When you grab your cell phone, do you ever stop to think about what consequences it can have on your health?
To your surprise, new warnings on cell phone radiation were mandated in Berkeley, California in 2016.
The ordinance sheds light on the topic of radiation from radio frequency (RF) and electromotive force (EMF) exposure, the health risks, and what you can do to protect yourself from harm.
Cellphone Radiation Risk
Berkley City Council recently issued an ordinance that requires all cell phones retailers in the city to provide customers with a written notice concerning the dangers and risks of radiation from cell phones and wireless products (1).
As a result, this made Berkeley the first city in the country to require warnings at the point of sale (2), and it has prompted increased awareness about the harmful effects of RF (radiofrequency) and EMF (electromagnetic frequency) exposure on the body.
The warnings specify the dangers of carrying your cell phone directly against your body, such as in your pants or shirt pocket, which may result in exposure that exceeds federal safety regulations.
Cell phone instruction books already include safety warnings, however, they are not issued by retailers at the point of sale (3). Plus, these warnings are buried in the fine print that most consumers typically do not read. City Council worked closely with the California Brain Tumor Association, Yale Law School, and Harvard University to conduct research with findings.
The required warning notice that must be displayed reads as follows:
“To assure safety, the Federal Government requires that cell phones meet radio frequency (RF) exposure guidelines. If you carry or use your phone in a pants or shirt pocket or tucked into a bra when the phone is ON and connected to a wireless network, you may exceed the federal guidelines for exposure to RF radiation. This potential risk is greater for children. Refer to the instructions in your phone or user manual for information about how to use your phone safely.” (4)
The ordinance stems from research showing that most Berkley residents do not know the extent of the risks associated with cell phone use.
To find out how aware the population was, Harvard University conducted a poll with the intent of increasing awareness around cell phone safety. The poll discovered the following findings on consumer’s knowledge of cell phone risks.
The results are valuable as they reveal the discrepancy between what current cell phone warnings are and what consumers are actually aware of (5):
- Nearly 75% of Berkeley citizens polled carry their cell phones directly against their body.
- 85% were not aware that cell phone manufacturers include safety guidelines in phone instruction booklets.
- 80% would consider changing their usage if they were aware radiation tests on the safety of cell phones already assume that the cell phone is being carried away from the body.
- 82% of residents would like to be “informed when they purchase a cellphone about the manufacturer’s recommended minimum distance that the phone should be kept from the user’s body.” (6)
- 70% were unaware that safety tests assumed cell phones would not be carried directly against the body.
Over 2,000 peer-reviewed journal articles exist that warn against the dangerous effects of RF exposure. Together, hundreds of scientists from countries around the world have sent a signed petition and letter to the United Nations urging the World Health Organization to “exert strong leadership in fostering the development of more protective EMF guidelines, encouraging precautionary measures, and educating the public about health risks, particularly risk to children and fetal development.” (7)
Dr. Devra Davis, a renowned expert on the hazards of cell phones, has done extensive research on RF exposure (11).
She stated the following:
“[A] cellphone is a two-way microwave radio… Industry has fought successfully to use the phrase ‘radiofrequency energy’ instead of microwave radiation. Because they know radiofrequency energy sounds fine… But radiofrequency energy is another word for microwave radiation. If people understood that they were holding a two-way microwave-radiating device next to their brain or next to their reproductive organs, they might think differently about it. (12)
The wireless industry has called for an appeal in reaction to the ordinance. They are disputing the requirement to provide warnings to consumers, mainly because of concerns over a potential decrease in profits.
The appeal focuses on manufacturer’s bottom line and minimizes the ethics of educating consumers about the risks of radiation exposure. Furthermore, the privatization of development of new technologies like 5G will eliminate the need for cell phone companies to provide public safety guidelines and recommendations.
In addition, there is growing concern that the pharmaceutical industry has paid off lawmakers, scientists, and health organizations (13).
A Harvard University Professor of Medicine, Arnold Seymour Relman stated
“The medical profession is being bought by the pharmaceutical industry, not only in terms of practice of medicine, but also in terms of teaching and research. The academic institutions of this country are allowing themselves to be the paid agents of the pharmaceutical industry. I think it’s disgraceful.” (14)
Dr. Joel M. Moskowtiz, the Director and Principal Investigator at the Center for Family and Community Health at Berkeley School of Health, and Dr. Martin Blank of the Department of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics at Colombia University, have been vocal about the issue. Moskowtiz, Blank, and hundreds of scientists from more than 30 countries have produced more than 2,000 peer-reviewed articles about the hazardous effects of RF radiation. Together, the scientists formally signed and sent a letter to the United Nations requesting more thorough and unbiased research be performed regarding the dangers of RF radiation.
Below is a video of Dr. Blank outlining the potential hazards associated with these devices:
Preventing Dirty Electricity
The fact that people use cell phones and wireless devices is not going to change. The opposite effect is happening as our usage is increasing due to the amount of time spent on smart phones, with increasing capabilities that allow people to do more on their phones than ever before. There are, however, a number of simple measures we can take to reduce your exposure to EMF and harmful radiation. In fact, stress and worry about exposure to radiation can increase the adverse health effects in the body (15).
