Cell phones are ubiquitous symbols of the technological age. With a cell phone our aural and cognitive faculties are extended in an unprecedented manner, making our living experience very unique. For example, wherever we may be located geographically, we can get in touch with family members anywhere in the world and at any moment we choose. There are practical utilities such as parents checking on their children, making emergency calls when the elevator or the car breaks down, etc. Such are the range of benefits of cell phones that presently, across the globe, there are more than 3 billion units in use. That is nearly one in two people in the globe have a cell phone attached to their identity. This statistic makes it clear that cell phones have become inevitable to our lives. A link has been identified between some kinds of electromagnetic radiation and some cancers. These forms of electromagnetic radiation include “ultraviolet radiation, X-rays, and gamma rays. They are dangerous because they may break covalent chemical bonds in your body. Breakage of certain covalent bonds in key molecules leads to an increased cancer risk.” (Leikind) It is claimed that Radio Frequency (RF) waves employed by cell phones are not in the same grouping as these harmful radiations.
RF is a type of electromagnetic radiation that falls between “FM radio waves and those used in microwave ovens, satellite stations, and radar”. (Leikind) Those who defend the safety of cell phones point out that the device does not emit ionizing radiation, which has the potential to create chemical changes to molecules in the human body. In other words, in the absence of ionizing radiation, the human DNA will not be damaged by cell phone usage. It is argued that cell phones
“emit nonionizing radiation, which has lower energy and a longer wavelength than ionizing radiation. Nonionizing radiation is not strong enough to change an atom’s structure, but it can heat tissue. The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) places a limit on the amount of RF energy that can be absorbed from a cell phone into the user’s local tissues–the specific absorption rate (SAR)–at 1.6 watts per kilogram (W/kg).” (Liberatore 70)
Hence, those cell phone devices that abide by FCC regulation on heat limit should be safe for usage. This is backed by recent research evidence as well, which suggest that short-term exposure to cell phones might cause no harm whatsoever. But in terms of long-term usage, results from a review of 18 studies on cell phone use of more than 10 years show “a consistent pattern of increased risk for acoustic neuroma and glioma. So if cell phones do pose a risk, the risk is still low – Acoustic neuroma occurs in less than 1 in 100,000 adults per year, and about 17,000 Americans each year are diagnosed with glioma.” (Liberatore 70) Other studies contradict this assessment by suggesting that there might be health hazards associated with prolonged cell phone usage. Since cell phones function through the transmission and reception of RF waves, there are concerns that nerves in the vicinity of ears and face are particularly vulnerable to exposure to the heat and radiation. The most alarming reports are those that link prolonged cell phone usage to brain cancer – an almost terminal ailment from which few patients recover. For example, scientists have found that
“At very low energy levels (< 10 W/[m.sup.2]), the fields in a restricted exposure window caused a significant leakage of [sup.14]C-mannitol, inulin, and also dextran (same molecular weight as albumin) from the capillaries into the surrounding cerebellar brain tissue. These findings, however, were not repeated in a study using [sup.14] C-sucrose. A recent in vitro study has shown that EMF at 1.8 GHz increase the permeability of the blood-brain barrier to sucrose.” (Salford, Brun, Eberhardt, Malmgren, and Persson 882)