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Old 04-03-2008, 11:00 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Anyone have ideas on the actual dangers of cellphones?

This came back to my mind via the thread about the something something collider and the infintesimal possibility of it destroying the world. I admit that my knowledge of the natural sciences is only passing, for the most part, but it seems that any EM radiation with a longer wavelength than light should be fairly harmless, should it not? It's the higher-energy UV/X-Ray/etc. radiation that we have strong evidence for damaging DNA.

Anyone who's a little more knowledgeable on the principles of the subject want to chime in?
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Old 04-03-2008, 11:36 PM   #2 (permalink)
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cell phones emit microwaves, which are what's known as non-ionising radiation. The only proven effect that they have on the human body is a slight increase in temperature.

FUN FACT - Using a cellular phone could be very loosely equated with microwaving your head.

And it's called a Large Hadron Collider, or LHC for short.
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Old 04-04-2008, 12:25 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I have nothing really to chime in with.
Only remember, you don't have to understand it to support it.
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Old 04-04-2008, 05:32 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I know that it's dangerous to use your cellphone at my workplace. That's the kind of thing the managers get a little bent about, especially if you're running the forklift at the time.
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Old 04-04-2008, 08:03 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Sweet link, Augi! I forgot about those projects. *signs up*

Martian: much as I suspected. I remember a test wherein they cooked an egg or something with a pair of cell phones. lol
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Old 04-04-2008, 08:07 PM   #6 (permalink)
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The only danger I know about regarding cellphones is that they have the potential to cause havoc with medical monitoring equiptment.
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Old 04-04-2008, 08:23 PM   #7 (permalink)
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They are quite dangerous when combined with driving.
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Old 04-04-2008, 08:24 PM   #8 (permalink)
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This case is surprisingly complicated, actually. One of the few peer reviewed studies done was conducted by the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority in Finland. They concluded that the RF exposure can cause blood vessel walls to shrink, which poses a danger in that some potentially dangerous molecules that would otherwise be deflected could come into contact with brain tissue. This effect would be cumulative with certain molecules, which means that the cumulative effect of speaking on cell phones over many years may pose a danger.

Other peer reviewed studies have been held and usually say that there is no risk, but still suggest not to allow children to use cell phones (which one must admit is somewhat suspicious). Considering how long it took for conclusive proof about smoking to be uncovered as dangerous, I would like to see a lot more study.
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Old 04-04-2008, 08:31 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willravel
This case is surprisingly complicated, actually. One of the few peer reviewed studies done was conducted by the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority in Finland. They concluded that the RF exposure can cause blood vessel walls to shrink, which poses a danger in that some potentially dangerous molecules that would otherwise be deflected could come into contact with brain tissue. This effect would be cumulative with certain molecules, which means that the cumulative effect of speaking on cell phones over many years may pose a danger.

Other peer reviewed studies have been held and usually say that there is no risk, but still suggest not to allow children to use cell phones (which one must admit is somewhat suspicious). Considering how long it took for conclusive proof about smoking to be uncovered as dangerous, I would like to see a lot more study.
All I know is two cellphones calling each other sitting on both sides of an egg can cook it in an hour it with certain cellphone models. That's enough for me to keep the thing on speakerphone or away from me as much as possible. Icreasing brain temperature and screwing with blood vessels can't exactly be heatlhy.
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Old 04-04-2008, 08:32 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Years ago, a man in California sued (someone or something) because his wife had died of brain cancer and he was convinced it was because of her cellphone.
He lost his case, but wouldn't that be fine vindication if those studies were found to be quite relevant?
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Old 04-04-2008, 08:45 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samcol
All I know is two cellphones calling each other sitting on both sides of an egg can cook it in an hour it with certain cellphone models. That's enough for me to keep the thing on speakerphone or away from me as much as possible. Icreasing brain temperature and screwing with blood vessels can't exactly be heatlhy.
i remember old cell phones getting rather hot physically. I wonder if the test was staged with those ultra hot batteries up against the egg. I had one nokia back in the day like 8 years ago that would cook my frakkin(BSGLOL) hand if I talked on it for more than half an hour. Literally unpleasant to touch.
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Old 04-04-2008, 08:51 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ngdawg
Years ago, a man in California sued (someone or something) because his wife had died of brain cancer and he was convinced it was because of her cellphone.
He lost his case, but wouldn't that be fine vindication if those studies were found to be quite relevant?
Having lost my aunt to cancer, I don't find solace in big tobacco paying out a few million. I'd want those responsible in prison. I'd want the factories torn down and no one to ever have to go through losing their best friend again.

If cell phones are causing cancer, I want those responsible in prison and them to stop making dangerous products.
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Old 04-04-2008, 09:35 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shauk
i remember old cell phones getting rather hot physically. I wonder if the test was staged with those ultra hot batteries up against the egg. I had one nokia back in the day like 8 years ago that would cook my frakkin(BSGLOL) hand if I talked on it for more than half an hour. Literally unpleasant to touch.
I probably had the same model, only mine would heat up my ear, hand and side I was using it on. Didn't take long either.... 5 minutes and wham. Hell it would even irritate my leg through my pants pocket.

