Mobile phones and microwaves

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Many have debated whether the use of mobile phones should be allowed while others say that the uses of them are fine. There are many claims that the use of mobile phones has an effect on humans. Mobile phones have been a phenomena for many years, with nearly at least a high percentage of a country's population owning a mobile phone. In this case study, I will be talking about how the use of mobile phones may either benefit or harm people.

What are mobile phones?

Mobile Phones are long-range, electronic devices used as a means of communicating with other people over a network of specialized base stations known as cell sites. Mobile phones contain many features, such as text messaging and voice calling; now phones have many more features such as video recording, internet browsing, MP3 and a lot more. Mobile phones are now in high demand with a variety of audiences that can now use it, ranging from children to elderly adults. In the UK, mobile phones receive and transmit radio frequency signals that fall under the microwave region on the electromagnetic spectrum.

Microwaves

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Microwaves are electromagnetic waves in the electromagnetic spectrum, with wavelengths that range from 1mm to 1m, with frequencies between 0.3GHz and 300GHz. They are also used for a variety of reasons, as a means of communication, such as Wireless LAN protocols and Bluetooth with frequencies ranging from 2.4GHz to 5GHz. Microwaves are used in heating, especially heating food, within the kitchen appliance, microwave oven. This is done when the microwave oven passes (non-ionising) radiation, at a near frequency of 2.45GHz, through food, which causes dielectric heating by absorption of energy within the water, sugar and fats that are contained in food.

Electromagnetic Spectrum

The electromagnetic (EM) spectrum is the range of electromagnetic radiation frequencies. Electromagnetic radiation can be described in terms of a stream of photons, each travelling in a wave-like pattern, moving at the speed of light and carrying some amount of energy. The EM spectrum can be expressed in three ways: Wavelength, Energy or Frequency. A diagram of the EM spectrum is below.

Mobile Phones and Microwaves

As I said before mobile phones receive and transmit radio frequency (RF) signals that fall under the microwave region of the EM spectrum. The RF radiation used in mobile phones is of a low frequency (800-1900 Megahertz-MHz).

Ways of reducing exposure to microwaves through mobile phones

There are many ways of minimising exposure; making shorter phone calls regularly can help as you are receiving less and a short amount of radiation. Do not use your mobile phone so much; only use it often within a day. Hands free kits reduce exposure by cutting the amount of electromagnetic radiation entering the brain.

Risks

There are many risks of using mobile phones. Research suggests that using a mobile phone can increase the risk of ear tumours by four times,

'A 750-people study by Sweden's Karolinska Institute found the risk of acoustic neuroma rose by 3.9 times on the side of the head the phone is used. There was no increase in risk on the other side of the head - giving an overall rise in risk of 1.9 times.' (1)

Heavy usage of mobile phones can harm a man's sperm count and quality, as said in this batch of information:

'Heavy cell phone use can harm a man's sperm count and quality, says a study by researchers in the United States and India.

They tracked 364 men being evaluated for infertility. The men were divided into three groups, based on their sperm count, Bloomberg news reported.

Among men whose sperm counts were within the normal range, those who used a cell phone for more than four hours a day produced an average of 66 million sperm a day, 23 percent less than men in the same group who never used cell phones.

The study also found that the proportion of sperm that possessed "normal forms" was 21 percent among the heavy cell phone users, compared to 40 percent among the men who didn't use cell phones, Bloomberg reported.' (2)

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A well-understood effect of microwave radiation is dielectric heating, in which any dielectric material (such as living tissue) is heated by rotations of polar molecules induced by the electromagnetic field. In the case of a person using a mobile phone, most of the heating effect will occur on the surface of the head, causing it's temperature to increase by a small degree. Although the brain's blood circulation is capable of disposing of excess heat by increasing local blood flow, the cornea of the eye does not have this temperature regulation mechanism and exposure to a few hours has been reported to produce cataracts. Microwave energy oscillates at millions to billions of cycles per second. The Journal of Cellular Biochemistry reports that these frequencies cause cancer and other diseases by interfering with cellular DNA and its repair mechanisms. Microwave promotes rapid cell aging. Crime levels have increased over the years and the use of mobile phones is said to be a cause for this as thieves sometimes target those with mobile phones, it may be considered unsafe to carry around your phone in plain sight to everyone else.

Benefits

Although there may be many risks from using mobile phones, many benefits come out of them too. Mobile phones have proved to be one of the easiest and quickest forms of communication. In some cases mobile phones are vital in saving somebody's life, as you use your mobile phone to call the emergency departments to aid someone in need. The use of mobile phones helps you stay connected with friends and family, for example if you are a child and your mother is worried about you she can phone you and see if you are alright. In addition, mobile phones may enhance your social status. While there are not a lot of physical benefits to owning a phone there are many other benefits such as being able to use the internet anywhere you want, or listening to MP3 songs wherever you want. Many phones nowadays come with numerous features that can be of use, such as a built-in camera, which you can us to capture moments with friends and loved ones.

Conclusion

To conclude I would say that mobile phones should not be limited. When weighing the risks and the benefits, the risks are slim compared to the benefits. To reduce any risks of using a mobile phone you just need to take a few measures that are not that hard, such as using a hands-free set or having short conversations. Billions of people worldwide use mobile phones, each person using their phone as a means of communication, which is a great beneficial factor. The mobile phone can be used to save a lot of lives, this is one of the most amazing things about them. This and the reasons above is why I think that mobile phones should not be limited.

Below is the percentage of people 16 years and over that has a mobile phone, September 2001. There is a high percentage, this was 7 years ago, which means that this figure must have increased.

Bibliography

  1. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/3742120.stm
  2. http://omega.twoday.net/stories/2996232/
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_phone_radiation_and_health
  • http://www.cam.net.uk/home/Nimmann/eco/no-to-mobile-phones.htm
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microwaves
  • http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/3396259.stm