All electronic devices—laptops, tablets, and cell phones—emit Radio Frequency Electromagnetic Field (RF EMF) radiation, an invisible form of energy which can cause damaging health effects if left uncontrolled. Common sense dictates that this is especially true for children, whose brains are fragile and still developing. Indeed, in this case, the science matches common sense.
In January 2015, Forbes published an article that suggested WiFi exposure could be more dangerous to children than previously thought. This is reversal from Forbes’ previous stance that radiation-exposure mongers were using scare tactics to frighten those off of commonly accepted technology. According to the Journal of Microscopy and Ultrastructure, the authors of the cited study pointed out reasons why children absorb more radiation than adults. The following thinking points were offered for consideration:
- Children absorb a greater amount of microwave radiation than adults do
- Fetuses are even more vulnerable than children
- Adolescent girls and women should not place cell phones in their bras or hijabs
- Cell phone manual warnings are clear overexposure problems exist
- Government warnings have been issued but most of the public is unaware
- Current exposure limits are outdated and need revision
- Wireless devices are radio transmitters and not toys. Their sales should be monitored more closely.
As one can see, research confirms that the danger of cell phone radiation overexposure is real and even more serious for those with long-term exposure. Interestingly, much research on RF EMFs has thus far focused on adults—as they are the easiest participants to study in a clinical environment. Yet, in this mobile age, it is the rising population of the young, who are becoming the prime users of modern handheld electronics. Children should be of primary concern, as they are likely to experience radiation exposure during critical developmental periods in their life.
The recent surge of cell phone use worldwide has drawn a lot of attention and scrutiny with promoters and detractors battling over interpretation of the results. Some articles claim that cell phone use presents no radiation dangers while others say that brain cancer has increased as a result of cell phone radiation. Then there is research which established that cell phones can be carcinogenic. Sometimes, however, these studies do not identify what changes occur in the body cell that cause the cancer.
With this growing body of cell phone radiation concerns for adults and the knowledge that these exposures are likely worse for children, sadly, most parents do not hesitate to hand their kids a wireless device to alleviate boredom.
Children learn from parents. They see their parents use cell phones. They get cell phones from their parents as gifts for being good students and “adult-like.” But children are not adults. Their bodies are very immature, changing and are extremely sensitive to foreign environmental influences—far more than adults. In fact, there are a wide range of concerns that arise from the exposure of the young to RF EMF, especially from cell phones.
Generally speaking, biological health may be impacted by RF radiation exposure by one of two proposed mechanisms. First, there may be thermal effects, caused by holding cell phones close to the body and having extended conversations over long periods of time. RF Radiation (also known as microwave radiation) is considered a thermal emission. In other words, this type of radiation is known to heat up the body cells by inciting the cells to oscillate just like meat heats up in a microwave oven. Cell phone radiations can heat up head tissue and bone by as much as 2° F. Near-term, exposure to these emissions can cause redness and burning sensations. In the long-term, it could possibly more permanent damage. Of more concern are the non-thermal radiation effects, which are not necessarily felt. These invisible, yet harmful effects, could lead to a variety of conditions and ailments, such as cancer or neurological disease, often taking many years to appear. While the science community continues to gather evidence on exactly now a cell phone radiation exposure impacts the cell function that may cause illness, it is clear there is a correlation between radiation exposure and bodily harm.
In the US, “family package” deals make it easy for parents to afford cell phones for their children. In fact, cell phones are advertised and encouraged as a way to bring families closer together and help them stay connected. While the US government has officially deemed RF EMF cell phone radiation to be “safe,” you would think that these families are safe. What you may not know is that there is no current significant research to back this claim while younger and younger children are using cell phones every day.
Unfortunately, to fully understand the relationship between cell phone radiation and cancer, it will require long-term studies lasting decades with frequent cell phone users as the subject pool. This data does not exist! In the absence of such proof of safety, researchers specializing in pediatrics caution that it is necessary to take precautionary measures to avoid cell phone radiation exposure in the young. Researchers emphasize that this is especially important in the case of children, whose bodies are still forming, as some type of effect is more likely for them.
Studies around the World
Very few studies have been conducted around the world on RF radiation exposure to children. To date, the general consensus is that epidemiological data has not been able to definitively prove that brain tumors and leukemia in children occurs from RF EMF exposure, although information is beginning emerge. However, some speculate that this disconnect, or large knowledge gap exists from lack of funding in this study area. Unfortunately, the evidence that has been produced, is often dismissed as scant. On the other hand, the World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes that RF EMF research, especially in relation to children, should be given priority, because of their belief that there is a lack of information in this critical area.
In Australia, several studies have investigated the effect of cell phone radiation exposure on cognitive function of adults. In 2010, this lead to the investigation on children and adolescents as their developing nervous systems were considered of special interest. Over 200 students were assessed by two tests, one at the beginning of the year and one at the end. Some changes in cognitive function associated with increased RF EMF cell phone radiation exposure were observed. The changes were unfortunately dismissed as statistically insignificant. The problem with this study was however, that the test population (statistic sample) was much too small and study scope too limited to draw such conclusions.
In a 2010 study conducted in Germany, researchers studied over 3000 children randomly selected from the population of four cities in the South of Bavaria. Interview data was taken on the participants’ mental health, socio-demographic characteristics and other points of interest. Using a personal dosimeter, the test subjects were assessed for RF EMF exposure over the course of 24 hours. In total, 7% of the children and 5% of the adolescences showed abnormal mental behavior. Using multiple logistic regression analyses, it was determined that measured exposure to RF fields in the highest quartile was associated to overall behavioral problems in adolescents.
What will it take to establish a common understanding in the scientific community that RF EMF is dangerous to our children? Already we know that some research is showing that there is long-term effects of cell phone radiation on children. As time progresses, there will be naturally more information that comes to light. Over this same time period unfortunately, more and more young people are exposed to higher and higher levels of cell phone radiation.
Cell phones and other mobile devices are becoming increasingly commonplace. Remember when there was only one telephone per household? Nowadays, everyone has a phone in their pocket. While some may wait for more research, the best thing to do as a parent or guardian would be to find ways to minimize cell phone radiation exposure to your young ones.
As our world becomes increasingly wireless, it is increasingly important for research to be done on children to determine the long term effects of RF EMF exposure implications. Recent research already identifies potential dangers. The broader scientific community needs to start investing time, money and research to establish a broader acceptance of these dangers before it is too late. It may be too late for the older generations but, with the proliferation of RF radiation-generating devices being used at such young ages, it’s not too late for children.