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It's an all too familiar scene: children, some as young as nine, spending an exorbitant amount of time on cell phones. What may not be as familiar, and therefore go unnoticed, is the sight of children who are suffering and sick from cancer, specifically brain cancer. Australia has noticed and is very concerned about the connection between these two trends. Through the federal government health watchdog, Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA), Australia has issued a warning. One which speaks volumes.
In a "fact sheet" distributed to parties interested in purchasing and using cell phones, the consumer watchdog group has put out a warning in regards to children and mobile phones. Or more importantly, children and cell phone radiation.
As many as 25 percent of nine-year-olds living in Australia and three out of four teenagers attending high school in the land down under have regular access to a cell phone. ARPANSA recommends that parents assist their children in limiting their exposure to the radiation that is emitted from cell phones. The federal organization bases this on the research surrounding children and cell phone use.
Existing research is inadequate. Nevertheless, available research is enough to warrant grave concerns from those who care about children's health, now and in the future. One such concerned person is Joel Moskowitz. He is director of the Center for Family and Community Health at Berkeley's School of Public Health and he believes scientific studies have shown enough of an association between cell phone exposure and an increase in cancer. Further research must be pursued.
The European Community's Seventh Framework Program couldn't agree more. The research organization funded the MOBI-KIDs project. MOBI-KIDS according to their website, "Is an international case-control study which aims to assess the potential associations between use of communication devices and other environmental risk factors and brain tumors in young people."
The extensive five year study involved:
• 26 countries (including Australia and MONASH University)
• 10 to 24-year-old participants
• Up to 2,000 young people
• Those with and without brain tumors included
The study is relevant and timely as brain tumors are secondary only to leukemia as the number one cause of childhood cancers. These cancers, like cell phone usage by young people, are on the rise. Smaller research studies have led to flawed conclusions, conclusions which could prove dangerous, and even deadly.
In a day and age where complicated problems are often accompanied by complicated solutions, decreasing exposure to cell phone radiation is simple. How simple? ARPANSA recommends simply:
• Keeping the phone away from the head
• Placing the thumb as a barrier between the phone and the ear
Limiting the amount of time children are exposed to cell phones is an especially worthy goal because smaller heads mean smaller brains. Smaller brains contain more conductive tissue than larger brains and can absorb up to three times as much radiation.
Cell phone radiation has been classed by the World Health Organization as a possible human carcinogen in the same category as diesel engine exhaust, some pesticides, and some heavy metals. As Dr. Devra Davis of the Environmental Health Trust points out, "we would never let a child play with some pesticides, heavy metals, or diesel engine exhaust. Yet people are giving their children cellphones."
The people from down under are waking up to the importance of keeping children safe from cell phone radiation; all parents must wake up and act now.