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Harmful Cell Phone

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Just How Harmful is Your Cell Phone?

Olivia Kinser

Advanced Composition CM380
Anna Jordal
February 10, 2014

Just How Harmful is Your Cell Phone? That little device you always have in your hand or pocket, the one you use to check the weather, communicate with your friends, or simply scroll through social media sites with – this little device is what’s known as a cell phone. Most people find this device as something that is needed to live, but have you ever wondered just how harmful a cell phone is to your body? If you text and drive, do you realize how dangerous it is? Or are you one of those people that don’t stop to think about this type of stuff because regardless, you can’t live without it? Either way, one should take into consideration what exactly it’s doing to your body and even the people around you. The device that you think is just keeping you in contact with all your friends may be causing you headaches, memory loss, DNA damage, malignant brain tumors, or even a car accident. Radiofrequency energy, also known as radio waves, is a form of non-ionizing radiation. Your cell phone emits these electromagnetic frequency (EMF) waves that penetrate a users’ brain. The tissues closest to where the phone is held absorbs in this energy. “The WTR (Wireless Technology Research) study showed a correlation between a higher incident of brain cancer and a great risk of rare neurological tumors and DNA damage among the users of handheld phones versus users of other types of phones” (Brown, 2000). Many will argue that a cell phone’s radiation level has been tested and is certified by the manufacturer to meet the safety level. Is this something you can believe or are they just saying that so you’ll continue to buy their product? There are shields that “promise” to block electromagnetic waves, but shields can disturb transmission to the base antenna, which causes the phone to boost its power in order to keep the phone call connected. Depending on the model of cell phone you have, it has a specific absorption rate rating. This absorption rate measures the amount of microwave energy from the phone that can penetrate the user’s brain. However, according to the 20/20 report, “government safety standards are vague because certain phones pass the Federal Communications Commission’s safety requirements when tested in one position and fail when held in another” (Brown, 2000). If a phone is held too close to a head, as much as 60% of the microwave radiation is absorbed and actually sinks into the brain (Brown, 2000). Keep in mind, a phone is held about an inch from the user’s brain. According to one Swedish study, “the risk of acoustic neuroma (a tumor formation on the nerve near the ear) was greater on the side of the head that the cell phone was held” (, 2011). So are cell phones really as safe as you think they are? “A recent study showed that when people used a cell phone for 50 minutes, brain tissues on the same side of the head as the phone’s antenna, metabolized more glucose than did tissues on the opposite side of the brain (, 2013). My dad, for example, used to always carry his cell phone in his pocket on the right side of his leg. There were times when he would feel a vibration in his leg, but his phone wasn’t even in his pocket. What’s the likely cause of this? The radiation from a cell phone. Has the risk of brain cancer from a cell phone ever crossed your mind? “We found evidence of genetic damage in human blood,” said George Carlo, WTR’s chairman. “We have suggestions of excessive mortality from brain cancers among wireless phone users, and we have very clear evidence of a statistically significant higher risk of neuroepithelial tumors. We now have more data suggesting problems with wireless phones than the FDA had when it banned silicone breast implants” (Bass, 1999). Signs point to DNA damage as the likely culprit. RFR (Radio Frequency Radiation) may not damage DNA, but it holds back the DNA’s ability to repair itself after being damaged from natural causes. Radio frequency wavelengths are part of the electromagnetic spectrum, which means they move between their magnetic and electric fields.
The radio frequency radiation from cell phones is contained in the low end of the broader electromagnetic spectrum just above radio and television RF and just below microwave RF. At high exposure levels, non-ionizing radiation can produce a thermal or heating effect. Exposure to the high-end radiation of X-rays and Gamma rays is known to cause cancer. Whether or not exposure to the low-end spectrum causes cancer remains debated. (, 2011) Hosking and colleagues (2009) investigated the effects of using a cell phone on the driving performance of young novice drivers. Twenty inexperienced drivers used a cell phone to retrieve and send text messages while driving a simulator.
The researchers found when text messaging drivers spent up to approximately 400% less time looking at the road as compared to time looking at the road recorded in baseline (non-text-messaging) conditions. Additionally, text-messaging drivers variability in lane position increased up to approximately 50%, and missed lane changes increased 140%. (Hale, 2011)
Texting and driving increases the risk of car accidents. Exactly a year ago, a family friend of mine, whom I considered as a sister, passed away in a car accident. What was the cause? Texting while operating her vehicle. She was only sixteen years old; this type of accident can happen to anyone. Because this type of tragic event happens often, numerous states have outlawed the practice of texting while driving. In the state of Iowa, if you are caught driving while texting, it is considered as a simple misdemeanor, resulting in a ticket of $100. I bet you never thought your cell phone could give you a headache either.
Long-term cell phone use can increase the likelihood of being hospitalized for migraines and vertigo by ten to twenty percent. Lithium-ion batteries, used in most cell phones, can explode from exposure to high heat, or from overcharging a faulty counterfeit battery. These explosions have caused injuries and started fires. Children are at an increased risk for adverse health effects from cell phone radiation. One study has shown that children under the age of eight absorb twice the amount of radiation into their brain tissue as adults due to their lower skull thickness (, 2011).
I’ve noticed on the nights I sleep with my cell phone next to my head, I wake up the next morning with a headache. What’s the cause? My cell phone. I now make sure to place it on the floor or on my nightstand. Don’t get me wrong; I think cell phones are something that we need. I, personally, don’t think I could live without mine. But I know how harmful it can really be, so I take some caution while using it. If you place your cell phone on your pillow every night because it’s your alarm, like I used to, try placing it on your nightstand, or floor, and just crank the volume on your alarm. This can prevent you from absorbing in all the waves and waking up with a headache. Have to make that phone call while you’re driving? Get a Bluetooth headset, so you can focus on the road and also prevent the radiation from coming into contact with your brain. It’s important that you get a message sent to your mother, while you’re driving: use the auto text button on your phone, so that you can tell it what to text. Or another simple task is to spend less time on your phone. There is some prevention to take, so you don’t have to do away with your cell phone completely. Which option will you choose to reduce your risk? Now that you’re more aware of what your cell phone can do, does it make you want to learn more about that little device? The results of a headache, a car accident, memory loss, DNA damage, or even malignant brain tumors from your cell phone can happen to anyone. Don’t go through life thinking it won’t ever happen to you. Curious about the radiofrequency from your cell phone; all you need to do is check out the FCC’s ID search form and have your ID number handy (this is usually found under the case of your phone).

Bass, G. (1999). Is your cell phone killing you? PC Computing 12.12: 62. Retrieved January 26, 2014, from MasterFILE Premier. EBSCO.
Brown, C. (2000). Bad for your health. Black Enterprise 30.8:59. Retrieved January 26, 2014, from MasterFILE Premier. EBSCO.
Hale, J. (2011, March 5). The dangers of texting while driving. PsychCentral. Retrieved January 26, 2014, from Psych Central. (2011, Feb. 14). Cell Phones Retrieved January 26, 2014, from
The National Cancer Institute. (2013, May 4). Cell phones and cancer risk. Retrieved January 26, 2014, from

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