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Cellular telephone and safety of health

September 4, 2000

For the last year the telephone has turned to a usual working tool what it should be from a toy and a measure of richness. Cellular phones are used practically by everybody and it is possible to hear the bell of a cellular phone almost anywhere. So telephones often ring on performances and even more at cinemas and that is to my mind a disadvantage of the owner's education. I am sure that for 5 minutes in the city center you can notice much more than ten cellular phones people passing by have. First of all, such availability is connected with constant lowering of handset's cost and certainly significant lowering of cost a minute talk for cellular operators. The army of the mobile telephone users is enlarged regularly and those who have the telephone for a long time today can allow themselves to speak longer but for the same money they had to pay two of years ago. The main question of this article is whether the cellular telephone is so safe that we think.

First of all I would like to give the results of the inquiry carried out in June of this year about safety of cellular telephones. The question was:

Do you consider the usage of a cellular telephone harmful to health?

  • Yes- 39 % (60 persons)
  • No- 32 % (49 persons)
  • Harmful but I use the telephone not so often -27 % (42 persons)

151 persons took part in the interrogation.

As we see from the given results the opinions were divided approximately equally. Taking into account the fact that the third variant of the answer means negative influence of a cellular telephone on health it is possible to adopt that the majority of participants (69 %) consider mobile telephones harmful.

Is it right to consider them harmful but at the same time to use them? Let's try to clear up in this question. First of all it is necessary to mark that the information accessible today is very contradictory. But some outputs can be made all the same.

Results of researches

So absolutely recently (28.06.00) World-wide Organizations of public health Services has published the recommendations on safety of cellular telephones in connection with forthcoming conference of the European parliament. It was marked that for today there are no convincing proofs about link of usage of mobile telephones with development cancer or other serious diseases. The final outputs are supposed to be made by results of long-term research in 10 countries of the world, which will be completed in 2003. The negative effects like deceleration of response time or disorders of dream are not confirmed scientifically. It is indicated in recommendations that any special security measures in relation to cellular telephones shouldn't be taken.

The data obtained by the group of scientists from Canada researching the influence of irradiation by radio waves (from antennas of cellular communication placed on roofs of buildings and from cellular telephones themselves) on the man's health correspond to the given research. Their independent research was carried out on inquiry of the Ministry of public health services of Canada and it was marked that "the irradiation (radio-frequency fields) that type and intensity which is formed by devices of a radio communication don't promote appearance or development of growth for animals or people". Despite of it, the necessity of improving the Canadian laws was marked in the problems of protection of staff operating in the field of a cellular transmission.

This year the results of the Canadian scientists were confirmed by the British Commission on radiological protection (National Radiological Protection Board, NRPB). The research of a level of radiation from antennas of cellular communication located on the roofs of buildings was carried out in 118 objects in 17 occupied points. The main objects of research were school buildings in the places where the population showed maximum concern on this question. In result the commission found out that on all objects the level of radiations inside buildings was much lower than extreme valid values both on British and on international standards. Essentially the schoolchildren inside buildings receive a smaller doze of irradiation than outside on distance 300 ý from the antenna. Nevertheless, the chief of research considers that the further researches on the greater number of objects are necessary as in Great Britain where there are about 20000 antennas only cellular communication.

However already there are certificates of an indirect harm of antennas of cellular communication placed in occupied points. According to the data of German scientists who have tested three standards of cellular communication NMT-450, GSM 900 and GSM 1800 (telephones were tested directly) and 231 cardio stimulators of various corporations - manufacturer more than 30 % cardio stimulators are effected by telephones operating in standards NMT-450 and GSM 900. The influence of telephones standard GSM 1800 on cardio stimulators was not revealed. The measurement of radiation near antennas of cellular communication was not carried out but it is possible to tell with confidence that the radiation power of the base station is from 6 up to 10W but for a handset it is from 0,05 up to 0,6 W.

Today level of safety of a cellular telephone is estimated in SAR (Specific Absorption Rates) - level of radiation (emission) in watts of radiated energy on kg of brain (W/kg). In the list below you can see some models of telephones and level of safety of their usage. The less is the value SAR, the more safe is the device.


The manufacturer Model SAR (W/kg) Warning***
Motorola Star Tac 130* 0.10 good
Motorola Star Tac 130** 0.38 good
Nokia 8810 0.22 absent
Sony CMD-C1 0.55 absent
Ericsson I8888 World 0.60 good
Ericsson S868 0.77 good
Nokia 6110 0.87 absent
Ericsson A1018s 0.88 good
Ericsson SH888 0.90 good
Trium Galaxy* 0.93 perfect
Trium Galaxy** 1.16 perfect
Motorola cd930 0.94 good
Panasonic EB-G520 0.95 absent
Alcatel One Touch max* 0.97 bad
Alcatel One Touch max** 1.29 bad
Ericsson T18s 0.97 good
Nokia 6150 0.98 absent
Panasonic EB-GD70 0.99 absent
Philips Savy 1.11 bad
Bosch GSM 909 1.13 bad
Nokia 3210 1.14 absent
Motorola cd920 1.17 good
Nokia 3110 1.24 absent
Philips Genie 1800* 1.26 good
Philips Genie 1800** 1.41 good
Siemens C25 1.33 absent
Philips Genie 900* 1.52 good
Philips Genie 900** 2.67 good
Motorola v3688 1.58 good
Bosch GSM 908 1.59 bad
* the external antenna
** the internal antenna
*** the wrning about probable danger of an irradiation is described in the user's guide

The fact that till nowadays in Great Britain the safe level SAR is 10 confirms that some disadvantages of legislative base that falls behind the progress of systems mobile communication take place. The same situation is watched and in other countries.

