In these worrying times when a new highly contagious virus has ended life as we once knew it, we increasingly rely on mobile phones to allow us some sense of connection to those we care about. But, asks Dr. Devra Davis, just how safe are these now-ubiquitous, essential devices and the networks on which they rely?
Across the United States, children are being asked to use phones for school in ways that would be illegal in France and Israel, where phones are not permitted to be used for educational purposes.
Last summer a Chicago Tribune investigation showed that when phones are tested directly next to the body, some of the most popular devices released up to five times more radiation than the FCC’s [US Federal Communications Commission] two-decade-old limits would allow.
Why does this matter? Every single millimetre off the body results in 15% less exposure. In fact, when the agency responsible for phone testing for the government of France, (yes they have an actual agency that tests hundreds of devices), examined phones close to the body, radiation levels were found to be four to 11 times more than FCC obsolete standards allow.
The test results of the Chicago Tribune, the law firm of Fegan Scott, CBC Broadcasting, and the government of France leave no doubt that phones exceed radiation limits when tested the way we use phones – in body contact positions. Had the FCC tested phones close to the body, most phones would have exceeded allowable limits.
In sharp contrast to the FCC’s stale position, the government of France is calling for phones to be tested with zero spacing between the phone and the body. Moreover, France recommends the public reduce cell phone radiation exposure, especially for children and pregnant women. In fact, the European Union strengthened compliance tests in 2016, limiting the phone/body test distance to no more than 5 mm (whereas the US allows up to 25 mm).
Over a dozen smartphone models have now been withdrawn from the market due to excessive radiation levels. These actions were spurred by the dedication of Dr. Marc Arazi and the organization Phonegate who pressured the government of France to release cell phone test data showing excessive radiation when phones tested at body contact.
Since 2010, the French have insisted that all phones sold include labelled radiation levels and wired headsets. Along with Belgium, manufacturers in France are banned from marketing or advertising phones for young children. Cyprus and France have also removed Wi-Fi from kindergartens, restricted Wi-Fi in classrooms, and banned phones in schools.
While we must remain on guard to slow viral transmission through social distancing, we also must stay equally vigilant about reducing exposures to our children to radiation never tested for their young bodies and brains. Rather than accept false assurances that all is fine with dousing youngsters in these unprecedented wireless exposures, we must make efforts to help them and take time out from screens to save their young eyes and ears, make sure tablets remain on tables and not on young bodies, and also ensure that devices are used on airplane mode whenever possible.
We can’t default to the wireless babysitters seductively lurking within these devices. Now more than ever we should connect with our children without electronics and enjoy the moments we have with them.
Dr. Devra Davis, founder of EHTrust.org, served in the Clinton administration from 1994-1999 and was a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change team awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.
Abridged from article published by EU Reporter.