WEDNESDAY, JULY 11, 2018
By Olga Naidenko Ph.D., Senior Science Advisor for Children’s Environmental Health
“Most Americans, including children, use electronic devices like cellphones, tablets and smartwatches, for hours every day – and many have developed symptoms that look like addictive behavior. In 2017, children ages 8 and younger spent, on average, 48 minutes on mobile devices daily, and 42 percent of children 8 and younger have their own tablet devices, according to Common Sense Media.
But frequent use of electronic devices may pose health risks beyond addiction.
So far, the issue of children’s exposure to radiofrequency radiation from wireless devices has been missing from the debate about children’s screen time. Research from the National Toxicology Program reveals troubling evidence that cellphone radiation could cause brain and heart cancer.
Scientists exposed laboratory animals to radiofrequency radiation at levels similar to and higher than those emitted by cellphones. The exposed animals showed a greater likelihood of developing malignant glioma, a type of brain cancer, as well as heart tumors, compared to unexposed animals. Although this study tested radiation effects on animals, it offers valuable insight into the potential risk to people, including future exposure to 5G wireless networks.
Digital devices and the spectrum of invisible radiofrequency waves they transmit are changing rapidly. Even though scientific studies of cellphone radiation’s health impacts have not kept pace with the rapid technology developments, available research suggests that long-term exposure to wireless radiation could result in long-lasting health harm.
When EWG asked our audience how concerned it was about cellphone radiation, over 21,000 people answered, 95 percent of whom were either extremely or very concerned about young kids using cellphones and other wireless devices.
Since 2009, EWG has been doing research on possible health risks of cellphone and wireless radiation, especially for children’s health. In 2011 the World Health Organization classified cellphone radiation as a possible carcinogen.
In December 2017, the state of California officially issued guidelines advising cellphone users to keep phones away from their bodies. When the groundbreaking guidelines were made public, California Department of Public Health Director Karen Smith said:
Simple steps, such as not keeping your phone in your pocket and moving it away from your bed at night, can help reduce exposure for both children and adults … Children’s brains develop through the teenage years and may be more affected by cell phone use. Parents should consider reducing the time their children use cell phones and encourage them to turn the devices off at night.”