There’s Apple’s AirPort and there’s Bluetooth. There are over 129 million cell phones in the US alone, according to the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association. With the number of radio frequency gizmos soaring, the debate over potential health risks from electromagnetic fields continues to rage without any clear cut answers.
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Activists are worried about the proliferation of wireless technologies and fear that the industry is outpacing research and laws, according to a Wired News report. Some groups tout studies that show that exposure to radio frequencies (RF) may be harmful enough to cause cancer and other afflictions. Others believe the opposite. In fact, one team of researchers used RF to kill cancerous tumors, according to Wired.
The Electromagnetic Radiation Network, a nonprofit group that advocates “responsible use” of electromagnetic radiation, believes the FCC’s guidelines for radio frequency exposure aren’t strict enough. They’re working — without success so far — to make the FCC adopt stricter rules.
The World Health Organization created the international EMF project in 1996. One of the objectives of the project is to establish international standards for RF exposure.
“Technologies using the electromagnetic spectrum have provided immense benefits and reshaped the way we communicate, practice medicine, travel, conduct business and manufacture goods,” a note on the EMF Project Web site says. “While extensive research has been conducted into possible health effects of exposure to many parts of the spectrum, not all frequencies have been fully researched. Further, some of this research has suggested that exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF) may produce a broad range of health effects such as cancer, changes in behavior, memory loss, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. While insufficient research has been conducted to substantiate these effects, sufficient concerns and perceptions of risks have been raised that there is an urgent need for an accelerated programme to provide scientific consensus and clarification of these issues.
Meanwhile, the FCC has no plans to change its exposure guidelines, which are determined by the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements. There’s “no conclusive evidence that electromagnetic fields hurt health,” Ed Mantiply, a scientist with the FCC’s radio frequency safety program, told Wired.
The FCC’s rule of thumb is this: give yourself an inch of space for every watt of power used by a device. For instance, if you’re using a 12- watt transmitter, keep 12 inches away from it.