Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Cellphone Games

I know. I haven't posted in eons. I've lost all three of my regular readers and I should be ashamed of myself. But alas, I have been busy! Which is a good thing when it comes to, you know, paying rent and stuff like that.

In fact, I have nothing to blog about right now, either, but I will be kind enough to post a link to my latest piece, published in Canada's The Walrus magazine. It's about cover-ups in the telecommunications industry over cell phone safety. I started writing the piece as a student at NYU, and now, three years later, it's finally being published. I couldn't be more thrilled!

Labels: , ,


Blogger Bob Nease said...

Yay -- you're (sort of) back. The lack of transparency stinks. But it's not clear to me that the increased risk is overwhelming. Back of the envelope, and sort of worst case, assume cell phone use triples deaths from brain cancer (high end). American Cancer Society quotes about 13K deaths per year from brain and other CNS; that includes types of cancers not affected by cellphones, so cut that in half, then triple it, and you end up with about 20K excess deaths from cell phones (assuming everyone is a heavy, long-term cell phone user). Divide by the population, and you get an increase of something like 1 in 14,000 increased risk per year. Dept of Transportation says that deaths per automobile passenger mile run about 1.3 per 100 million, so the excess risk from heavy cell phone use is equivalent to about 5300 miles of driving; less than the chance of dying in a car accident in a two-way cross-country trip. That's not trivial, but it's also not the end of the world. (In fact, you have to wonder whether the greater health risk is driving while on the cell phone.)

10:46 AM  
Blogger Melinda Wenner said...

Hi Bob,
Wow, I can't believe I'm JUST getting to this comment. Sorry. :) You make a valid point -- even if cell phones do increase cancer risk, should we really be worried? I think the issue here is that the 3x increased risk I mention in my piece is based on data from adults who have used cell phones for about a decade. We have no idea what the increased risk could be to people who start using cell phones at age five and continue until age 60. When I attended the congressional subcomittee hearing about this issue in November, some well-respected researchers noted that there is evidence to suggest that children's brains are much, much more vulnerable to microwave radiation than adult brains. We can't assume that the risk after 10 years of adult use will be equivalent to the risk after 50 years of use that began during childhood. What if that increased risk ends up being 10-fold? 100-fold? Even more? That WOULD be cause for concern, in my opinion.

6:51 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home