The Effects Of Radiation Exposure - Are Cell Phone Towers Making Us Sick?

Far from being a conspiracy theory shouted from the soap boxes of radical hippies, the effect of daily exposure to radiation from electromagnetic fields has some basis in reality. Although research into the long-term effects is still ongoing, and we probably won’t know all the dangers for a few more years, we do have some reasons to be concerned.

What Is An Electromagnetic Field?

An electric field is produced by voltage, which is the pressure used to push electrons through a wire. It is produced whether or not a device is turned on. A magnetic field results from the flow of current through wires or electrical devices and is measured in microteslas (μT). They are only produced when current is flowing, which is why power lines continually produce magnetic fields, as current is always flowing through them.

Whereas electric fields are easily blocked or weakened by walls and other solid objects, magnetic fields can pass through most materials, including buildings and living things. When these two fields exist together, they are referred to as an electromagnetic field, and the forces they emit are caused by electromagnetic radiation.

So, Are We At Risk?

In 2015, the European Commission Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks reviewed their findings on electromagnetic fields in general, and cell phones in particular. Their report states that studies show there is an increased risk of childhood leukaemia from an average daily exposure to radiation above 0.3 to 0.4 μT.

In a study conducted by British researchers, over 2,600 children with cancer were compared to a group of similar children who didn’t have cancer. Results showed that those who might have been exposed to higher than average radiation from cell phone towers in the previous five years had a slightly higher risk of cancer (although not a specific cancer, such as leukaemia or brain tumours). However, because the study didn’t look at the actual exposure of individual children, based on how far from a cell tower they lived or went to school, the results cannot be seen as being conclusive.

The American Cancer Society says in general, public exposure to radio waves from cell phone towers is slight for three main reasons – the power levels are relatively low, the signals are transmitted intermittently rather than constantly, and the antennas are mounted high above ground level.

Even at ground level near typical cellular base stations, the amount of radiation recorded is thousands of times less than the limits for safe exposure as set by the US Federal Communication Commission.

In Sweden, research showed that the greatest emissions don’t come from masts at all, but from our cell phones themselves, as well as cordless phones and wifi modems.

What Can We Do?

What can we conclude from these somewhat conflicting findings?

Yes, we are exposed to electromagnetic radiation through items we use every day, but no, we are not yet sure what the long-term effects of this exposure will be. In the meantime, if you are concerned, you can help reduce your exposure by leaving your mobile phone charging overnight in the kitchen, and not on your bedside table. You can make sure your wifi modem is as far away from your bedroom as possible, and you can try to use the speaker function on your phone where possible.

If you’d like to speak to a health professional about your concerns about exposure electromagnetic radiation, contact Dr Alain Sanua. He is a qualified medical doctor currently practising integrated medicine, and he would welcome the chance to chat with you.


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