In the last 15 years, as the number of Americans who own cell phones has increased radically, the way we use them has changed as well. From keeping track of appointments to keeping up with friends, playing Angry Birds to playing cat videos, today’s mobile device is more than a way to bypass pay phones -- it’s an essential component of our identity, almost part of our DNA.
But is it safe to spend so much time cozying up to your smartphone? Health scientists, environmental activists and industry groups have long locked horns over whether cell phones emit enough radiation to cause cancer. The FCC announced last week that it will be reviewing its safety standards with respect to cell phone radiation emissions, which haven’t been updated since 1996.
The FCC’s inquiry was launched in response to a 2012 report by the Government Accountability Office, which urged it to update its standards based on the recommendations of federal and international health organizations. In 2011 the World Health Organization listed mobile phones as a possible carcinogen and contributor to brain cancer. And their increasing use by teens and children as young as 5 or 6 has led to further concerns about the long-term effects.
Do you worry about the effects of constant cell phone use, or do you think the fears are overblown? Do today’s cell phones pose a greater risk than in the past? How much radiation is too much? Are there precautions we can take to minimize the danger?
Devra Davis, Ph.D., Founder and President of Environmental Health Trust and Author of Disconnect: The Truth About Cell Phone Radiation, What the Industry Has Done to Hide it, and How To Protect Your Family (Penguin, 2010)
Bernard Leikind, Ph.D., independent physicist and contributor to Skeptic Magazine