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.
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 become an alternative to other gadgets and now can do many other features other than the average call or text, 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.
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This gives much concern to whether or not phones can cause damage to the human body due to the radiation emitted. The effect of radiation emitted by mobile phones has been a subject of many recent studies. There is growing evidence that the use of mobile phones can actually harm the human body, such as the microwaves emitted could damage brain cells.
In this case study, I will be talking about how the use of mobile phones may either benefit or harm people. I will include the risks and benefits to the use of mobile phones and how, in my opinion, limiting the use of mobile phones is not the best approach to the problem, simply educating the public about the possible risks and how to reduce them would be effective.
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. Radiation emitted can be transmitted, reflected or absorbed by various materials. The intensity of radiation emitted is the energy arriving from the source of EM radiation at a surface per second.
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. Although microwaves are non-ionizing, which means they cannot damage or mutate cells directly, they can cause a heating effect. This heating effect can cause damage to cells within the body.
Mobile Phones and Microwaves
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). Communication between mobile phones is established when the radio waves are transmitted and received by the phone.
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.
There are many risks of using mobile phones. Research suggests that using a mobile phone can increase the risk of brain 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)
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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)
This research is valid as the sample size of both studies are large, therefore allowing for more reliable data to be gained. The institute for claim one is well respected and can be trusted. Dr Michael Clarke, a spokesman for the National Radiological Protection Board, the UK's advisory group, said it was a "good study from a well respected institute".
Another study has claimed that mobile phone radiation can affect the sexual behaviour in men. Study done by: Salama N, Kishimoto T, Kanayama HO, Kagawa S.
2009 Nov 26  Departments of Urology, Tokushima School of Medicine, Tokushima City, Japan  Department of Urology, Alexandria Faculty of Medicine, Alexandria, Egypt for NCBI.
‘The accumulating effects of exposure to electromagnetic radiation emitted by a conventional mobile phone (MP) on male sexual behaviour have not yet been analyzed. Therefore, we studied these effects in 18 male rabbits that were randomly divided into phone and control groups. Six female teasers were taken successively to the male's cage and the copulatory behaviour was recorded. Serum total testosterone, dopamine and cortisol were evaluated. The animals of the phone group were exposed to MPs (800 MHz) in a standby position for 8 h daily for 12 weeks. At the end of the study, the copulatory behaviour and hormonal assays were re-evaluated. Mounts without ejaculation were the main mounts in the phone group and its duration and frequency increased significantly compared with the controls, whereas the reverse was observed in its mounts with ejaculation. Ejaculation frequency dropped significantly, biting/grasping against teasers increased notably and mounting latency in accumulated means from the first to the fourth teasers were noted in the phone group. The hormonal assays did not show any significant differences between the study groups. Therefore, the pulsed radiofrequency emitted by a conventional MP, which was kept on a standby position, could affect the sexual behaviour in the rabbit.' (3)
These results could be unreliable due to the sample size of just 18 rabbits. In addition, as the tests were carried out on rabbits, the effects on human beings may differ, as our biology is different to that of rabbits. We may have greater resistance to radiation given out from mobile phones than rabbits do.
Dielectric heating is one of the well-known effects of microwave radiation, in which rotations of polar molecules induced by the electromagnetic field heats any dielectric material (such as living tissue). In the case of a person using a mobile phone, most of the heating effect will occur on the surface of the head, causing its 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. A study by researchers in the Rappaport Faculty of Medicine at the Technion claimed “a possible link between microwave radiation, similar to the type found in cellular phones, and different kinds of damage to the visual system was found. At least one kind of damage seems to accumulate over time and not heal, challenging the common view and leading the researchers to the assertion that the duration of exposure is not less important than the intensity of the irradiation” (4). Again, tests were conducted on calves, so the results may not apply to humans. This is because cells of different species may vibrate in different ways to that of humans, because the vibrations will be different, the heating effect may be increased or decreased, either way the reliability of this claim is discredited. 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. In an article by Amy Worthington title “You Don't Deserve Cancer - You Deserve the Facts” she states many risks in using mobile phones:
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“Recent by studies University of Washington professor Dr. Henry Lai confirm that cell and cordless phone microwave can:
- Damage nerves in the scalp
- Cause blood cells to leak haemoglobin
- Cause memory loss and mental confusion
- Cause headaches and induce extreme fatigue
- Create joint pain, muscle spasms and tremors
- Create burning sensation and rash on the skin
- Alter the brain's electrical activity during sleep
- Induce ringing in the ears, impair sense of smell
- Precipitate cataracts, retina damage and eye cancer
- Open the blood-brain barrier to viruses and toxins
- Reduce the number and efficiency of white blood cells
- Stimulate asthma by producing histamine in mast cells
- Cause digestive problems and raise bad cholesterol levels
- Stress the endocrine system, especially pancreas, thyroid, ovaries, testes”
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. The Home Office states that robberies have decreased since 2001, but it also states that most robberies are related to mobile phones:
“Facts & figures
- robbery rates decreased by 16% in 2007-08 over the previous year, and overall rates of robbery have declined 30% since 2001
- 44% of robberies recorded by police in England and Wales took place in London
- a mobile phone is stolen in half of all robberies
- in a third of all robberies, a mobile phone is the only thing taken”
The Home Office also states “Last year more than 700,000 mobile phones were stolen...”
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, as mobile phones can be used as a way of staying in contact with others. 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 use to capture moments with friends and loved ones.
To conclude, I would say that mobile phones should not be limited. When weighing the risks and the benefits, the risks may seem to outweigh the benefits, however, these risks are minor and quite rare, minimising these risks will ensure the safety to the body. 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. However, this does not mean that the use of mobile phones should not be limited. Limiting the use of mobile phones can be beneficial in that exposure to microwaves is less, therefore reducing the likelihood of brain tumours or other mobile phone related issues to occur.
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.
This diagram shows mobile phone related instances of brain cancer, from 1975 to 1990, it rose, but from then on until 2006, the number dropped. So can mobile phones and brain cancer be related? This can be used to argue against many studies and researches, such as Amy Worthington's article, claiming that mobile phones and brain cancer may be related.
Much of the scientific research and the various ways of reducing microwaves through mobile phones were found in the Lonsdale OCR 21st Century Sciencefor Specification A book.
Source for Home Office facts:
Amy Worthington article “You Don't Deserve Cancer - You Deserve the Facts”
Science - Biology