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Cell Phones and Your Health

How do cell phones work?
Cell phones use radio frequency (RF) signals to send and receive calls. RF signals are a form of energy passed between "base stations" and cell phones. Base stations are antennas mounted on towers, rooftops, or other tall structures. Cordless phones work the same way that cell phones do, but send and receive signals over shorter distances and use less energy.

Can using my cell phone cause health effects?
Current research studies have not shown a relationship between cell phone use and health effects. Studies have focused on RF signal exposure and cancer risk, as well as neurological effects such as sleep disruption, headaches, and dizziness. All cell phones sold in the United States must comply with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) safety guidelines that limit RF exposure.

Can base stations cause health problems?
Scientific studies have also not shown increased health risks for people living near base stations. Although RF signals are stronger at the source, the levels of the RF signals are still well below government standards. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) set acceptable RF levels for homes, work areas and living spaces adjacent to the base stations. For more information on FCC cell phone and base station regulations call 1-888-CALL-FCC or visit the FCC website.

What else is being done to look at possible health effects from cell phone use?
Although current research does not show an association between cell phone use and known health effects, many people are still concerned. The World Health Organization (WHO) has established the International EMF Project to further investigate possible associations between cell phone use and health effects such as cancer and effects on sleep, headaches, and memory performance.

The WHO research plan for radio frequency (RF) fields is available at EMF. In addition, the International Agency for Research on Cancer has developed the Interphone Study, which brings together information from researchers in 13 countries. More information is available at The INTERPHONE Study and through their main website.

Ways to Use Cell Phones Safely
  • Avoid cell phone use while driving or operating machinery. It is illegal in New York State to talk on a handheld cell phone while driving.

  • Cell phones may interfere with older implanted cardiac pacemakers and defibrillators. Interference is rare; however individuals with pacemakers or defibrillators should not keep cell phones in breast pockets or attached to clothing close to the device.

  • Cell phone signals may also interfere with certain electronic equipment. Observe the warning signs and switch off your cell phone when required in hospitals, airplanes, and other restricted areas.

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