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Marlena Huertas

Good evening. Im Marlena Huertas, and our topic of debate is cell phone safety, and more specifically, if the
radiofrequency radiation emitted by cell phones is harmful to humans.
To start at the foundation of this topic, it should first be understood that radiation is the transmission of energy
through space by waves or particles. If we were to look at the electromagnetic spectrum, we would see that the
frequencies go from very low to high, and are measured by waves per second.
On the lower end of the spectrum, we would see non-ionizing radiation, which means that it does not alter
DNA; and on the higher end of the spectrum, we would see ionizing radiation, which does alter DNA.
In about the center, in the non-ionizing category, is a low level of ultraviolet light, such as less harmful UV rays
from the sun. Below that is visible light, and below visible light is infrared radiation, which we experience as
heat. Below that are microwaves, which include satellites and microwaves. A bit below this are cell phones,
pagers, radios, televisions, laptops, tablets, and cordless home phones. At the very end of this spectrum are
extremely low frequencies, such as power lines.
In the ionizing category are more damaging types of ultraviolet rays, X-rays, and gamma waves.
So, do these frequencies emitted by cell phones (which are weaker than light and non-ionzing) harm people?
The possible health risks up for discussion are cancer, brain tumors, sperm damage and prenatal exposure, and
driving.
Once again, the frequency emitted by cell phones is so low that it is non-ionizing, which means it doesnt have
sufficient energy to alter the electrons of molecules, which is what causes cancer. So, it shouldnt have the
ability to cause cancer. Yet, in 2011, The International World Health Organization categorized the
radiofrequency of cell phones and similar devices as possibly carcinogenic (which means: having the
potential to cause cancer). Things in the same category as possible carcinogens (group 2B agents) are coffee,
Styrofoam, lead, and pickled vegetables. Group 2C agents are considered probably carcinogenic to humans.
Remember, that 2B is the category for possibility, meaning that research hasnt proven a relation to cancer. The
National Cancer Institute has also confirmed that there has been no rise in the rate of brain or nervous system
cancers between 1987 and 2010, despite a dramatic increase in the amount of cell phone use.
There are contradicting studies on the correlation between cell phone use and tumors. When something that
does not exist is being measured, variations in measurement can result in a positive signal or a negative signal.
If A were to cause B (in this case cell phones causing cancer), then the results would be substantial and
repeatable, but theyre not. Many peer reviewed studies have shown an association between cell phone use and
brain tumors, such as a 2013 study that concluded an association between mobile phones and certain types of
brain and ear tumors. (Lennart Hardell, et al., "Use of Mobile Phones and Cordless Phones Is Associated with Increased Risk for Glioma and Acoustic
Neuroma,"Pathophysiology, Apr. 2013).

Yet, several Northern European studies have found a decreased risk of brain tumors with cell phone use. (Joachim
Schuz et al. "Cellular Telephone Use and Cancer Risk: Update of a Nationwide Danish Cohort" Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Dec. 2006) (H. Collatz Christensen, et al., "Cellular
Telephones and Risk for Brain Tumors," Neurology, July 20, 2005) (Stefan Lnn, et al., "Long-Term Mobile Phone Use and Brain Tumor Risk," American Journal of Epidemiology," 2005) .

It is also worth noting that a 2011 study in the British Medical Journal concluded no association with brain
tumors with over ten years of cell phone use (Patrizia Frei, Aslak H. Poulsen, Christoffer Johansen, Jrgen H. Olsen, Marianne Steding-Jessen, and Joachim
Schz, "Use of Mobile Phones and Risk of Brain Tumors: Update of a Danish Cohort Study" British Medical Journal, Oct. 20, 2011).

The largest study to date, the Interphone Study (which took place in10 years in 13 countries), concluded that
there is no evidence that links cell phone radiation to brain tumors (International Agency for Research on Cancer). The Federal
Communications Commission, Government Accountability Office, and the Food and Drug Administration have
all determined that there is no association between cell phone use and brain tumors or other health issues. The
FCC also stated that studies attempting to replicate and confirm research that concludes there is an association
have been unsuccessful.
The evidence for fertility problems from mobile phone use is much like that of the previous health studies, in
that the research results are inconsistent, with some studies reporting reporting altered reproductive physiology
in men and women or negative effects of prenatal exposure, and some reporting no association. (Gonadal Physiology And
Disease, Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics, April 2012, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 293-297) We are yet to have conclusive evidence of the
effects on fertility, pregnancy, and child development, and further research in these specific categories is
needed. This is especially true because of a large number of possible environmental factors. For example, male
fertility may be affected by chemicals in modern materials like plastic, warm temperatures (like those in hot
tubs and saunas), and diet. In 1996, the Federal Communications Commission, with input from the Food and
Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and
Health, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration- created expanded guidelines for cell phone
radiofrequency by studying head exposure to cell phone radiation. Cell phones were set to a maximum of 1.6
watts of energy per kilogram of bodyweight during a 30 minute call. The FCC continuously monitors research
in radiofrequencies affect on humans, and has implemented suitable policies for public safety.
As for general safety, cell phones allow us to make emergency calls and are therefore an extremely important
safety tool. The Wireless Association recommends never texting while driving and limiting wireless calls behind
the wheel. Refraining from eating, personal grooming, talking with passengers, pushing buttons, and driving
while drowsy is also recommended. We should be logical about what we should and shouldnt do while driving,
and not suggest that its the fault of the cell phone instead of our own judgment. Lastly, the radiofrequency
given off by a mobile phone is the highest when we are making a call or our phones are looking for a signal
(though it is still very low). If someone is still worried, they can use speaker phone or an ear piece. We have
also been safely using similar types of radiofrequency since 1893 with radios, and 1939 with televisions. Both
of these are devices that many sat next to for long periods of time. Thank you for listening.

1. If cell phones are harmful, what should be done about other devices that emit similar frequencies, such as
microwaves, televisions, radios, pagers, and laptops?
2. Radios emit a similar frequency to cell phones and have been popular in homes since the 1920s. For decades,
many spent long periods of time right next to it. If this low frequency is bad for humans, why have there been
no definite adverse health effects noted by the medical community?
3. If there is a definite correlation between the radiofrequency radiation of cell phones and illnesses, why are
scientific studies so inconsistent that even major government agencies dont consider it this type of radiation
harmful?