliatjon.

bodl'.

h-r ihe case of a pelsolr using a celJphone, most of tl-re heating effect oc curs at the sudacc of the head, causing its tempcrature k) increase by a frac

wllethcr tl-re ilF fielcls eniitctl bl' cellphor1es increased the risk of carcer.
iirtecl

The study focusecl on tumours arising ii the tissues rnost exposecl to RF


fields

tion of a clegree. The local bloocl flow mecllarisnl of the brain is capable of
disposing of exccss hcat. However, the cornea of eye does not have temperature rcgulatiqr mechanisn imcl is more prone to produce cataracts. Long duration cellphone usag;e also

The Defcnce Evaluation and Rc search Agency (DERA), thc UK's larjc-t -. ien...,rn,l te. hnolog) orpdnisation, has conducted rcscarch on cellphones' EM racliation on the brain cells of rats and sho$'ed loss of lnernory for short pcriods. Several users of mobile phones also rcported short-tenn men-

fron rnobile phones: glioma and meningioma (the rnost conmon types of brain tunours), acoustic neu noNa and parotid glard tumours. It found no
increased risk of gliona or rneningiolna but there were some indications of an

buning effects to thc ear aid earachcs, or shaip pairs iirside ihe ear to
causes

ory loss. The cognitivc functions

are

lhe -.m

re

lrelti.

\r

-irle ol the r'r'al a- llrr.l,hune i- u-tsrr p\en erperien., l-'a n

clescencling down from just behind the car- onto the jaw. Some users feel nunb ing sensatioirs or tingling rnainly in the

outer alea of ear, face or jaw. Eye problens maY include flutter-

heavily atfectecl by lonier exposure. EM alletgic reactioa. A nurnber of studies have investigated the effects of mobilc phone radiation spccifically during ancl after ils use. fhe users lepolted several unspecific symPtoms

increased risk of glioma for those who reported thc highest 10 per cent of cumulative hours oI cellphone use. However, it has been suggested thrf FM fields associated with cellphones may play a role in speeding up thc development of an existing cancer. Some studics repoited lump in the neck or ear (lymphomas) also.

like burning and tingling sensations


irr the skin of the head and extrernities,

ing of the eyelids, blur-ring of vision and blooclshot eye-always in the eye nearest the cellphone. Several studies have indicated that low level Ilf exposure due io cellphones could cause sigr-Lilicant visual effects, irtluding the desbuction oI corneal endothelial cells, ilcreased vascuiar penneability ald de
shuction of photoreceptors in the retina.

Recommendations
To date, research does not suggest any
consistent evidence of adverse l-realth effects 6:onr exposure to EM fields at levels belou' those that cause tissue heating.

sleep disturbances, Llizziness, fatigue, loss of rnental iittention, rcaction times and menrorJi reLentiveness, headaches, heart palpitations, bloocl pressure and disturbances in djgestive systen.

The WHO has issued a precautionaly


prir-rciple applied il circulnstances with a high clegree of scientific uncertainty,

Most

r-lsers

reported pain or ache

on the same side as they held the phone

and normallv in the temporal region.


When pain is located on one side of the head, users can hvariablv reproduce it on thc other side by s$.itchhg ears in an effort to obtain temporary relief.

No -thelthal e/ecfs. Some bio physicists argue that thcre ate several thennoreceptor molecules in cells, which activate a cascade of second
ar-rcl

third nessenger systems/

gene

expression rncchanisms and production of heat-shock ploteins in or-der to defend the cells against mctabolic cell -lr.r-..rur.J br he.rl. llre inrrer.er tn temperature that caLLse these changes
are too small to be deiected.

Geflotoxic e/fecfs. Cellphone IIF racliation at both 900 MHz and


1800

MHz and sAR of

1.1.4

27.5w/kg

shou,ed a correlation between increasir-r1; SAR and clecreasecl rnotilitv and vitalitv in sperm, increaseci oxidative stress, stimulerting DNA base adduct

reflecting ihc need to tale achon for a potentially serious dsk without awaiting the results of scientific research. Sonre rcconnnendations to minimise tl-le Possible health hazards are: 1. Keep the cellphone as {ar away from your body as possible. By moving the cellphor-re just 5 cm away frorn your heacl n'l-fle talkirrg on it. electromagnetic radiation that reaches to head is reduced bv 75 per cent.

Sone studies indicated tlut stress


proLeins are unlelatecl to thermal ef
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forrnation ancl ir-rcreased DNA frag mentation. A Eulopean study named

Turn your celiphone off at night because EN,[ racliation emitted by the cellphone can disturb sleep quality.
2.
ELECTRONTCS TORYOU

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HEALTH

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Do not use telephone in a car 'ithoui an elternal anLenna.
14.

