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In communication system, exchanges of information between two or more entity require a medium to complete the communication process. As the massive and rapid growth in technology innovation is ruling to make human's life better, wireless devices have been invented to make communication process even more convenient and reliably. Wireless communication doesn't require enhanced electrical conductors or any connected path that can be seen by human eyes, but been replaced by the radio frequency or RF, in the air surrounding us. The RF is the range of frequency which is responsible in communication among electromagnetic spectrum. Information signal is transferred via the air using RF from antenna of wireless device. The signal is received and responded by the nearest antenna. Besides that, microwave and infrared involve in wireless communication too. Signals are carried thru either short or long distance.
In the history of wireless communications, first wireless was developed with the messages are transferred over line-of-sight distances. Human were using smoke signals, flashing mirrors, flags and torch signaling. It was then substituted by wireless telephone which successfully invented by Alexander Graham Bell and Charles Sumner Tainter at 1880. At 1896, Guglielmo Marconi developed the first radio system too. Packet radio belongs to latter type of radio, which transmit the packet continuously. In 1971, first network based on packet radio has been implemented. The wireless data capabilities of cellular telephones and wireless local area networks (WLANs) were developed in 1990's, to replace the low data rates and high cost wide area wireless data access. Cellular phone can be considered as a successful wireless system as it becomes part of everyone in daily life. During 1990's another useful wireless system appeared, satellite system. Satellites broadcasts covers larger area which provides globally broadcast efficiently.
Nowadays, the usage of wireless devices have increased the opportunities to remain certain interactions connected regardless the distance. Wireless devices are no longer a fresh thing in our daily life. From living room to kitchen, from indoor to outdoor, from city to small town, we could seen the presence of wireless devices. Since wireless technology has been used widely, there are 3 types of devices that categorize the wide range of wireless devices, which consisted of fixed, mobile and portable communication. Fixed wireless device or communication is set at a changeless and immobility location such as home, and connected to network using routers, for example: office telephone network. Mobile wireless device allows the use of cell phone and communication services in moving transport, for example: automotive cell phone and PDAs. The third category of wireless device is portable. This kind of devices is power-cordless with attached battery providing power. It can be using everywhere we are, for example: cellular phone and broadbrand network. The common wireless usage included radio, Global Positioning System (GPS), satellite television, wireless computer peripherals, home security system, wireless local area network and so on.
Wireless devices related with human's health
Although wireless devices have more pros than cons, but there is also a main problem that concerns by a lot of people. The main problem about wireless devices is human health. There are various effects on human health that caused by wireless devices which are radiation absorption, thermal effects, blood-brain barrier effects, cognitive effects, electromagnetic hypersensitivity, genotoxic effects and sleep and electroencephalography (EEG) effects. Below are how and why these health effects affect human health:
Radiation is different types of information exchanging through the air waves. These air waves will produce radio frequency (RF). According to a study published in the Australasian Journal of Clinical Environmental Medicine in 2007, the radio frequencies that coming out of wireless devices were actually isolating and trapping metals in brain cells. Nowadays due to high technology, a large number of people are relying on wireless devices to communicate and the increase of the usage of these devices also increases the RF exposure on human body. For an example, the RF that emitted by mobile phones are absorbed by the human head. Different wireless devices will emit different radio waves due to the output power. Therefore the level RF that exposure of human health will also be affected. According to a research done by the International Agency on Research on Cancer (IARC), a specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization (WHO), it states that the interphone protocol is a population-based, case-control study correlating head and neck tumors with mobile-phone use by persons whose age is between 30-59 years. The exposure assessment that had been done is reliable due to the assessment is based on the individual records of cell phone use. The rate of the radiation that absorbed by human body is measured by the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR). According to SAR, the radiation that absorbed by children is higher compare to adults. This is because nowadays, the children using these devices at early age, therefore the wavelength that exposed to the whole-body resonance frequency is much more than adults.
One of the thermal effects is the dielectric heating. Dielectric heating is a process which the dielectric materials is heated by the rotation of polar molecules induced by electromagnetic field. The electromagnetic radiations have two types which are ionizing (high-frequency) and non-ionizing (low-frequency). The RF energy is formed by non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation. The amount of this heat energy will produce significant tissue heating and also increase the human body temperature. The level of the temperature increases will be controlled by human body such as blood circulation. Therefore, the amount of using these wireless devices will determine the amount of heats and affect human health. The longer the usage of the device, the higher the amount of the heats that increase the body temperature, the easier the human health affected.
