Mobile phone urban myths
This article by Roland Banks from http://www.mobileindustryreview.com/2015/04/9-urban-myths-about-mobile-phones.html debunks a number of mobile phone myths.
1. Using a mobile in low light can cause damage to your eyes
Reading in low light
If you remember being told by a parent to stop reading at night because it would damage your eyes, you’ll also be familiar with the modern day equivalent that reading by the harsh light of a smartphone, mobile, or tablet is can damage your vision. It all comes down to the idea that staring at a very close distance for an extended period (and kind of light they emit) will strain your eyes and they’ll deteriorate faster than normal.
The Irish College of Ophthalmologists seems to have the answer, as council member Dr Garry Treacy explains that whatever strain you may feel is doing no damage to your eyes.
Dr Treacy says the myth is grounded in attempts to get children to sleep, and because we grew up hearing that, it’s become fact. Looking at screens under dim light will not cause you to become long or short sighted, and is not doing any other damage either. In fact, your eyes can actually become strong.
Saying that reading is bad for your eyes is like saying that walking is bad for your legs, says Treacy.
“As you get older, you will always find reading harder. It’s because of how your eyes see the contrast between black and white. Younger eyes are better at doing this with less light, but as they grow old, more and more light is needed to make a clear distinction between black and white.”
So there you have it – there’s probably no danger in reading a mobile or tablet screen whilst in bed…
2. You can charge an iPhone in 20 seconds using a microwave oven
iPhone Microwave Charge
As unbelievable as it sounds, mainly influenced by Internet rumours, people have in the past actually heated their iPhones in the microwave. But why? The trend seems to have come from a thread on a Japanese Internet noticeboard “2channel” known for its often-dubious posts. The claim was that an iPhone 5 could be charged by heating it in the microwave for 20 seconds, or an iPhone 4s for 30 seconds. Of course, as we all know, this will result in a very nicely toasted iPhone or perhaps even an explosion.
It appears that Twitter played a huge role in spreading the rumour, and unfortunately, not everyone has a good sense of what to believe in and what to ignore. Twitter has even been called the “idiot detector” (baka hakkenki) in Japan…
3. You can cook an egg by radiation by placing it between two mobiles
Cooking Egg MobilesThe myth claims that you can cook an egg by putting it firmly between two mobile phones. The amount of people that believed this when it was published on the Wymsey Village Web was unbelievable.
It was apparently picked up by the Russian paper Pravda, who replicated the experiment and claimed to have proved it as true. The fact is, that of all the people who have tried to prove this, none of them have actually worked. In fact, you could put an egg between two phones for hours, and the egg would not only not be cooked, but it probably wouldn’t even be warm…
4. Driving using a mobile is just as dangerous as driving when drunk
There have been claims (in Australia) that using a mobile phone while driving is as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol. The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) states that false claims about driving using a phone could actually undermine safety campaigns, by reducing the stigma of driving while drunk, according to AMTA Chief Executive Officer Chris Althaus.
Using mobile in car
Apparently the false claims were based on incomplete reviews of the established research, and that “More importantly, the comparison could undermine other driver safety campaigns by reducing the stigma of driving whilst drunk and the comparison is considered irresponsible by some road safety authorities”.
“No one is questioning that mobile phone use imposes physical, visual, and cognitive demands on the driver. However, drivers who get behind the wheel after drinking are more likely to take risks. They have reduced perceptions of the risk involved because alcohol impairs judgement.
“A recent Australian study which compared the blood alcohol levels of drivers involved in actual car crashes found the risk of an accident was increased by 25 times at a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08. Mobile phones have not been shown to present this level of risk in any research.”
5. You should always fully discharge a mobile battery
Battery life is always at a premium, especially for all our power-hungry gadgets. You may have heard of lots of tricks to keep your battery life at tip-top levels, and many of those tips are valid.
However, one particular myth (that many people to this day still believe) claims that you should fully discharge your battery (whether that’s for a phone, laptop, or another gadget) every time you use it. Unfortunately, that’s just not the case today, as it’s a left over belief from the older nickel cadmium batteries that suffer from a kind of ‘memory effect’ that doesn’t apply to modern lithium-ion batteries.
So feel free to charge your phone whether it’s at 1% or 90% – it won’t make any difference to the longevity of the battery.
6. Don’t use a mobile when there’s a lightning storm
Man using mobile during a storm
Is it dangerous to use a mobile during a storm? Many people believe that somehow it’s not safe and you shouldn’t use any electronic device, especially a phone.
This may be due to the incorrect belief that electricity could somehow ‘travel’ through the radio waves coming from the device? As it happens, radio waves do not conduct electricity, and as long as the phone is not connected to any electrical sockets, no lightning can reach the user via the wiring in the house. There’s also no evidence that mobile phones somehow attract lightning.
However, there is another more realistic danger posed by using a mobile during a storm, especially outdoors when holding any metallic device to your ear. This is because skin is a poor conductor of electricity, and most of the electricity from a strike conducts over the skin rather than through the body. So when there is a metal object in contact with your skin, the effect is multiplied because the electricity has an easier entry into the body.
7. Mobiles can cause planes to crash and petrol stations to blow up
Using a mobile at petrol station
We have always been told there are some places where we must never use a mobile phone. For example, the assertion that making a mobile phone call on a plane could interfere with the computers that keep plane in the air.
Ofcom has in recent times confirmed that mobile phones can be used onboard UK-registered aircraft, so surely all the disaster stories were just made up, or at the very least, overly cautious? After all, it is also a commonly-held belief that it is dangerous to make calls at petrol station forecourts due to the risk of explosions, and also that mobiles may cause lifesaving equipment in hospitals to fail.
