Cell Phone Radiation
Is the Danger All in Your Head? D R . M E R C O L A
Cell Phone Radiation — Is the Danger All in Your Head?
Can the radiation from your cell phone really damage your
That’s the question scientists and researchers across the
globe have tried to answer for the last two decades. Re-
ports vary from definitive yes’s to absolute no’s, with most
falling somewhere in-between, leaning toward—but not
admitting to—potential health hazards.1Radiation 101
Radio Frequencies (RF), Electro Magnetic Fields (EMF) and X-rays are all produced by elec-
tromagnetic sources. The difference between them is the frequency of their source. Frequency
is measured in hertz (Hz), which is the number of times a wave changes direction—by oscil-
lating up and down—per second. 1 Hz, therefore, means one wave-cycle per second. 1 mega
hertz (MHz) equals 1,000,000 Hz (wave-cycles) per second.
All electromagnetic energy falls somewhere on the electromagnetic spectrum2, ranging from
extremely low frequency (ELF) radiation to microwaves, x-rays and gamma rays.
ELF fields include household appliances and overhead power lines. Scientists agree that ELF fields are hazardous to human health. It’s consid-ered ‘possibly carcinogenic’, and has been linked to cases of childhood leukemia3.
Common frequencies on the electromagnetic spec-
• Electric Power 60 Hz
• AM radio 1 MHz
• FM radio 100 MHz
• Cellular phones 800-2200 MHz
• Microwave ovens 2450 MHz
• X-rays, more than 1,000,000 MHzIt’s also a proven fact that at extremely high fre-quencies, like that of x-rays, the electromagnetic
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particles have enough power to break chemical bonds and cause serious damage to human tissue.
This is known as ionizing radiation.
Since X-rays have the power to damage the genetic material of cells, they can lead to cancer
and birth defects—which is why you wear a lead vest during x-rays to protect the surrounding
areas from unnecessary damage.
At lower frequencies, such as the microwave range used by mobile phones and base stations,
the energy emitted is too low to break chemical bonds (non-ionizing radiation). This is the main
staple argument by those who believe that cell phone radiation is completely harmless.
Perhaps the most interesting, and perplexing thing to note here is this: Although extremely low frequencies
(ELF’s emitted from appliances and power lines) are known to be carcino-genic, and high levels of radio frequency energy are known to create heat that damages biological tissue
, the scientific community is extremely hesitant to attach any kind of danger
to the in-between frequencies where cell phones operate.How Cell Phone Radiation Works
When you speak into a cell phone, the sound of your voice
goes through a transmitter that encodes the sound into a sine
wave. A sine wave is a continuously fluctuating wave that radi-
ates out from the antenna, and is measured in hertz.
Once the encoded sound has been placed on the sine wave
the transmitter sends the signal to the antenna, which then
sends the signal out into space in all directions.
The transmitter in your phone operates on about 0.75 to 1 watt of power, with 2 W at peak
usage. This electric current running through the transmitter circuit also creates an electromag-
netic field around it. As the electric current moves back and forth, the fields continue to build
and collapse, forming electromagnetic radiation.
Thus, cell phone radiation is generated in the transmitter, and is emitted through the antenna in
the form of radio waves. In the case of cell phones, the frequencies of these radio waves fall in
the low frequency microwave range.
New Technology Triples the Danger
One of the main concerns associated with cell phone use is that the
phone is pressed to the head. Since electromagnetic radiation shoots
out—at the speed of light—in all directions, this radiation can penetrate
up to two inches into your brain.
Making matters worse, modern Digital Service and PCS6 7 cell phones—
as opposed to analog cell phones—have two additional low frequency
magnetic fields associated with them. “Time division multiple access”
(TDMA), is the system currently used to increase the number of people
who can communicate simultaneously with a base station.
The process of TDMA results in a continuous low frequency pulsing at 8 to 34 Hz. Some
phones also have the energy-saving discontinuous transmission mode (DTX), which emits yet
a third, even lower frequency that pulses at 2 Hz when the user is listening and not speaking.
Since extremely low frequency radiation (ELF) has been shown to cause cancer—like leuke-
mia—these additional ELF’s raise new questions. Many warn that our current technology is in
fact far more dangerous in this respect than previous analog models.Into the Looking Glass—A Sterile Future?
When high frequency microwave radiation penetrates the body, exposed molecules start to
move about and collide with each other. These collisions create friction and, thus, heat. This is
known as “thermal effect,” which can cause serious, irreversible damage to human tissue.
Microwave radiation is especially damaging to your eyes and genital organs because these
areas contain few blood vessels. The less blood you have circulating through an area, the less
heat dissipates, leading to a quicker rise in heat and faster dam-
age. Cataracts have occurred in both humans and animals be-
cause of microwave radiation.