Blood-brain barrier effects
According to a joint study conducted in northern Europe, it draws the conclusion that "Although our results overall do not indicate an increased risk of glioma in relation to mobile phone use, the possible risk in the most heavily exposed part of the brain with long-term use needs to be explored further before firm conclusions can be drawn. A long term exposure to RF will causes blood-brain barrier effects, thus have the higher possibility of having cancer. From several studies that been showed, long term exposure to RF will increase the risks for certain type brain tumors. The types of brain tumours that have the high possibility to be affect are glioma, meningioma and acoustic neuroma.
Genotoxic effects referred to direct and indirect effects of external factors on intracellular DNA. A study showed a correlation between increasing SAR and decreased motility and vitality in sperm, increased oxidative stress stimulating DNA base adduct formation and increased DNA fragmentation. Besides that, the long term exposure to a certain level of RF can damaged DNA. Moreover, it also has the effects of damage to chromosomes, DNA strand breaks, mutation, alterations in the activity of certain genes and a boosted rate of cell division.
Sleep and EEG effects
The radio waves that emitted by the wireless devices will also affect human sleep. The effect on human sleep only occurs when the exposure to RF was pulsed (amplitude modulated). Electroencephalography (EEG) is the recording of electrical activity along the scalp produced by the firing of neurons within the brain. When human sleeping, the electrical activity in the human brains will get a temporary rest. For an example, if mobile phone put beside of human when sleeping, the radio waves that emitted will causes radiation and influence the electrical activity in the human which are in 'rest' mode, thus it affects the sleepiness of a human.
Can wireless devices affect human health?
Since wireless devices have become very common tools in human daily life, so they must be some advantages and disadvantages for those advance technology toward human's health.
Wireless Devices CAN really affect Human Health
Most reviews made a conclusion that wireless phones no evidence to have any effects on health. Scientist unable to identify adverse health effects cannot be taken as absolute proof that wireless devices are impossible affect health. Scientific studies, however, have been inconclusive. Some schools have even banned to use of Wi-Fi networking to ensure student's health are in concern. Media headlines reported article between calling the advantages of wireless devices then calling them dangerous, in truth, the facts have become clouded.
Wireless mobile phone effect human health
In August 2007, Barnes had lead the NRC committee for a three-day conference in Washington D.C., they come with a wide array of researches on the topic of the impact of wireless devices and the presentations of over a dozen researchers from 9 countries.
"Obviously we are not seeing immediate short-term effects of such exposure, like people dropping dead on their cell phones. But in the long term - 10, 20 and 30 years out - we have a lot less information about potential effects from these types of wireless devices", said lead author Frank Barnes, a distinguished professor in the electrical and computer engineering department.
Besides that, a new National Research Council report had carried out at the University of Colorado at Boulder, emphasized that more research is required to assess the health effects of exposure to RF employed from wireless devices such as cell phones, laptops and hand-held Web-surfing gadgets. Also, particularly among people who have used the cell phones for more than 10 years, the rates of brain tumors and salivary gland tumors is increased.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there is a link related between long term cell phone use and brain tumors after 10 years of research and studies. Earlier, leading public health and environmental advocacy group - the Environmental Working Group (EWG), conducted its own research has came to the conclusion that RF radiation as the cause for concern. EWG created an online database where consumers can look up the radiation levels of their cell phones.
Drs. Henry Lai (University of Washington) was the first to show DNA damage in rats exposed to cell phone radiation. At least 60 peer-reviewed papers report biological effects at very low intensities of RF radiation but these are all of short exposure. Long-term exposure data are scarce. The long-term studies shows are the following:
Effects differ based on exposure duration.
Some effects occur only after either prolonged or repeated exposure but not after short-term exposure.
Some effects disappear after prolonged or repeated exposure (due to habituation).
An organism becomes more sensitive after repeated exposure.
After Drs. Henry Lai made this conclusion, many researchers and scientists standing out to support his idea, and perhaps they are right and humanity blindly created an unhealthy technologically advanced world. It warned us that our world has become run by technology at every corner, and even if the danger is small, we need to be aware.
