Saturday, 12 March 2011

Radiation from Mobile Phones, Power Lines and Phone Masts Have No Effect on Our Bodies

3.1. Studies Into Electromagnetic Radiation and Health

European worry-worts are often criticized for their hindering of European industry with health and safety red-tape. It sometimes seems that these beaurocrats, and those staffing international bodies, go out of their way to find unlikely dangers in products. Yet despite their best efforts (over 25 000 articles have been published), the scientists have found that this time, there is no threat. Communication masts, mobile phones and power lines do not interfere with human health.
  • The World Health Organisation in its 2004 report "What are Electromagnetic Fields: Health Effects" recorded that 25 000 articles have been published on the effects of EMF radiation in the last 30 years. It stated authoritively that there is no evidence from these studies that the electric fields we are exposed to by masts have any negative effects on health.
  • The European Parliament's scientific advisory body (SCENIHR) released a comprehensive new report in 2009 entitled "Health Effects of Exposure to EMF" and concluded that not only is there no likely risk from the new uses that we find for radio waves, but, modern base stations are more efficient and emit lower-intensity radiation than old-style broadcast transmitters on which extensive tests have already been done.
  • The FDA and the CDC in the USA have come to similar conclusions, as have "most of the world's major national public health organizations".
  • Articles in an edition of Skeptical Inquirer (2009) have served as my main sources on this page. This magazine excels at finding fault with lines of thought not supported by evidence. Its science investigators have failed to find any failings in the mainstream scientific opinion that communications technologies pose no risk to health.
One collaborative report has found that there are serious health risks, but this report is itself considered to be poor quality science:
  • The Bio-Initiative Report was composed by "a minority of scientists [who] have helped fuel the hysteria. Yet the Bio-Initiative Report has been widely criticized in the scientific community for promoting only poorly conducted studies that support its alarmist views while ignoring far more rigorous and comprehensive studies that show no danger"1.

3.2. Radio Waves Cannot Cause Cancer

In order to have any chance of causing cancer, electromagnetic radiation has to be of a high enough frequency so that it can ionize atoms, as I have explained above. Even if such a photon is absorbed, the chances of it causing cancer are miniscule, but, it still does happen. The frequencies used by human technological gadgets are well below the frequency at which ionization can occur. The frequencies used by mobile phones are one million times too short to have enough energy to cause ionization. If you stood next to the world's most powerful mobile phone or mast, you would merely be exposed to a larger dose of non-ionizing radiation. The risk does not come from the power levels of the signal. To make a mobile phone's radiation ionizing, you need to increase its frequency by a million times, not just boost its power (which leaves the frequency the same). Obviously, no mobile phone is powerful enough to do this (and it would no longer be using radio waves). In fact, no gadgets use frequencies that are ionizing.
Is this all really true? We know that we have the physics right, because, in the last century we started pumping out massive signals from broadcast antenna at a strength many times higher than mobile phone masts have ever used. Also, we are all exposed to a constant and dense fog of electromagnetic radiation from telecommunications equipment (some call it 'electrosmog'). And as our use of radio waves has diversified and increased in the modern world, cancer rates have fallen. Modern telecommunications technology does not cause cancer.
Another way to look at it is to consider the efficiency of mobile phone to mast communication:
The easiest way to recognize this extremely poor interaction between very low-energy photons associated with the radio frequency (RF) in cell phones and molecules is to remember that the small amount of power being transmitted by the phone is traveling several kilometers to the tower. [... It] passes through several walls and other obstructions, even people, without impeding the communication. This explains that usual statement that the power levels in these situations are well below the limits set for exposure to RF sources. As for the typical 50-60 Hz power lines, the photon energies are too low for any meaningful interaction with atoms. [...]
It is simply not possible for the photons associated with either a power line or a cell phone to cause cancer. [...] The presence of power lines can spoil the view, can lower market value, or even psychologically irritate one, but there is simply no reason to worry about cancers of any variety from their presence.

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