In recent months, we have heard a lot about the dangers of using a cell phone while driving — due to the hundreds of serious car and truck accidents caused by distracted drivers. Researchers have debated whether another, more long-term danger of cell phone usage lurks: brain cancer.
The issue of whether or not cell phones cause brain cancer has become a hotly debated topic. The mayor of San Francisco, California, recently proposed mandatory radiation labels on cell phones, and a senator from Maine proposed placing warnings on cell phone packaging, much like warnings found on cigarette packaging today. On the other hand, as noted by our Chicago brain injury lawyers in an earlier blog post, there have been several studies debunking the theory that cell phone usage increases the risk of cancer.
For a Free Consultation with a Chicago-based injury and wrongful death attorney with experience representing individuals in cases involving the misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of cancer, or cancer caused by some other form of negligence, call Passen & Powell at (312) 527-4500.
Cell phones, like other electronic devices, emit a certain level of radiation. The radiation is “non-ionizing”, meaning it does not strip atoms and molecules from the tissue and alter chemical reactions in the body like ionizing radiation, or X-Rays.
Still, the United States limits the amount of radiation exposure of cell phones. The radiation emission level of cell phones is measured according to the “specific absorption rate” or SAR, which the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association defines as “a way of measuring the quantity of radio frequency (RF) energy” absorbed by the human body. Both American and European governments have a set SAR limit: 1.6 watts per kilogram in the US, and 2 watts per kilogram in Europe. Any cell phones that exceed the limits cannot be sold in the US or Europe.
Radiation from cell phones comes from the transmitter, and is emitted through the antenna. Both parts are located near the top, or where a person places a cell phone to the ear in order to hear. It is this close proximity to the brain that raises public concerns, and has prompted studies from the Cellular Telephone Industry Association, the American Journal of Epidemiology, the EM Radiation Research Trust, the Environmental Working Group and others. So far, the studies concerning the link between cell phone usage and cancer have been either inconclusive or contradictory.
There is general consensus among the scientific community that more studies need to be conducted to better understand long term effects from exposure to cell phone radiation. Although cell phones are omnipresent devices today, the technology itself has only been around for 20 years, and its widespread use is even more recent. More time is required to assess long-term risks associated with cell phone radiation exposure. Indeed, a far-reaching, government funded study must be conducted to ensure we are not seriously endangering the public.
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