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Will Cell phones, Power lines, and Microwaves give you cancer?

By: Christopher Chang

Power Lines

First of all, power lines are strong Electromagnetic fields (EMF). This means they have an electric and magnetic field.

A magnetic field is an area that is surrounding a magnetic force. This magnetic force can be caused by the movement of electrical charges. The greater the current causes a greater magnetic field. It is measured in Tesla units named after Nikola Tesla. For example: a toaster is turned on the electrons are moving through the wires creating a magnetic field. An electric field is an area where one object has an electrical charge. The greater a charge in an object the electric field is greater. It is measured in volts/meter. For example: a toaster plugged into the electric socket has a charge and therefore has an electric field. All electromagnetic fields emit electromagnetic waves. Depending on how strong an electromagnetic wave is, it will affect the health of a human. However, power lines do not emit strong electromagnetic waves to affect any cells in the body. Power lines emit non-ionizing electromagnetic waves.

This kitchen has lights, stove, refrigerator, etc... All of these have an electromagnetic field. Does this cause any harm to the body? The intensity of electromagnetic fields from power lines can cause a small amount of electric current to the human body when living next to them. These electric currents are very weak and cannot cause any damage to the body. No, there has not been any proof of health effects from electromagnetic fields, but the International Agency for Research on Cancer suggests that there is a possibility that electromagnetic fields from power lines are carcinogenic.

Meaning they can cause cancer. Scientists from the World Health Organization have limited scientific evidence that electromagnetic fields are linked to childhood leukemia. If you lived 50m away from power lines as a child, it is suggested in a Tasmanian study that you may increase your chances five times of getting cancers such as leukemia, or lymphoma. However, this is only one study that shows correlations between the high intensity power lines and human health, and it does not prove any cause and effect (Howard). Misconceptions

Based on a sample of grade 11 students, 36% of them believed living next to power lines will increase cancer;

however there is not true evidence to support this idea. Of the sample, 9% believed that their white blood cells will be destroyed; this cannot be true because power lines emit nonionizing radiation. The question of how power lines affect health is still controversial and debated my many scientists, but so far there has been no evidence of how power lines affect human health. OVERALL, there are NO negative effects of power lines on human health.

Power lines emit non-ionizing radiation according to the electromagnetic spectrum.

Cell Phones How do cell phones work? A cell phone is a special type of radio. When you call a friend, your voice is being converted into electromagnetic radio waves that are then converted into sound again on the receiving end of the phone call. Every cell phone has two frequencies: one frequency to listen to, and one to talk through. Compared to a walkie talkie, cell phones are full duplex and not half duplex. Walkie talkies only have one frequency allowing users to talk and listen, therefore when one side of a walkie talkie is speaking, the other end cannot. Cell phones have two frequencies one for listening and one for talking, so that users can speak through the cell phone simultaneously. In order for these radio waves to be efficient the landscape is divided up into cells, which are hexagonal divisions where there is a base station to transmit the signals. In each cell there is only a limited amount of frequencies that can be used, usually around 56 channels. In order to be efficient, multiple cells are built around the city so that in every different cell or different part of the city, 56 cell phones can be used at once.

What type of waves do cell phones emit? Cell phones emit radio and micro waves which are forms of electromagnetic waves. Radio and micro waves are the two longest forms of electromagnetic waves and it is not visible to the human eye. They are also a form of non-ionizing radiation.

The waves they send out are between 800 to 2600 MHz. The wave lengths are approximately 10-3m long based on the electromagnetic spectrum. Are cell phones dangerous to human health? Of the sample of grade 11 students, all of them own cell phones and 70% of them use them for at least one hour a day, so will these grade 11 students get cancer in the future or have negative health effects?

There has been no proof that cell phones cause negative health effects or increases risk of cancer. The only biological effect cell phones have is to cause an increase in temperature of the head if there is an overuse. This does not cause cancer but the heating of the cells have not shown any negative effects. Since cell phones emit non-ionizing radiation, it means the waves that cell phones send out do not carry enough energy to ionize a particle. In other words they cannot change the charge of a particle by moving electrons from it. Non- ionizing radiation means there will be no dose of radiation to the body, and no harm to any cells. The measurement used for measuring dosage of radiation to the body is called Sieverts. Cell phones give 0 Sieverts to the body.

How might the use of cell phones affect someone's health in 50 years? Teenagers today all are using cell phones, cell phone transmitters are all over our cities and electromagnetic waves are passing through our bodies. What would happen in 50 years? Supposedly nothing should happen because all this radiation is too weak to cause any damage to human DNA. However a study called COSMOS (cohort study of mobile phone use and health) enrolled 250 000 cell phone users aged 18 or older and will follow them for the next 20 or 30 years to study the health effects of cell phones in a long term perspective.


Of the sample of grade 11 students, only 40% are educated that the overuse of cell phones has a lack of research on how it may affect health. There are affects of cell phones but so far not enough research on how it affects people since cell phones are a newly developed device. The COSMOS study will later prove if there really is a correlation between cell phone use and cancer. For now, it is believed that non-ionizing radiation from cell phones have no harmful effect.


How do microwave ovens use microwave radiation to warm up food? Microwaves warm up food by emitting microwaves at a frequency at about 2.45 GHz (gigahertz). These waves are absorbed by fats, sugars, and water. When these waves become absorbed, they cause movement in atoms which is heat. However microwaves cannot be absorbed by metals, plastic, glass, or ceramic. Metal is used to surround the microwave to prevent the microwaves from leaving the oven. Will eating radiated food cause harm to the body? Microwave ovens emit microwaves which is a form of nonionizing which does not radiate the food you put into the microwave. The food you have after heating it with a

microwave oven is not dangerous or at all radioactive, it is just simply heated.

"It heats food up inside out" Have you ever heard of this expression? What does this mean? The microwave oven does not heat food like a regular oven by conduction. A microwave oven causes movement of the atoms in the fats, sugars, and water of the food which will create heat. Unlike a conventional oven, the microwave oven heats the food up all at once even on the inside. If you put your face next to the microwave, what will happen? The metals in the microwave oven will protect any microwave radiation from hitting your face. Metal will reflect electromagnetic waves and the oven will protect anything outside of it from being heated as well. You will be perfectly fine if you placed your face right next to the microwave oven.


50% of the students in the grade 11 sample believed that the radiation would not hurt you. The other half believed the radiation could either change genetics or give you cancer. Overall, the microwave is a safe tool for heating up food quickly and will not cause cancer.

Verdict Overall, microwaves, power lines, and cell phones do not emit any harmful radiation towards the human body. As the sample of grade 11 students proves, not everyone is educated about these new devices in our world. Even if most researchers say that they don’t cause harmful effects to health, there is still some research that proves there are correlations to cancer. It is still best to stay on the safe side to only use these devices when you need to, and try not to overuse them.

Remember to Stay Safe •

Always check if your microwave is broken so no radiation leaks Try to shorten your phone calls on your cell phones, since the radio and microwaves from your cell phones can heat up the side of your head and this effect on your body is still unknown

Works Cited

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"Solutions For CPA Firm Leaders." Rita Keller Blog RDF. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Jan. 2013. "What Are Electromagnetic Fields?" WHO. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Jan. 2013.

How do cell phones, microwaves, and power lines affect health?