The Communications Workers of America (CWA)8 warns their
workers about potential reproductive problems from high frequen-
cy microwave exposure. Partial or permanent sterility in both men
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and women can occur. They also point out the potential for birth defects, such as mongolism
(Down’s syndrome) and central nervous system damage.
But what about lower frequency radiation like that from cell phones? Can it cause similar dam-
age as higher frequency radiation?
According to a recent scientific study published in Fertility and Sterility, the answer is YES9
Published in May 2007, this study investigated the effect of cell phone use on semen quality.
361 men were divided into four groups according to their active cell phone use, ranging from
‘no use’, up to ‘more than 4 hours’ per day.
They found statistically significant changes in sperm count and health of the sperm, based on
cell phone use. Their conclusion? “Use of cell phones decreases the semen quality in men by decreasing the sperm count, motility, viability and normal morphology. The decrease in sperm parameters was dependent on the duration of daily exposure to cell phones, and independent of the initial semen quality.”The Head-In-The-Sand Approach to Dangers
As cell phone use skyrockets, spreading from industrialized nations out into more and more
remote locations, the concern over potential health risks rise as well.
Scientists, lawmakers, manufacturers and governments are well aware
of the dire ramifications, should proof emerge that cell phones are dan-
gerous to your health. No doubt, this should be entered into the equa-
tion when deciphering the truth…
Dr. George Carlo10 11, an epidemiologist and pathologist who headed a
research program funded by the cellular phone industry, criticized the
mostly reassuring headlines appearing in national magazines.12
In an article penned for USA Today in 2001, Carlo claims the media
reports missed some vital points. “If journalists had paused to consider
what the new studies were really saying—and not saying—we’d have a
more realistic but less reassuring picture,” he wrote.
Carlo pointed out that two U.S. studies looking at a period between the early and mid-1990’s,
only included people who spent an average of 2.5 hours or less per month on their cell phones.
They’d also used their cell phones for less than 3 years.
He claimed the studies were very small and looked at the wrong type of brain tumors. “Tumors
in almost all patients were located in interior regions of the skull that couldn’t be reached by
cell phone radiation, which penetrates only two inches inside adult skulls,” Carlo noted.
Perhaps even more disturbing is his critique of a study
that, according to Carlo, failed to emphasize its most chill-
ing finding—that the cancer risk doubled for a certain subgroup that had neuroepithelial tumors near the side of the head, close to the location of cell phone antennas.
Other findings link cell phones to cancer by showing that human blood cells exposed to cell phone radiation suffered the kind of genetic damage experts consider “high risk” markers for develop-ing tumors.
And yet, these findings were merely glossed over in the final analysis. People
should “…read the fine print of any new studies that come in,” Carlo warned.Blowing the Whistle on “Phony Dangers”
An interesting aspect of Dr. George Carlo’s rare outspokenness about wireless dangers is that
Carlo was known as a relentless advocate for the industry he later came to speak out against.
In 1993, Dr. Carlo was hired by the Cellular Telephone Industry Association (CTIA) to re-
search—and hopefully forever silence—claims that cell phones cause cancer. His company,
the now disbanded Wireless Technology Research (WTR), was paid $25 million over five years
to carry out the task. No one expected the industry mouthpiece to come to the opposite conclu-
In October of 1999, he sent an open letter to 30 chief execu-
tives of telecommunications companies, urging them to launch
a public awareness campaign to warn about the potential dan-
gers of wireless telephone technology.
This would be especially relevant and true for children, who
will be exposed to a lifetime of potentially DNA-altering or life-
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According to an article in The Australian, published on October 26, 1999,13 Carlo said that
when his results first emerged, CTIA members verbally agreed to publicize the results, but
never took action. What were those discarded results?• The risk of benign tumors of the auditory nerve is 50 percent higher in mobile users of six years or more.• The risk of rare neuroepithelial tumors on the outside of the brain is more than dou-bled among mobile phone users.• A correlation between radiation from the cell phone antenna and functional genetic damage was found.• Mice subjected to 18 months of GSM-style microwaves had 2.4 times the tumor rate of unexposed mice.• In 1995 and 1996, Lai and Singh found that microwaves radically increased DNA damage in rat brains after only two hours of exposure.
In November of 2000, Dr. Carlo published a book, Cell Phones—Invisible Hazards in the Wire-less Age
,14 in an effort to expose the industry cover-up.The Danger Nobody Wants to Face
Numerous studies claim there is no biological impact of RF radiation within the cell phone
range. Still, researchers in different countries, in different laboratories, are finding disturbing
results that point to far greater health implications than anyone is ready for.
Some illnesses and ailments linked to cell phone radiation include:
• Brain tumors
• Sleep disruptions
• Altered memory function
• Poor concentration and spatial awareness
• Pacemaker disruptions15
Although cell phone radiation is of low intensity, the oscillatory similarity between this pulsed
microwave radiation and certain electrochemical activities within the living human being raises
serious concerns, according to the study Physics and biology of mobile telephony
in The Lancet.
