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Why Can't You Use Your Cell Phone on a Plane?

September 06, 2008 | 107,673 views
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cell phone, mobile phoneDespite what some flight attendants might say, making a call from your cell phone probably won't send your plane crashing to the ground. So why can’t you use it?

Your cell phone can interfere with avionics in theory. But in practice, it's not very likely. Cockpits and communications systems have been shielded against electromagnetic interference since the 1960s.

What’s really going on is resistance from the call carriers. When phones ping for signals at 35,000 feet, they can hit hundreds of towers at once, necessitating complicated roaming agreements. The technical problem is not insurmountable, but there isn’t enough demand for action. Only 16 percent of U.S. fliers are interested in using cell phones on planes; most people are vehemently opposed.

Still, OnAir, an air-to-ground communications company, already has an airborne cellular system in European trials, and by the end of the year plans to put the system on dozens of planes.
 

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

It’s good to hear that most Americans are “vehemently opposed” to cell phones on planes -- they should be vehemently opposed! Microwave exposure from cell phones and even Wi-Fi inside the plane would be magnified by reflections from the metal skin of the aircraft, making what is now one of the quietest microwave environments (in-flight) into one of the most intense -- something like a very-low-power microwave oven.

For the same reason, cell phone use should be banned at all times on commercial aircraft. No one should be allowed to use their cell phones or laptop Wi-Fi inside a plane before takeoff or after landing, even while sitting on the tarmac.

Airliners are worse than cars in this sense because there’s much less glass area relative to reflective metal. When you use a cordless phone or cell phone while standing near a metal door or refrigerator you also increase your exposure because of this reflective effect.

And as in all such situations, the young are much more vulnerable than adults, because of their thinner skulls, smaller heads, and still-developing brains and nervous systems. Not only should children not use cell phones, but adults should not use them (or Wi-Fi) around children, especially in a car, bus, train, or, even worse, in a windowless van -- especially in light of the fact that brain cancer has now overtaken leukemia as the number one cancer killer of children.

How Cell Phone Microwaves Interfere With Your Body

There are likely very few places left on earth, save those areas that are sparsely populated or, say, at the bottom of the ocean, that are not being bombarded by microwave radiation and electromagnetic frequencies from wireless devices.

The risk of being exposed to these frequencies increases the closer you get to them, but that doesn’t mean you need to be the one holding the cell phone or sitting next to the Wi-Fi router to be impacted. If cell phones are allowed on planes, for instance, those sitting around the person on a cell phone or laptop connected to the Internet will also be exposed to the microwaves.

But how, exactly, does this harm your health?

Your body is essentially a very sensitive electromagnetic instrument, controlled by highly complex and orderly oscillatory electrical processes. Each one of these electro-biological processes vibrate at a specific frequency -- some of which happen to be close to those used in modern GSM cell phone technology.

The pulsating, low-intensity microwaves from mobile phones can exert subtle, non-thermal influences on your body simply because microwaves are waves. As such, they have properties other than just intensity (which is the only part regulated by safety guidelines).

Therefore, much in the same way as a radio can receive interference, your biological processes can be interfered with by the oscillatory aspect of the incoming radiation.

Highly organized electrical processes at the cellular level are especially vulnerable to interference from cell phone radiation, because their frequency happens to fall within the microwave range. 

Many of these biological activities are influenced by your metabolism, meaning the effect of the radiation will be different from one person to another. 

The effect could also depend on the type of cell phone used, as different cell phones emit radiation at different frequencies.

Ultra-low intensity microwaves can affect processes as fundamental as cell division, and the TDMA frequencies of 8-34 Hz, and the DTX pulse frequency at 2 Hz, correspond to the frequencies of alpha and delta brain waves.

How to Protect Yourself From Cell Phone Radiation

I truly believe the widespread use of wireless devices is a public health disaster waiting to happen -- much like smoking turned out to be. So, I’ve written an entire book on the subject, which is due out in 2009.

Until then, here are my best guidelines to protect yourself from cell phone damage. Feel free to forward them on to your friends and loved ones, or print them out and post them someplace you see often.

Children Should Never Use Cell Phones: Barring a life-threatening emergency, children should not use a cell phone, or a wireless device of any type. Children are far more vulnerable to cell phone radiation than adults, because of their thinner skull bones.

Pregnant Women Should Also Avoid Cell Phones: Women who use mobile phones when pregnant may be more likely to give birth to children with behavioral problems.

Reduce Your Cell Phone Use: Turn your cell phone off more often. Reserve it for emergencies or important matters.

Use A Land Line At Home And At Work: Although more and more people are switching to using cell phones as their exclusive phone contact, it is a dangerous trend and you can choose to opt out of the madness.

Reduce or Eliminate Your Use of Other Wireless Devices: You would be wise to cut down your use of these devices. Just as with cell phones, it is important to ask yourself whether or not you really need to use them every single time. If you must use a portable home phone, use the older kind that operates at 900 MHz. They are no safer during calls, but at least they do not broadcast constantly even when no call is being made.

Use Your Cell Phone Only Where Reception Is Good: The weaker the reception, the more power your phone must use to transmit, and the more power it uses, the more radiation it emits, and the deeper the dangerous radio waves penetrate into your body. Ideally, you should only use your phone with full bars and good reception.

Turn Your Cell Phone Off When Not In Use: As long as your cell phone is on, it emits radiation intermittently, even when you are not actually making a call.

Keep Your Cell Phone Away From Your Body When It Is On: The most dangerous place to be, in terms of radiation exposure, is within about six inches of the emitting antenna. You do not want any part of your body within that area.

Use Safer Headset Technology: Wired headsets will certainly allow you to keep the cell phone farther away from your body. However, if a wired headset is not well-shielded -- and most of them are not -- the wire itself acts as an antenna attracting ambient information carrying radio waves and transmitting radiation directly to your brain. Make sure that the wire used to transmit the signal to your ear is shielded.

The best kind of headset to use is a combination shielded wire and air-tube headset. These operate like a stethoscope, transmitting the information to your head as an actual sound wave; although there are wires that still must be shielded, there is no wire that goes all the way up to your head.

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