November 17, 2010

Do Cell Phone Makers Secretly Know Cell Phones May Cause Health Problems?

Recently, there has been much speculation on whether cell phones pose a health risk. Wikipedia has a nice summary of those concerns.

What I find interesting is that the cell phone makers may actually know more about these risks than they are letting on or even have evidence for them.

If you look in the small print booklet that comes with your cell phone, cell phone makers state that phones should not be in contact with your body or skin and should be kept a certain distance away when in use or when carrying around. The picture here is exactly how you are NOT supposed to use the cell phone.

For example, in the iPhone 4 small print booklet that comes in the box with the phone, go to page 5 under the section "Exposure to Radio Frequency Energy." I quote:
"When using iPhone near your body for voice calls or for wireless data transmission over a cellular network, keep iPhone at least 15 mm (5/8 inch) away from the body, and only use carrying cases, belt clips, or holders that do not have metal parts and that maintain at least 15 mm (5/8 inch) separation between iPhone and the body."
Now, when I use a phone and answer a call, I have the phone right up against my ear as shown in the picture here. I do not keep it 5/8 inch away from my ear/head.

Now why would a cell phone maker care whether the phone is right up against the ear (so you can hear better) or not unless there is some concern that there may be a danger due to proximity/contact?

Perhaps they are protecting themselves from any possible lawsuit that may occur in the future due to health problems that will occur with phone use over time?

Kind of reminds me of the tobacco industry who for years denied that smoking posed any health risk. Now we know better.

Something to think about...

I should add that most studies to date do not show any definitive long-term harm from using cell phones, though studies following patients for more than 10 years do show an association with brain tumors. The greatest consistent risk is more from contact allergy.

BUT, to be on the safe side, it is recommended to talk on speakerphone or use a wired headset.

Even the CDC has had reservations regarding health risks due to cell phone use.

Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids.

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