Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Are Invisible Rays Frying Your Brain?

Child with mobile phone

There are more mobile handsets in Australia than people, so if there is any problem with them then it has the potential to be a very big problem indeed.

By Peter Bowditch

What are the dangers, if any, from radiation emitted by mobile phones, microwaves, power lines, WiFi and Bluetooth.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

The dangers of mobile phone use seems to be a perennial story in the media. It is a subset of the electro­magnetic radiation scare story, and has two components – radiation from the phones themselves and radiation from the towers.

Let’s start off by looking at how the spectrum of electromagnetic radiation is made up. Shorter wavelengths mean higher energy, and it is generally accepted that cancer caused by DNA disruption requires wavelengths shorter than visible light. Longer wavelengths – like those used by microwaves, mobile phones and WiFi – do not possess the necessary energy.

People worried about electromagnetic radiation seem to be unconcerned with the visible part of the spectrum, although it is always a nice joke to ask the most strident anti-EMF campaigners if they are opposed to all wavelengths and frequencies. If you are feeling particularly spiteful you can point out that the usually harmless chemical dihydrogen monoxide (H2O) can become dangerous if exposed to enough radiation at wavelengths just longer than visible light. That same radiation can also cause nasty burns on your feet if you go to sleep in front of the radiator.

Quite rightly nobody seems worried by the television and radio signals that fill the air around us. While they might be pushed out by quite high-powered transmitters, there doesn’t seem to be any incentive for...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Peter Bowditch is Immediate Past President of Australian Skeptics Inc. (www.skeptics.com.au).