Are ‘blackberries’ dangerous?

The Association for Comprehensive NeuroTherapy (ACN) is an American not-for-profit organisation that explores alternative approaches to autism, ADHD, depression, OCD, Tourette syndrome, and learning disorders.

ACN ‘serves as an organised forum through which practitioners and lay persons can educate each other on new approaches to neurological conditions’. It also publishes an excellent on-line newsletter, Latitudes from which the following piece was extracted.

When introduced just over 10 years ago, personal digital assistants (PDAs) were designed to help the user organise files and data. This pocket computer has since evolved to include video and audio capabilities, a global positioning system, Internet, games, email, fax and phone connections - truly a powerful modern computer in handheld size. We’ve moved from the early Palm Pilot to the hot selling Blackberry. Apple’s latest contribution for business and personal communication is the IPhone.

Now questions are now being raised about the safety of these remarkable devices. A preliminary study selected for publication in the Bioelectromagnetics Journal raises red flags on possible health effects from the low-frequency electromagnetic field emissions, and calls for more extensive, well designed research. Email transmissions and switching from on to off produced high, elevated spikes in emissions - the equivalent of holding your head against an electrical subpanel on a wall. In a comment on the study one of the authors, Cindy Sage recommends ‘keeping the unit off except to download and send emails, not wearing the PDA in a pocket or using it as a cell phone without an earpiece or on speaker.

Obviously children should not use them at all; and caution might be advisable for women who are pregnant since there is some evidence that intermittent exposure to 16mG and above may be linked to increased risk of miscarriage. Men might take note that ELF magnetic fields have been reported to have adverse effects on semen quality and sperm motility.’

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First Published in June 2007

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