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Mobile Telephones and Health Effects
Mobile telephones have transformed the telecommunications industry. These devices can be used to make telephone calls from almost anywhere. There are two types - the normal mobile phone has the antenna mounted on the handset and the other has the antenna mounted on a separate transmitter or, if the phone is installed in a vehicle, mounted on the roof or rear window. Communication between a mobile phone and the nearest base station is achieved by the microwave emissions from the antenna. Only the normal mobile phone is considered here.
Basis of Health Concerns
Concerns have been raised about the normal mobile phone, which has the antenna in the handset. In this case, the antenna is very close to the user's head during normal use of the telephone and there is concern about the level of microwave emissions to which the brain is being exposed.
Those telephones that have the antenna mounted elsewhere are of no concern, since exposure levels decrease rapidly with increasing distance from the antenna. Cordless telephones, which need to be operated within about 20
meters of a base unit that is connected directly to the telephone system, do not have any health concerns associated with their use because exposure levels are very low.
Reports have appeared in the media linking the use of mobile telephones with, among other things, headaches, hot spots in the brain and brain cancer.
Media reports have claimed that up to 70 percent of the microwave emissions from hand-held mobile telephones may be absorbed in the user's head. This is not supported by the evidence, but nevertheless leads to speculation that hot spots may be created in the user's brain, thereby raising concerns that the telephones may be a health risk. Other reports have indicated that mobile telephone users suffer localized headaches when they use their telephone. At this stage, it is difficult to evaluate the evidence supporting these reports, since they have not been published.
The brain cancer reports originated in the USA where a number of lawsuits have been lodged against mobile telephone manufacturers and suppliers. These claims for damages allege that the microwave emissions from mobile telephones used by the claimants caused their (in some cases, fatal) brain cancers. Those few cases that have been tried have been dismissed for lack of supporting evidence.
Known Effects of Microwave Exposure
Microwaves are but one type of electromagnetic field. (For the purposes of this Information Bulletin, "fields" and "radiation" are equivalent.) One of the ways that these fields are described is by specifying their frequency. The range of frequencies that are useful for telecommunications include microwaves.
Some public concern about mobile telephones is erroneously based on media attention to the possibility of adverse effects from exposure to power-line electromagnetic fields, which have a much lower frequency than the microwaves emitted by mobile telephones. The physical properties and biological effects of these fields are very different from microwaves and it is meaningless to extrapolate the results of those studies to the subject of this Information Bulletin.
The ARPANSA Radiation Protection Standard "Maximum Exposure Levels to Radio frequency
Fields - 3kHz to 300 GHz " is based on the well-established thermal effects of exposure to microwaves. That is, when tissue is exposed to sufficiently high levels of microwaves, the tissue is heated and damage may occur. The exposure limits are set well below levels where any significant heating occurs. The Standard also sets limits for pulsed radiation that are intended to eliminate possible effects where heating is not evident (non-thermal effects).
All mobile telephones marketed in Australia must satisfy the regulatory requirements of the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), as well as that part of the Australian Standard that sets limits on the power output of a mobile telephone. Therefore, use of a mobile telephone is not expected to cause significant heating in any part of the body, including the brain.
Some research has indicated that non-thermal effects resulting from low-level microwave exposure may also occur. However, the existence of these effects and their implications has not been sufficiently established to allow for them in the Standard.
Uncertain Evidence of Cancer
A few animal studies suggest that exposure to weak microwave fields can accelerate the development of cancer. Further studies are required to establish their reproducibility and the existence or otherwise of a dose-response relationship. Whether these results are relevant to users of mobile telephones is not clear. In any event, these results cannot be dismissed at this stage.
The very few studies that have been conducted on human populations (epidemiological studies) do not provide any direct information on possible mobile telephone hazards and hence are of limited value. The results of these studies are difficult to interpret because exposure levels were either not measured or impossible to determine from the data provided. In general, however, this type of study will be useful in identifying possible links between mobile telephone use and cancer risk. Complementary cellular and animal research is required to establish any cause-and-effect relationship and the biological mechanisms involved.
The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency continues to closely monitor the research being conducted in this area.
On the specific issue of brain cancer occurring in users of these telephones, it is important to note that such cancers existed before the introduction of mobile telephones. It is simply not possible to identify the cause of any single case of cancer. Long-term studies to investigate whether mobile telephone users have a greater incidence of, say, brain cancer than the general population have not been completed.
Government Research Funding
Commencing in 1996, the Government provides $1 million dollars per annum for the Electromagnetic Energy (EME) Program. This program supports research into and provides information to the public about health issues associated with mobile phones, mobile phone base stations and other communications devices and equipment. The program recognises public concern, and the need to ensure standards and public health policies continue to be based on the best available scientific information.
