This is an older article, published in the Wellbeing magazine (1999).
One in two Australians owns a mobile phone already, and they are here to stay. They are becoming less of a status symbol and more of a necessity of modern ‘connected’ life. That means, we need to come to terms with this new technology, whether we own one or not, and make the best of it.
In my practice as a Building Biologist, I have often come across clients, who reported health problems caused by their mobile phones and I was able to give them helpful hints on how to reduce their impact.
With this article, I hope to bring more clarity on the topic and assist readers in making informed choices. This necessarily involves a certain amount of technical information, which may be daunting for some, who may want to go straight to ‘The Good News’.
How they work
A low frequency pulse, carrying the information, travels on a high frequency microwave. As the pulse is digital (on/off) and ‘rhythmic’, it penetrates very powerfully with little energy input (the antennae on the transmission towers only have the approx. wattage of a light bulb, 50 W). This is sometimes called the Jackhammer Principle. By pulsing, a relatively small and light jackhammer is able to break through the hardest rock.
It is the pulse action, that makes mobile phone radiation considerably more dangerous to living systems (as well as technological systems, like airplanes, heart pacemakers, hospital installations), than the far more powerful TV/radio/... signals, which are emitted with up to 100,000 Watts of power. These emissions are not pulsed, however and vary in frequency and modulation, thereby causing relatively less damage.
First, the bad news.
Officially, negative impacts on biological systems are measured by the degree of heat, that is generated in the tissue by the radiation energy. Overwhelming evidence suggest however, that there are severe non-thermal impacts of electromagnetic radiation which can’t be ignored. The European Parliament demands that regulations be in force by 2001, to protect people from fields which are suspected to cause cancer or to weaken the nervous and immune systems.
The following list includes examples of research, that has initiated the parliamentarians concerns.
Dr. Varga (Heidelberg/Germany) tested the effect of pulsed high frequency radiation on chicken eggs. Of the group that were exposed, all embryos either died or were born deformed. The unexposed group were all healthy.
In Europe it has been observed, that Alpine forests are dying in the proximity of large aerials.
According to research by Dr. von Klitzing ( University Lubeck/Germany ), digital phone emissions cause a change in brain wave patterns. This occurs only minutes after using the phone. This change in pattern had never been observed before and it is not yet known what the effect is on us. It is however known, that it remains for up to a week. An unusually long reaction following a brief stimulation. This change in brain wave patterns could be instigated by phones up to 90 meters away! - Perhaps after the passive smoker we are now discovering the ‘passive phoner’?
Dr. Klitzing continues: " If a biological system is influenced by artificial signals, the impact is always negative. Cells are in constant communication with each other, exchanging essential information to maintain the life of the organism. ... Cellular immune reactions were reduced by 90 %.
" The (mobile phone’s) standby signal of 2 Hz can be confused with the heart beat. That can make digital phones dangerous for those with pace makers, which can mistake a phone-pulse for a heart beat and fail to function."
Scientists Mann and Roschke (Mainz University, Germany) found a change in sleep patterns of subjects exposed to pulsed mobile phone radiation: The important REM (Rapid Eye Movement) phase was shortened. This could explain a change in learning, memory and behaviour in animals, which they observed under similar conditions.
Australian Telstra researcher Dr Michael Ripacholi (1997) was preparing a study for Telstra, to show that even mice with a tendency to cancer would not be influenced by mobile phones. The result was surprising: A more than doubled tumor rate in mice. For 90 days, they had been radiated with phone microwaves twice per day for half an hour.
Dr. Andrew Davidson found that after decades of a stable rate in brain tumors, "In Western Australia alone, the brain tumor rate increased by 50% in men and by 62.5% in women." Other research indicates a suppression of the cancer regulating hormone Melatonin in the brain as a possible cause of the increased cancer risk.
This list should make clear that there is a problem with the use of mobile phones, even though we don’t understand the exact mechanisms, yet.
Perhaps there is an answer in the research of Roger Coghill in Britain, who has found that brain activity is controlled by electrical rather than chemical activity. He discovered by observing lymphocytes (white blood cells, part of the immune system), how external electromagnetic fields cause biological problems. His experiments have so far been repeated 12 times by different laboratories with the same result. This discovery proves, that we are governed by energy, rather than matter. It could herald a completely new attitude to healing, in acknowledging the value of Reiki and other such healing techniques, scientifically. A whole new medicine could arise out of this, as well as a different, more knowledgable, attitude to our electromagnetic environment. "The enormity of this advance in biological knowledge", says Roger Coghill, "is as great as Harvey’s discovery of the circulation of blood."
The good news.