I don't use my cellphone that much, although I did just get a very cool new one with a blue tooth.... but I still won't use it much except to call Lady Sage or others in my family or work for a short period of time.

Let me put it this way I have a 450 minute monthly plan, I don't even touch that in 6 months and that includes free minutes.

So I'm not too worried.

But people who live on it.... they may have serious side effects.

Course the conspiracist in me believes that the government and Illuminati are using cell phones along with many other items of leisure and privilege to control population. Get people addicted to these items so that some weird disease comes out 40-50 years later and kills millions of people.

After all this is a new technology.... how do you know long term effects until it has been around for a long term test?

You just don't. But they have he money and scientists that could run the serious tests needed.
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Old 04-04-2008, 10:04 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Okay, time to blind y'all with science.

Here's the deal - the bulk of energy that floats around in our happy little Universe is what we call electromagnetic energy. See, at first we thought that radio waves and light waves and heat waves were all completely different, but it turns out that they're actually different flavours of the same thing.

Well, except the last one. That's a meteorological phenomenon.

So what we have now are all of these different types of energy that we thought were different, all on one spectrum. The only difference between microwaves and visible light and UV radiation is wavelength.

Quantum theory: a particle may not release energy in arbitrary amounts, but must do so in discrete units. These units are called quanta. A quantum could be likened to a box; all of the quantum boxes are the same size and that's the size the energy has to be released in. But energy with a shorter wavelength is denser, and therfore more of it can be crammed into the quantum box than can be done with less dense energy, in much the same way that more concrete can be placed in a physical box than styrofoam, when measured by mass.

So, cell phones.

Cell phones broadcast and receive transmissions in the microwave portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. As it turns out, the area of the spectrum designated as microwaves is pretty big, with wavelengths varying from approximately 30 cm right down to 1 mm; by contrast, the visible light portion of the spectrum varies by about 300 nm - that's nanometres, or 300 billionths of a metre.

Okay, so microwaves cover a lot of ground, and it's relatively long wavelength, low frequency. But what do they do to people?

Not a whole lot, really. Got a wireless network? You're being bathed in microwaves as you read this.

The type of radiation that we need to be concerned about is what's known as ionising radiation. It's named that because it has the capability to alter substances on a molecular level by knocking off an electron (turning them into an ion). Low frequency, long wavelength energy isn't energetic enough to do this - it doesn't pack enough energy into a quantum to knock an electron off a molecule. This type of energy is therefore known as non-ionising radiation, because it's incapable of changing stuff molecularly (and therefore incapable of giving you cancer by causing molecular changes in DNA molecules). Happily, the visible light spectrum acts as a handy delineation between ionising and non-ionising radiation; there is a small portion of the UV spectrum that is non-ionising, but anything above that is dangerous in large quantities and anything below it is more or less harmless. Since microwaves, infra-red and RF radiation all fall well below visible light on the spectrum, we can be reasonably confident that they pose no risk.

So how do cell phones cook an egg?

Well, as I mentioned above cell phones do use microwaves, and as I also jokingly pointed out, using a cell phone could be very loosely equated with microwaving your head. Yeah, they're the same type of microwaves that your microwave oven uses to heat your leftovers. The thing is, cell phones use so little power in comparison to a microwave that there isn't any real risk to people - given that your head is denser than an egg and that you have this excellent system for dumping waste heat generated by the microwaves, you really have nothing to worry about. Even cooking an egg requires multiple high-output units and takes a fairly long time.

So, yeah. Cellphones, sadly, will not turn you into the hulk. You may go about your daily business with no concern.
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Old 04-05-2008, 03:18 AM   #15 (permalink)
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When I had my kidney stone attack over a year ago and had to go to the emergency room, I asked the security guard if I could use my cell phone in its airplane mode i.e. all radios off (I had some reading material on the memory card).

Not only did the guard understand what I was asking, he even pointed out that the major problem with cell phones in hospitals was not with the cell phone radio, but with the Bluetooth radio! When hospital equipment started to go crazy, apparently it always happened when the phone had its Bluetooth radio active. If the phone didn't have Bluetooth or the Bluetooth radio was off, there was no problem.