Here are some ways to protect yourself against the dangers of radiation from “dirty electricity”:
- Keep your cell phone or tablet away from your children and avoid letting them use it or play with it. The thinness of children’s heads and ears absorbs up to 50% more EMF than that of an adult (16). Adults are able to make their own decisions about their own cell phone usage, but parents are responsible for the safety and wellbeing of their children. Caregivers should exercise caution wherever possible to safeguard children from the health risks caused by RF exposure.
- Only use your cellular phone in areas where there is excellent reception. Look for full bars on your screen to indicate a strong signal. Weak reception requires your phone to use more power, causing it to emit more radiation.
- Educate yourself on your own cell phones risks (17,18) and understand that while some models may be safer than others, there is no foolproof option.
- Limit your exposure by using your cell phone only when necessary, such as emergencies or important conversations that cannot take place in person. Turn your phone off when not in use. Simply having the power on emits harmful radiation. Opt for using a landline whenever one is available.
- Keep your cell phone away from your body. Do not carry it in your shirt pocket or directly on your person in any other way. Carrying your phone near your heart increases exposure to your vital organs. Similarly carrying your phone in your front pocket increases fertility risks in men (19). Keep your phone at least 6 inches away from your body whenever possible and use the speakerphone function for phone calls to avoid holding your phone against your head. Choose a battery-operated alarm clock or keep your cell phone or electronic alarm clock across the room from your bed.
- Avoid sleeping with your cell phone beside your bed or under your pillow. Placing it near your head leaves you exposed to radiation as you sleep.
- Be aware of second-hand EMF exposure. Turn your cell phone off in public areas to avoid putting others at risk. Some people are particularly sensitive to EMF and can be effected simply by being in the same room as other people’s cell phones. Be especially conscious of children in the area and only turn your phone on when absolutely necessary.
- Swap Wi-Fi for Ethernet cables for your internet connection to reduce EMF exposure in your home of office.
- Change your lightbulbs to incandescent bulbs and avoid using fluorescent light.
- Use shields on your electronic devices such as landline phones, cordless phones, and cell phones to reduce RF exposure. These protect your head and ears from RF exposure.
- Avoid using a cordless home phone, particularly newer models. Older types operate at 900 MHz, and some of them do not transmit when not in use the way that modern models do. Use an RF meter to measure the amount of exposure from your cordless phone and ensure that the meter goes beyond the frequency of the phone. Keep the base of your cordless phone in an unused area of your home or office, or as far away from the main traffic areas as possible, since the base is constantly transmitting, even when not in use. Get into the habit of turning the base off each night before bed to protect yourself when your phone is not being used.
Protecting Yourself From Radiation
Some additional measures to take against hazardous cell phone radiation are:
- Avoid having electronic devices touching your body. Whether it’s your laptop on your lap or your cell phone in your back pocket, keeping your devices away from your body will prevent RF radiation exposure. Some lesser known hidden risk factors include power bars under your desk or your bedside alarm clock. Ensure that these electronics are at least 3 inches away from your body at all times. 6 inches or more is ideal.
- Use a shield for your wired headset. Headsets are gaining popularity as they allow you to use your phone without keeping it close to your body. But if these headsets are not properly shielded they can transmit RF (radio frequency) through your skull and directly to your brain. Find a shield that protects your ears from contact with the headset and limits any wires from directly touching your head (20).
- Discontinue use of your microwave oven, or if you must use one, ensure that you stand a minimum of 3 feet away from it when it’s being used.
- Avoid living in a home or apartment that’s close to cell phone towers, power lines or electrical lines. Enlist your utility company to replace wireless meters with hard-wired smart meters to decrease your EMF exposure at home.
- Avoid electric items in or on your bed, such as heated blankets or heating pads. Swap waterbeds for traditional mattresses.
- Upgrade to flat screen computer monitors and TVs that emit fewer EMFs than older types.
Taking Proactive Steps, Naturally
In addition to avoiding RF exposure there are several natural health solutions that promote well-being and counter the effects of radiation.
- Practice Grounding or Earthing by exposing your bare feet to dirt, sand, or grass. Walking barefoot on natural earth surfaces reduces inflammation in the body and releases stress hormones by letting negative ions flow into the body from the ground (21). Negative ions have healing properties that can diminish the adverse effects of RF exposure.
- Kill EMFs, bacteria, and purify the air by burning 100 percent beeswax candles or using Himalayan salt lamps around your home. These natural ionizers send negative ions into the air, absorbing the excess of positive ions emitted from electronic devices.
In summary, it’s up to individuals to protect themselves from the harmful exposure to radiation from cell phones, whether regulations are put in place or not. Take the proper precautions to limit the hazards or RF and EMF exposure and add as many natural health measures into your life as possible to protect yourself from harm and promote wellbeing in the way you use your electronic devices.
Challenge yourself to make as many of the changes in this article as possible and enjoy the added health benefits that come with limiting your radiation exposure.