Mobile phone manufacturers today face challenges similar to the ones faced by the cigarette industry in the early 1950s - the process of redefining their reputation in the face of health risks, real or imagined. There are even calls from cancer research or pharmaceutical companies to issue a warning to all cell phone users about the dangerous levels of radiofrequency.
Everyone believes there is a serious problem but no one is sure. As a result there are hordes of inconclusive research projects and even crazy urban legends preying on human fears. All that the industry leaders have done is to shrug off the risk factor instead of trying to prove conclusively that no real harm exists.
 No Tests Before Marketing
It took 20 years from 1984 to reach the first billion cell phones, the second billion took just 18 months, the third billion took only nine months and the fourth billion just six months.
Isn’t it strange that before cell phones were unleashed on the masses no testing had been done to determine the ill effects of holding a radio frequency-emitting device to one’s head for long periods?
 No Conclusive Study Yet
No conclusive study is available about the negative effects of radiation. While some scientists argue that cell phone radiation isn't dangerous at all, there are several studies which point out numerous ill effects.
All electronic devices which run on radio waves emit levels of radio frequencies. The rates at which these frequencies are absorbed by the human body are measured by the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR), a number assigned to every model of cell phone sold in the U.S.
According to the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA), a phone's maximum SAR level must be less than 1.6W/kg (watts per kilogram) in order to pass FCC certification. In Europe, the level is capped at 2W/kg while Canada and the US allow a maximum of 1.6W/kg. However, it is possible for the SAR level to vary between different transmission bands. Even different testing bodies can obtain different results. Results may also vary between different editions of the same phone.
 ‘Effects neither significant nor harmful’
The US Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Communications Commission hold that cell phones’ effects on human health are neither significant nor harmful.
Frequent medical conventions all over the world try and establish a healthy outcome to all the debates. The cell manufacturers are spending millions on research to provide evidence that radiation levels from cell phones are not harmful.
 Scientifically Linked Diseases
Mobile communications devices generate electromagnetic fields, a form of low-frequency radiation associated with conditions ranging from cancer to cognitive damage. Those particularly affected are children and teenagers because of their thinner skulls and still-developing brains.
Some countries such as the United Kingdom have recommended limited use of cell phones among children. But this is purely as a precautionary measure with no medical evidence supporting the case for cancerous side affects.
Apart from cancer and brain tumor, the following diseases have been scientifically linked to cell phone radio waves:
- Alzheimer’s senility and dementia
- Sleep disruptions
- Altered memory function, poor concentration and spatial awareness.
- Frequent use of cell phones cause alarming increase in infertility amongst men, according to a recent study by the Reproductive Research Centre at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. The study found that those who used cell phones more than four hours per day suffered in terms of sperm count, motility, viability and appearance.
 Many Not Convinced There is a Problem
There is another group of scientists who are not convinced that there's a problem. Many studies have found no definitive connection between cell phone and health problem. Cell phone proponents are quick to point out that humans have transmitted long-range radio broadcasts for decades with no apparent problems.
The World Health Organization website states: "Considering the very low exposure levels and research results collected to date, there is no convincing scientific evidence that the weak RF [radio frequency] signals from base stations and wireless networks cause adverse health effects."
 Play Safe With Precautions
While the debate goes back and forth from cell phone manufacturers to health specialists and researchers, it is agreed by all that cell phones do give off exposure to radiofrequency. This is reason enough for people to play safe and take some precautions.
Most people fail to realize that common symptoms and health problems are related to their exposure to cell phones because these conditions can also come about because of many other causes.
It doesn’t cost much to eliminate the exposure. You can reduce the time a cell phone is against your ear by using an earpiece. Earlier, it was recommended that as the use of headset increased the distance between you and the cell phone, there was reduced exposure to radiation.
But today, with the emergence of wireless devices like Bluetooth, headsets may actually intensify your exposure to harmful radiation. With such devises the headset itself acts as an antenna, and is likely to raise the amount of radiation emitted by more than 300 percent. Wired headsets are, in fact, better. It is even better if you use an air tube headset which conducts sound but prevents any radiation from traveling up the wire to your brain.
Some simple precautionary measures are:
- Spend limited time on the cell phone.
- Stay away from WiFi routers.
- Avoid putting the phone on your ear and use speakerphone instead.
- Use a wired headset to limit your exposure to the cell phone.
- Avoid making calls inside buildings and use open spaces as far as possible.
- Limit use by children and pre-adolescents.
- Encourage children to send SMS text instead of constantly chatting on the phone.
To address the concerns of consumers some companies have brought out cell phone radiation blockers which are said to block up to 99% of cell phone radiation.
Studies examining the long-term effects of the devices are still underway and debates about cell safety will continue till conclusive evidence is found.
 Cell Phone Disposal and Toxic Waste
Cell phones contain a large number of hazardous substances, which can pollute the air when burned in incinerators and leach into soil and drink drinking water when buried in landfills.
Persistent toxins included in cell phones, such as antimony, arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, copper, lead, nickel, and zinc, linger in the environment for long periods without breaking down. Metals, lead and cadmium also tend to accumulate in the tissues of plants and animals and are associated with cancer and a range of reproductive, neurological, and developmental disorders. They pose a particular threat to children, whose developing systems are especially vulnerable to toxic assault. Most of hazardous materials are in the printed wiring board and liquid-crystal display of cell phones.
There are also a large number of highly toxic substances in the rechargeable batteries of cell phones.
In the U.S., Europe and other parts of the world cell handset makers are pursuing innovative recycling programs and introducing less toxic material due to new regulations about electronic waste. Punitive fines are considered in some countries for manufacturers who ignore these regulations.
There are many ways you can prevent environmental degradation by keeping the toxic chemicals in cell phones out of landfills. You can donate your cell phones in charity to organizations like Charitable Recycling Program , or turn your cell phone into cash with Pace Butler Corporation , or participate in recycling programs with Recycling for Charities
- Radiation Talk
- The Debate Over the Health Effects of Wireless
 See Also
- Health Hazards and Good Living
- Hazardous waste
- Electronic Smog
- Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus
- Phantom Power