THE ADS BY the Road Safety Authority over the last number of weeks have brought home the point – using a mobile phone when driving makes you four times more likely to crash.
But what about mobile phone use otherwise, when it’s just you and your (smart)phone?
Are mobile phones dangerous?
Mobile phones, and smartphones more so, emit radiation. This much we do know.
Whether they cause any long-term damage remains to be seen.
An Italian court came to the conclusion that they already have when, earlier this month, its Supreme Court ruled that there was a link between the mobile phone usage of retired businessman Innocente Marcolini (60), and his brain tumour.
Having used it for an average of six hours a day for 12 years, he argued that it had caused a benign brain tumour to develop close to where his phone touched his head.
We may call it a phone but, as the World Health Organisation (WHO) decided in mid-2011, it is a “possible carcinogenic”.
Fast-forward one year to July 2012, and the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decided to revise its mobile phone guidelines which outline what they deem to be the maximum safe levels of exposure to radiation.
Determining how dangerous it could be in the long-term remains to be seen. In the meantime, however, there are certain things that you can do to minimise exposure to it.
How you hold your phone can make a difference. The more you cover your phone, the more power it uses to find a signal. The more power, the more radiation.
Also, if you hold your phone directly against your face, chances are you’re going against the manufacturers guidelines. iPhone users, for example, are supposed to hold the phone at least 15mm away from the body.
If this sounds counter-intuitive or, depending on your phone habits, impossible, there’s a phone-cover which could help.
Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Richard Pearson of Pong Ireland – which sells the only mobile phone covers that have been scientifically proven to reduce the amount of radiation emitted – says that other countries adopt far stricter controls on mobile phones sales than Ireland.
In Israel, if you buy a mobile phone, it comes with a health warning. In France, they’ve banned the marketing of mobile phones to children. If you look in the safety manual that comes with your iPhone or your Blackberry, it will actually tell you not to have the phone in direct contact with your body.
“It’s impossible to stop radiation in a mobile phone without it becoming absolutely useless,” Pearson says. “It emits it [radiation] when it communicates with the cell tower.”