15. The base of a corciless phone emits high levels of EM radiation, even n'hen it is not being used. So use a regulal phone as much as possibie. Regular phones are iile safest bet for conversation and rvork. 16. Avoicl using a cellphone n'lren vou are pregnant. Tl-re cieveloping orgar-rs oI the fetus are most sensitive to any possible EM radiation exposure.
Electromaqnetic field penetratian in an aduit and a child

Moreover, cellphoncs generate

1on,

3. Avoid cairying your cellphone in your pocket, on ).our belt or in your hand. If you do carry the cellphone in ) our forl eL or hdrd bag, alwa1. pu'i tion it such that the keYpad faces tou'ards you. This way the antema faces away from you. Body tissue in the abdomen absorbs radiation more quickly than the head. The hip produces 80 per cent of the body's red blood cells and is especiallv vulnerable to electromag netic ra.liation damage. Close proxim-

itv may also damage fertiiity.


Consider using your laptop co[1puter to make calls or send an instant
4.

EM radiation decreases m proportion direct to the distance of the source from vour bod1r. So never hold the phone directly against your hea.l. 8. Avoid making calls 'hen travelling fast. Cellphoncs autonatically in crease output po\^'er rvhen moving fast as these attempt to connect or handover to the next cellphone base stati(nl9. When purchasing a cellphone, iet one with low SAR. 10. Avoid using a cellphone in metal enclosules like lifts, elevators, vehicle",
as possible.

lcvels of non-ionising racliation, whiclr are more likely to cause behavioural

issues ir.r children after birth. High alnounts of these waves can disruPt body tissues-that's one reason 1\4ry it is suggested to u'ear protcctivc shiclcling l!'hen getting an X-raV clone. 17. Don't allon' children to usc a

cellphone, except for emergencies.


Childrcrr arc at a greater risk because dreir skulls havc not completely thickenecl. Childlen's skulis are thiuer and their blain contains n-rore flnid tl-r;rn

adnlts'. Erposure of voung chilclren

lressaSe.

5. Avoid using wired headsets. Headseis including the ear buds ihat

sublvays alrd arr1-llales. Metal enclosures act iike Fanda-v cage, bapping sorne of the radiation and reflecting it back upon you and others. So turn off youl cellphone inside all metal eDclosures. 11. Make calls lr'hen anci lvl-rere vou have a strong signal. In most svstems,

to cellphone radiation mav be more


detdrnental to their health, especialll' during the rievelopment ancl matuta-

tion of the central nelvous system, ilrlnune systen ancl critical olgans.
Electrornagnetic fields easil]' pcretr.ltc through the brain of chilc|er-r, ir-rcreasing ihe risk of cancer (see the figure).

with most cellphones today, act as an antenna, channeling eieccome


tromagnetic racliatjon dircctl], to the ear canal. When you use regularr ear' buds or ear pieces, you get three tines

ihe cellphone and the base st;riiotl


check the reception qualitl' and signal stlength, and increase ot dectease llr. p.,h cr ll-\ vl .,ul', nrlr..rll\ . !^ ilhi a cer-tain span, to;rccomnro(1atc for

more EM radiation than

if you helcl

the cellphone against your ear. Also, you tet it directly into your ear canal, ,ind ultirndlt'l\ iu your br.rin. \-' ii ireconrnenaled not to listen to mLrsic ou a cellphone using headsets. 6. Usc air tube headscts with {errite beads. Air-tube ileaclsets ;rre believecl lo be safer because these clon't work ars anterxla and EM radiation can't travel up the air tube like it does on a regular wirecl earphone. Further, ferrite beads suppress EM radiation and dissipate it as heat. So, it is recommendecl to

different situatlons such;rs insicle

or'

outsicle buiiclings ancl vehicles. When

'fhc electronagneiic fielcl penetratioLr in;in aclult ancl a child clari{ies it. 18. Use a Bluetooth headsct in order to minimise EM r;rdiation. lt hals been founcl that Biuctooth headsets cmit 1/100th the EM racljation of a
normal cellphonc. But \{,hatever is radiaierl Lr), ihis iype of headset directl)' e .1. r' rhe e.rr ...r'rl .rrr.l rrlLrrr h ,li"rL lr- r'b- r. re clc. rr i. ,r ri\ r() ul llrH Lrr.rir' "l '19. Use a cellphone racliaiion plotcctiol clevice lvhich has a patelltecl shielcl technology that sLrpcrimposes a lou'ficquencl, noise-field onto ihe radio flecluency to milke it harmless f.r
the

the sign.rl is wcak, cellltrones auiornatically increase thc p()wcr outpui,


exposi[g you k) greater EM racliation. 12. Linlil ihe anount cri time 1'ou talk on cellphores. Just.r th,o-lrinute call olr ;r cellpholre m;rv cllsturb the elrttrical ac

tivity of thc Lrain for up to iin hour. The nore time vou spend on mobilc phonc, lhe gre;L"r' r n.r l li-k ,,i,ler "lopLrg brairt
cancer. So keep i,our talking bricf. You

bodv. a

use airtube headsets


cellphone.

t'ith a feuitc

nray be saving not ol]lv money but a


quite possibly your own. 13. Use hanrls-free kit to clecrease the radr.rtion to the hcad.
life

bead placed as close as possible to the 7. Use the speaker phone as much

The author is a luniat telecan alt'icer in BSNL, tudr,d.d PuntaD a,d pu'utnc1 p.tD degtee n eleatrantcs enginee U tjrn lnstitute af Iechn1logy, Banaras Hntdu Urivesity, vatanasi

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