Your body is essentially a very sensitive electromagnetic instrument, controlled by highly com-
plex and orderly oscillatory electrical processes. Each one of these electro-biological process-
es vibrate at a specific frequency—some of which happen to be close to those used in modern
GSM cell phone technology.
The pulsating, low-intensity microwaves from mobile phones can exert subtle, non-thermal in-
fluences on the human biology because microwaves are waves. As such, they have properties
other than just intensity (which is the part regulated by safety guidelines).
Therefore, much in the same way as a radio can receive interference; your biological process-
es can be interfered with by the oscillatory aspect of the incoming radiation.Highly organized electrical processes at the cellular level are especially vulnerable to interference from cell phone radiation, because their frequency happens to fall within the microwave range.
Many of these biological activities are influenced by your metabo-
lism, meaning the effect of the radiation will be different from one
person to another.
The effect could also depend on the type of cell phone used, as different cell phones emit ra-
diation at different frequencies.
Ultra-low intensity microwaves can affect processes as fundamental as cell division, and the
TDMA frequencies of 8-34 Hz, and the DTX pulse frequency at 2 Hz, correspond to the fre-
quencies of alpha and delta brain waves.
Therefore, it’s quite possible that living organisms have a two-fold sensitivity to cellular phone
1. The microwave radiation itself, plus
2. The lower frequency oscillations of the TDMA and DTX signals.
One good example of how someone may be vulnerable to the non-thermal electromagnetic
influence is the ability of a flashing light (at about 15 Hz) to induce seizures in people with pho-
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It’s not the energy absorption itself that causes the seizure. Rather it’s because the brain rec-
ognizes the information being transmitted via the pulsating light, since it’s delivered at a fre-
quency the brain uses.Generation ‘Lab-Rats’
According to the study Physics and Biology of mobile telephony, radiation from cellular GSM
technology does have a non-thermal effect on a variety of brain functions, including the neu-
roendocrine system. Anecdotal evidence also refers mainly to neurological problems, such as
headaches, disturbed sleep, trouble concentrating and poor memory.
Headaches are consistent with findings that show RF radiation can affect the dopamine-opiate
system of the brain and permeate the blood-brain barrier. Reports of sleep disruptions can be
related to the adverse effect it has on melatonin levels and on rapid-eye-movement (REM)
A study performed by the University of Helsinki in
Finland, found that EMF from mobile phones at 902 MHz has an adverse effect on children’s memory and recognition
, when measured by EEG.17
Preadolescent children are particularly vulnerable
because absorption of GSM microwaves is greatest
in an object about the size of a child’s head, due to
the “head resonance” effect. Radiation can also pen-
etrate the thinner skull of an infant much easier.
Additionally, the repetition frequencies of the TDMA and the DTX lie in the range of the alpha
and delta brainwaves respectively. In a child, the alpha waves don’t replace delta waves as a
stable activity until they’re about 12 years old.
Children’s immune systems are also degraded by this kind of radiation, making them more
susceptible to illnesses of all kinds.
Victims Are Calling It in Court
Joanne Suder, a Baltimore attorney, raised both eyebrows and defenses when she filed an
$800 million lawsuit against the cell phone industry, back in 2002. The evidence she brought
to court included dozens of cellular industry patents to create radiation-shielding technology,
despite the industry’s official proclamations of absolute safety.
One Nokia patent stated, “It has been suggested that radio fre-
quency irradiation may stimulate extra growth among supportive
cells in the nerve system, which in the worst case it has been
suggested could lead to a development of a malignant tumor.
Although the consequences described above have not been sci-
entifically verified, the uncertainty has some effects by reducing
the speed of growth of the market of radiophones.”18
Motorola, Ericsson and other cell phone manufacturers hold similar patents, according to
Suder, and by doing so have something to hide. Why create protection from something that is
completely harmless?The REFLEX Report
In 2004, the European Union released a 259-page document called the REFLEX report, sum-
marizing multiple projects from a dozen different research groups, on the genotoxic potential of
Agents that can damage cell DNA are called genotoxins, and are presumed to have carci-
nogenic potential. The REFLEX report received a lot of attention because of the genotoxicity
Some of the findings include:
• Intermittent (but not continuous) ELF-EMF exposure damages DNA in human cells.
• Genotoxic effects are dependent on the frequency, but higher frequency does not neces-
sarily correlate with more damage.
• The frequencies causing DNA damage were ranked, from High to Low damage, as follows:
50 Hz, 16 2/3 Hz, 3 Hz, 300 Hz, 550 Hz and 30 Hz.
• DNA strand breaks after ELF-EMF exposure is dependent on the person’s age, with older
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