In the USA, just last year, over 270 million people were cell phone subscribers. That's up from 110 million in 2000.
The use is exponential, with no end in sight. And, kids and teens are among the fastest-growing user group. In some countries, cells carry warnings, like cigarettes. But not in the U.S.
At issue is strong electromagnetic waves--- the signal radiation emitted by all cell phones. The energy patterns pass right through your brain, when a phone is jammed tight against your skull.
In San Francisco, Mayor Gavin Newsom wants to require the warnings. And a Maine legislator wants all cell phones in the state to carry warnings--- that cell phones might cause brain cancer.
As always, industry leaders dispute the claim. They say, "We've heard all this before, with no solid scientific evidence, so what the difference now?"
So, what should we believe? Oddly enough, no long-term studies on cell phones and cancer have been done. However, there is unpublished data coming to light. And, now, a number of scientists are urging caution.
Dr. Ronald B. Herberman, (director emeritus of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute), alerted 3,000 faculty of cell phone risks--- based on unpublished data.
Dr Herberman urged that kids use cell phones only for emergencies. Why? Their brains are still developing.
Maine Rep. Andrea Boland, D-Sanford, said numerous studies point to the cancer risk. She uses a speakerphone (and leaves the phone off unless expecting a call).
Under Boland's bill, manufacturers would have to put labels on phones and packaging warning of the potential for brain cancer associated with electromagnetic radiation.
The warnings would recommend that users, especially children and pregnant women, keep the devices away from their head and body.
The San Francisco proposal would require the display of the absorption rate level next to each phone in print at least as big as the price.
The CTIA-The Wireless Association, insists the devices--- their bread and butter--- are safe.
Their spokesman stated: "With respect to the matter of health effects associated with wireless base stations and the use of wireless devices, CTIA and the wireless industry have always been guided by science, and the views of impartial health organizations. The peer-reviewed scientific evidence has overwhelmingly indicated that wireless devices do not pose a public health risk."
And what about the US Gov's response to possible cell dangers? The Federal Communications Commission still insists that all cell phones sold in the U.S. are safe.
They did set a standard for the "specific absorption rate" of radio-frequency energy. However, handset makers aren't required, for some strain gee reason, to publicize their radiation levels.
What should you do or not do? Give up your cell phone?
Not likely. The devices have become a key part of almost all our lives, both socially and business-wise.
Dr Herberman warned that adults never put the phone close to the head. He said it is urgent--- that everyone should use a speakerphone or a wireless headset.