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Important Precautionary Advice Regarding Cell Phone Use

Click here to learn more about Ronald B. Herberman MD and the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute.

An international expert panel of pathologists, oncologists and public health specialists recently declared that electromagnetic fields emitted by cell phones should be considered a potential human health risk (see The Case for Precaution in Cell Phone Use, attached). To date, a number of countries including France, Germany and India have issued recommendations that exposure to electromagnetic fields should be limited. In addition, Toronto's Department of Public Health is advising teenagers and young children to limit their use of cell phones, to avoid potential health risks.

More definitive data that cover the health effects from prolonged cell phone use have been compiled by the World Health Organization, International Agency for Research on Cancer. However, publication has been delayed for two years. In anticipation of release of the WHO report, the attached prudent and simple precautions, intended to promote precautionary efforts to reduce exposures to cell phone electromagnetic radiation, have been reviewed by UPCI experts in neuro-oncology, epidemiology, neurosurgery and the Center for Environmental Oncology.

For more in-depth information on this subject, please see the complete article (pdf file, 100kb) Practical Advice to Limit Exposure to Electromagnetic Radiation Emitted from Cell Phones

1. Do not allow children to use a cell phone, except for emergencies. The developing organs of a fetus or child are the most likely to be sensitive to any possible effects of exposure to electromagnetic fields.

2. While communicating using your cell phone, try to keep the cell phone away from the body as much as possible. The amplitude of the electromagnetic field is one fourth the strength at a distance of two inches and fifty times lower at three feet. Whenever possible, use the speaker-phone mode or a wireless Bluetooth headset, which has less than 1/100th of the electromagnetic emission of a normal cell phone. Use of a hands-free ear piece attachment may also reduce exposures.

3. Avoid using your cell phone in places, like a bus, where you can passively expose others to your phone's electromagnetic fields.

4. Avoid carrying your cell phone on your body at all times. Do not keep it near your body at night such as under the pillow or on a bedside table, particularly if pregnant. You can also put it on "flight" or "off-line" mode, which stops electromagnetic emissions.

5. If you must carry your cell phone on you, make sure that the keypad is positioned toward your body and the back is positioned toward the outside so that the transmitted electromagnetic fields move away from your rather than through you.

6. Only use your cell phone to establish contact or for conversations lasting a few minutes, as the biological effects are directly related to the duration of exposure.    For longer conversations, use a land line with a corded phone, not a cordless phone, which uses electromagnetic emitting technology similar to that of cell phones.

7. Switch sides regularly while communicating on your cell phone to spread out your exposure. Before putting your cell phone to the ear, wait until your correspondent has picked up. This limits the power of the electromagnetic field emitted near your ear and the duration of your exposure.

8. Avoid using your cell phone when the signal is weak or when moving at high speed, such as in a car or train, as this automatically increases power to a maximum as the phone repeatedly attempts to connect to a new relay antenna.

9. When possible, communicate via text messaging rather than making a call, limiting the duration of exposure and the proximity to the body.

10. Choose a device with the lowest SAR possible (SAR = Specific Absorption Rate, which is a measure of the strength of the magnetic field absorbed by the body). SAR ratings of contemporary phones by different manufacturers are available by searching for "sar ratings cell phones" on the internet.

For more information on this topic or related issues you can search the thousands of archived articles on the OCA website using keywords:

post Aug 13 2008, 07:19 PM

I have no cite to give you, but I have read several times that, depending on the power levels & the orientation of the devices, Bluetooth & similar wireless earphones are capable of delivering a lot more radiation to the brain than holding a mobile phone to the ear. PLease research this and if needed publish a correction, as you don't want to be responsible for causing a big increase in delivered dose! Far better to get a earphone with simple platic air tubes connecting it to the phone, just a some airline seat audio systems use in the 21st Century.

Similarly I have read in various cell phone EMF risk published research papers that it is very hard to predict the dose delivered by what angle the phone is held at--it's a highly variable & dynamic situation. Your advice about the benefit of increasing distance should be stated more simply & powerfully: :radiation decreases with the square or the cube of distance."

Similarly, how you hold the phone also affects the delivered radiation; one advice I have heard is to hold the phone by the bottom, so that the bones of your hand surrounding the antena area of the phone (sending & receiving occurs there) do not reflect some of the radiation back into the skull. Having read a good hundred or so epidemiology studies, I can say the literature is beginning (as the cancer latency period is ending) to favor a causal connection between cell-phone use and a couple types of cancer in the head, but there are still negative findings.

Tony Tweedale

post Aug 14 2008, 04:07 AM

This youtube clip needs no comments....

...and this is only a little (almost funny) example of what cellphones are capable of...

Tony Brock
post Aug 14 2008, 01:17 PM

Angela Flynn
post Aug 14 2008, 02:07 PM sells air tube headsets. It has been found that the wire in a wired headset can act as an antenna and carry radiation to the headset. In fact all metal worn on the body can have this effect.

I am glad to see that this message is getting out over the dangers of cell phones, but it does not take into account second hand exposure. I would rather cell phone users absorb the radiation they put out rather than send it off the person sitting across from them. What lovely advice. I know where most of the cell towers are in my community and I position myself so that the majority of cell phone users are in between me and the closest cell tower so that all of the radiation does not blast through me.

post Aug 16 2008, 01:05 AM

Just some technical clarifications from a long time radio operator.

1) Blue tooth uses IR radiation to connect to the cell phone to and from the earphones and microphone. Thus blue tooth adds to the overall electromagnetic radiation in the vicinity. It's a double whammy because you still get the microwave radiation and on top of it you get the bluetooth radiation. The only advantage is that the cell phone is further away than putting it up to your head.

2) Regular earphone/microphone sets and headsets that have a wire connected to it and the cell phone will also allow you to keep the cell phone far away from the body. The advantage here is that there is no additional electromagnetic load added by the wired earbud/microphone or headset because it uses sound frequencies (around 10,00 Hz) not electromagnetic frequencies. Hence no new radiation is created.

Although it is possible that any wire or metal can pick up electromagnetic fields via inductance/reactance such fields are extremely weak even if they are tuned.

About the Cellphone popcorn hoax (stealth marketing) see

That is not to say that microwave radiation is harmless, it is not.

post Aug 17 2008, 12:54 AM

Re cell phone radiation: a precautionary measure is to use a Stealth Radar Shield on all cordless and cell phones. They can be purchased at 'cell phones and services' department

post Aug 27 2008, 08:59 AM

The cancer risks are inconclusive. There is evidence supporting it and against it.

I recommend using it less.


post Today, 02:28 PM

Why would sleeping near your cell phone be a problem? My cell phone doubles as my alarm clock so it wouldn't work to switch it off. But is it really putting out EM radiation when it's not in use??