The EME program is coordinated by the Committee on Electromagnetic Energy Public Health Issues (CEMEPHI), which includes representatives from the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, the Department of Health and Ageing, ARPANSA, the ACMA, and the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). The program has three elements:
* an Australian research program (managed by the NHMRC) to conduct research into EME issues of relevance to Australia and to complement overseas research activities;
* continuing Australian participation in the World Health Organization's (WHO) International Electromagnetic Field (EMF) Project which assesses the health and environmental effects of EME exposure, and;
* a public information program (managed by ARPANSA) to provide information to the public and the media.
There is no evidence that microwave exposure from mobile telephones causes cancer, and inconclusive evidence that such exposure accelerates the growth of an already-existing cancer. More research on this issue needs to be carried out.
Users concerned about the possibility of health effects can minimize their exposure to the microwave emissions by: limiting the duration of mobile telephone calls, using a mobile telephone which does not have the antenna in the handset or using a 'hands-free' attachment.
As a seafarer a mobile phone is brilliant in all aspects. Especially since I have been working in the Offshore Industry where we may only be in port for a couple of hours and where the shore (land) phone is miles away or inaccessible in the time given. When we spend days at anchor unable to get ashore I have this wonderful mobile phone. I have even connected it up to my laptop so that I may sit in my cabin and send/receive Emails at my leisure in any country in the world at ant time near land. Fantastic is it not?
Unfortunately over the last few years mobile phones have been driving me crazy. The noise of them, beeping and tooting and playing Christmas carols at any time of the day. Listening to all the endless people saying things like "I�mam on a bus now.......yes the no21........no, it�s a red one....." or "hold on I�mam just going through a tunnel". Grrrrrr, they really get my goat up. Don't take me wrong, I honestly understand why people say these things as it is usually the caller that is asking the pertinent questions, BUT DO WE ALL HAVE TO KNOW?
You go for a quiet drink in a bar and all you hear are endless and mindless tunes, causing every person to scramble in their pocket. You get on a train and there they are again, the departure lounges of airports are filled with them, all desperate to tell their secretaries that they are just about to board the flight. I always had this fantasy of interrupting airport callers by marching into a departure lounge wheeling this extra large land phone on a cart whilst stretching an extension cord out behind me. With its extra large ring I would answer it and proceed to shout out my location and future plans down the mouth piece. I realize that this sounds rather pathetic but I am desperate to try and wake people up to the stupidity and annoyance that mobile phones produce on others.
You see all these advertisements extolling the benefits of a mobile phone. "Keep in touch wherever you are" or "talk on the move". Oh gee whiz man! Get a grip on it all. Can we not be missed for five minutes, can we not be silent for a little time, whilst we travel on a bus? It seems not to be as the market place is forever introducing greater inventions to keep everyone in contact whilst they move around - the WAP or whatever they call it these days being a recent comer onto the scene. Send and receive emails whilst you shift yourself from the office to the toilet! Check the latest stock prices whilst you wipe your bottom, and book that holiday whilst you flush! Is all this so necessary? Is it so important that for every minute of every day we have to keep in contact? Let me ask the question in another way, "how did we all survive before mobile phones came on the market"?
Mobile phones are now a fashion item. Especially for young teenagers who are definitely not hip if they do not have one. Well, they are also not hip if they have an old model as well. Persons who are nervous use mobile phones to occupy themselves or to state to every one else that they are okay because they have one. Bored people play games on them, fashionable people carry them in the correct case and mindless people just listen to the beeps as they play with the buttons. I have seen people in Singapore pressing the ring test button then pretending to have a conversation with themselves and people spend hours discussing each others mobile phones.
In Singapore people actually walk along the street talking to a phone with nobody at the other end. In the Philippines couples go out to a restaurant and just text each other across the table. People use phones as an excuse to leave, as an excuse not to talk and as an excuse to snub others. You get the phone ringing in a cinema and the user speaking in a hushed whisper for ages thinking nobody has noticed!
We sit there in buses listening to rubbish being sprouted out, in pubs and restaurants as each user tries to outdo the last in the amount of bullshit that he can give. Those that shout "sell, you've got to sell now" obviously have a very serious problem more so than those that say "yes, we must fire him tomorrow" or "let us buy that house we always wanted".
Mobile phones do have a great place in society. They allow us to communicate when in difficult situations or when no other phone is handy. As I said previoulsy they are great for a seaman whose access to normal phones is minimal.
