Cell Phone Harm: How & Why Wireless Devices Can Kill

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In summary: Heh, most of my searches yield 'myth buster' sites. The problem is, all of these are busting the myth that the radio waves themselves can induce a current in metallic objects, which could potentially cause a spark. This has obviously been pretty thoroughly debunked. I think it was New Scientist (though possibly the Guardian) which pointed out that some phones now use a high voltage display which is the cause of concern (this was around a year ago, I recall.). I'll try and dig out some links.In summary, mobile phones and wireless devices cause harm by emitting microwave radiation. This radiation can spark and ignite petrol vapour, and there is still some debate over whether the transmitters themselves can cause harm.
  • #1
mtanti
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How and why do mobile phones and wireless devices cause harm?
 
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  • #2
I heard about this on the news. Who came up with this idea?

I was watching Myth Busters on the Discovery Channel (excellent show on Wednesdays at 9 pm! :biggrin:) the other night and they budted a myth that said cell phones can ignite the gas at gas stations. They set out to bust this myth. You should have seen the things they had to do to actually get the petrol to ignite. Needless to say they busted the myth. So don't worry about taking the call the next time you go to fill up. :smile:
 
  • #3
Don't be so stupid.

There have indeed been incidents where mobile phones have caused explosions at petrol filling stations, notably when the phone has been in the operators pocket and a call has come in. Most modern phones are pretty safe, but some of the newer ones apparently have high-voltage displays which can allegedly cause enough of a spark to ignite petrol vapour.

Anyway, since this is in the biology forum, I'm assuming that the OP was referring to long term health effects of using mobile phones.

The answer is that it hasn't been proven yet (and to some extent, the test of time is still ongoing) but microwave radiation given off by the phone is the cause for concern.
 
  • #4
So is there a frequency range in the frequency spectrum which is harmful (biologically!)?
 
  • #5
brewnog said:
There have indeed been incidents where mobile phones have caused explosions at petrol filling stations, notably when the phone has been in the operators pocket and a call has come in.
Could you provide a link, since I would not be so sure.
 
  • #6
Monique said:
Could you provide a link, since I would not be so sure.

Heh, most of my searches yield 'myth buster' sites. The problem is, all of these are busting the myth that the radio waves themselves can induce a current in metallic objects, which could potentially cause a spark. This has obviously been pretty thoroughly debunked. I think it was New Scientist (though possibly the Guardian :smile: ) which pointed out that some phones now use a high voltage display which is the cause of concern (this was around a year ago, I recall.). I'll try and dig out some links.


Edit: Ok, here's a quick link. I'll try to find something a bit more conclusive.
So although it is unlikely, under certain conditions mobiles and laptops can spark. And it is best not to be around petrol vapour when they do.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/click_online/3986509.stm


mtanti said:
So is there a frequency range in the frequency spectrum which is harmful (biologically!)?

Well obviously zapping someone with X rays is pretty risky, and low frequency radio waves are accepted as being pretty safe. The truth is, mobile phones haven't been around long enough for any real studies to have run their course, so the answer is very much up in the air.
 
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  • #7
What about the mechanism ... remember reading somewhere that the resulting temperature increase in the brain is the actual "problem" if there is one ?
 
  • #8
Hazards from cell phones have been hypothesized to come from the non-ionizing radiation they emit, I think in the microwave range as well as the potential thermal effects of holding the phone against the head. This radiation is said penetrate as much as 6 cm into the head under typical cell phone use, depending in the type of phone and how much energy it is emitting. I should be able to get some sources for this and more info when I get back into work on Mon.

There are a number of studies out there that are focused on determining if cel phones have the potential to cause harm in humans. There are several potential problems with these studies. These include the rapidly changing technology of cell phones, i.e. analog was first, then digital, newer models incorporating multiple high voltage displays, etc., much of the laboratory-based animal studies are inconsistent or unrealistic in their dosage design, both in total dose and localization of exposure. Case studies of cell phone factory workers implicate pathological changes such as meningioma, glioma but these are isolated cases. A relatively new epidemiological study implicates cell phones with an increased risk of acoustic neuroma. A Pubmed search will yield many papers on the subject, but overall the jury is still out cell phones and potential risk to human health.
 
  • #9
Another hot topic is the issue of whether the transmitters themselves can cause harm. There are hundreds of action groups trying to get rid of local transmitters in their neighbourhoods, suggesting that the radiation given off by the transmitters themselves can possibly cause cancer. This issue has been widened in the UK recently by the introduction of 3rd Generation networks (namely 3) who have introduced thousands of new transmitters nationwide, and disguising many of them as trees, or petrol station forecourt signs.

Once again, the jury is still out there.
 
  • #10
petrol station forecourt signs.

We have the trees here too, some so real looking that eagles have nested in them. But what's a petrol station forecourt sign?
 
  • #11
hypatia said:
We have the trees here too, some so real looking that eagles have nested in them. But what's a petrol station forecourt sign?


You know, those things about 6m tall with the petrol station's name, and the current price of petrol? Or is this a UK only thing?

Nice image here.
 
  • #12
brewnog said:
You know, those things about 6m tall with the petrol station's name, and the current price of petrol? Or is this a UK only thing?

Nice image here.

I think you just threw her off calling it a "forecourt" sign.
 
  • #13
I think you've posted in the wrong forum
this forum is about engineering and the way the mobile works but how it affects the human body you can find that in a medical forum.
 

Related to Cell Phone Harm: How & Why Wireless Devices Can Kill

1. How do cell phones harm our bodies?

Cell phones emit radiofrequency (RF) radiation, which is a type of electromagnetic radiation. This radiation can be absorbed by our bodies and cause damage to cells and tissues. Studies have linked RF radiation to various health effects, including DNA damage, cancer, and neurological disorders.

2. Why are wireless devices particularly harmful?

Wireless devices, such as cell phones, emit RF radiation constantly, even when we are not actively using them. This means that our exposure to this radiation is prolonged and continuous, increasing the potential harm to our bodies.

3. How does cell phone radiation affect children?

Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of cell phone radiation because their bodies are still developing. Their skulls are thinner, and their brains absorb more radiation than adults. Studies have shown that children who use cell phones have a higher risk of developing brain tumors and other health issues.

4. Can using a hands-free device reduce the harm caused by cell phones?

While using a hands-free device may reduce exposure to radiation from cell phones, it does not eliminate it entirely. The best way to reduce harm is to limit the use of wireless devices and keep them away from the body as much as possible.

5. What are some tips for reducing exposure to cell phone radiation?

To reduce exposure to cell phone radiation, you can: use a wired headset or speakerphone, keep your phone away from your body, use your phone on speaker mode, limit the use of wireless devices, and choose a lower radiation-emitting phone model. Additionally, you can turn off your phone or put it on airplane mode when not in use.

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