Were you aware that radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (the wireless signals cell phones emit and receive) are classified by the World Health Organization as possibly carcinogenic to humans? Neither did I, until recently. WHO explains that this category (Group 2B) is used when "a causal association is considered credible, but when chance, bias or confounding cannot be ruled out with reasonable confidence." Lead is also considered to be a Group 2B possible carcinogen.
It's time for a reality check, friends. Just because almost every adult in America and even over half of 6 year olds own a cell phone doesn't mean they're harmless. In fact, there is an astonishing amount of quality research suggesting that they aren't even close to safe. Why isn't this common knowledge? Why are so many prominent agencies assuring us that cell phones do not cause cancer? Call me a conspiracy theorist, but when powerful companies are making a lot of money on something, I without a doubt think they're able to control the public opinion on the safety of their product... tobacco industry, anyone?! Money or the prospect of making it has influence like nothing else! I won't go into too much detail on how twisted the ethics behind the safety of products that are marketed to us are in general because that's not the point of this post, but if you're interested in learning more about electromagnetic fields and the safety of cell phones and similar devices, the book "Overpowered" was a great resource for me.
So today, I'm not proposing we get rid of our cell phones. I've come to the conclusion that it's possible for most of us to live in the modern world and enjoy modern conveniences without falling prey to the full spectrum of negative impacts they have the potential to cause. We have to be informed and intentional, but all hope is not lost. What I've done is compiled this list of cell phone safety tips that my husband and I follow, and I think any individual could and should implement them! It's not entirely comprehensive and I'm not an expert at explaining the confusing world of electromagnetic frequencies and non-ionizing radiation, but it's a start. I definitely think that following one or all of these practices will benefit you and your loved ones in the long run!
Cell Phone Safety Tips
1. Use your cell phone for phone calls only when necessary.
I personally don't really like talking on the phone, so this habit works for me! If you need to make a phone call and you have access to a corded landline (wireless landlines are similar to cell phones) or a video chat using wired internet (again, wireless internet has similar concerns), these are safer options than making a phone call on a cell phone. Keep calls as short as possible. I have conversations with people a lot more in person these days due to this rule! Finally, using a cell phone when you have a poor signal increases the amount of radiation your phone emits by a LOT because it's trying really really hard to communicate with a cell tower. So stick to areas with good service!
2. Texting exposes you to less radiation, so prefer texts to calls when possible.
Simple enough. I prefer texting anyway so I like this one!
3. If you need to make a phone call on your cell phone, use speakerphone.
Using speakerphone puts distance between your head and your cell phone and results in a less intense level of radiation exposure. Distance is your BFF with these things, even just a few inches! I set my phone down on a surface when I use speakerphone so that it's as far away from my body as possible instead of in my hand or on my lap. The Apple iPhone 6s manual advises using speakerphone, headphones, or "similar accessories" to reduce radiation exposure, but most headphones contain metal wires, which can conduct some of the radiation right back up to your head, even though it will likely be less than if you were talking on you cell phone while holding it near your ear. An airtube headset is the safe way to use headphones for cell phone calls. Note that Bluetooth devices are not an ideal alternative due to the fact that they use wireless signals to work, which also expose you to radiation. This is kind of a different topic so I'll just stick with my suggestion of using speakerphone and keeping the phone as far away from your body as possible while doing so.
4. If you need to make a phone call and speakerphone isn't an option, hold the phone as far away from your head as possible.
NEVER, ever make a phone call and hold your cell phone directly against your head!!! Even the Apple iPhone 6s manual specifically advises against this, warning users to "carry iPhone at least 5mm away from your body to ensure exposure levels remain at or below the as-tested levels." Apple is referring to Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) testing, which supposedly refers to the rate at which the body absorbs radiation from the cell phone. Even the FCC states that SAR isn't a reliable measure of actual radiation exposure. In fact, SAR likely downplays actual exposure levels even when assuming users are holding the cell phone at some distance away from the body. So air on the side of caution and hold the cell phone as far away from your head as possible if you need to make a call and can't use speakerphone or a corded landline! You should also try to switch the cell phone from one ear to the other occasionally during the call so the radiation is spread uniformly and not focused in one spot.
