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FCC Raises the Red Flag about Cell Phone Hazards

April 27, 2010 | 52,788 views
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cell phonesOn November 5, 2009, the FCC released their Consumer Facts on "Wireless Devices and Health Concerns." In this document, the FCC recommends precautions for the use of cell phones.

According to the FCC, “Recent reports by some health and safety interest groups have suggested that wireless device use can be linked to cancer and other illnesses. These questions have become more pressing as more and younger people are using the devices, and for longer periods of time.”

They now recommend the following steps:

  • Use an earpiece or headset
  • If possible, keep wireless devices away from your body when they are on, mainly by not attaching them to belts or carrying them in pockets
  • Use the cell phone speaker to reduce exposure to your head
  • Consider texting rather than talking
  • Buy a wireless device with lower Specific Absorption Rate (SAR)
 

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Public health agencies cannot continue to keep their heads in the sand while millions of people, including children, are unknowingly being exposed to radiation at levels that are putting their health at risk.

Warning Labels Should be Added to All Cell Phones

The issue has been heating up recently, and a bill introduced in Maine, which would make it the first to mandate warning labels on all cell phones, created a flurry of national attention. I suspect and sincerely hope it will not be much longer before cell phones are outed as the cigarettes of the 21st century, and this bill would be a first step toward that.

It calls for the following statement to be prominently placed on every cell phone and all related packaging, on a non-removable label:

“Warning, this device emits electromagnetic radiation, exposure to which may cause brain cancer. Users, especially children and pregnant women, should keep this device away from the head and body.”

In addition, the bill, as currently written, requires the label to include the color graphic showing the electromagnetic absorption of a 5-year old child’s brain, as depicted in a 1996 study published by the IEEE on the effect of cell phone microwave emissions on the neck and head.

Why You Can’t Trust Current FCC Cell Phone Standards

You may find it hard to believe that the FCC would allow cell phones on the market if they were unsafe. Well, the FCC does, in fact, require wireless devices to meet minimum safety guidelines for human use.

Unfortunately, these guidelines are based on exposure limits in terms of Specific Absorption Rate, otherwise known as the SAR value. The SAR value is a measure of the power of the cell phone and its potential for heating tissues.

But simply choosing a phone with a lower SAR value does not at all mean the phone is safe. Camilla Rees, founder of www.Electromagnetichealth.org and co-author with Magda Havas, PhD of Public Health SOS: The Shadow Side of the Wireless Revolution, explains:

“It is important consumers realize that the SAR value, while providing information for comparison purposes between phones, is very limited in its usefulness as a measure of ‘safety.’ We are greatly concerned that people may be turning to the EWG database in droves not understanding just how limited a measure the SAR value is.”

Why is the SAR value not an accurate measure of safety?

  1. The SAR value is only comparing the isolated heating effect of different phones and does not give an indication that a cell phone is ‘safe.’
  2. The power, or heating effect, of the phone is only one of many possible factors impacting cell phone ‘safety.’ Exposures to the radiation from the cell phone at non-heating levels have been linked to many serious biological effects, and the SAR value is not capturing anything about these harmful non-thermal exposures.
  3. SAR values are reported to the FCC by the manufacturer and have been known to vary from the reported number by a factor of two across models of the same phone.
  4. The SAR value varies with the source of exposure and the person using the phone. For example, if you are in a rural area or in an elevator or a car, where the cell phone uses more power, your brain will get a greater exposure from the higher power required in these instances. Under certain conditions, the SAR value can be 10-100 times higher than reported.
  5. Holding the phone in a slightly different way can actually render the worst SAR value phone better than the best SAR value phone.
  6. SAR values have been created based on simulations of exposure in a plexiglass head filled with fluid, not a human head, and many scientists consider them to be inaccurate and irrelevant at determining actual biological effects.

One of the worst deficiencies of the SAR value is that it only considers the thermal impact of cell phone usage, and it is very likely that the non-thermal effects of chronic cell phone exposure are more biologically damaging.

Even the FCC acknowledged this concern in their FCC Consumer Facts:

“Some experts think that low frequency magnetic fields rather than RF energy measured by the SAR possibly are responsible for any potential risk associated with wireless devices.”

Have You Heard? Cell Phones are Dangerous ...

In case you haven’t yet heard, there’s a reason why the FCC finally issued cell phone “precautions” despite the industry’s assurances to the contrary.

For starters, the 2009 special EMF issue of the Journal of Pathophysiology contains over a dozen different studies on the health effects of electromagnetic fields and wireless technology

In addition, a review of 11 long-term epidemiologic studies published in the journal Surgical Neurology revealed that using a cell phone for 10 or more years approximately doubles the risk of being diagnosed with a brain tumor on the same side of the head where the cell phone is typically held.

You should also know that:

  • A study by Dr. Siegal Sadetzki linked cell phone use to salivary gland tumors
  • Wearing a cell phone on your hip -- either on your belt or in a pocket -- has been linked to decreased bone density in the pelvic region. (All the other vital organs located in your pelvic region -- your liver, kidney, bladder, colon and reproductive organs -- are also susceptible to radiation damage).
  • Proximity to cell phone towers causes an increase in the symptoms of electromagnetic hypersensitivity, including fatigue, sleep disturbances, visual and auditory disturbances, and cardiovascular effects
  • The BioInitiative Report includes studies showing evidence for:
    • Effects on Gene and Protein Expression (Transcriptomic and Proteomic Research)
    • Genotoxic Effects – RFR and ELF DNA Damage
    • Stress Response (Stress Proteins)
    • Effects on Immune Function
    • Effects on Neurology and Behavior
    • Brain Tumors, Acoustic Neuromas, and childhood cancers like leukemia
    • And much more

I’ve barely scratched the surface with the examples I listed above. There are many, many more out there, and if you’re interested to learn more the Web site ElectromagneticHealth.org offers 10 free eye-opening audio interviews with some of the world’s leading experts in the field of EMF.

What Can You do to Stay Safe?

I urge you to take action now to protect yourself and your family from the dangerous effects of cell phones and other wireless devices. Please do not wait for the FCC to make a more serious warning or ban the phones altogether.

I believe this issue is so important I’ve created an entire web site dedicated to EMF education and information. Feel free to bookmark EMF.mercola.com and check back on occasion for the latest news and updates.

If you are not ready to give up your cell phone just yet, at the very least don’t let your young children use one, and avoid cell phone exposure while pregnant or carrying your infant. Children are FAR more susceptible to harm from microwave radiation than adults.

Further, you can at least minimize exposure by heeding the following advice:

  • Reduce your cell phone use: Turn your cell phone off more often. Reserve it for emergencies or important matters. As long as your cell phone is on, it emits radiation intermittently, even when you are not actually making a call.
  • 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 many of them do not broadcast constantly even when no call is being made.

Note the only way to truly be sure if there is an exposure from your cordless phone is to measure with an electrosmog meter, and it must be one that goes up to the frequency of your portable phone (so old meters will not be of much use). You can find meters at www.emfsafetystore.com.

As a general rule of thumb, you can pretty much be sure your portable phone is a problem if the technology is DECT, or digitally enhanced cordless technology.

  • 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.
  • Don’t assume one cell phone is safer than another: Please understand that despite assurances, there’s still no such thing as a “safe” cell phone.
  • Keep your cell phone away from your body when it’s 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 (so do not carry your cell phone on your belt, either).
  • 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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