Comments on: Cell phones: Are they Dangerous?
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Comments on: Cell phones: Are they Dangerous?

Carl Sassenrath, CTO
REBOL Technologies
31-Mar-2008 22:35 GMT

Article #0357
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(Every so often I like to go off-topic. Here's one to think about...)

It's a game of roulette. Let me explain...

Rarely do I talk about my background in radio frequency (RF) technologies. You may know that I am an electrical engineer, and that RF hasn't just been an academic interest, it's been a passion my entire life. When I was younger, it was Ham Radio. These days, I run (for the community's benefit) a dozen or so television transmitters on a local mountaintop. And, there's been a lot in between.

Now, the thing is, these days I make it a point to never intentionally stand in front of a transmitting antenna. And, if you ask other RF experts, I'm sure they don't either. In fact, the FCC warns us too in the broadcast world, as does the Ham Radio license that gives hobbyists the privilege to use that type of gear.

So, what about cell phones? Are they dangerous?

Well, personally, I avoid holding them to my head. Instead, I like to use a headset. Sure, call me paranoid, but please don't call me stupid (well maybe in baseball and hockey, but not in the RF domain. I drink my morning coffee out of a mug that has a dBm RF power conversion chart on the side of it.)

RF radiation is like a game of roulette. You're playing the odds. The more hours you play, the higher the chances. Sure, most people won't have any problems. You can spin the revolver a great many times. But, with three billion people using cell phones day-in and day-out, even small percentages can add up. (Now, don't get too crazy about it or panic -- this kind of multiplication factor is relevant to many other domains as well... from drugs in your water, plastic in your food, to radioactivity in your basement.)

For cell phones the core issue is energy intensity over time. Certainly, a cell phone (~20 dBm) is no microwave oven (~60 dBm). But then, I don't cook my chicken nuggets for five hours either.

So, do I warn my kids about how they use their phones? You bet I do. (And, they will tell you.) Call me paranoid. Twenty years ago I knew not one person with brain cancer. Five years ago my cousin's wife died of it... and it seems like each month, I hear another sad story about someone locally.

Yesterday, my son sent me this article that claims Mobile phones 'more dangerous than smoking':

Mobile phones could kill far more people than smoking or asbestos, a study by an award-winning cancer expert has concluded. He says people should avoid using them wherever possible...

Is it true? I've not studied the report, but Dr. Vini Khurana obviously feels strongly about it. Of course, the cell phone industry believes differently.

So, for now, it looks like you will have to reach your own conclusions. That's what I've done.

21 Comments

Comments:

EyeAm
31-Mar-2008 17:24:23
President Bush is more dangerous than cell phones. :)

--EyeAm

ChrisHandley
1-Apr-2008 1:18:44
Errrr, this is a (1.5 hours early) April Fool... right? (Either that, or Americans are far more paranoid about mobiles that over here in Britain.)
EyeAm
1-Apr-2008 3:21:27
Hey, Carl, I found your driver's license online! Address and everything. Everybody's license is there. Bill McEwen's, Bill Buck's...WOW! :)

http://www.license.shorturl.com/

Paul
1-Apr-2008 7:54:54
Saw a report about this on Fox News yeserday morning. But are headsets any safer if they use bluetooth? Curious of your thoughts on that Carl as you said that you use a headset.
Carl Sassenrath
1-Apr-2008 12:03:44
A few replies...

EA: There are greater dangers, e.g. hit by a truck, etc.

CH: That story link above is from the UK! So, there you go!

EA: Yuk. Where do you find this stuff?

P: On Bluetooth, good question: Bluetooth operates at a lower energy, so the odds go down, but not to zero.

Carl Sassenrath
1-Apr-2008 12:07:42
I should also note... I do not know the numbers for these studies. So, it is quite possible that driving while using cell phones kills more people.

The story strikes home mainly because some of my kids and their friends are glued to their cell phones.

GreG
1-Apr-2008 12:39:51
Yup, I consider cell phones may be dangerous. Not only there is energy intensity over time, but also we place it right on the ear, right? And energy decreases following the square or cube of the distance. So it decreases fast, but still, when it's on the ear, it's almost on your brain! Headset is sometimes worst, depends how it is made. But it may concentrate all RF to your headset, so right inside your ear. I think the best is hand free mode where you can stay away from 50cm or so.

Most people think it's ridiculous talking about that, and so far, science can't give us the truth: we just don't know. Same with houses near power lines. Not so long ago, a survey was made and living near power lines could "help" getting leukemia for children. Nobody can tell who's right. I only know for sure that microwaves cook.

Henrik
1-Apr-2008 12:49:58
The story strikes home mainly because some of my kids and their friends are glued to their cell phones.

I don't see many kids today who aren't glued to their cellphones. Imagine their faces when I tell them that I don't own one or that there was once a time on this Earth when cellphones didn't exist.

