If your family is anything like ours, your cell phone is a pretty essential part of daily living. From the time I wake up (with my cell phone alarm) to its many uses throughout the day, my cell phone has earned a remarkably important role in my life. Increasingly, wireless data also plays an “important” role in our children’s daily life, as well. I have upwards of a dozen games, puzzles and other kid-friendly apps on my phone, and my daughter, who is five, regularly plays them. Our older kids spend a good deal of their free time FaceTiming, playing games and watching YouTube videos on their phones and tablets.
Most of us take it for granted that cell phones and tablets are as safe as they are useful. Since our government has approved them for our general consumption, they must be safe, right? Many argue that is true. Certainly, there is no shortage of YouTube videos with armchair scientists arguing that cell phones emit non-ionizing radiation, don’t harm our cells, and are therefore safe.
We’ve seen similar patterns over the last hundred years or so. Take glow-in-the-dark watches, used by soldiers in the first world war. Radium, once used to paint luminescent objects like watches and clocks, was considered by scientists to be safe. Until the women factory painters started experiencing anemia, bone fractures and necrosis of the jaw, a condition now known as radium jaw.
There are other well known examples of products that were erroneously thought to be safe and regularly used by medical professionals: early X-ray machines, cigarettes, cocaine and bloodletting, come to mind.
Cell phones may not fall into such an extreme category as bloodletting and cocaine, but more and more scientists are raising the alarm. There may be serious consequences to heavy cellular and WiFi use, particularly as we move our devices closer to our body and head.
How does it work?
First of all, it’s important to note that relatively little research has been done on the effects of long term cellular and WiFi use on the human, and perhaps more importantly, the developing body and brain.
What we do know, is that EMF radiation (electromagnetic frequency radiation) is all pervasive today. Think radios, cellphones, television, microwave ovens, bioimaging, x-ray machines and airport screening are just a few of the many devices that use EMF.
Radios, cell phones and microwave ovens all operate within the radio spectrum, which is just one portion of the complete field of EMF radiation, also known as RF or radio frequency.
These radio waves can be projected by a metal antenna across great distances (or in the case of a microwave oven, bounced around within a metal box) and eventually received by an antenna attached to your car, home or cell phone.
(Within space and the Earth’s own atmosphere there is a base background level of these microwaves, so we are actually surrounded by low level radiation all the time.)
Most Wi-Fi used by cell phones, iPads and computers use about 2.4 GHz , the same frequency as microwave ovens. Of course, when we use a microwave oven to cook popcorn, we’re blasting 1000 watts of these microwaves within a closed container so that the waves bounce within and cause the popcorn to heat from within and pop. Obviously a cell phone can’t heat anything with its radio waves, and no one would seriously tell you that is the case (all internet hoaxes aside).
However, relatively little is known about the long term cumulative effects of chronic exposure to the “low” level WiFi and cellular EMF.
Dr. Devra Davis, who founded Environmental Health Trust, points out that current standards for cell phone use are sorely outdated. 20 years ago, when the standards were implemented, the typical cell phone user was considered to be an adult male, weighing an average of 220 pounds. Phones were designed to avoid heating the brain after a six minute phone call and did not consider the potential impact from chronic cell phone and WiFi exposure.
Fast forward to today, when countless children around the world are sitting on couches or in car seats, binge watching episodes of Dora the Explorer and playing Minecraft for hours on end. Certainly, these parameters were never the intended use for cell phones and tablets.
Dr. Davis and her team of researchers have modeled what radiation exposure looks like on adult and children’s skulls, and the images are concerning. Here’s a link to a presentation that is certainly worth watching, for an in depth look at what they have discovered: https://ehtrust.org/devra-
One of their main findings is that the areas of greatest concern are the parts of the body that contain fats and fluid: The eyes, breasts and testes. Note that these are also places that have great contact with cell phones as people put phones in their pockets, rest tablets on their lap or keep a cell phone in their bra or jacket pocket. Unfortunately, these scientists are finding more and more cases of “unusual” skin and breast cancers where people keep their phones as they walk, drive, commute and so on.
Dr. Davis argues that if these were the intended uses for a cellular devices, they would never be approved for use.
Many people don’t realise it, but even cell phone manufacturers know there are risks to long term exposure to cellular and wifi EMF, and for the evidence, look no further than your own cell phone. Deep in the iPhone settings, for example, is the following warning (Settings > General > About > Legal > RF Exposure):
…To reduce exposure to RF energy, use a hands-free option, such as the built-in speakerphone, the supplied headphones, or other similar accessories…
And in Australia, one telecom (Telstra) sends out regular messages to its subscribers:
The WHO provides the following information on how to reduce mobile phone exposure:
1. Use ‘hands-free’ devices to keep mobile phones away from the head and body during phone calls.
2. Limit the number and length of calls.
3. Use the phone in areas of good reception, which reduces exposure as the phone will transmit at reduced power.
Currently, there are many competing versions of the “truth” out there regarding WiFi use, when the real “truth” is we just don’t know the full extent of the risks. The potential risks range from EMF hypersensitivity including lethargy, sleeping disorders, and aches and pains, to biological effects such as reduced sperm count, fertility effects and cancer, to name a few. Here’s a link to a chart that lists the reported biological effects more exhaustively, from Bioinitiative.org.
At Rice Family Chiropractic, we practice a holistic approach to the health of our family and our patients. That means we look at the big picture when assessing your health. While studies on the effects of long term (IE over 15 years) cellular and wi-fi use, and electromagnetic frequency exposure are still quite few, we are choosing to err on the side of caution, and limit our kids and our own exposure to cellular and WiFi EMF.
There are a number of things you can do to limit your family’s exposure to risk. Here are a few that we use:
- Keep your cellphone away from your body, unless it’s on airplane mode.
- Never hold phone directly to your head — use speakerphone or headphones instead.
- Have your kids put their wireless devices on airplane mode or on a table or other surface away from their body.
- Consider keeping your home and work computers “wired” as opposed to wireless.
- Keep wireless routers away from your sitting areas.
- Never sleep with your cell phone near your body.
If you have any questions about chiropractic health care or our holistic approach to health care, please contact Rice Family Chiropractic at:
Rice Family Chiropractic
Wellness from our family, to yours.
Dr. Erin and James Rice
#310-6525 204 Street
Langley, BC V2Y 3B3