5. Don't make a habit of carrying your cell phone on you.
Ideally, if you're not actively using your cell phone, it should be as far away from you as practical. Do NOT make a habit of carrying it in your pocket or bra or even a holster worn on your belt. A purse, bookbag, a nearby desk or counter... the further the better. Unless your cell phone is off, it's constantly releasing some amount of radiation.
6. If you MUST carry your cell phone on your body, make sure the battery side is facing AWAY from you (aka the keyboard/touch screen is facing towards you).
The attenta part of the phone that emits the strongest signal is on the back of the phone. Carrying it facing away from your body simply puts as much distance as possible between the radiating part of the phone and your body as possible... not that it's safe to carry your phone on you!
7. Turn off communication features you aren't using.
If I'm not using wifi, I turn off the wifi capabilities on my phone. I also turn off the Bluetooth feature. There are several advantages to doing this, ranging from increased security to decreased exposure to radiation. When some of these features are enabled your phone can intermittently use them even when you're not aware.
8. Don't sleep with your cell phone near your body!
Apparently 75% of teens are sleeping with their phones UNDER their pillow. Gah! Best case scenario, your cell phone would be OFF at night. If you use it as an alarm, turn it into airplane mode (yes, the alarm will still work in airplane mode) and set it as far away from your body as practical. My husband and I turn our cell phones off or keep them in airplane mode at night. We also turn our wireless internet off at night, but that's a post for another day! I personally don't suggest using apps that monitor your sleep or keep your phone active and near you at night. Remember that the radiation can travel through walls and floors if you choose not to turn your phone off or put it in airplane mode, so setting in on the other side of the wall or right below you on another floor don't put as much distance as you might think. Give your body what it needs at night: REST. If you can shield your body from as much harmful/potentially harmful things as possible at night (1/3 of your day), you've got much better chances that it's going to be able to do its amazing work of healing and thriving even with all the daily exposure to stress and toxins! Think of nighttime as a tool for good. Healthy sleep is so important to overall health, and protecting yourself from unnecessary radiation is one way to get the most of your sleep that you can.
9. Avoid using a cell phone in a vehicle, especially while it's moving.
Cars act kind of like a microwave ovens when you use your cell phone in one. They're made from metal, which reflects radio frequencies (RF). So the RFs bounce off the metal over and over and are amplified throughout the entire car. If I'm talking on my cell phone in the front seat, my kids in the back seats are getting huge exposure to the radiation due to all the reflections. Furthermore, your cell phone has to work harder to keep a signal when you're moving, so the car just isn't a good place to talk on your cell phone... nevermind the distracted driving issue!
10. Kids should not use cell phones.
Unless it's an emergency, kids should not be using cell phones. I just read a study that said 53% of children have a cell phone by age 6!!! SERIOUSLY? The way the radiation impacts kids is different than how it impacts adults, and not in a good way. If cell phones aren't good for adults, they're truly detrimental for children. The radiation practically penetrates their ENTIRE brains, not just the portion near where the phone would be closest during a cell phone call. This danger applies to fetuses, so pregnant mamas... get those phones off your bellies! Be aware that your unborn baby is exposed to everything you are! Nursing moms, I know it's tempting to browse the internet or use social media on your cell phone while you nurse your baby... I used to do it myself. But think about how close your phone is to your baby's head or body! I don't even like for my my kids hold a cell phone unless it's in airplane mode or off. So although it might take some effort, I'm urging you not to let your babies or kids play with and definitely not use you cell phone (plus they're usually filthy if you think about how often you touch them and how infrequently they get cleaned). As far as kids owning cell phones? Forget it. I'm not going to pretend I can prevent my kids from having a cell phone until they're 20. There is a huge difference between a 6 year old and a 20 year old, but in the cell phone world, they're both considered kids. I also won't go into the "how old is old enough" talk right now but I will go out on a limb and say that NO SIX YEAR OLD NEEDS A CELL PHONE. Can you tell how ridiculous I think that notion even is??? I'm sorry if I'm offending anyone and you might be able to convince me I'm wrong.
Okay, this is a start! I think all these tips are quite doable. As I said before, I'm not proposing we all get rid of our cell phones, but we are using these devices so casually, with no idea that there are MAJOR major major health risks involved! Let's take responsibility for our health. This is one way we can start to do so. I plan to write more on electromagnetic fields and relevant devices in the future... wireless baby monitors, wifi, laptops, tablets, cordless phones, etc. Let me know if you have any questions in the meantime :)