A 2009 meta-analysis of 11 studies, published in Surgical Neurology, found that using a cell phone for ten years or more “approximately doubles the risk of being diagnosed with a brain tumor on the same (ipsilateral) side of the head as that preferred for cell phone use.” Â A 2009 analysis of 23 studies, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, found that people who used cell phones for ten years or more had a 10-30 percent higher chance of developing cancer than those who rarely or never used cell phones. And mouse studies show that cell phone exposure radically decreases sperm count, contributing to infertility.
Thanks to studies like these, the French government has made it illegal to market cell phones to children, and it has banned cell phones in public schools. Israel has legally mandated that cell phone manufacturers display the SAR level on every cell phone for sale in the country. And the governments of Finland, Switzerland, Germany, the UK, Canada, and Russia have also issued warnings advising cell phone users, especially children, to use headsets to minimize exposure to radio-frequency radiation.
11 Ways to Protect Yourself
- Always use a hands-free headset or the speakerphone setting when talking on your cell phone. Some researchers say a wired headset, especially a “hollow tube” headset you can special-order–which will be labeled as such and uses hollow tubes rather than wires to conduct sound–is the best. But even a Bluetooth wireless headset will reduce your radio-frequency radiation exposure by several thousand-fold.
- Keep the phone off your body. Carry your phone in a purse or bag with the antenna (back of the phone) pointed away from you, not in your pocket or bra. When you’re talking on it (with a headset or on speakerphone) put it on a table in front of you. Just a few inches can substantially reduce your radiation exposure.
- Text instead of talking. Holding your cell phone away from your head to send text messages exposes you to less radiation than talking on it without a headset.
- Turn it off. Phones only emit radio-frequency radiation when they’re searching for or receiving a signal, so a phone that’s off or in “airplane mode” is safe.
- Replace cordless phones with corded models. Cordless phones can emit as much radiation as cell phones, and the charging station constantly emits radiation.
- Use a low-radiation cell phone. Search FCC.gov/cgb/sar to find out the SAR level of your model, or consult the Environmental Working Group’s online database: EWG.org/cellphones. But no matter how low the SAR of your phone is, it’s still important the phone away from your head and body whenever possible.
- Keep your cell phone, cordless phone, and wireless modem away from your head. All three will expose you to radio-frequency radiation, so banish all three from the bedroom or, at least, keep them away from your head and body. If you must have wireless Internet, turn off your router when you’re not using it, especially at night–a power strip with a timer can help.
- Keep your phone fully charged. When a cell phone’s signal strength is weak or blocked, it has to work harder–and consequently emits more radiation.
- Be wary of devices that claim to block EMF exposure. A Google search yielded 236,000 results for “EMF protection,” most of which were sites selling “protective” devices ranging from pendants and crystals to microchips and herbal remedies. Most experts agree that many are based on quasi-science and there’s no evidence that they work. Some “EMF shields” for your phone can actually increase the amount of radiation that it emits, since they block the signal and the phone has to work harder.
- Don’t give cell phones to young children as toys or pacifiers. If you occasionally let your small tot play Pac-Man on your cell phone, put it into “airplane mode” so it won’t search for a signal–which means it won’t emit radiation.
- Take care with older children. Children are more susceptible to potential harm from radio-frequency radiation than adults. If you give your children a cell phone for safety reasons, also give them a headset and encourage them to text or use the speakerphone instead of putting the phone close to their heads.
Further resources can be found at www.environmentalhealthtrust.org or by reading Davis’ book “Disconnect: The Truth About Cell Phone Radiation, What the Industry Has Done to Hide It, and How to Protect Your Family” (Dutton, 2010).