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Cell Phones and Wireless Devices

Cell phones and other wireless technologies enable our children to communicate and
entertain themselves, keep track of their busy schedules and do their homework. But there is a growing concern over the safety of exposure to the radiation emitted from these devices. In fact, several countries have taken steps to limit children’s exposure to this radiofrequency (RF) microwave radiation based on thousands of studies showing significant biological impacts. Even manufacturers warn consumers to hold their cell phones, tablets and computers away from the body.

There are some simple steps you can take to minimize your child’s exposure to our “wireless” world. Cell phone use should be limited to short conversations, and the speakerphone setting should be used whenever possible to keep the phone away from your child’s head. Text messaging or using an air tube headset will also eliminate direct head contact with the phone. “Talk less, text more” should definitely be added to your list of gentle reminders!

 

If your child must spend a good deal of time resting in bed, but wants to talk with friends, installing a corded or “landline” phone in their room is strongly recommended, as it carries no risk whatsoever. Placing cell phones under pillows or on bedside tables is definitely not a good idea, and be aware that cordless phones and their bases are also radiation-emitting wireless devices.

Streaming videos and playing games online result in higher levels of wireless radiation exposure, so download and then view or play with the computer or tablet in “airplane” mode. This is also a good technique for downloading e-mails, reading and responding.

If possible, do not install wireless (Wi-Fi) routers in bedrooms or rooms where your child spends a lot of time and be sure to turn the router off at night. Internet connections through ethernet cables (hard-wired connections) connected to a Wi-Fi disabled router present no risks and provide the same access to the internet as wireless systems. Ethernet connections are faster, safer and more secure.


“Smart” or wireless utility meters produce short bursts of pulsed RF microwave radiation many times over a 24 hour period, sending data on your usage of electricity, gas or water to your provider. Some utility companies offer an “opt-out”, where you can keep your analog meter and pay a small fee to do so. A few states have even passed laws requiring utilities to make this option available to their customers. In an effort to reduce the cumulative exposure of this increasingly common type of radiation for your family, take advantage of an opt-out program or make sure your child’s bedroom or playroom does not share a wall with a smart
meter.

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Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) with their high-intensity blue/white light are used to illuminate the screens on TVs and other digital devices, including cell phones, tablets and computers. The bright light from the screens can cause both short and long-term effects on eye health and an interruption of our natural circadian rhythm (sleep/wake cycles), leading to poorer quality or insufficient sleep. LED illuminated screens suppress the production of melatonin, an important hormone that is secreted by the pineal gland in the brain when the sun goes down and is necessary for sleep and many other vital functions. You can download an app that limits the harsh blue/white light and makes the screen a softer yellow/orange hue. Many newer computers come with this app built-in.

Electrical Appliances

An electromagnetic field (EMF) is created as electricity flows along a power line or cord. Some studies show that frequent and lengthy exposures to this field may be harmful. It would be prudent to keep your child’s bed away from a wall where the power lines come into your home, and to choose battery-operated clocks and radios for bedside tables. EMF levels created by most household appliances drop off at 3 to 4 feet, so keeping electrical appliances at least an adult arm’s length away from your child is playing it safe.


For peace of mind, you may want to contact your local utility who will measure the level of magnetic fields emitted by electrical appliances and equipment in your home.


If you are looking to purchase a new home or rent a new apartment, be wary of the proximity of high-tension power lines, transformers and cell phone towers or small cell antennas.

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Here are some simple ways to reduce your exposure:

• Use a land line instead of a cell phone or cordless phone when possible.
• Use the speakerphone setting on cell phones.
• Limit children’s use of cell phones. Young children should not use them at all.
• Unplug any domestic wireless transmitter when not in use, especially at night.
• Do not install wireless routers in children’s rooms or play areas.
• Avoid wireless baby monitors and cordless phones which use similar wireless technology.
• If possible, use hard-wired internet connections in your home instead of wireless transmitters.

Resources

CNET A listing of cellphones with the lowest radiation levels.

Environmental Working Group Cellphone Radiation Science Review on Cancer Risks and Children’s Health and a Guide to Safer Cellphone Use.

Bioinitiative.org – An extensive report drawing on the expertise of scientists from around the world to establish exposure standards for electromagnetic radiation.

Scientific Studies