Report Calls for More Responsible Management of Cell Phones to Protect Children and Pregnant Women

Feb 1st, 2012 | By | Category: Health, Top Story

North Haven, Connecticut-based Environment and Human Health, Inc. (EHHI) is releasing a new report calling for tougher standards to regulate cellular technologies—especially for children and pregnant women.

This report is the first part of a project researching the health effects of cell phone use.

EHHI has reviewed hundreds of peer-reviewed studies that have examined the potential health threats associated with cellular device use, along with the regulatory standards that have been adopted by the U.S. and other nations. This report provides the context for the second section of the project: an animal study designed to investigate the health effects on offspring of cell phone exposures during pregnancy.

John Wargo, Ph.D., professor of Environmental Risk and Policy at Yale University and lead author of the report, said, “The scientific evidence is sufficiently robust showing that cellular devices pose significant health risks to children and pregnant women. The weight of the evidence supports stronger precautionary regulation by the federal government. The cellular industry should take immediate steps to reduce emission of electromagnetic radiation (EMR) from phones and avoid marketing their products to children.”

a page from the report

A page from the report.

EHHI President Nancy Alderman explained how pervasive cell phones are in the United States. “There are nearly 276 million cell phone subscribers in the nation today, up from 97 million subscribers in 2000,” she said. “More than 75 percent of teens own cell phones, and one third of them text more than 100 messages per day. Children between the ages of 8-18 spend an average of 7.5 hours per day—nearly half their hours while awake—on smart phones, computers, televisions or other electronic devices. Exposures to electromagnetic radiation are increasing most rapidly among the youngest in our society, as service providers focus their advertising on children and educational markets.”

Some of the reports findings include:

  • Cellular Device Adoption Rates: There are nearly 276 million cell phone subscribers in the United States, up from 97 million subscribers in 2000. Rapid growth in the access to cellular technology has been accompanied by steadily increasing frequency and duration of personal cell phone use. The volume and speed of data transmitted have increased rapidly, and demand for data-intensive video applications seems insatiable.
  • Changing Patterns of Use:Use of cellular devices for voice conversations is declining as texting and other forms of non-verbal communication increase. Texting is now the predominant method of communicating among adolescents, followed by calls, talking face-to-face, use of social network sites, and email. More than 75 percent of teens own cell phones, and  one  third of them text more than 100 messages per day. Children between the ages of eight and 18 spend an average of 7.5 hours per day on smartphones, computers, televisions, or other electronic devices.
  • Psychological Dependency: The rise in psychological dependency on cell phones is well documented in the peer-reviewed social scientific literature. The need to “stay in touch” and the  ever-strengthening expectation of a near term, if not immediate response, can lead to obsessive and compulsive patterns of use. It can also distract users from work, play, relaxation, safe driving practices, and from more traditional forms of social interaction, such as a face-to-face conversation.
  • Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR) Exposure Varies by Phone Model Signal Strength: Exposure to electromagnetic radiation emitted from cellular devices varies by model of phone, antenna configuration, and signal strength.
  • Children’s Exposure is Greater Than Adults:The thinner skulls of young children permit cell phone radiation to penetrate more deeply into the brain than is the case with adults. Children and fetuses’ rapidly developing  nervous systems, their more rapid rates of cell division, and longer potential lifetime exposure all heighten their risks for adverse health effects.
  • Heat is Not the Only Worry:The FCC’s current limit for public exposure assumes that the devices only affect health via the heating  of tissues. However, molecular, cellular, and organ system changes and damage that are not explained by heat have been reported in numerous peer-reviewed studies. A 2011 Na  tional Institutes of Health study confirms that changes in the brain occur from exposure to cell phone radiation at non-thermal levels. This study included 47 healthy people using a cell phone for a 50-minute call.
  • Cell Phone Use and Cancer: In 2011, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)classified electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans, based on an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer associated with wireless phone use.

There is much much more valuable and interesting information in this report on the health effects of cell phones.

For more on this story, visit: Report Calls for More Responsible Management of Cell Phones to Protect Children and Pregnant Women | EHHI.

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