Cell Phone Radiation – 5 Ways to Minimize It Now

A May 2011 World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer report suggested a correlation between radiation-emitting radio frequency waves of cell phones and malignant brain tumors. But just two months later, researchers in Switzerland found no such link — they also reported in the same well-known journal that, contrary to prior reports, children who use cell phones are at no significantly greater risk for brain cancer than those who don’t. Say what?

It may take years for researchers to come to a definitive conclusion on cell phone radiation. But here’s what we do know: According to the Pew Research Center, 75 percent of teens own cell phones, up from 45 percent in 2004. Cell phones emit radiation. The human brain doesn’t fully develop until we’re in our 20s. And children’s skulls and scalps are thinner than adults’.

In light of these facts, here are the best ways for you and your kids to talk and text on the side of caution:

1. Find out how just much radiation your family’s cell phones emit.

Go to the Environmental Working Group’s online guide to find cell phone radiation levels for each model in your household.

2. Type, don’t talk.

Our cell phones emit radiation whenever we talk, leave voicemails — and yes, even text. Still, some researchers say that giving potential carcinogens ready access to our domes might be more harmful than when we just text (and hold the phone away from our bodies). So if your kid is sending hundreds of texts a day, don’t get angry. She might be doing the right thing — health-wise at least.

3. Don’t chat through weak signals.

Battling a weak signal? Don’t. Studies have shown that our cell phones emit more radiation when they’re struggling to transmit a signal to a tower. Instead of straining to put together sentences out of fragments and half words, put the convo to rest and try again when your reception works.

4. Invest in a radiation-slaying gadget.

There are several gizmos designed to stick onto a cell phone to reduce radiation. The jury’s still out on whether all of them are effective, but what has yielded credibility in the scientific community are headsets, since they create some distance between the cell phone and the user’s head. Some headset-makers have even concocted radiation-reducing sets, which carry sound through a tube, not through wiring.

5. Delay buying your kid a cell phone.

No matter how thick-headed your kids act, their brain and skull is thinner than yours. Some researchers think this allows for radiation to penetrate deeper into a child’s brain. Is that for certain? Only time and more research will tell. For now, think about all the facts about radiation before green-lighting that cell phone for your 5-year-old.


Editor’s Note: The Environmental Working Group (EWG) mentioned in this post has also reported on its website about recent changes to the FCC’s online consumer advice about cell phone safety, that soften the advisory. These changes make US guidelines weaker than guidelines in other countries, such as Germany and Switzerland. Clearly there is ongoing debate and controversy about health risks posed by cell phones, but it seems the issue bears continued assessment and monitoring. We hope these resources help families better make their own decisions for the health and safety of their children.

*The EWG is a non-profit organization established in 1993 that conducts research, circulates information and lobbies government to protect public health and the environment.

About the Author

Erika Stalder has written about technology for Gizmodo.com, Wired.com and Wired magazine. The author of five nonfiction books for teens also pens a teen advice column on ABCFamily.com. This fall, erikastalder.com will re-launch as an online magazine for teens.


6 Responses to “Cell Phone Radiation – 5 Ways to Minimize It Now”

  1. hnd says:

    I think cell phone radiation is something that is inevitable given the rapid growth of mobile phones in the world. But our task now is how to reduce its impact..thanks for nice article

    • Stefanie Zucker sazucker says:

      Unfortunately I have to agree…the “smarter” our phones get, the more we need to be careful… thanks for stopping by 🙂

  2. Blake says:

    Hey Erika, very insightful article! I’ve always thought we were stepping into murky waters by giving younger and younger kids cell phones. I concur with #4 that we need to invest in radiation protection, and those headsets may work but I am one of those people who doesn’t like talking through a headset or blue-tooth; I don’t know what it is, but it bothers me. I’ve done some research on radiation protection products and found there are some products out there which allow you to go about your daily life with peace of mind. The best ones I found were from Pong Research because they divert the cell phone radiation away from your body and head, and don’t disrupt the signal. Pong’s cases protect the whole cell phone, and still provide good protection from drops and bumps. They offer cases for the iPhone, Android phones, Blackberrys and even the iPad. It’s only slightly more expensive than other sturdy cases, so why not spend the little more to protect yourself!

  3. Johnathan Mercer says:

    Cell phone radiation is definitely a scary topic, especially with how dependent we are on them in this day and age. I’ve done some research on products that reduce exposure to cell phone radiation, and found there are some products out there which allow you to go about your daily life with peace of mind. These cases protect the whole cell phone, and still provide good protection from drops and bumps. They offer cases for the iPhone, Android phones, Blackberrys and even the iPad.

  4. Miranda says:

    This is so true! I think its about time for people to be aware that excessive cell phone may actually lead to negative effects. There is nothing wrong in protecting yourself. As they say, prevention is better than cure

  5. Adam Watson says:

    Amazing… I got some valuable information in your post. Thank you sharing with us.

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