• Robb G. Best

Cellphone Radiation: Protect Yourself

Bad news about that handy little device you carry around in your pocket all day: a $30 million rodent study by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences’ National Toxicology Program in 2018 found "clear evidence" that cellphone radiation increases one's chances of getting cancer.

Why haven't we heard of more studies like this? Well, for one thing, the telecommunications industry puts roughly $132 million into lobbying each year, with another $18 million going to political contributions for members of Congress and other federal politicians. Meanwhile, over 250 scientists have published more than 2000 papers and letters in professional journals describing the negative effects of the electromagnetic fields produced by wireless devices including cellphones. These 250+ scientists have signed the International EMF Scientist Appeal, a document which calls for health warnings and stronger exposure limits.

How serious are the risks? On March 1, 2021, a former director of the National Center for Environmental Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report concluding there is a “high probability” that the radio frequency radiation emitted from your cellphone causes gliomas and acoustic neuromas, which are two types of brain tumor.

Joel Moskowitz, a researcher in the School of Public Health at UC Berkeley and director of Berkeley’s Center for Family and Community Health, spoke with Berkeley News and shared some tips for limiting your exposure.

  • If possible, use a landline.

  • Turn off Wi-Fi and bluetooth when you're not using them, unless you're near a Wi-Fi router, in which case you're better off depending on Wi-Fi and turning off your cellular network.

  • Keep your cellphone at least 10 inches away from your body, instead of, you know, one-tenth of an inch. This will result in a 10,000-fold exposure reduction. Store your phone in a backpack or purse instead of a pocket, or if you must put it in a pocket, switch it to airplane mode.

  • Keep your cellphone away from your head as much as you can, by using speakerphone or headphones when making calls.

  • Don't sleep with your phone next to your head; turn it off or keep it in another room.

  • Use your phone only when the signal is strong. When you just have one or two bars, your phone is programmed to increase radiation. That means keeping an eye on your bars, and remembering that signal will be weak in elevators or cars, where the metal creates interference.

  • For more safety tips, Moskowitz recommends saferemr.com, Physicians for Safe Technology and the Environmental Health Trust.

"Also, I encourage people to learn more about the 150-plus local groups affiliated with Americans for Responsible Technology, which are working to educate policymakers, urging them to adopt cell tower regulations and exposure limits that fully protect us and the environment from the harm caused by wireless radiation," Moskowitz says.

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