In the United States, the mobile phone is a device that you can find adults using in communication as well as their children. Roughly, 60 percent of teens and ninety-three percent of adults use cell phones in the United States (Barnes and Meyers 13). Regardless of the model, Blackberry, Android, iPhone or a basic flip phone, it is obvious that every user checks the phone for alerts, calls or messages especially when the device is not in a vibrating or ringing mode. Admittedly, the convenience of communication that the mobile phones provide is central to the increasing number of users. Notably, an average American spends approximately 144 minutes per day using a mobile phone (Barnes and Meyers 14). With a 6million estimate of worldwide mobile subscribers and the increasing trend in usage, cell phones have become the major communication means in the modern society. Often, some researchers on the health effects of using mobile phones have raised concerns, but in most cases, such concerns receive wide media coverage and become a subject of controversy. Because of the high numbers of people using mobile phones, medical researchers have expressed worries that any risks, however, small associated with cell phones could cause enormous public health problems. While the use of mobiles may be enjoyable and convenient, it is likely that they cause health problems, and people should understand the possible risks and effects in order to use such devices cautiously.
The World Health Organization (WHO) observes that mobile phones use transmitting radio waves, which are harmless because they cannot ionize the human body or break chemical bonds. Besides cell phones being low-powered radiofrequency transmitters, it is advisable to increase one’s distance from the handset because when the mobiles turn on they transmit power. The federal communications commission advises that users keep a distance of 20centimeters between them and the handset to minimize radiation exposure (Fox 23).
In an interview I conducted with Dr. Berelliani about the effects of mobile use on human health, the health professional said that it is important for people to take caution on how they use mobile phones because once research becomes exhaustive and proves the concerns valid, the damage will have occurred. Similarly, the doctor recommends that it is essential for all users to learn about the health effects both in the short-term and long-term and take appropriate behavioral adjustments. He believes that the radio frequencies used by mobile phones may lead to a ‘thermal effect’ especially if the radiation frequencies increase to high levels. In addition, he expressed concerns even the low radiofrequency radiations considered to be used in mobile phones are a cause of concern because they can cause brain tumors or headaches. Dr. Berelliani argues that exposure of human body to radiations regardless of their frequencies may be hazardous and slowly cause cancer, and it is pertinent to avoid exposure because it will take time to dispute the claims especially of health risks of mobile phones.
Advisedly, the doctor suggests that the first reaction to any health concerns is to assume that the claims are true and take precaution to ensure that you do not gamble with the body. However, controversial, the best action is to wait for prove of claims or dispute, but first do not be consumed in the dilemma. Ultimately, the interview with Dr.Berelliani suggests that understanding the whole controversy needs individual effort to learn and understand the expressed fears and to employ the precautionary measures in ensuring that they are not victims of mobile phone technology.
Ordinarily, it is essential to understand how the mobile phone works as the bottom line for assessing the credibility of the health risks with the usage of the device. The mobile phones involve the base stations and the handset and functions in a two-way mechanism as a radio (Stewart 21). The antennae of a base station are placed high off the ground on a tower to ensure wide reception of frequencies. The exchanges between the base station and the phone occur by the help of the transmitter and radio receiver inside a mobile phone. When making a call, the phone utilizes radiofrequency radiations that are received through the antenna to send waves to a nearby base station. Upon receiving the signal, the base station directs the call through a landline system and a person can communicate with another.
Usually, the base stations emit radiofrequency radiations at a relatively constant level. On the contrary, the radio frequency emitted by the handset varies depending on three conditions: the closeness of the phone to the body, the length of a call and the distance one is from the base station. As a matter of concern, when the link to the base station is weak, the radiofrequency radiations of the handset increase in order to compensate for the long distance between the person making a call and the base station. In this respect, when making a call a person’s head is exposed to about 100 to 1000 times more intense radiofrequency radiations from the hand handset than the exposure from the base stations (Stewart 23).
Health Effects of Mobile Phones
The continuous touching of a phone may lead to your handset harboring germs and other infectious microscopic organisms. In particular, the oily or greasy residue sometimes evident on the surface of a mobile phone has the potential to carry more infection-prone germs than those that can be found on the surface of a toilet seat. At the London school of medicine, researchers conducted a study to measure the levels of bacteria on 390 phones and hands. In the study, findings revealed that 82% of hands had bacteria, 92% of the mobile phones had bacteria and 16 % of the hands and cell phones contained E.Coli (Burgess 18). In addition, fecal matter, which is a common medium of infectious microorganisms, can be transferred from one person to another by cell phones.
The risk of chronic pain increases with the increase in the use of mobile phones. Typically, using a mobile phone entails constant movement of hands especially when sending e-mails and text messages. More specifically, when replying messages with high speed, there is a risk that pain inflammation and pain may occur at one’s joints (Burgess 20). In addition, increased phone use especially when users hold their phones between the shoulders and the neck causes back pain. Precisely, long periods of mobile phone use makes a person to arch the neck and assume a poor body posture leading to back pain.
Progressively, staring at a mobile phone causes visions problems in users. Most mobile users spend time texting through emails and messages, which increases the time of exposure to the bright light on mobile screens especially at night. During the day, the users send messages through phones and usually forget to adjust the brightness of the display. Comparatively, cell phones have smaller screens than computers, and this makes users strain their eyes when messaging. All these leads to poor vision and can cause blindness once the excess light damages the retina.
Some studies, however without scientific backing, reveal that using mobile phones could increase the risk of any cancer and brain tumors. In the year 2011, the international agency for research on cancer seemingly agreed that cell phones could be causing cancer in human beings, but still expressed reservations because of inadequate evidence to reach a conclusion (Carlo & Schram 15). In the same year, the world Health Organization classified the Radiofrequency radiation as a ‘possible cause of cancer’ in people because of the risk of a type of brain cancer glioma. Consequently, the release of this statement for by the WHO serves as a major reason for mobile users to use mobile phones precautionary. Furthermore, research on these concerns is ongoing, and it remains a subject of controversy, which calls for the cautious use of the mobile phones, to be on the safer side in case of any danger.
The information on the health effects of mobile phone radiations remains scanty and the suspected risks lack scientific validation. However, the findings from various studies cannot be wholesomely disputed. Besides, the use of mobile phones causes other health problems such as poor vision, chronic pain, and harbors infectious microorganisms that cause diseases. Because of the health concerns associated with mobile phones in respect to RF radiations, it is advisable for users to observe the precautionary measures of the FCC (Muscat & Shore 41).
Barnes, Micaela C, and Neil P. Meyers. Mobile Phones: Technology, Networks, and User Issues. Hauppauge: Nova Science Publisher's, 2011. Print.
Burgess, Adam. The Contemporary Emergence of Health Concerns Related to Mobile Phones: A Study of the Origins and Diffusion of Mobile Phone Fears and Anti-Emf Campaigns. Saarbrücken: VDM Verlag Dr. Müller, 2010. Print.
Carlo, George L, and Martin Schram. Cell Phones: Invisible Hazards in the Wireless Age : an Insider's Alarming Discoveries About Cancer and Genetic Damage. New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2011. Print.
Fox, Susannah. Mobile Health 2010. Washington: Pew Internet & American Life Project, 2010. Print.
Muscat, Joshua E, and Roy E. Shore. Handheld Mobile Phone Use and the Risk of Primary Brain Cancer. N.p., 2012. Print.
Stewart, W D. P. Mobile Phones and Health. Didcot: Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones, National Radiological Protection Board, 2010. Print.