I can often be found running around my neighborhood with my youngest in our BOB Revolution jogging stroller. To say I love this stroller is an understatement. We have put many miles on it since buying it last May. I love the way it absorbs the shock of bumps and the way it turns corners so easily. Here’s what I don’t love – the only place to put a cell phone while running with a stroller is in the caddy just inches from the child’s brain. It has bothered me to the point that I either hold the phone in my hand while I run or I leave it at home. (I have a step counter on my phone that I am kind of obsessed with and so usually I take it with and hold it. It makes a little trumpet noise when you reach 10,000 steps in one day which is oddly rewarding.)
I never really worried about cell phone radiation until a few years ago when I started hearing about smart meters in the news and how people were in uproar about the electro-magnetic radiation (EMR) they create. After a little research, I found out that due to the wireless age we live in, there is EMR surrounding us almost everywhere we go. Cell phones, wi-fi networks in cafes and restaurants, even regular household appliances create EMR. People are wary of EMR because studies have linked it to cancer, infertility, insomnia and memory problems, to name a few.
What is the big deal with cell phones and radiation? I feel fine!
Cell phones operate using radio-frequency microwaves which create EMR. This radiation is absorbed by the tissues closest to where the phone is held, usually the brain. It can also be absorbed from wearing a cell phone in your pocket – the phone continues to transmit and receive data even when not placing a call. (Low sperm count, anyone?) GPS and automatic sync functions run continually, which means the phone is constantly putting out EMR. Children are especially at risk for absorption of radiation because their skulls are thinner than adults, their brains contain more fluid, and their cell growth and brain activity are not stable yet. A developing brain is much more sensitive than a matured brain due to the increased rate of cell duplication.
This is something we should all be more aware of. The World Health Organization has classified the electro-magnetic radiation as a Class 2B Carcinogen, which is the same classification as some heavy metals, pesticides and diesel exhaust. This non-ionizing radiation is the same type which microwave ovens emit. Would you want to stick your head inside a microwave oven, or have your child’s head right next to it while it runs for an extended amount of time? (Please say no.) Surprisingly, however, there has been a lot of research with findings on both sides of the fence – cell phones are safe, or cell phones cause several different types of cancer and other diseases. (I think this is closely tied to who is funding the study – i.e. a wireless carrier company versus a medical university.) When it comes to my children, I will always err on the side of caution. It seems entirely plausible to me that cell phones can mess with the electrical function of the brain and possibly damage the DNA within cells as many studies claim. I know the human body has its own electro-magnetic field and that a cell phone consistently sending and receiving information wirelessly must have at least a little interference with a body’s natural state. Our children are much too precious to take risks which could possibly cause them disease in the future.
Safety guidelines are based on the thermal rating of cell phones (Specific Absorption Rate SAR), its ability to heat and create energy. They are not measuring the impact on DNA. Many studies show that electro-magnetic radiation can cause damage to DNA by causing breaks which are not always able to be repaired. Studies have also documented damage to sperm due to exposure to EMR. (Source.) DNA damage is passed from parent to child, from generation to generation. If we do not protect ourselves and our children now, what will our great-grandchildren have to face as a result? Disease and deformities are a real possibility as a result of the DNA mutations.
What can you do? No one can live without a cell phone these days.
Although there are a lot of products claiming to reduce or eliminate EMR exposure, many experts say there is no case or sticker you can put on your phone to eliminate the radiation caused by radio-frequency energy. The popular Pong case for the iPhone only redirects the radiation, possibly sending it to the person next to you. Not effective if you ask me. There are many disks or stickers you can stick on your phone, but many researchers say these are not effective. The only answer I have found is to use your phones responsibly.
- Limit your talk time to under 50 minutes a day. If you need to have a longer conversation, use your speaker phone and keep a distance from the phone. Distance is your friend!
- Use your cell phone only when the reception is good. Using it for one minute with poor reception emits the same amount of radiation as a three-hour call in good reception.
- Keep your phone out of your room when sleeping. As I mentioned above, the phone is constantly sending and receiving information and therefore emitting bursts of radiation in the process. If you use your phone alarm, keep it across the room or just outside of your room where you can still hear it.
- Keep your phone away from your kids. Seriously, we survived without apps. They can too. Learn to appreciate those crayons at the restaurant, little one.
- Turn off GPS when not using the phone, this will decrease the amount of work your phone is doing without you using it. Same with emails, don’t have it on auto-sync if you don’t need to.
Back to the stroller. What’s a mommy to do? My solution thus far has been to wear a cross-body purse if I am out walking with my stroller and my phone. That way it is not near my son’s head and it is not in my pocket right on body. I also turn the GPS off unless I need it. When I run, I am just going to leave it at home. What’s more important, my step counter or my children’s brains? No question there!
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