8 Cell Phone Safety Tips

By on August 1, 2011

By: Tamekia Reece –

If you’re like most people, it’s probably with you wherever you go–work, shopping, doctor’s appointments, dates, even to bed. Your cell phone. For many, being without their Blackberry, Smartphone or iPhone is almost like being disconnected from the world.

But is it time to hang up? Rumors about cell phones causing cancer have been circulating for decades. Most people, and even some medical experts, shrugged it off. Now, however, after the World Health Organization issued a report saying radiofrequency electromagnetic fields–which are emitted by wireless communication devices–may possibly be carcinogenic to humans, more people are paying attention.

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As research continues, and until scientists come up with a definite answer, it’s better to take some precautions. To help make your cell phone habits safer, here are some tips from Ann Louise Gittleman, Ph.D., CNS, author of Zapped: Why Your Cell Phone Shouldn’t Be Your Alarm Clock and 1,268 Ways to Outsmart the Hazards of Electronic Pollution (HarperOne, 2010).

Use a landline
Instead of using a cell phone as your primary phone, keep a landline (or go back to one) for home use. And make that phone an old school corded one. Dr. Gittleman says cordless phones are just about as bad (if not worse) as cell phones because they constantly send out radiofrequency waves.

Go hands-free
The further you can get the phone away from your body, the better. If you hold it two inches away, the signal is about a quarter of its original strength, and at four inches away, it’s about one-sixteenth as strong, Dr. Gittleman says. She suggests using the speakerphone option whenever possible. If you’re in a situation where you’d rather not, use a hands-free kit. But not a Bluetooth or wired headset. The wire on those can act as an antenna that delivers the electromagnetic radiation right to your head, Dr. Gittleman explains. Your best bet is a wireless air tube headset, which is sold online and at phone retailers.

No calls in confined spaces
Using your cell in places like cars, buses, trains, elevators or underground requires the phone to work harder to get a signal out through the metal, Dr. Gittleman says. And in an enclosed metal box–like a car or an elevator–the radiofrequency waves bounce around, intensifying any possible health effects.

No sleepovers
A study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that nearly two-thirds of American adults sleep with their cell phones on or right next to their beds. In addition to possibly interrupting your sleep, the phone’s electromagnetic waves are swimming right towards your head and body. Instead of having your mobile phone in your bedroom while you sleep, Dr. Gittleman recommends moving it to a different room to charge. And buy an alarm clock instead of depending on your cell phone to wake you.

Make it a kid-free zone
Because their brains are still developing and their skulls are thinner, experts recommend children under age 13 not use cell phones at all. If your child must, it’s better that he uses text messaging or speakerphone.

Send a text
Again, the greater the distance between your body and your cell phone, the smaller amount of electromagnetic radiation you’ll encounter. Although you may look at texting as a teen thing or an impersonal way to communicate, the more you text, the less time you spend with the phone to your ear.

Power up
“When your power bars are low, your phone has to work harder to connect to a tower,” Dr. Gittleman says. This may emit more radiofrequency waves. “I advise always keeping your phone fully charged.”

Power down
In her book, Dr. Gittleman says it’s a good idea to either turn off your cell phone completely or use the standalone, offline or flight mode when the phone isn’t in use. This turns off the wireless transmitter and puts a halt to electromagnetic waves until the phone is turned back on.

Tamekia Reece is a Houston-based health writer. She’s written for Woman’s Day, Oxygen and Parents, among others. She can be reached at http://www.tamekiareece.com/.

About Tamekia Reece

Tamekia Reece is a health writer living in Houston, TX. She’s written for Woman’s Day, Parents and Oxygen, among others. See her website at www.tamekiareece.com.

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8 Cell Phone Safety Tips