Similarly, Dr. George Carlo - a world-renowned Epidemiologist presented a shocking but interesting concept of the surrounding hazards EMFs affect our health badly provided a high impact presentation that exposed the dangers of living in the wireless age. As the chief scientist of the world's largest research effort into wireless safety, he specified how electromagnetic radiation (EMF) negatively affects the body's ability to function and repair damage affecting our cells.
As a conclusion, RF radiation in the wireless devices may produce biological effects and stated that the interpretation of the results from existing and future studies of the health effects of RF radiation should take sponsorship into account.
Wireless Devices CANNOT really Affects Human Health
Nowadays, many media had stories about a new study that is described as reporting a health risk related to wireless telephones, or a new study finding no health risk related to wireless devices. However, their impact is not necessarily harmful.
A large number of studies have been completed with the safety of wireless devices. It's useful to consider the approach of responsible public health officials and scientists. Rather than forming an opinion based solely on the latest study, they evaluate and weigh all of the relevant studies before reaching conclusions.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has authority and responsibility to consider the results of scientific studies and to set rules as needed to protect people's health and safety when using wireless devices. The FCC has broad and continuing authority to regulate wireless devices communications and the FCC has used its authority to establish standards that strictly limit the levels of RF energy emitted from wireless telephones.
RF radiation in the wireless phone range may produce biological effects, and that more research is needed. RF fields can be categories into two sections: thermal effects and non-thermal effects.
Absorption of RF fields that increases in body temperature that caused by RF fields are called thermal effects. Radiation is used to describe RF fields leaving an antenna, but not to be misinterpreted as radioactivity. Radioactive material can be harmful whereas the radiating RF field does not present a health concern if exposure limits are met.
Our body can tolerated easily with a certain amount of heating as it has many ways to cope with slight increases in temperature. Non-ionizing radiation is too weak to cause direct damage to biological material, but it may cause biological effects through the creation of thermal mechanisms - heating of tissues.
However, RF radiations at sufficiently high power can cause the conversion of energy into heat may lead to adverse on health. To date, health effect from RF fields identified in scientific reviews has been related to an increase in body temperature when the temperature has increased more than one Celsius from exposure at very high RF radiation intensity.
These thermal mechanisms are well established to use as a guidelines restricting occupational and general exposure to RF fields. To ensure public experience is well below the level that might cause health problems, manufacturers had designed and installed wireless devices with specific limitation of the amount of heating that may produced by the wireless device.
For RF exposure at levels that are low enough such that there is no noticeable rise in temperature is known as non-thermal effect. These effects can include various subtle biological and chemical changes within the cells that make up human tissue. For example, RF radiation cannot break molecules and directly disrupt DNA.
From the studies of research, non of the list of alleged health outcomes associated with the use of wireless phones includes headaches, memory loss, fatigue, and other subjective symptoms has been proven to be due to the RF field generated by the wireless device. However, organizations in the United States and overseas are sponsoring research and investigating claims of possible health effects related to the use of wireless devices in long-term of period.
It is important that biological effects do not necessarily lead to adverse health outcomes. The current scientific consensus is that there is no clear evidence that wireless devices cause non-thermal effects that are harmful to human health. They may even be advantageous, as in the case of sunlight acting on skin cells to produce vitamin D.
Thus, scientists have summarized that symptoms may be caused by other factors, such as stress and even psychosomatic illness.
Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR) of Popular Wireless Technologies
Wireless device is a compulsory communication tool for this technology era so scientific research on their effects is still ongoing. While some biological effects are known to occur, scientist does not proves that wireless devices usage can lead to cancer or other sicknesses, including headaches, dizziness or memory loss. It is essential that within the scientific community, a high degree of confidence that RF exposure from wireless device is safe.
Studies are continued in order to improve scientific knowledge. All of the credible scientific reviews concluded that there is no clear evidence of adverse health effects associated with low-level RF fields. Particularly, the conclusions and advice based on recent scientific evidence and findings are:
"The balance of evidence to date suggests that exposures to RF radiation below [safety] guidelines do not cause adverse health effects to the general population." National Radiological Protection Board.
"All of the authoritative reviews completed within the last two years have concluded that there is no clear evidence of adverse health effects associated with RF fields."The Royal Society of Canada's Expert Panel on RF Fields.