Still, it isn't very reassuring. I've yet to see any consumer electronic product anywhere be adversely affected by any of today's modern cell phones. But put a cell phone near some hospital equipment and it goes crazy? Just what kind of knuckleheaded medical equipment engineers are designing this stuff that they can't even figure out how to build a proper Faraday cage?
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Old 04-05-2008, 09:19 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Milnoc
Still, it isn't very reassuring. I've yet to see any consumer electronic product anywhere be adversely affected by any of today's modern cell phones. But put a cell phone near some hospital equipment and it goes crazy? Just what kind of knuckleheaded medical equipment engineers are designing this stuff that they can't even figure out how to build a proper Faraday cage?
There's so little need for cell phones in a hospital with phones in every room that it's better to play it safe and ask for the phones to be turned off. While a Faraday cage would do the trick, it could also interfere with stuff that needs to plug in and instruments that need to communicate with each other wirelessly. If nothing else, it's a damn good reason to get the assholes to turn off their cellphones in the hospital where they're irritating and disruptive.
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Old 04-05-2008, 02:15 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by MSD
There's so little need for cell phones in a hospital with phones in every room that it's better to play it safe and ask for the phones to be turned off. While a Faraday cage would do the trick, it could also interfere with stuff that needs to plug in and instruments that need to communicate with each other wirelessly. If nothing else, it's a damn good reason to get the assholes to turn off their cellphones in the hospital where they're irritating and disruptive.
Exactly. It's not that there's a high risk of cellular phones causing interference to the machines so much as it is that there's no need for them there. Given the potential consequences and that there's no need for a cell phone in a hospital anyway, the rules err on the side of caution here. In addition, many devices (such as heart monitors, etc) communicate wirelessly with each other and with the nursing station, and cell phone interference on the wrong frequency has the potential to cause problems with that.
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Old 04-06-2008, 08:34 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willravel
Having lost my aunt to cancer, I don't find solace in big tobacco paying out a few million. I'd want those responsible in prison.

not trying to be a prick here will, but isn't it your aunt who is responsible for the cancer that took her life? or was big tobacco forcing her to smoke?
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Old 04-06-2008, 08:46 AM   #19 (permalink)
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not trying to be a prick here will, but isn't it your aunt who is responsible for the cancer that took her life? or was big tobacco forcing her to smoke?
It was big tobacco that spent millions making sure that their product was very addictive. I find it very difficult to blame her for the cancer. I blame her for starting, but I blame them for her not being able to quit.
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Old 04-06-2008, 06:47 PM   #20 (permalink)
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meh...as a smoker myself...I blame ONLY myself for not having quit.

pray tell, do you blame "BIG LIQUOR" for every dead drunk the world over?
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Old 04-07-2008, 08:23 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Sion
meh...as a smoker myself...I blame ONLY myself for not having quit.

pray tell, do you blame "BIG LIQUOR" for every dead drunk the world over?
I don't think liquor companies ever engaged in massive, industry-wide campaigns to claim that their products are completely safe and non-addictive.
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Old 04-07-2008, 08:46 PM   #22 (permalink)
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From a summary of a 2003 study by Sweedish scientists:
link
Quote:
A closer look at the cells within the brain revealed that exposed animals had "scattered and grouped dark neurons... often shrunken.. with loss of internal cell structures." These altered neurons were seen in all locations, but "especially the cortex, hippocampus and basal ganglia."
And just as a head's up... the hippocampus is the only area of the brain that is capable of regularly creating new neurons in adults. It's also responsible for memory formation. Mess with that area, you're just asking for trouble.
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Old 04-07-2008, 09:29 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by genuinegirly
From a summary of a 2003 study by Sweedish scientists:
link


And just as a head's up... the hippocampus is the only area of the brain that is capable of regularly creating new neurons in adults. It's also responsible for memory formation. Mess with that area, you're just asking for trouble.
Interesting. My phone's SAR is 590mW/kg at the ear, putting me well above what they tested. I'm not a biologist, so I'll leave the deciphering of whether the size difference in the brain and skull thickness between rats and humans is significant. I'll at least admit that it looks like it merits further study, and I won't dismiss it outright.
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Old 04-08-2008, 08:44 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Coincidentally, one of my new favorite blogs just did a post about this very subject (well, the more limited subject of 'do cellphones cause tumors?')

Quote:
The consensus seems to be that cell phones probably do not cause brain tumors, but we’re not sure, there is meaningful dissent from this opinion, and so more study is needed.
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Old 04-08-2008, 08:53 AM   #25 (permalink)
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When you consider the fact that non-ionizing radiation is only dangerous when powered by an extremely powerful source, it's hard to be worried about cell phones. My cell phone battery won't even last for a full day turned on.. somehow I doubt it has enough power to actually induce increased temperature within my body.
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Old 04-08-2008, 09:21 AM   #26 (permalink)
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The issue is that while the initial effect is negligible, it's cumulative effects may be more serious.
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Old 04-08-2008, 11:22 AM   #27 (permalink)
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That is only the issue if you fail to understand what de-ionizing radiation is.

If you're strictly speaking about the heat, then one could argue that the initial effect of hot showers is negligible, but that cumulative effects may be more serious. Our bodies are rather effective at dissipating heat, and there is no known "long term effect" of intermittent exposure to it.

I take a hot shower every morning and the water hitting my head is about 120 degrees. I'm not worried about the "cumulative effect" it will have on me. Are you?
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