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How safe am I? Technology has been a phenomenal addition to our daily lives for the past 20 years, and one has to wonder—how safe is it? Technologies have to operate somehow, there MUST be some side effects...right?

Radiation concerns about technologies such as cellular phones, microwaves and power lines have been brought to public attention for years, causing panic within communities. While radiation may have been an issue for these technologies in their starting years, they are now subject to multiple tests for safety, and do not require any more concern.

Not convinced yet? Read on to learn more about the types of radiation that lie within these devices, and how they affect our health.

Radiation? Cell phones, microwave ovens, and power lines all fall under a type of radiation called non-ionizing radiation.

Ionizing radiation is the radiation that the misinformed public classifies as all types of radiation—harmful and damaging. It contains enough electromagnetic energy to strip electrons and molecules from tissue (breaking chemical bonds) and alter chemical reactions in the body. Non-ionizing radiation is typically safe, while causing some heating effect but usually not enough to cause any long-term damage to tissue. It has enough energy to move atoms in a molecule and cause vibration, but not enough energy to remove electrons. Microwave ovens operate at frequencies of 2.45 GHz and a 12.24cm wavelength. The radiation intensity depends on the power of the oven (ranging from 500 to 1200 watts). Cellular phones emit low power radio-frequency waves and are harshly restricted by laws on the amount of radio frequency energy that are absorbed by the body when in use. They operate at frequencies between 450 and 2700 MHz with peak powers in the range of 0.1 to 2 watts. Power lines emit a measly frequency of 50-60 Hz. They are classified to operate at extremely low frequencies (ELF). The wavelengths in this range can stretch from 5000km to 6000km.

Should I be worried? The most straightforward answer is no. Microwave ovens are required by law to have interlocks on their doors to prevent exposure outside the oven. The amount of microwaves radiation that can leak from an oven throughout its lifetime is 5milliwatts per square centimeters, 2 inches from the oven. This is considerably far below the level known to harm humans, and microwave energy decreases dramatically the further you get away from it (1/10 per inch). You are more likely to suffer damage from burns of a hot plate than be damaged by radiation from a microwave oven. Cell Phones sold in the United States and Canada must obtain a FCC certification, which limits the amount of radio frequency energy that is absorbed by the body to 1.6watts per kilogram. Below is a table that details the health effects of certain amounts of radio frequency energy. RF Energy

Reported Biological Effects


0.000021 - .0021 W/Kg

Changes in cell cycle and cell proliferation (960 MHz GSM cell phone signal)

Kwee, 1997

0.0004 W/Kg

Pulsed cell phone RF caused changes in bloodbrain barrier that protects brain from outside harmful chemicals and toxins (915 MHz GSM cell phone)

Salford, 1997

0.001 W/Kg

EEG brain waves are altered when exposed to cell phone signal at 0.1 µW/cm 2

Von KIitzing, 1995

0.0317 W/Kg

Decrease in eating and drinking

Ray & Behari, 1990

.005 to .05 W/Kg

Calcium efflux

Dutta et al, 1989

0.14 W/Kg

Elevation of immune response at 100 µW/cm 2

Elekes, 1996

0.13 - 1.4 W/Kg

Lymphoma cancer rate is 2.4 times normal with two 1/2 hour exposures per day of cell phone exposure (pulsed digital mobile phone signal 900 MHz)

Repacholi, 1997

0.26 W/Kg

Harmful effects to the eyes/ certain drugs can sensitize eyes to RFR

Kues, 1992

0.4 W/Kg

Statistically significant increase in malignant tumors at 480 µW/cm 2

Guy, 1984

0.58 - 0.75 W/Kg

Bio logical effect on the development of brain tumors at 18% of standard (836 MHz TDMA digital cell phone signal)

Adey, 1996

0.6 and 1.2 W/Kg

DNA single and double strand breaks from RF exposure (2450 MHz)

Lai, 1995

2.4 mW/Kg to 24 mW/Kg

Digital cell phone (836 TDMA) at very low intensities cause DNA effects in human cells. DNA effects are direct DNA damage and the rate at which DNA is repaired. Is equal to about 800 µW/cm 2 power density

Phillips, 1998

2-3 W/Kg

Cancer acceleration in skin and breast tumors at 50 - 75% of standard

Szmigielski, 1982

Power lines can only interact with living tissues by inducing electric fields and currents in them. However, the magnitude of these currents are less than those which occur naturally in our bodies, therefore posing no adverse effects on our health.

How can I prevent it? If you are truly worried about the minimal radiation emitting from these technologies, here are some tips that can minimize the amount of radiation your body is exposed to. -Do not operate a microwave oven if the door does not close firmly or is bent, warped, or otherwise damaged. -Do not stand directly against an oven for long periods of time during operation. -Some ovens should not be operated when empty— refer to instruction manual for your oven. -Instead of placing a voice call and placing it by your head, use speakerphone or a headset whenever possible. -Carry your phone at least 1 inch from your body (and turn antenna away from you)


-Children should not use cell phones extensively due to relatively smaller and thinner skulls. -PEOPLE OF ALL AGES SHOULD NOT SLEEP WITH AN ACTIVE CELL PHONE NEXT TO THE BEDSIDE OF UNDER THE PILLOW. -Protection from power lines can be easily achieved using shielding materials, which is only necessary for workers in high electric-field areas. -The amount of radiation emitted from power lines are minimal, and there are no practical and economical way to shield against extremely low frequency magnetic fields. -In locations where the electric fields and magnetic fields are very large and strong, access of personnel is restricted.

Thanks for reading! I hope you learned something from this pamphlet, and I extremely recommend you to share this information with others who have been misinformed about radiation in our everyday technologies. Leave a comment about how this information has been eyeopening to you, and let me know what you thought about it!

Conrad Lin E-mail:

Works Cited "11 Surprising Facts and Myths About Microwave Ovens." The Daily Green. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 June 2013. "Cell Phone Radiation Facts." Cell Phone Technicians. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 June 2013. "Cell Phone Radiation Levels." CNET. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 June 2013. "Cell Phones and Cancer Risk." National Cancer Institute. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 June 2013. "Extremely Low Frequency Radiation/Power Lines." Health Physics Society. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 June 2013. "Health Effects from Cell Phone Radiation under SAR Levels." RF Safe. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 June 2013. "How Cell-phone Radiation Works." HowStuffWorks. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 June 2013. "Intensity of Radiation in a Microwave." Health Physics Society. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 June 2013. "Ionizing & Non-Ionizing Radiation." EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, n.d. Web. 04 June 2013. "Microwave Ovens and Their Hazards :." OSH Answers. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 June 2013. "Radiation-Emitting Products." Microwave Oven Radiation. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 June 2013. "Radiation-Emitting Products." US Food and Drug Administration. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 June 2013.

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