Typically my phone remains off, a messaging service conveniently taking care of those who wish to contact me urgently. If I need to use that phone I will remove myself from the surrounding public, switch it on and make the call whilst disturbing nobody else in the process. If for example I am required to take that phone out with me it will normally remain switched off inside my rucksack. If for some reason I have to leave it switched on then I will place it on vibration mode and hidden in my back pocket. Thus disturbing no-one (except myself) when it rings. Then upon it vibrating I will wait until a convenient moment or remove myself to a quiet spot before answering or calling back.
Yet we have to suffer the loud voices shouting total unimportant nonsense down these phones everywhere we go. To the ringing of their phones in that painful variety of tunes that mindlessly drives all around up the wall and there seems to be no end to it.
Car drivers! I thought that it was illegal to use mobile phones whilst driving. But what do we see on the market? Hands free equipment, endless gadgets and toys for those that wish to talk whilst they drive!!! There is no escape. I was recently involved in an accident with this other car. He was busy talking on his "hands free" phone and weaving madly across the motorway.
Well, I have seen some signs of improvement in the UK with signs appearing on buses similar to that of no-smoking signs. A mobile phone with a cross through it. Yippee. When this extends to restaurants, trains, shops and department stores I will be over the moon.
Text messaging has hit allot of countries and none more so than the Philippines. This one girl drove me up the wall with her endless text messaging. My fault really as I bought her the phone in the first place: one of those Nokia's that make you buy endless and costly covers for no apparant or useful reason at all. But regardless of my hatred of it, she used that phone non-stop for text messaging her pals. Everywhere we went, along would come that mobile phone emitting beeps and baas at frequent intervals. And then she would respond with a frantic movement of her thumb as she processed one back to the originating beepers. I tried to determine what was actually said in these texts messages but the language formed was too complicated for me. I also tried to determine who was frequently wasting their time texting back only to find it was someone or something called a text-pal. Someone that she had never met but who had become a text-pal! No, I should just keep my mouth closed and not ask stupid questions. We often sat there in a nice restaurant after having had the usual argument:
"Please do not take your phone out this time. I want to enjoy a nice meal and talk with you"
Everything would start well, a nice serving and a cozy atmosphere, until a little beep would emit from her handbag or her back pocket and that was that. Conversation would stop dead and her thumb would be flying across that keypad ten to the dozen. I tried it once, tried to text a long message (to myself), but my thumb started to ache so badly that I gave up after the first word.
To advertise mobile phones through texting is outrageous. Telling us that text messaging is so cheap and easy to use is a lie. Not easy on the thumb and expensive as far as I am concerned because if 'texting' was not available then no money would be spent. People may even go and talk to others face to face, instead of sitting annoying others with endless beeping sounds.
I recently read in the paper that text messaging has been used for an alternative way to get divorced. "A Dubai court recently accepted a text message as a written declaration of divorce" was how the article put it. Under Islamic law, a man who wants a separation must declare "I divorce you" three times, and then attend an Islamic court to apply for a divorce within seven days. They actually had a week long debate about this in Singapore and came up with the conclusion that this should not be allowed (thank you) but for it to have got so far makes one shudder. A similar thing did happen to me though with this one girl. We had been quite a serious item (yeah, one with no laughter) and I had gone to work in Malaysia. I was content in life, happy in my work and looking forward to seeing my girlfriend again in a few weeks. Well, she called me up on Christmas Evening and after a few pleasantries she came out with this statement:
"it is not working".
Well, I shook my phone a bit not having a clue as to what she was talking about and said "no, mine is okay, and I can hear you perfectly". Och, open your eyes. Her next statement clarified all for me....
"No, not the phone.......US. We are not working"
Which was double talk for I have met another man, but we will not get into that. What I am more shocked about is that phones can be used for such purposes. It is revolting and sad that people can not stand up to their responsibilities and to not be cowards. To stand up and show that person that the relationship had meaning - not by using the phone and escaping from it all.
The Muslim authorities I mentioned before made the situation clear as per the following statement:
"......texting has brought about negative effects that can tarnish the image of Islam and the sanctity of the marriage institution itself....."
I�mam sure it does more than that but that is what the clerics result was.
I have ten rules that mobile phone users should follow. The Ten Commandments are as follows:
1. Thou shall switch your phone off inside of public transport vehicles unless you are the only passenger.
2. Thou shall not talk on a mobile phone within ten meters of people that you do not know and preferably not in front of those that you do.
