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Why are people afraid of cell phone radiation?

  1. Feb 13, 2009 #1


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    Considering the fact that the standard cell phone frequency range (0.8-2GHz) is less than the atandars Wi-Fi range (2-5GHz), why are people afraid of cell phone radiation and not of wireless networks?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 13, 2009 #2
    Because you hold a cell phone right up to your brain (oh, the irony in that sentence!).
  4. Feb 13, 2009 #3


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    But isn't the frequency the only parameter that determines if the radiation is harmful? What does the intensity have do with it?
  5. Feb 13, 2009 #4
    The energy of the radiation drops off as 1/r (I believe). More energy = more harmful. It takes energy for the alpha particles to pass through your skin and cause cell damage, not frequency.
  6. Feb 13, 2009 #5
    I'm pretty sure that energy is conserved. If you meant intensity (I think you did), then I'm pretty sure it goes like [itex]1/r^2[/itex].
  7. Feb 13, 2009 #6
    Frequency determines how much damage can be caused by each photon absorbed. Intensity determines how many such photons are absorbed.
  8. Feb 13, 2009 #7


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    Yes, the total energy (sum of each of the photons energy) depends on the distance from the source, but inorder to damage cells, each individual photon has to be above a certain frequency, this type of radiation is called ionizing radiation:
    So if the cell phone transmission frequency isn't in the ionizing radiation range, how can it be dangerous?
  9. Feb 13, 2009 #8
    that's just it... it isn't dangerous (unless you stick one in your ear or drop one on your foot). If people were getting brain damage from the radiation, don't you think that they would first develop radiation burns on the skin around the ear? I don't see many people with their ear rotting off, so...

    Although this all makes sense, I still prefer to keep my cell phone out of my front pocket :wink: :tongue:
  10. Feb 13, 2009 #9
    You think you're unaffected by it? The radiation could cause effects not yet predictable (how can one confirm it doesnt affect cell reproduction or something). I'd say anything being absorbed by your body would affect you in some way.
  11. Feb 13, 2009 #10
    If everything absorbed by the body has an effect, then it could just as well be a positive affect, if I follow your thinking. Food is absorbed by the body, as is air... Solar radiation can improve the body's production of Vitamin D. But the point is, there are no radiation burns on the skin from normal cell phone use, then the effect of the absorbed radiation can't be more harmful than that...
  12. Feb 13, 2009 #11
    This reasoning leads to fear of the unknown or of that which isn't understood which I fear far too common nowadays. Of course cell phone radiation absorbed by your brain affects you. The small amount of electromagnetic energy provides a small amount of heat to your body, the same way the sun, a campfire or a cup of hot cocoa does.
  13. Feb 13, 2009 #12
    The power level diminishing from the phone can be modeled as

    [tex] \frac{1}{4\pi r^2} [/tex]

    since it's designed to broadcast omni-directionally pretty much.

    Wavelength for a cell phone signal at 1.9 GHz is about 15 cm, about the size of the head.

    Power level is definitely to low to cause any type of heating damage. But if the brain is a good, or even a poor electrical conductor, then there is a possibility that very weak current loops will be induced in the brain thus disturbing chatter between neurons. I'm not sure if this have studied or not.
  14. Feb 13, 2009 #13


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    In the UK the idiots are the other way around, the same parents that give their 5 year olds cell phones are insisting that wifi is removed from schools.
    With the usual - 'won't somebody think of the children?'
  15. Feb 15, 2009 #14

    Chi Meson

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    Ooh! *shudder* I'm never going near a cup of cocoa again!
  16. Feb 15, 2009 #15
    Cell phone radiation is pretty horrible. I for one think that cell phones should be banned. Also we should get rid of a much larger source of radiation that effects us all. There is a huge nuclear fusion reactor that we all see and are exposed to everyday. It's emissions are the most significant dose of radiation that almost anyone can get. I also would like to see it banned or at least shut down. There I've said it, we need to get rid of the sun.

    Seriously a few studies showing that cell phone radiation can cause localized heating in the brain are complete nonsense. Unless we can show a statistically significant number of people that have brain tumors or other problems from normal cell phone use there is no reason to worry.

    Right now I am pretty skeptical of any study aimed at showing adverse effects of anything. If you begin a study trying to find a result you will find it. If you can't get rats to develop tumors from average cell phone radiation then increase the dose by a factor of ten. If that doesn't work then increase it again. And again. Then when you have a significant number of rats with tumors proclaim cell phones cause cancer. Simmilar to the studies that have shown rats that consume several times their body weights in sacrin develop cancer.

    The reason why people are afraid of cell phones is that the media makes money by making people afraid. Just like scientists make money off studies that make people afraid. Then again, I could be a representitive of 'big cell phone' in disguise.
  17. Feb 15, 2009 #16
    It doesn't seam too radical to worry that microwave radiation from cell phones will affect your brain in one way or the other. I'm not sure that the risk of cancer is that great, maybe I'm wrong. But, there are some studies that seam to show that cell phones can affect the workings of the brain. This study shows that it messes with the memory in rats. They also make a claim that it can somehow affect the brain blood barrier.

    "Henrietta Nittby and her, supervisor Professor Leif Salford, believe that the findings may be related to the team's earlier findings, that is, that microwave radiation from cell phones can affect the so-called blood-brain barrier. This is a barrier that protects the brain by preventing substances circulating in the blood from penetrating into the brain tissue and damaging nerve cells. Leif Salford and his associates have previously found that albumin, a protein that functions as a transport molecule in the blood, leaks into brain tissue when laboratory animals are exposed to mobile phone radiation.

    The research team also found certain nerve damage in the form of damaged nerve cells in the cerebral cortex and in the hippocampus, the memory center of the brain. Albumin leakage occurs directly after radiation, while the nerve damage occurs only later, after four to eight weeks. Moreover, they have discovered alterations in the activity of a large number of genes, not in individual genes but in groups that are functionally related."


    This study indicates that cell phone radiation can affect our brain waves. Just google "cell phones affect brain waves".

  18. Feb 15, 2009 #17
    Since the dawn of time, man has yearned to destroy the sun :D
  19. May 31, 2011 #18
  20. May 31, 2011 #19


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  21. May 31, 2011 #20
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