The effect of mobile phones on human activities and health is the focus of latest research and interest due to the raise in the use of cell phones all over the world. Around six billion subscribers were reported in 2011 all over the world (The International Telecommunication Union 1). Electromagnetic radiation is found in cell phones, where some digital wireless systems often generate the same radiation. A study in 2012 categorized radiation produced by cell phones as Group 2B, most likely carcinogenic. This shows that there may be a possibility of acquiring carcinogenicity (WHO/International Agency for Research on Cancer 1).
Moreover, cell phones have been reported to have a severe impact on drivers since they distract them while driving. Use of mobile phones while driving can cause road accidents that may lead to severe injuries or death. Various radiation advisory specialists have proposed some approaches to reduce exposure to the public as a precautionary approach. Generally, mobile phones produce electromagnetic radiation that has some negative impact on users, as well as severe impact on drivers. This paper tries to discuss the extent in which cell phones are dangerous to the users.
WHO (World Health Organization) stated that “to date, no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use” (WHO 1). Various studies have focused on the potential health impact of radiation produced by cell phones. Marković (18) reported that exposure to cell phone radiation or radiofrequency (RF) fields can highly result in risk of acquiring cancer. The study by IARC showed that there can be a connection between the usage of cell phones (discharge of electromagnetic radiation) and increased rates of cancer among users. Mobile phones discharge RF elements that may be absorbed by body tissues found around the areas where the device is held.
The quantity of RF energy a subscriber is exposed to depends on the type and technology used to manufacture the device, the distance between the cell phone and user, the duration and type of use, and the space between the user and antenna of the device. People can also acquire cancer through the effects of ionizing radiation, which is released by cell phone use.
Moreover, radiofrequency energy, also produced by cell phone use, causes heating. The impact of radiofrequency energy can be compared to the functions of microwave when heating foods. Therefore, exposure to RF energy produced through mobile phone use often produces heat, although it may be minimal to measure the extent in which it increases human body temperature. Some research findings have reported that when mobile phones are used for more than one minute, brain tissues in some parts of the head that are close to the cell phone’s antenna absorb higher amount of glucose than the parts of the human head that are not frequently close to the antenna. A research by Khan concluded that “cell phone users had an increased risk of malignant gliomas.
There is a link between cell phone use and a higher rate of acoustic neuromas. Tumors are more likely to occur on the side of the head that the cell handset is used” (103). People making phone calls in places where there is a poor network connection, such as remote regions, have a higher risk of being affected by RF energy since they are more discharged in these places. Moreover, it is advisable to hold the cell phone away from the head or ear when trying to call until the call is picked up since cell phones use more RF energy for connection. Besides, it is very vital to understand that not only radiation is discharged from the phone when making calls, but also when the phone is in store or in pockets.
Radiation Absorption and Thermal Effects
Some radio waves are absorbed by the users’ body, where GSM devices discharge radio waves that can go up to around two watts. Moreover, American analogue phone can produce the highest transmit energy of around 3.7 watts. Therefore, some laws have been passed to regulate the radiation energy produced by cell phone devices, as it has some severe effects to human body. A research by Aydin also reported that “when the handset is held to the head, the brain absorbs most of the radio frequency energy emitted by mobile phones.” (1). Dielectric heating is an apparent impact of microwave radiation, where dielectric elements, for example, living tissues, receive heat from the movements of polar molecules produced through electromagnetic field. In addition, users of cell phone receive heating effect that takes place at the regions of the head, which brings about the increase in body temperature, although in a minimal measure.
The increase of body temperature caused by the cell phone use is often higher than that when the body is under direct sunlight. Though the brain has the ability to regulate this temperature changes through adjusting the flow of the blood, the eye’s cornea is not capable of controlling this increase in temperature. Therefore, the exposure to this temperature increase for around 100-200 minutes has been shown to generate cataracts in human’s eyes.
Mobile Use and Driving
Use of cell phones during driving is almost five times more probable to cause road accidents that are severe enough to bring about serious injuries or death as it distracts the driver’s attention and reduces his or her awareness and decision-making. There are severe risks to the public, as “drivers talking on a cell phone are four times more likely to crash than other motorists.” (Ibrahim et al. 660). Various studies have reported significant findings regarding the relation between cell phone use and increased road accidents, and this “calls into question driving regulations that prohibited hand-held cell phones and permit hands-free cell phones” (Aydin 13).
From the scientific evidence and literature, it is evident that cell phone use has negative impact on human health (short-term and long-term effects). Some types of cancer, mostly which are found around the head where the cell phone is held, can be acquired, such as brain cancer. Heating effects from electromagnetic radiation can also be experienced, where some body tissues cannot provide temperature regulation mechanism. People who are aware of the risk of health effects from the mobile use can reduce their exposure to the radiofrequency discharge by regulating the duration of cell phone use, making use of speakers or hands-free accessory devices, using cell phones where there is good reception, or texting. Irrespective of the region of the body exposed to frequent radiation discharge by the mobile phones, there is possibility for health problem, even though some body parts are evidently more vulnerable that other parts.
Aydin, Denis. “Mobile Phone Use and Brain Tumors in Children and Adolescents: A Multicenter Case–Control Study.” Journal of the National Cancer Institute 2 (2011): 12-34. Print.
Ibrahim, Jennifer, Evan Anderson, Scott Burris, and Alexander C. Wagenaar. ” State Laws Restricting Driver Use of Mobile Communications Devices Distracted-Driving Provisions, 1992–2010.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine 40.6 (2011): 659 –665. Print.
Khan, Raouf. “Health Hazards Linked to Using Mobile Cellular Phones.” Journal of Information & Communication Technology 2.2 (2008): 102-108. Print.
Marković, Vera. “Latest Findings on the Health Risks of Excessive Mobile Phone Use.” Microwave Review 3 (2012): 17-23. Print.
The International Telecommunication Union 2013, ”ICT Facts and Figures”. Web.
WHO. Electromagnetic fields and public health: mobile phones. 2011. Web.
WHO/International Agency for Research on Cancer. IARC Classifies Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields as Possibly Carcinogenic to Humans. 2011. Web.