Long highlighted as a problem by environmentalists and sufferers, such reactions are still largely ignored or seen as exaggerated. However, exposure to electromagnetic fields and the radio frequency fields from mobile phones has been linked with the development of cancers, early onset dementia, brain tumours, lack of concentration, and interruption of sleep. While the studies that have made these links are not conclusive, the scientists say that neither would they expect them to be at this stage, since mobile phones have only been in extensive use for about a decade, whereas many cancers can take longer than this to develop.
However, it is believed that the current trend in their findings would point to taking precautionary steps to avoid over-exposure. Electromagnetic fields are areas of energy emitted either naturally or by man using electric and magnetic energy. Electromagnetic fields are present everywhere, are invisible to the human eye, and can vary in strength depending on frequency or wavelength.
Mobile phones use high radio frequency waves in order to send messages over long distances. The radio frequency fields emit waves of between 10MHz and 300 GHz. These non-ionising radio frequency fields can penetrate about a centimetre or so into the body, depending in the strength of the frequency, generating heat which in most people, is resolved. This thermal effect has previously not been thought to cause any harm, but studies are only now beginning to look more specifically at consequences of heating areas of the head (and brain), where most mobile devices are held.
Current guidelines from the government and the World Health Organisation are that there is little cause for concern over exposure to electromagnetic fields or radio frequency fields from mobile phones and similar such devices. However, they advise taking the following precautions if you are at all concerned.
Keep your exposure to radio frequency waves to a minimum. So that when you are making a call or sending a text message on your phone, hold the phone away from your body as this is when the unit will be actively sending strong signals. A phone will also maintain connectivity with nearby base stations at regular intervals when in standby, so keep it in a place which is not near you.
Using a hands free device is a safer option than holding a phone next to your ear. This is because the radio frequency fields strength gets weaker the further away from the handset it is and so if your handset is away from your head, the radio frequency fields you’re exposing yourself to will be less.
A child below the age of 16 is advised to only use a mobile phone for emergency calls only and if you want to reduce your own risk, then keep calls to a minimum and even try to do without it!