Term Paper: Cause and Effects of Cell Phone Radiation

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¶ … Cell Phone Radiation

The whole world has experienced an increase in the use of wireless mobile telephones and this has consequently raised health concerns since a very slight effect on the health of humans can spell a serious public health concern. Many investigations have been carried out both for specific effects and general effects of the use of mobile phones with particular interest on the radiations produced by such phones. What further raised the health concerns was the evidence that was found from various epidemiologic investigations showing potential health hazards. Examples of specific investigations include the determination of the effects of extensive use of mobile phones on the brain metabolites which can be detected by proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy and finding out if in vivo effects on the frequency of micronucleated exfoliated cells can be caused by mobile phone radiations. In order to find out the related findings on this subject matter a number of sources were used most of which deal with experimental data from various investigations (Khiat, et al., 2006).

Introduction

The communication industry has never experienced a revolution like that brought by the mobile phones with its use being almost essential in all cycles of life. The use of mobile phones increases the interaction of radiofrequency fields with human body tissues, especially the brain, which raises concerns on the possible health consequences of such an interaction. Even though some studies have concluded that short-term exposure has no effect, the debate among the scientists has not yet ceased. Most of the radiation is absorbed in the head and the neck since the mobile phone device is usually used close to the head. Quite a number of studies have been carried out with the aim of monitoring the various biological effects of the exposure to radiations from the mobile phone device in animals and humans. Reports have indicated effects on the neuronal structures, memory function, and blood brain barrier permeability to various agents of animals; in addition, studies on cells also reported DNA mutations. It has to be noted however that there are studies that have shown results to the contrary. Findings on humans indicated variations in visual cerebral potentials but studies on cognitive performances, melatonin, and blood flow yielded contradictory results.

Despite all these studies and findings the major interest has been on the possibility of brain tumors being caused by the microwaves use in cellular phones. Even though most studies have eliminated the relationship between cellular phone use and the incidence of brain tumors, increased risks have however been associated with mobile phone used. Gliomas has been cited as the most common form of primary tumor with astrocytomas being the most frequently occurring type of gliomas (Kundi, 2009; Smirnov, 2009). There have been conclusive results from studies showing a relationship between use of cell phone and gliomas. In general, there are several questions relating to the health effects of the usage of cell phone which has triggered a lot of scientific research into this subject.

Discussion

In order to understand this topic it is necessary to explain how cell phone radiation works. At the time when an individual speaks into a cell phone, the sound of the voice passes through a transmitter where it is encoded into a sine wave, that is, a wave that fluctuate continuously giving radiations from the antenna. After placing the encoded sound on the sine wave signals are sent to the antenna by the transmitter which is followed by sending of signals out into space in all directions. The phone transmitter operates on about 0.75 to 1 watt of power with the power rising to 2 watt at peak usage, an electromagnetic field is created around the transmitter is created by the electric current running through the transmitter circuit

. The back and forth movement of the electric current causes a build and collapse of fields generating electromagnetic radiation. Thus the source of cell phone radiation is the transmitter and the radiation is emitted through the antenna in the form of radio waves. The radio waves in cell phones fall in the low frequency microwave range. The cell phone is usually pressed on the head when used which raises one of the main concerns. It is known that electromagnetic radiation shoots out in all directions and at the speed f light thus this radiation has the capability of penetrating up to two inches into the human brain. Worse still there are two additional low frequency magnetic fields associated with the modern digital service cell phones as opposed to the previous analog phones. The "Time division multiple access" (TDMA) system which helps in increasing the number of people communicating simultaneously with a base station leads to the generation of continuous low frequency. The other technology which also emits low frequency in cell phones is the energy-saving discontinuous transmission mode (DTX), the frequency of this radiation is even higher (2Hz) when the user is just listening and not talking (Mercola, n.d.). The reason these additional low frequency radiations raise questions is the fact that there have been indications that extremely low frequency radiations can cause cancer such as leukemia. This sounds as a warning that the current technology may be far more dangerous than previous technology.

It is a known fact that mobile phones have extensively increased within the last few years and the most unfortunate side of this fact is that there is very little knowledge as to the possible effects of long-term exposure experienced by mobile phone users and those in close proximity to the mobile phone base stations. However, it is worth noting that a lot of effort has been put in the past several years in order to help solve this stalemate and this has been in the form of investigations aiming at revealing the possible biological effects resulting from exposing human to mobile phone radiations for a considerable period of time. There has been a hypothesis that low electromagnetic field has no biological effect on humans and it is on this basis that earlier researchers and engineers based their beliefs arguing that human cells can not be altered by low frequency electromagnetic field. According to the hypothesis the amount of heat generated by the low frequency electromagnetic field is not sufficient to cause a temperature increase of the tissue thus damage is not experienced at the DNA level. A recent classification by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) categorizes low frequency electromagnetic field as possible carcinogen implying that it may aggravate damage of DNA thus is possibly genotoxic

. Most genotoxic agents, of which low frequency electromagnetic radiations is one such, have biological effects which are often postulated to have a linear correlation to the dose. This relation means that there is no indication of threshold even when the exposure level is lowest. This therefore points to the fact low radiations can be harmful even when a biological effect is not observed since the biological effects are exerted by indirect mechanisms. In some findings, the increased risk of acoustic neuromas and overall incidence of brain cancer or the incidence of salivary gland cancer is not directly associated with mobile phone usage. Also there is no association between incidences of malignant brain tumor and regular, long-term, or heavy use of mobile phones. Postulations from some studies indicate a connection between prolonged use of cellular phone and both brain cancer and leukemia. However, some investigations found no effects on DNA damage, micronuclei in human peripheral blood, or chromosal aberrations exposed to mobile phone signals. There is a possibility that DNA repair mechanism activation takes place when exposure to low frequency electromagnetic radiation is prolonged in vivo conditions which works towards protecting DNA.

A major concern has been the effect of these radiations on children. Several research groups around the world have researched on this area and drawn conclusions indicating that the cell phone radiation standards that are currently set may not offer enough protection to children. These recommendations have prompted many governments to give recommendations limiting cell phone use for children. In addition, it is also recommended that children keep phone calls short and resort to sending text messages rather than call. The widespread use of mobile phones among children and the adolescents raised the alarm of finding out the possible effects since this meant high exposures to the radiations. The question that has always been asked is whether children experience higher exposure as compared to adults and why. Researchers have reported that the exposure in children is higher than in adults since children have thinner skulls and the higher content of water and ion in their brain, all these factors enhance penetration of radiation. There have been reports from some researchers that the radiation absorption rate of a child's brain is twice that of an adult (Environmental Working Group, 2010). This higher level of exposure coupled with sensitive, developing brain tissue of the children greatly increases the risk of children to damage from cell phone radiation.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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