Fear is certainly not a solution to the problem, nor is ignorance. We need to find a proactive way of dealing with the issue. For example, you can ask about the emission levels before buying a phone. Overseas, mobiles have been tested for their radiation emissions and on the following table you can see that they vary considerably. Phone producers there are advertising low emission levels, giving consumers a choice.
Even phones with the lower absorption rates, such as the Motorola Star Tac, are harmful. Action should be taken to further reduce the exposure, and there is a choice of options available:
Some companies are offering protective cases, which shield the head from the phone and its antenna. Emissions can be reduced by 50 to 90 percent. This does not make the phone harmless, but most people should benefit from the extra protection. - Some users go even further than that and buy shielding bras or slips, to avoid cancer or genetic damage. In Japan consumers can buy coats, hats, suits and overalls made from shielding materials. This may seem funny to us now, but who will be laughing in the end?
Some devices are simply shielding the antenna away from the head. This technology can even be seen on some new phone models.
Hands free devices are available not only for the car.
Use them whenever possible to keep the radiation source away from the head. The intensity decreases quickly with distance:
Phone type 0.3 m 1 m 10 m 30 m 90 m
Panasonic EB-KJ 3810 1,693 152.4 1.51 0.17 0.1
Unit: Micro-watts per square centimetre
>>> Make sure to use only hands-free sets with frequency arresters built in, otherwise they actually increase radiation to the head, as the wire works as an antenna. You can also buy these devices separately, see the Products section of this website.
The highest concentration of energy is around the antenna. The idea is to keep it as far form the head as possible. If you must use your phone against your head, insure that the antenna is pulled out.
Some Scandinavian citizens are now suing mobile companies, because they became blind on the eye closest to their ‘phone ear’, i.e. the antenna. People in Scandinavia have had the longest experience with such phones and often used it exclusively and for long periods of time.
Car roof antenna
When in a car, always use the hands-free installation. Car antennas should be on the roof, as the metal body of the car shields the emissions quite well.
Do not use your phone inside the train, bus, or ferry, because it increases its power output to maximum to overcome the shielding of the metal surrounds. The maximised emissions then are reflected back into the vehicle and its passengers.
Reduce the use and standby.
Try not to use your mobile unnecessarily and switch it off, rather than have it on standby, if you can.
Unfortunately, many of the wonderful cordless phones (the ones that you never remember where you left them last ...) are also digital mobiles! The only difference is that you have the base station in your own home, emitting signals constantly, day and night, - whether you are using the phone or not. If long phone calls give you headaches or tingling ears, and if some of your appliances are playing up- get rid of the cordless.
Harmonisers and energisers
Some companies are offering devices, which are to harmonise or neutralise harmful energies, or which protect and boost positive energies. It always appears preferable to address the cause of the problem rather than ‘paint it over’, but if it helps, why not? It would be interesting to see some scientific research done in this direction.
Better be safe than sorry.
Recently, a story went through the news that the use of mobile phones increases brain performance. This was demonstrated by a shortened reaction time. - We need to be very critical of naive conclusions of this kind: Amphetamines also decrease the reaction time, but that certainly can not be interpreted as saying that they are a good thing! As long as the processes involved are not clear, beware. Better be safe than sorry.
Mobile phone companies are quite aware of the problems caused by their handy little devices, putting considerable research into reduced emissions and better shielding. In the meantime, it is up to us consumers to reduce the harm and to enjoy the benefits.
Look after yourself.
As well as taking the above mentioned action to reduce the impact of the mobile phone, we should not forget to strengthen our bodies in the face of the stresses of modern life.-
Make sure to give your body enough rest to allow it to ‘re-charge’ during the night. Keep electrical devices (radio alarm, phone, home alarm, air conditioning, wiring) away from the bed. Have a healthy home, healthy food and a balanced diet, exercise, practise yoga and meditation, look after your emotional environment, - do everything you can to strengthen and maintain your body’s integrity and well being.
Literature and Contacts
The Body Electric: Electromagnetism and the Foundation of Life, by Robert O. Becker and G. Selden
Electromagnetic Man, by Cyril Smith, J.M.Dent & Sons Ltd, 1988
The EMF Book: What you should know about electromagnetic fields, electromagnetic radiation and your health, by Mark A. Pinsky
Electromagnetic Pollution Solutions, by Dr Glen Swartwout
Electromagnetic Fields: A consumer’s guide to the issues and how to protect ourselves, by B Blake Levitt
Crosscurrents: Promise of Electromagnetism, Perils of Electropollution, by Robert O. Becker
Healthy Home, Healthy Office, by Reinhard Kanuka-Fuchs
Stress durch Strom und Strahlung, by Wolfgang Maes (German)