Commentary — April 23, 2010, 2:48 pm

FOR WHOM THE CELL TOLLS: Why your phone may (or may not) be killing you

2010-05

“Everything emits invisible waves, which kill you” could be an update to the old aphorism “everything kills you.” Nathaniel Rich’s article in the current issue of Harper’s Magazine investigates cell-phone radiation. Industry lobbyists insist that everything emitted by cell phones is innocuous—but can we trust them? Should we all be wearing headsets or even not using certain electronic devices at all?

In the past decade, hundreds of experiments have been conducted to determine whether cell-phone radiation might have any effect on human health. Rich’s article attempts to make sense of such baffling findings as these:

  • 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.

  • Cell-phone radiation slows one’s cognitive reaction time. It makes one think faster. It has no effect on cognitive ability.

  • Cell-phone radiation reduces sperm count and sperm motility and increases the number of abnormal sperm. Cell-phone radiation does not harm the testicles.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

To read Rich’s report in its entirety, click here to subscribe. By subscribing to the magazine, you will gain immediate online access to this article as well as all of the articles in the complete 160-year archives of Harper’s Magazine.

Share
Single Page

More from TedRoss:

Links December 19, 2010, 11:11 pm

Links

Links December 14, 2010, 9:44 am

Links

Links October 20, 2010, 12:21 pm

Links

Get access to 164 years of
Harper’s for only $39.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

July 2014

21st Century Limited

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Promises, Promises

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Good Pilgrims

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

To the Corner

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Post
“I’m not giving a dime to FIFA. You know they’re not paying taxes on any of this?”
Photograph © The author
Article
Borderlands·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Accompanying U.S. law-enforcement officers as they raid stash houses for Central American migrants
Photograph (detail) © Kirsten Luce
Post
Ken Silverstein’s The Secret World of Oil·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“It’s just amazing, the way that the oil industry has won specific and important exemptions from every significant piece of environmental legislation.”
Photograph © Gabriel Silverstein-Rivera
Article
Strange Loop·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Every great writer, it seems, has a formative horror.”
Illustration (detail) by Steven Dana
Post
Christopher Beha’s Arts and Entertainments·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

On the celebrity impulse and sex tapes as literary vehicle
“If all existence is physical, then a human life has not truly been lived unless it has been publicized and in this way verified.”
Photograph © Ira Lipkke

Average number of days a West German man goes without changing his underwear:

7

Female salmon and quail showed a strong preference for smaller mates.

A Vatican committee approved the constitution of the International Association of Exorcists.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

In Praise of Idleness

By

I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.

Subscribe Today