IS YOUR CELL PHONE KILLING YOU?

 IS YOUR CELL PHONE KILLING YOU?

Nowadays, saying cell-phones are ubiquitous is a bit like saying Johnny Depp is not a bad-looking guy. Do you know anyone in your life who does not own a cell phone? Neither do I. In fact – I have not formally studied this but I am sure it is nearly right – around 20% of my acquaintances have more than one phone. I’ve stopped asking them why, not because their reasons were inane but the seriousness with which they justified their choices made me feel I should go and get an extra phone myself.
To think that twenty years ago no one had ever heard of one of these things.
Now that we’ve taken to them like ducks to water and we’ve been using them for a good ten years or so, perhaps it’s time to ask some uncomfortable questions. That they are disturbing the social fabric and redefining human interaction is well-known, but are they also causing us some physical harm? To borrow from a dystopian science fiction novel, is your cell-phone killing you?
The answer is ‘no’ over a short-term, obviously, because we’ve all been using our phones these few years with little to no adverse effects. But if we apply a long-term time view, the jury is still out. Nobody really knows because ours is the first generation of mobile phone users. Fifty years from now our kids may look back and shake their heads wistfully and ask how we could be so stupid as to use such dangerous devices. But then again, maybe everything will be hunky dory.
The most commonly used measure of mobile phone safety is what is called a SAR (Specific Absorption Rate) value, which refers to the human body’s ability to absorb radio frequency electromagnetic waves. The lower this value, the safer a phone is. So the next time you’re wondering why the local company sells its devices at a much cheaper price than the big brand, turn the phone over and have a look at the SAR rate. You may find your answer staring at you in the face.
There are secondary health hazards too from using gadgets like cell phones and laptops. Study after study concludes the current generation of teenagers are less mobile and more slothful than previous generations. Once upon a time, running around and climbing trees were the pastimes of choice for kids. Nowadays it’s television, computers and cell phones. How many long term health hazards will our generation face in our middle age that are brought about by a lack of exercise during our formative years?
Meanwhile, evidence has started pouring in from various health organisations. ‘Electronic smog’, created by electricity, is now known as one of the most common and fastest growing influences. New evidence has linked ‘electropollution’ with cancer, birth defects, fibromyalgia, Alzheimer’s, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and depression. The World Health Organisation has urged limits on cell phone use in 2012, calling them a class B carcinogen.
So is your mobile phone killing you? The definitive answer will not come in for a few years yet, but the early signs are not good.

Daisy Akhtar

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