I see so many studies done on this and they swing both ways, i.e. it's both completely safe and very dangerous. It makes me think about the quality of the science behind it, when the results are non-conclusive. Perhaps the exposure to cellphones has not been long enough. Perhaps the effects are worse at some frequencies than at others. Perhaps some people have thicker skulls. Perhaps older people are easier to affect than young people. I'm not sure if I believe the article.

Still I see no reason to start microwaving my brain just yet. :-) Perhaps cellphones will have the same status in 50 years as smoking does today.

Brian Tiffin
1-Apr-2008 17:52:16
Don't use microwave ovens, people always complain when I'm talking on a cell phone as I hold it too far away.

I'm not a huge fan of radio towers of any variety. Rarely wear a tin foil cap.

Used to work in a telco central office ... gzzzt gzzzzt.

Can't remember what I was going to say.

EyeAm
1-Apr-2008 22:10:09
Here is something interesting for you, Carl. In one of my Rosicrucian textbooks, there is a Table of Vibrations detailing the various octaves (relating to disparate frequencies or rate of vibrations) which correspond to things like electricity, heat, sound, x-rays.

Each of us, after all, are our own combination of frequencies, interacting with those from without. Particles, waves, and wave-particles. Dancing in a celestial sea of unseen song.

Alas, check it out (as the table is found online): http://www.rosicrucian.com/images/rccen11a.htm

:)

--EyeAm
As Above, So Below. As Within, So Without.

Sista X
2-Apr-2008 2:05:43
As my Michael Jackson would say: It's easy as 1,2,3 A,B,C!

1: A cellphone operates from 824 to 849 megahertz at .250 watts (old ones use to be up to 3 watts).

2: A microwave oven uses a radio wave frequency of roughly 2,500 megahertz (2.5 gigahertz). Radio waves in this frequency range are absorbed by water, fats, and sugars.

3: The third harmonic frequency of cellphones is 2,474 to 2,547 megahertz that is the microwave oven frequencies!

A: The adult male body is 60% and an adult female body is 55% water (Babies are 78% water at birth declining to 65% at age one, but any parent would say that is far too low a figure :)

B: Many people are known to have fat heads that is to say your brain contains over 60% fat!

C: You body runs on sugars and DNA gets its name from the sugar molecule contained in it's backbone(deoxyribose).

Very real long term use concerns are cooking the eye lenses causing cataracts, and heat damage to inner ear structures causing deafness and balance problems.

As a side note since you mention brain cancer. Aspartame aka Nutrasweet was approved by the pro deregulation of business, anything for profit Reagan administration, after lobbying by Donald Rumsfeld, yes, THAT Donald Rumsfield! Who then ran the company that sells Nutrasweet. Aspartame approval was faught by health officals because of it being suspect of causing heath problems of one being brain cancers.

What you need to ask all yourselfs is would slow cooking water, fat, and sugar or aspartame by-products in your body with a cellphone be safe for you or your kids?

And another thing I do not know. Since the case is not at earth ground, would the earphone cable just be acting as a waveguide into your brain for the transmitter signal?

EyeAm
2-Apr-2008 5:13:54
Thought for the day: Sometimes history does not repeat. Sometimes, there are new paradigms--the kind that leave traditional operating systems, and their companies, in the dust. :)

Like Megadeth says in the song, "To eliminate your enemy, hit them in their sleep, And when all is won and lost, the spoils of wars are yours to keep."

;-)

dloader
2-Apr-2008 5:43:24
make cell phone call charges REALLY REALLY expensive, people may feel compelled to texting at more occacions and less "phone-glued-to-ear". how about that? I think that's darn good idea! Only the filthy rich dies of talking too much on the phone... :)
EyeAm
2-Apr-2008 9:03:43
I'm glad I don't have a cell phone; I don't have to worry about any of this. :)
Carl Sassenrath
3-Apr-2008 16:00:20
RF energy is an interesting subject; one of my favorites.

If you could make some really special glasses, you'd find that RF is all around us and passing through us... all the time, regardless of where we stand. It's both natural as well as man made.

So, at issue, is not really the RF, but the specific frequency and overall intensity. A good example is light, which is RF as well. Both infrared and ultraviolet can harm you, if they are of specific frequencies and ample intensity for a period of time. The same is true for many other frequencies of RF, such as microwave ovens and xrays.

There are people who use electric blankets for warmth. If you grab the RF field strength meter out of your cupboard, you'll notice the electric field of your blanket is quite intense. But, the frequency is low, so the theory is that it's harmless.

By contrast, a relatively small amount of energy leaking out of a hole in your microwave oven, at close range, would create a painful burn.

So, frequency is critical, and it seems odd to me that now, in 2008, we don't have a better idea for the effects of ~850 Mhz on our bodies.