3. If you go out for dinner with friends thou shall switch the infernal machine off and leave it like that throughout.
4. If you have dinner with your lover thou shall not even take your phone with you.
5. Thou shall not switch on the text alert beep outside of your own house.
6. Thou shall not use phones in shops or department stores even if you want to find out what color of socks your husband prefers.
7. Do not use your phone whilst driving - never ever.
8. If you are required to use your phone thou shall find a secluded area and a quiet one so that you don't�thave to shout.
9. Upon encountering others abusing these commandments thou shall enlighten them in their ways (e.g., smash their phone to the ground and jump up and down on it) without resort to physical violence.
10. If you feel the need to use your phone in a public place thou shall donate ten thousand pounds to a charity of your choice in way of punishment.
Or something to that effect. It would just be so much better should people respect others privacy. It would be so much better if people returned to a proper lifestyle and took their minds and fingers away from the mobile phone. But that is life and what ever comes next it can only get worse.
I have stated before that I once had in my possession three mobile phones. I have also been caught with five different SIM cards under my name. I have also purchased mobile phones for some members of my family. Regardless, I honestly state that they were all for my benefit and at no time did I abuse others with my phone conversations or with any sounds from the phones. I was once sitting on a bus in Edinburgh and was pleased to see a negative reaction from other passengers when my phone rang. Look, I forgot to switch it off okay! Anyway, when my phone rang some people turned round to glare at me and I to fend off any embarrassment turned around and looked behind me whilst quickly switching my phone off. Ha the poor man behind me got all the blame!!
NO MOBILE PHONES IN PUBLIC.......that is all I have to say.
Mobile phones tumour risk to young children
CHILDREN under the age of eight should not use mobile phones, parents were advised last night after an authoritative report linked heavy use to ear and brain tumours and concluded that the risks had been underestimated by most scientists.
Professor Sir William Stewart, chairman of the National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB), said that evidence of potentially harmful effects had become more persuasive over the past five years.
The news prompted calls for phones to carry health warnings and panic in parts of the industry. One British manufacturer immediately suspended a model aimed at four to eight-year-olds.
The number of mobiles in Britain has doubled to 50 million since the first government-sponsored report in 2000. The number of children aged between five and nine using mobiles has increased fivefold in the same period.
In his report, Mobile Phones and Health, Sir William said that four studies have caused concern. One ten-year study in Sweden suggests that heavy mobile users are more prone to non-malignant tumours in the ear and brain while a Dutch study had suggested changes in cognitive function. A German study has hinted at an increase in cancer around base stations, while a project supported by the EU had shown evidence of cell damage from fields typical of those of mobile phones.
â€śAll of these studies have yet to be replicated and are of varying quality but we canâ€™t dismiss them out of hand,â€ť Sir William said. If there was a health risk â€” which remained unproven â€” it would have a greater effect on the young than on older people, he added.
For children aged between 8 and 14, parents had to make their own judgments about the risks and benefits. â€śI canâ€™t believe that for three to eight year-olds they can be readily justified,â€ť he said.
David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Headteachers, called last night for a ban on mobiles in schools.
Mobile phone companies reacted furiously, saying that the report fanned public concern without presenting new research. The youth market is highly lucrative because teenagers are more likely to use video downloads and other services.
The World Health Organisation is preparing to publish an international report, drawing on hundreds of studies conducted over a decade, which many hope will give a definitive judgment on mobile phone safety.
The boardâ€™s report says that while there is a lack of hard information of damage to health, the approach should be precautionary. Sir William said: â€śJust because there are 50 million of them out there doesnâ€™t mean they are absolutely safe.â€ť
One school in the North East has begun using mobile scanners to prevent pupils using mobiles in class. â€śOutside college hours it is up to parents, but in our care if mobiles are found on children, they are confiscated and returned to the parents,â€ť David Riden, vice principal of Tollbar Business and Enterprise College in New Waltham, said.
One group that appears to target young users is Richard Bransonâ€™s Virgin Mobile, which derives much of its revenue from the 16s-35s market. It denies targeting under 16s but has cornered a large slice of the youth market with cheap voice and text messages.
# Acoustic neuromas are benign tumours of the acoustic nerve
# A study in Sweden has shown that they are twice as common in mobile phone users
# They were also four times as common on the side of the head where the phone was held
# Acoustic neuromas occur in 100,000 people a year and can cause deafness
# They can be treated by surgery. In most cases the patientâ€™s hearing is saved
# Brain tumours affect about 4,700 new patients a year in Britain
# They are becoming more common â€” the UK Brain Tumour Society says that incidence has increased by 45 per cent in 30 years
# The causes of primary brain tumours are unknown, so it is hard to identify specific risk factors
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