Article — From the May 2010 issue
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Article — From the May 2010 issue
Cellular phones emit radiation at a frequency between 450 and 2700 MHz. This is significantly higher than the extremely low-frequency EMFs (50–60 Hz) that concerned Paul Brodeur, but still two orders of magnitude below the level at which radiation can heat human tissue (300 GHz). A cell phone gives off roughly the same frequency of radiation as a microwave oven; scientists sometimes describe cell-phone radiation as microwave radiation. In the past decade, hundreds of experiments have been conducted to determine whether cell-phone radiation might have any effect on human health. Here are some of the findings:
 Hung et al. (2007).
 Mann and Roschke (2004). Loughran et al. (2005).
 Wagner et al. (2000), Huber et al. (2000).
• Exposure to cell-phone radiation hampers one’s ability to fall asleep. Exposure to cell-phone radiation makes one sleepy. Exposure to cell-phone radiation has no effect on sleep patterns. Cao et al. (2000), Maier et al. (2004).
 Koivisto et al. (2000a, b), Jech et al. (2001), Lee et al. (2001), Edelstyn and Oldershaw (2002), Keetley et al. (2006).
 Harala et al. (2003), Basset et al. (2005), Russo et al. (2006), Terao et al. (2006), Cinel et al. (2007).
• Cell-phone radiation slows one’s cognitive reaction time. It makes one think faster. It has no effect on cognitive ability. Dasdag et al. (1999), Erogul et al. (2006), Yan et al. (2007), Subbotina et al. (2007), Agarwal et al. (2008), De Luliis et al. (2009), Mailankot et al. (2009).
 Dasdag et al. (2003, 2008), Ozguner et al. (2005), Aitken et al. (2005), Ribeiro et al. (2007), Pourlis (2009).
• Cell-phone radiation reduces sperm count and sperm motility and increases the number of abnormal sperm. Cell-phone radiation does not harm the testicles. Phillips et al. (1998), Tice et al. (2002), Diem et al. (2005), Gandhi and Anita (2005).
 Li et al. (2001), Hook et al. (2004), Aitkens et al. (2005), Stronati et al. (2006).
 Brusick et al. (1998), Meltz (2003), Vijayalaxmi and Prihoda (2008).
• Exposure to cell-phone radiation leads to single- and double-strand breaks in DNA and to numerous other forms of genetic damage. Exposure has no significant effect on DNA.The negative (no effect) studies outweigh the positive, and the reason the incriminating studies showed anything at all was that they were poorly, even incompetently, designed. Gandhi and Kang (2002).
 Schönborn et al.
 Wiart et al. (2008).(1998).
• The brain of a child absorbs a much greater amount of radiation from a cell phone than does the brain of an adult.No, it does not. The absorption rate is twice as high, but only for children under eight. Huss et al. (2008).
• The majority of studies on cell phones and human health have received funding from the telecommunications industry. Industry-funded studies are significantly more likely than independent studies to show that cell phones are safe.
 Advisory Group on Non-Ionising Radiation, United Kingdom Health Protection Agency (2003); Moulder et al. (2005); Krewski et al. (2007); Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks, European Commission (2009); Ahlbom et al. (2009).
 Hardell et al. (1999, 2001, 2002, 2005).
 Rothman (2000), Elwood (2003), Boice and McLaughlin (2006).
 Hardell et al. (above), Lönn et al. (2005), Hepworth et al. (2006). The risk of a tumor on the side of the head of a reported phone user increases in these studies anywhere from 24 percent (Hepworth) to 400 percent (Hardell).
Most epidemiological studies of regular cell-phone use for less than ten years have yielded no evidence that the phones cause brain tumors. (There has been one notable, if disputed, exception.) Recently there have emerged the first studies to follow regular cell-phone users for longer than ten years. In these studies, the findings remain inconsistent—except in one category: When a person is accustomed to holding his phone to one side of his head, he has an increased risk of tumor incidence on that same side of his head.
Nathaniel Rich is the author of The Mayor's Tongue. He is at work on his second novel, which is about worst-case scenarios.
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Postcard — January 21, 2013, 10:30 am