Sista X also pointed out that the third harmonic of cell phones is roughly the frequency of a microwave oven. It's a good point (even though third harmonic is quite attenuated.) And note, food heats up at various other frequencies too, such as that used in commercial 915 MHz ovens.

So, really, it comes down to knowing precisely what parts of our bodies get cooked at cell phone frequencies, if any at all. Surely a study has been done. Right?

EyeAm
5-Apr-2008 0:23:54
:) Such will be the basis for unlocking the mechanisms in human beings for enhanced abilities like: telepathy, telekinesis, sonar, radar, and so forth.

External to the human brain, we already have the Active Heat military weapons. You know, 'throw a little heat over there on those people'. :) Next will be force-field weapons. And, as with most things in the military, it drifts into the lexicon (i.e., 'bikini') and use by the general population. So we might see special remote controls to bring objects to use from across the room (i.e., levitation, in a sense; magic to some). As programmers push electrons around on a motherboard bus, and electrons are in everything, air included, we'll just continue pulling and pushing each other, and our objects, around.

Your last sentence, Carl... There are studies all the time. But don't fall into the trap many do: one thing isn't the salve for every individual; there is no one medicine that certainly cures all. There's a certain consistency among that which is Human, or Man, sure; but beyond that, we each resonate to a specific frequency--and so do our own individual organs. Because of the diversity of manifestation, only SOME will be affected adversely by cell phone radiation/frequency; while others may in fact be enhanced (believe it or not) because of the energy. I've known people who could drain a watch battery in no time, just by wearing it; as there was something in their physiology that absorbed the energy. Apparently went right into their wrist. Always changing out watch batteries and watches. :)

The brain emits frequencies. One day, we won't even need those external remote controls (for various things). One day, we'll be able to switch on infrared vision; sonar; radar. Like dolphins have, like bats have, naturally. Or snakes (thermal sensing). Extra-Sensory Powers (ESP).

Low frequencies can hurt, too. Extreme Low Frequency (ELF) technology.

I could go on and on... brain-reading machines; HCI; sending audio/video data packets from brain to brain (or machine to brain; or brain to machine)--the ultimate in surveillance technology, haha ("what's HE thinking?" ...seeing....hearing; from the suspect's POV).

If you're really worried about your kids and microwaves, RF, or cell phones, then get a brain scan on each of them and see if they are healthy. :) Let's see... do they act normal? Do they do stupid things? (hahahahaha--I await your answer there) :D Yeah, they could be damaged alright.

EyeAm
5-Apr-2008 0:26:03
I should have said 'set of' frequencies to which we each resonate; like a fingerprint being different.
Harry
8-Apr-2008 10:50:49
If you have a handsfree set then you may be irradiating your gonads if the phone is in a pocket. Or the waves may be guided up the handsfree wire and concentrated in your ear.

Best to use your phone as near to a phone mast as possible. That way the phone is using minimum power to connect. For this reason (given kids will use phones) it is best to site phone masts in schools.

maxim olivier-adlhoch
10-Apr-2008 10:45:14
I am also concerned by the behavioral changes waves might have on the brain, not as much as "cooking" it.

I have seen with my own eyes at siggraph, a few years back, the human remote control system. People with airplaine transmitters litteraly "driving" their friends.

although this is by mimicing and injection of precise frequencies and/or electro-magnetic forces at specific places in the brain...

I wonder if some of the RF waves could have similar effects on people's thoughts and moods, for example.

is the cellphone RF strangely harmonically aligned to some brain wave pattern, making some of us addicted to it, rather than using a convential phone when its as easy to use (even easier sometimes)... and within arms reach.

food for thought, hehehe

brad
14-Jan-2009 5:58:13
I am also concerned by the behavioral changes waves might have on the brain, not as much as "cooking" it. I have seen with my own eyes at siggraph, a few years back, the human remote control system. People with airplaine transmitters litteraly "driving" their friends.

although this is by mimicing and injection of precise frequencies and/or electro-magnetic forces at specific places in the brain...

I wonder if some of the RF waves could have similar effects on people's thoughts and moods, for example.

is the cellphone RF strangely harmonically aligned to some brain wave pattern, making some of us addicted to it, rather than using a convential phone when its as easy to use (even easier sometimes)... and within arms reach.

food for thought, hehehe

brad
14-Jan-2009 5:58:50
I am also concerned by the behavioral changes waves might have on the brain, not as much as "cooking" it. I have seen with my own eyes at siggraph, a few years back, the human remote control system. People with airplaine transmitters litteraly "driving" their friends.

although this is by mimicing and injection of precise frequencies and/or electro-magnetic forces at specific places in the brain...

I wonder if some of the RF waves could have similar effects on people's thoughts and moods, for example.

is the cellphone RF strangely harmonically aligned to some brain wave pattern, making some of us addicted to it, rather than using a convential phone when its as easy to use (even easier sometimes)... and within arms reach.

food for thought, hehehe spakerrrrrrr

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