by Dr. Iain Corness
Don’t put your phone on your tummy
I read a lot of scientific papers every
week. It seems that all over the world there are groups of scientists
devoting their laboratory lives to study the effects of radiation from
mobile phones. One group even went so far as to suggest that pregnant women
should not place their mobile phones on their abdomens as the radiation can
get as far as the developing brain in the fetus as the skull is so much
thinner than adults.
If that was not chilling enough, Australian scientists are investigating if
children really are more vulnerable than adults to the effects of radiation
from mobile phones.
Apparently, a study of 110 adults at the Australian Centre for
Radiofrequency Bioeffects Research, partly funded by the Federal Government,
confirmed mobile phones cause a change in brain function by altering
brainwaves known as alpha waves.
The center, at Melbourne’s Swinburne University of Technology, has been
investigating the effect on 40 children aged 12 to 13, and 20 people aged 55
to 75 years.
“Although there’s a tiny effect on healthy young adults, there is a
possibility that it could be much stronger in children or the elderly,” said
Professor Rodney Croft. However, there was no indication from the adult
tests if the effect on health was positive or negative.
Mobile phones are hardly new technology, although the latest 3G variety seem
to be able to do everything from cleaning the house, watering the garden and
washing the dog, as well as making and receiving telephone calls. There have
been claims that using mobile phones produces brain cancer because people
with brain cancer have used mobiles, and that is about as stupid as claiming
that shoes are the greatest killer in the western society because 99 percent
of people who died last year wore shoes.
Now one of the articles I read admitted that scientists worldwide agreed
there is no evidence linking electromagnetic radiation emitted by mobile
phones to adverse health effects, but claims still persist that frequent use
can cause headaches, nausea, problems with concentration, cancer and brain
The new Australian study comes as France’s health ministry warned parents to
prevent children using mobiles when reception is poor or during high-speed
travel. Authorities in France advised limiting the use of mobiles overall.
This is almost as sensible as the (now rescinded) order in the UK that
mobiles had to be turned off in hospitals because they interrupted cardiac
pacemakers. I am yet to see a pacemaker which comes with the warning “Do not
use mobile phones with this device. Communicate by semaphore flags only.”
However, there’s no smoke without fire, as it says in my local fire station
and last year the National Research Council of US called for more studies
into the possible health hazards of wireless devices and base stations on
children, unborn babies and pregnant women.
Researchers fear children may be more vulnerable because the exposure dose
received by a child’s brain is higher than an adult’s and their nervous
system is still developing.
With one in two Thais aged six to 13 now having a mobile phone, children
will also be exposed to radiation for longer than their parents.
A British study noted many cancers take 10 to 15 years to appear, and most
testing had included few participants who had used mobile phones for longer
than a decade.
Professor Croft admitted Australian studies using unborn or newborn mice had
failed to find significant changes in growth rate, brain function and
behavioral development. However, I also believe we should keep mobile phones
away from mice as they can play havoc gnawing on the cases.
The Professor of Public Health at the University of Sydney, Bruce Armstrong,
said the French decision against excessive use by children was prudent. “We
don’t know that use of mobile phones causes harm to children but we don’t
know with certainty that it is safe in all circumstances,” he said.
And that, gentle reader, is what it is all about. We don’t know if anything
is “safe” in all circumstances, but there is a burgeoning industry out there
calling for funds to “prove” that shoes actually don’t kill people. Give
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