Playing it Safe with Cell Phones

I’ve been skeptical about reports that body contact with cell phones can cause problems, but a strange sensation and a new book have changed my attitude. I first noticed the whooshing sound in my right ear after I spent a few days in October visiting my parents.

I’d talked a half hour or so each night with my husband, the phone nestled between my ear and a pillow. I took a decongestant to see if it was a sinus problem, but the strange sound has continued since I’ve been home: when it’s quiet, I can hear the blood pulsing on the right side of my head.

Then, a few weeks ago, I came across a review in the Washington Post. A new book claims there is definitive proof that radiation from cell phones, cordless phones and even blue tooth devices can be harmful over time. In Disconnect, author and epidemiologist Devra Davis reviews four decades of research, explaining complicated technical concepts in clear and simple language.

She concludes there are enough disturbing findings and unanswered questions that we should actually pay attention to the warnings manufacturers stuff into the box with their wireless products – not to press them directly onto the body.   Davis cites compelling evidence that microwaves created when phones send and receive signals can painlessly interfere with the brain’s natural defense mechanisms. Other studies indicate it’s not a good idea to hold a phone in the front pants pocket – as most males do.

Children apparently are at special risk. In some European countries, cell phone use is banned for children younger than 16.

My son’s time studying at Rochester Institute of Technology has taught me that a group of motivated designers can solve almost any problem. So I’m fully confident cell phones in the future will be much safer. But for now, people may not be getting enough protection. Thus, I have raided the Radio Shack supply of The Plantronics MX200 Headset for Wireless Phones. The relatively low-tech device lets you talk on the phone where it’s supposed to be – away from your head.

I passed along Davis’s advice to my boy relatives not to carry a phone in the front pocket – but if they do, to face the keyboard inward because the antenna is embedded in the back. This explains why holiday gifts this year to my loved ones are merely practical. But I must say that whooshing noise has gotten quieter since I’ve been texting more and using a wire or speakerphone to talk.Save the Males by Environmental Health Trust  To get more inspiration for being active, effective and “built to last”, read the easy, breezy  Durable Human  Manifesto – now also a 25-minute Audiobook with the sounds of music, nature, robots and giggly kids. Learn more about this author on Google+ and sign up here for other Durable Human posts, news, and freebies.

3 thoughts on “Playing it Safe with Cell Phones

  1. This is a subject I think about a lot too.

    There’s been talk from experts that headsets can deliver radiation to the head too, carried from the phone via the conductive wires. There’s one super-paranoid headset that actually has plastic tubing between the speakers and your years, to prevent anything conductive being too close to the brain.

    Also, just having an iPhone means it’s connecting wirelessly to the phone network and/or wifi regularly, getting mail, and doing other things (unless you have it in Airplane Mode). So, just because you’re not talking on an iPhone doesn’t mean it’s not emitting potentially harmful radiation.

    And don’t get me started about the full body airport scanners! Too much technology that hasn’t been around long enough to know long term effects.

  2. I loved this! There need to be more open minded and pragmatic individuals discussing this issue. I hope we can work together and support each other in the future 🙂

    @saferphones

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