Microwave technology:
mobile phones and masts - John Scott

This is part of a longer article covering all aspects of electrical sensitivity to be found in ES - Miscellaneous

Assessing personal risk

One can get an idea of the extent of one's personal exposure to microwaves by using this simple test.

A detailed assessment of the microwave situation in a home can be gained by using an A-COM Electrosmog Detector (which can be purchased or rented from the Healthy House)

This emits a distinctive sound for each type of radiation that it picks up – eg from phone mast, DECT device or Wi-Fi – each of which can be identified by listening to the sample sounds.

DECT phones and baby alarms

The most aggressive radiation in many homes comes from the base (docking-station) of a Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT) telephone system. These typically irradiate the inside of a house more highly than even a mobile phone mast – and not just when a phone is in use, but the whole time that the base station is switched on. This radiation also reaches into adjacent homes, raising health risks for neighbours. (Read more on the dangers of DECT.)

Special low radiation cordless digital phones are available which significantly reduce microwave exposure, but the only way to avoid this form of radiation altogether is to use a wired analogue phone.

Some baby monitors use the same digital technology as DECT phones and produce a similar level of microwave emissions, which can be twice as strong as those found within 100 metres of a mobile phone mast.

Mobile phones

In view of the many health risks already known to be associated with mobile phones, it is obviously best to use a landline whenever possible. However, there are several things that one can do to minimise exposure to microwave emissions if the use a mobile phone is essential.

• Choose a phone with a long 'talk time', which is indicative of greater efficiency. It should also be advantageous to use a phone with a low SAR (specific absorption rate, which is a measure of the amount of radio frequency energy absorbed by the body when using a mobile phone), although the SAR is not an entirely reliable measure of phone safety, as some high SAR phones can actually be very efficient and work at low power, whereas some low SAR phones can be inefficient and work at high power.
• Choose a strong reception area to make calls, because mobile phones emit much less radiation where reception is good.
• Text rather than talk, and hold the phone at least 6-7 inches away from your body while in use. If it is essential to talk, use speaker mode, if available.
• As mobile phones produce the most radiation at the moment they are switched on or off (up to 500 times more), while they are dialing and ringing, and when they connect or disconnect, they should be held as far away from the body as possible during these operations. Only put a phone to your ear once your contact has answered, and keep calls short.
• Use a hands-free kit, preferably one with air tubes (like a stethoscope) rather than wires, and position the phone away from your body, rather than slipping it into a pocket. For a source of air tubes.
• Avoid the use of mobile phones in enclosed metal structures such as cars, trains and planes, where microwave radiation becomes trapped and concentrated.
• When not using your mobile phone, turn it off, or at least keep it as far away from you as possible. This is especially important while you are sleeping.
• Take advantage of messaging services and, whenever possible, access messages from a landline.
• Avoid using mobile phones while pregnant and when holding a baby or small child in your arms. The use of mobile phones by children themselves should be strictly limited.

Update – January 2010

In the twelve months since the above piece was written, there have been a number of significant developments in parts of the world where governments which are not as much in the pockets of the telecoms industry as they are in the UK and the US have begun to take action to raise awareness about the risks of microwave radiation and to protect their citizens by introducing legislation. 

January 2009.  France introduced new laws - the strictest so far in Europe - banning all advertising of mobile phones to children under 12, and the sale of any phones designed to be used by those under six. The French government is also to introduce new limits for radiation from phones and make it compulsory for handsets to be sold with earphones, so that users can avoid irradiating their heads and brains. 

May, 2009.  Following publication of a report suggesting that mobile phones and Wi-Fi can damage the developing brain, the French government went even further by banning these technologies from every primary school in the country.

June 2009.  The European Parliament declared itself to be greatly concerned by the international Bio-Initiative report on electromagnetic fields (http://www.bioinitiative.org/report/index.htm), which highlights the health risks posed by emissions from devices such as mobile telephones, UMTS, Wi-Fi, Wimax and Bluetooth, as well as DECT wireless telephones. Declaring the current limits on exposure obsolete, they have adopted a resolution calling on the European Council to set stricter exposure limits for all equipment which emits electromagnetic waves in the frequencies between 0.1 MHz and 300 GHz. The European Parliament has also issued a press release about the dangers which these technologies pose for citizens. 

August 2009.  Liechtenstein and Switzerland announced their intention to drastically reduce RF radiation exposure limits.

October 2009. The French believe the biological effects of exposure to RF radiation are now beyond doubt.

December 2009. France leads the way in reducing RF exposure and a US Senate hearing confirms mobile phone dangers.

In spite of all this activity elsewhere, the UK government has so far still made no attempt whatsoever to protect its citizens from radio-frequency radiation, or even to warn them about the risks, and UK consumer organisations, such as the Consumer's Association (publishers of Which? magazine), appear to have their heads well buried in the sand on this issue. 

In the absence of responsible guidance, the UK population can't get enough of this Trojan horse, as the madness continues with the latest craze - wireless internet - which will further intensify the haze of microwave radiation to which we are all exposed.


Equipment Sources
2 Tower Road, Sutton CB6 2QA
01353 778814

The Healthy House
The Old Co-op, Lower Street, Ruscombe GL6 6BU
0845 450 5950 / 01453 752216

The US EMF Safety Superstore (carries a huge range of protection options) www.lessemf.com

Further Information
www.es-uk.info and www.electrosensitivity.org (support for electro-sensitives)
www.detect-protect.com (A-COM Electrosmog Detector)

More articles on mobile phones and masts

First Published in 2008

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