Toxins in Our Environment Are Making Us Sick
by David O. Carpenter, M.D.
From "Your Health First" with Dr. Galati
This week, Dr. David Carpenter will join Dr. Galati and discuss environmental toxins and human health and wellness. Dr. Carpenter is the Director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at University at Albany, Albany, NY. An expert in this field, he will discuss the safety of cell phones, and other environmental toxins.
The Institute for Health and the Environment was created with the primary purpose of promoting interdisciplinary research and grants in this broad area. Our faculty is drawn from several schools and colleges of the University, and other local universities and medical centers. Faculty who have research interests in environmental health, environmental sciences, environmental policy, environmental law, ecology, geographical information systems, hazardous waste management, occupational health, risk assessment, risk management, risk communication and social and psychological aspects of environmental pollution regarding human behavior are encouraged to join.
Regarding cell phone safety, Dr. Carpenter has the following to say:
What is radiation, and what are the most common sources? Radiation refers to energy that occurs in the form of electromagnetic waves (produced by man-made sources, such as X-rays) or particles (found in natural radioactive substances, such as uranium). All radiation is part of an electromagnetic spectrum that has various frequencies and wavelengths, ranging from high to low. Scientists agree that high-frequency (ionizing) radiation, such as that found in X-rays, can break chemical bonds in the body and damage DNA, potentially causing cancer and birth defects. Ultra-violet (UV) rays from the sun, another form of ionizing radiation, are known to increase skin cancer risk. But there is controversy about the health effects from lower-frequency (nonionizing) radiation. This includes radio-frequency radiation from cell phones and extremely low-frequency radiation from power lines and electrical appliances.
Why don’t scientists agree about the health effects of exposure to nonionizing radiation? In my view, there are many reasons, from the economic and political clout of the communications and electrical power industries to our society’s heavy reliance on technologies that emit these types of radiation. But one primary reason for the controversy is the assertion by many physicists that nonionizing radiation cannot have a biological effect because it does not have enough energy to heat tissue -- what is called a “thermal” effect. Cell phones, for example, must use radio-frequency radiation levels that do not cause measurable heating. However, there now is scientific evidence suggesting that nonionizing radiation can have biological effects -- even if radiation levels do not produce a thermal effect. These include breakage of DNA structure, which can lead to cell mutations and, in turn, to cancer. In addition, studies have linked cell-phone radiation to poor sperm quality and/or reduced sperm count.
What is the scientific evidence linking cellphone use to cancer? Earlier this year, the American Journal of Epidemiology published findings from researchers in Israel who compared the lifetime cell-phone use of 1,300 healthy adults with 500 adults who were newly diagnosed with benign or malignant tumors of the salivary gland. The researchers found a 50% greater risk for such a tumor in heavy cell-phone users who usually held the phone on the side of the head where the tumor developed. Also recently, Swedish researchers who analyzed several studies found a doubling of risk for acoustic neuroma (a tumor of the auditory nerve) and glioma (a potentially deadly brain tumor) after 10 years of heavy cell-phone use.
Why do you believe this research is more credible than that cited by the wireless industry and some doctors who say there is no proof that cell phones are harmful? It’s true that there are no definitive studies showing that cell phones cause cancer or other health problems, but there also is no proof that cell phones are absolutely safe. The existing evidence is based on observational studies that look for health effects associated with certain behaviors, including cell-phone use.
The research results have been mixed -- that is, some studies have found no health risks associated with cellphone use, while some other studies (especially the more recent and longer-term ones) have. A definitive study -- though admittedly impractical -- would have to measure all aspects of electromagnetic field exposure (including that from power lines, appliances, cell phones and radio and television transmission) over a decade or more.
Based on the current evidence, do you believe that people should take steps to limit their exposure to nonionizing electromagnetic radiation? Yes. There is no reason to wait until scientists have dotted every “i” and crossed every “t” before you take action to minimize your exposure. Young children -- whose brains and bodies are still developing and therefore are more vulnerable to electromagnetic exposure -- are particularly at risk.
What are your recommendations for cell phones? The key principle to remember is that exposure to electromagnetic radiation declines as you increase your distance from the source.
For cell phones, I recommend using these devices only when absolutely necessary and when a corded landline phone is not available. Cordless phones use electromagnetic technology similar to that of cell phones.
These findings bring the entire issue finally to a new level of credibility. Until now it was far too easy for warnings to be dismissed as implausible or even silly. But that's no longer the case, WHO, Parliamentary Council and our own FCC have made statements that there are serious health concerns from cell-phone, wi-fi and all wireless or "always on devices".
If you've been trying to explain the dangers to people and they're turning a deaf ear, please pass these articles on. Statements from WHO, the FCC and the Parliamentary Council finally bring this subject into the main stream, and it's no longer just us pioneers out there beating our drums.
Steps to Staying Safe
- Wear an EMF Protection Pendant What Level of Protection will fit your lifestyle? Consult our EMF Protection and your Lifestyle Chart
- Put it on speaker. Because your exposure drops exponentially as you move the phone away from your head, you don’t have to keep the phone very far away to reduce your exposure by 1,000 to 10,000 times.
- Put Cellular Phone radiation protection directly on your cell phone. This will redirect some of the radiation. If you are wearing a BioElectric Shield AND use the WaveShield you have extremely strong protection from the cellular phone radiation.
- Store it. Unless you’re on it, stow the phone in your purse or bag. If you keep it on your waist, keep it turned off. Studies have shown that keeping a cell phone in your pocket can decrease sperm count.
- Save it for a strong signal. When reception is bad (such as in rural areas or when you’re driving) use your phone for emergencies only. The weaker the signal, the more the radio frequency has to boost itself to get connected, increasing your exposure.
- Protect the kids. Do not let children use cell phones next to their heads. For older kids, it shouldn’t take much encouragement to get them to text more than they chat.
Read our Ultimate Guide to Cellphone Safety