Monday, August 10, 2015

Science Optional

An ordinance requiring cellphone retailers to post an advisory about potential radiation danger goes into effect next month in Berkeley, California.  It is called a “Right to Know” measure, but some people feel it will do more harm than good.

New York Times science columnist John Tierney believes it will needlessly increase the stress as well as “detract from more serious warnings like those related to cigarette smoking.”  With so many warnings, people have a tendency to mentally throw up their hands in frustration and begin to ignore them all, or worse, pick and choose which ones they want to believe.

What is the real danger that consumers have a right to know about?  According to the American Cancer Society, the radio frequency waves emitted by cell phones are not enough to raise body temperature and do not cause DNA damage.  There is no evidence in health records or reports; in fact, “since cellphones were introduced, there has not been an increase in brain cancer.”  Several independent, large studies in Denmark and Norway have confirmed that no such harm comes from using cellphones.

Where people go wrong is not distinguishing between the types of radiation.  Cell phones produce non-ionizing radiation which does not affect DNA.  The National Cancer Institute states:  “many studies have examined the potential health effects of non-ionizing radiation from radar, microwave ovens, and other sources, there is currently no consistent evidence that non-ionizing radiation increases cancer risk."

When there is more of a risk from forgetting to put on sunscreen, it seems a little crazy to be worrying about cellphone dangers, a rumor that most of us thought was squelched many years ago.  Some scare tactics never quite die, but they cause problems only when some governing body buys into them and starts making rules.

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