Dangerous Is Your Mobile Phone?
Jan Helin, reporter at Aftonbladet
Saturday, February 8, 1997
is a translation of an article published in the prominent Swedish newspaper
'Aftonbladet' on Saturday February 8th, 1997.
"How Dangerous Is Your Mobile Phone?"
The front page of the newspaper reads:
Scientists raise the alarm: How dangerous is Your
The two-page article inside the paper reads:
Five ways to reduce the risk
How to protect your child
Do you dare call from your mobile phone? Still more
alarming scientific reports on dangerous radiation from mobile phones
Every fourth Swede owns a mobile phone. Last year
alone one million phones were sold.
At the same time alarming scientific reports start
swarming: The radiation from the phones may be dangerous.
Aftonbladet today answers the most common questions.
Scientist Clas Tegenfeld who is writing a book on
biological effects of electromagnetic fields is pessimistic: - Already
now there is at least 15,000 scientific reports on the subject. I am afraid
that the truth is that we don't want to know.
Is your mobile phone dangerous? Nobody knows for
sure. The scientists downplay the risk, but the cell phone story is a thriller:
- Todays knowledge could be tomorrow's nightmare, says the scientist Olle
Johansson from Karolinska Instituttet. - It is likely that 30 years from
now wonder how people in the whole world could place such a high frequency
radiation source to the head.
Why can the mobile phone be dangerous? The antenna
radiates microwaves. The same type of radiation as in a microwave oven,
although in much smaller doses. Like the microwave oven heats food, the
microwaves of the phone heat human cells. Science does not know exactly
what happens with human cells which are exposed to microwaves.
Can I get cancer from the mobile phone? Animal studies
on rats show that cells are affected and the genes (DNA) can be damaged
by mobile phone-like radiation. - This is a plausible coupling to how tumors
are initiated. More can science not say today, Olle Johansson explains.
What other damages can microwaves cause? An American
study mentions the following damages: Behavioral disturbances, nerve damages,
fetal damages, cataract, changes to blood chemistry and impaired immune
defense. Whether this is also true for the low doses which the mobile phones
are emanating, nobody knows.
Are children more sensitive to microwaves? In general,
children are more sensitive to anything affecting the human body. An Australian
report concludes that children absorbs microwaves at a rate 3.3 times higher
than an adult. What this means exactly, nobody knows.
Are different people sensitive to the radiation to
different degrees? This is probably so. Electrical hypersensitive people
often complaint over problems in connection with mobile phones.
Is the digital phone more dangerous than the analog
phone? A substantial body of research suggests that this is true. In this
case it is connected with the fact that the digital phone emits a pulsed
signal, and this frequency affects people more than the analog signal.
Is it dangerous to live near a base station? Today
nobody knows for sure how it affects humans to continuously stay in a weak
How clear must evidence be before the mobile phone
industry admits to the risks? It is one of the worlds most successful hi-tech
industries by the turn of the century. In Sweden alone this industry has
created tens of thousands of jobs.
This is how you minimize the risk Five ways to minimize
the risks of the mobile phone:
Shorter conversations! Avoid speaking for long periods
on the mobile phone. Try to plan your calls in such a way that you use
ordinary phones for long conversations.
Don't sit in the car! Speak as little as possible
inside the car because it amplifies the radiation. If you have to speak
a lot from the car - get a roof antenna.
Protect your baby! Don't place a turned-on mobile
phone in the baby carriage. The mobile phone emits microwaves even if you
don't speak in it.
Avoid the waist! Don't carry the mobile phone in
the belt around the waist. It is needless to expose the deposits of bone
marrow in the hips, and the testicles to the microwaves. Earlier there
have been warnings against placing the phone next to the heart. This is
now regarded as being less dangerous, unless you have a pacemaker. The
best place to carry the phone is in a military trouser's leg pocket.
Direct the antenna! Always pull out the antenna when
you use the phone and direct it away from the head, not upright in parallel
with the head. It may be a marginal difference, but it reduces the radiation
into the head somewhat.
Annika become ill when the phone is turned on.
Annika Fogelstrom in Linkoping reacts directly to
mobile phones. Her breathing becomes troublesome, she feels a pressure
on the chest and headache if she is a couple of meters from a mobile phone.
When she was most ill she could feel whether it was a digital or an analog
phone which had been turned on near to her.
Her breathing becomes difficult and she gets a headache
The scientists are uncertain whether mobile phones
have an effect on humans. Annika Fogelstrom from Linkoping is not: It is
beyond doubt that something here is affecting humans.
Established by blind testing Annika has excellent
support for her statement. The scientist Olle Johansson of Karolinska Instituttet
in Solna performed a blind test on Annika. She was placed in a room in
which - in a series of tests - two identical bags were brought in. In one
of them was a turned-on mobile phone, in the other just papers. I could
identify the bag with the phone nine out of nine times. Then, about a year
ago, Annika was so sensitive that she could tell the difference between
a digital and an analog phone. Annika is certain that this is related to
her electrical hypersensitivity. When it started, she was perspiring abnormally
and she got skin eruptions when she was sitting for several hours in front
of a computer screen. Annika 'sanitized' her home and workplace. After
a while, 90 percent of her trouble had disappeared. However, the problem
with the mobile phone remained.
Reacted to a phone in the room It was enough that
a mobile phone was placed in the same room, then it started humming in
her head and tighten in her skin. When is was worst she had trouble breathing,
she felt a pressure over the breast and a headache. - Maybe it is so that
I react directly on something other people will become very ill over 20
years from now, Annika Fogelstrom says.