Despite of so large tolerances in questions of safety cellular couplers Great Britain was first to begin examining the question on influence mobile telephones on health of children. On 11.05.00 the report of leading British scientists on learning effect of mobile telephones on health of children was published. In the report it is marked that children should not use mobile telephones because of the greater receptivity of children's organism to operation of electric waves. The research was carried out by the order of the British government that at once has reacted to the obtained report. The ministers have received the instruction to develop new rules of usage mobile telephones by children in which the minimum age of the users, maximum duration of talk and quantity of allowed daily bells will be indicated. Information about possible risk for children - users of mobile telephones has confused many companies of mobile communication as they planned this quota in the business - schedules.

The research which has been carried out among 11.000 users of cellular communication by the order of Norwegian Radiation Protection Board, National Institute 'Working Life" (Sweden) and also SINTEF Unimed found out the greater receptivity to influence of radiation for the young people. The research has shown that people who use the telephone less than 2 minutes per day complained on discomfort and outside effects. The problems with health increase if to use the telephone longer. Those who use the telephone about 30 minutes daily increase the probability loss of memory almost in 2 times in comparison with those who do it 2 minutes per day. Half of questioned users have signaled that at usage of cellular telephones they feel unpleasant warming up in the part of the head around the ear. The young people go through the greatest risk. Those who are under 30 fall under outside effects 3-4 times more often.

The interesting information about diseases caused by telephones was published on a site MedScape where the researches by the Swedish scientists of 233 patients were given. The scientists have analyzed probability of appearance a growth in those areas of brain that are usually mostly affected by electric waves from a radiophone. As statistical analysis has shown this probability was appreciably above than in other areas, however this fact cannot form the basis for any conclusion. 12 of 13 patients with a malignant or good-quality tumour of brain used old analogue telephones with the boosted radiation. Certainly, this fact testifies to possibility existence of danger but statistical sampling is not enough to make this problem more serious.

Doctor George Lundberg, the main editor MedScape, has expressed concerning about this data: "Research once again confirms that it is necessary to study this problem deeper in spite of the fact that recently many people decrease the role of telephones in diseases underlining minimum radiated power of new digital apparatuses. At that prompt distribution of cellular telephony and proceeding usage of old analogue telephones the researches giving possibility to estimate risk adequately are necessary".

The British researchers proved that miniature earphones (hand's free) for cellular telephones are harmful were distinguished again. Many people use such earphones assuming that they reduce harmful effect of the antenna cellular telephone, but all turns out just on the contrary. As researches of the British association of customers have shown these devices operate as original antenna and the level of electric waves coming into brain of a user three times exceeds the level of a usual telephone in a handset. Though till now the connection between irradiation and morbidity of the users is not installed the association advises customers to limit usage of similar devices.

In Japan as against Great Britain where there are 30 million users of cellular communication the percent of cellular telephones in recalculation on the population of the country is much higher. May be this fact has forced the Japanese government to reconsider standards on levels of radiation of mobile telephones to make the requirements stronger. The manufacturers of mobile telephones will be obliged to support a level of radiation not above than 2 Watts on each kg of client's brain .The acceptance of such solution mirrors concerning about possible influence of electric waves on health which has especially increased after publication of the report about research of the English scientists (see above) and response of the British government. The manufacturers however do not consider that the new requirements of government will strongly influence the development of mobile communication as the released now telephones give radiation at levels from 0,13 up to 0,6 Watts. As we see the government of Japan does not want to put of a harm highly technological and profitable branch of production. Therefore the government has played a cunning trick, having received limitation on the certainly overestimated level in comparison with made models of telephones.

Israel has some progress in this problem. The administration bill that has been put forward by the deputy from parliamentary association "Israel Akhat" directed to warning about harm of cellular telephones to health of the users will be brought on consideration of Israel parliament. In case the administration bill will be received the advertising of cellular telephones in Israel will be supplied with warning about a possible harm to health; the same warnings will appear on gained apparatuses or packing.

And at last the most curious research. The scientists of Bristol University and Bristol Royal Hospital have carried out research under the head of doctor Alan Pris in which some volunteers have taken part with the purpose to determine short-term effects from radiation of mobile telephones. The participants of experiment were offered to fulfill the defined set of the tasks on ingenuity staying in different conditions: under effect of microwave radiation from digital telephone sets, analogue telephone sets and without any of effect. No significant change in a volatile memory or instabilities was noticed after 30-minutes effect of radiation. Nevertheless the researches have allowed to find out that response time of brain at the visual tests are even reduced - for this purpose volunteers went through radiation of operating mobile telephones. This effect may be connected with increase blood stream in brain under effect of radiations. Insignificant heating can cause the increase of blood stream in the scientists' opinion. It is possible to explain growth of temperature by two reasons: microwave radiation can cause heating or this is the consequence of framing different substances in blood which occurs in the case when the protective mechanism of an organism works in reply to threat of illness or traumas.


Summing up all above-stated it is necessary to mark that for today it is impossible to tell exactly if the usage of a cellular telephone is harmful or safe. The researches in the given area are carried out but their results are ambiguous.

We can make some common outputs only comparing standards and telephones among themselves:

  • The more is time of talk on the phone the more effect it has on the man
  • The greatest effect on the organism of the man is caused by analogue standards of cellular ˝ommunication such as NMT450i and AMPS. It is connected with the large power both base stations and transmitters of telephones. The modern digital standards, such as GSM 1800 and CDMA less effect on the organism of the man.
  • Than more expensive is a telephone the more is probability that it less effects the organism of the man. The large sensitivity of the receiver in the telephone not only increase the distance of the sure communication but also allows to use the transmitter of smaller power on a base station.
  • It is possible, that not only radiation of cellular telephones has an effect on health but a set of factors. For example, radiation and unhealthy way of life.

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