As a summary, the use of wireless device is safe for individuals and society alike provided that guidelines and standards are met.
A sample of 50 Multimedia University's students enrolled in different course was randomly chosen as our survey target. They consist of 27 male students and 13 female students which are from different faculty and studying in Beta to Epsilon year.
The questionnaires composed of 7 questions which are related with our topic can wireless devices really affect human's health. Our questionnaire consists of closed-ended questions and open-ended questions. Examples of our closed-ended questions are shown as below:
Which of the following wireless devices do your normally use?
Global Positioning System (GPS)
Computer peripherals (cordless mouse, keyboard, printer and etc)
Cordless telephone sets
Others, please specify:
In your opinion, do you think wireless devices can affect human's health?
Yes ± No
* If "Yes", have you ever concerned about this issue?
How long do you use wireless devices everyday?
Less than 2 hours
More than 7 hours
Do you switch off your mobile phone when sleeping?
± Yes ±No
*If "No", do you put your mobile phone near to you when sleeping?
± Yes ±No
According to Federal Communication Commission ( FCC), it states that there is a limitation in the level of radio frequency (RF) range to ensure the wireless devices are harmless for human's health. Do you think this limitation is effective?
Please rate the level of the following symptoms that you encounter from wireless devices. (1: least significant 5: most significant)
Sleeplessness 1 2 3 4 5
Immune system effects 1 2 3 4 5
Irritability, anxiety, depression 1 2 3 4 5
Attention period insufficiency 1 2 3 4 5
Memory loss 1 2 3 4 5
Example of open ended questions:
-Where do you usually put your mobile phone when you bring it along? (etc: pocket, bag, hang on your neck and others)
-What is the potential method for you to limit the radio frequency (RF) exposure caused by wireless devices?
We can conclude that normally MMU students will use more than one wireless device in their daily life since the technology of nowadays is more advance. Among the 50 students, 96% of them will use mobile phone, modem, and computer peripherals such as wireless keyboard, mouse and so on. However wireless devices such as GPS, Bluetooth are less people using it compare with modem and mobile phone. In our opinion, we think mobile phone and modem become the most common devices in our life compare with GPS and Bluetooth. It's because mobile phone and modem will make our life easier and the cost also quite cheap. In the other hand, GPS and Bluetooth are only useful for certain category of people to own it and the devices are quite expensive.
There are 45 students think that wireless devices can affect human's health out of 50 students. There are only 34 students have ever concerned about their health issue among this 45 students. Besides, 74% of participants will use wireless devices more than 7 hours everyday and 8% of participants only use it less than 2 hours. The reason for them use it so frequently might be the wireless modem device instead of LAN cable, because most of the students are using laptop, it's more convenient for them to use wireless modem surf website to do their homework, assignments, and find entertainment to spend their daily life.
Although most of the students have concerned about this issue, there are only 12% of students will switch off the mobile phone when sleeping. For the 88% of students who don't switch off the mobile phone when sleeping, majority of them will put the mobile phone near to them while sleeping. This is the bad habit because it will increase the exposure of RF signal and cause them have higher probability to get brain cancer. Most of the students would like to take their mobile phones as alarm clock instead of using clock therefore they just put it near their bed or don't switch off the mobile phones.
There are 37 of students think that the limitation in the level of radio frequency range is effective to ensure the wireless devices are harmless for human's health according to federal communication commission (FCC). Other than that, some students will have their own method to limit themselves exposure under RF signals which is reduce the usage period, use wire cable instead of wireless for certain devices, switch off wireless devices when sleeping, keep the wireless devices away from body within a distance.
Method to avoid RF signal exposure to human body
Some scientists suggest several methods to keep ourselves away from exposure of RF signal for wireless devices
Limit the usage of time on mobile phones calls
Avoid to put the mobile phones in pocket or very close to our body
Avoid to make call when the area has poor coverage because it will requires mobile phones to increase the power consumption to communicate with the nearest cell site
Use wired headset to make the distance of mobile phone farther from our head
Switch it into "idle or sleep" mode when we are not using it so that the emission of RF will become lesser and weaker.
Use chips on mobile phones, computers, household electronics and wireless devices which will eliminate ELFR (extremely low frequency radiation).
Do not sleep beside or near any electronics devices (such as a clock, radio, computer, modem devices).