“There is practically no evidence to say mobile phones pose a risk,” said Dr Adam Burgess, of Kent University and the author of Cellular Phones, Public Fears And A Culture Of Precaution. The report cites a study that found mobiles affected only 4% of hospital equipment, and only 0.1% of it seriously.
But what about the exploding petrol stations?
“There have been claims explosions at petrol stations were down to mobiles. But they have since been found to be caused by sparks from the static on peoples’ clothes,” says Burgess. “The claims against mobiles are based on no evidence.”
So next time you feel like making a call or sending a quick text while filling up your car – go ahead, there’s nothing to worry about*.
* please don’t quote me on that.
8. You can unlock your car by relaying the key fob signal over a mobile
Have you locked your keys in the car? Does your car have remote keys? This may come in handy some day, and it’s a good reason to own a mobile phone, according to the myth:
Unlock Car via Mobile
If you lock your keys in the car and the spare keys are at home, call someone at home on their mobile phone from your mobile phone. Hold your cell phone about a foot from your car door and have the person at your home press the unlock button, holding it near the mobile phone on their end. Your car will unlock. Saves someone from having to drive your keys to you. Distance is no object. You could be hundreds of miles away,and if you can reach someone who has the other “remote” for your car, you can unlock the doors (or the trunk).
Unfortunately, cars with remote keyless entry cannot be unlocked in this way. The fob transmitters and phones use different types of signals and transmit them at different frequencies.
9. Dialling 999 actually boosts your mobile phone’s battery
Mobile dialling 999
Police say they are desperate to dispel a myth that dialling 999 can boost the battery life of a mobile phone.
A force in Anglia says it has received numerous nuisance calls because people believe calling the emergency number and hanging up will increase the power left on their device.
A Bedfordshire Police spokesman has said it simply was not true and warned the calls were taking resources away from genuine emergencies. “This myth has been circulating for some time now and we are not the only force to have suffered from these false calls.
“Calling 999 for anything other than an emergency or a non-police matter puts additional pressure on resources, ties up an operator and wastes valuable time that could be better spent helping genuine callers possibly in a life-threatening situation. The only way to boost a mobile phone battery is to use a charger”.
And On the Other Side of Myth Debunking
Now because this is the Internet age, evidence shows there may be some mobile phone concerns. See this article from the https://ehtrust.org/science/science-skeptics-myth-versus-fact-cell-phones-wi-fi/
Common Myths About Cell Phone And Wireless Radiation “Safety” Debunked
The public relations strategy of manufacturing doubt has often been used to delay policies to control or reduce environmental hazards, whether tobacco, climate change, asbestos, vinyl chloride, cell phone radiation or other agents. Here we identify and debunk erroneous statements that appear in the media in response to scientific results suggesting that cell phone radiation could be hazardous.
MYTH: “No research has found evidence of a link between regular cell phone use and glioma.”
FACT: In fact, multiple research studies of humans indicate that long-term cell phone use could increase a person’s risk for brain tumors. The latest animal study conducted by the U.S. government finds increases in the same types of tumors found to be increased in humans who used phones regularly for a decade or longer. The World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B) in 2011, based on epidemiological research showing an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer , associated with long term wireless phone use. These research studies also show an even higher risk for persons who start using cell phones at a young age.
MYTH: “There is no known biological mechanism for cell phone radiation to cause cancer.”
FACT: Cell phone radiation does not directly “cause” cancer in the same way that X-rays and atomic bombs do. However, several prominent scientists have published (with full documentation) on the mechanisms by which cell phone/wireless radiation could result in increased cancer. They explain how long-term exposure to extremely low power levels of radio-frequency fields could initiate a series of biological effects with the end result of an increased risk for cancer and a myriad of other serious health effects. There is now sufficient evidence that radio-frequency radiation could result in biochemical changes that alter how our cells functions and increase the oxidative stress (increasing free radicals) in our bodies leading to chronic inflammation and cancer.
MYTH: “If cell phones were really causing brain tumors, then we should be seeing an epidemic of brain tumors and we are not.”
FACT: Brain cancers are slow-growing and can take decades to develop after toxic exposure. Rates of lung cancer did not increase in the general population until more than three decades after American men had begun to smoke heavily. Glioblastomas (the type of brain cancer linked to cell phone radiation) are in fact increasing in young Americans, in precisely the areas of the brain that absorb most of the microwave radiation emitted or received by phones. But an increase in glioblastomas of the frontal and temporal lobes and cerebellum cannot be expected to show up in the general population, especially not where the incidence of all brain cancers are considered. Instead, research using case-control designs that study small groups of highly exposed persons are appropriate for identifying cancer risks tied with cell phone use. Thus, Swedish physician-researcher Lennart Hardell reports that persons who began using cell phones as teenagers have a four- to five-fold greater risk of brain tumors.
MYTH: The International Agency for Research on Cancer 2B Carcinogenic classification labeling cell phones as a possible carcinogen is the same classification as pickled vegetables, talcum powder, and coffee.
FACT: In fact, the IARC removed coffee from this list. The myth comment is an attempt to dismiss the seriousness of this determination and mislead the public. Other hazards that made it to the list of 2B carcinogens remain the subject of major regulatory attention, including pesticides like DDT and Kepone, industrial materials such as PBBs, carbon black and carbon tetrachloride, jet and diesel fuel, and mercury. The IARC classification is based on weight of evidence, not amount of risk. With any toxic exposure, it takes decades to accumulate enough weight of evidence, meaning enough scientific research and statistics (in human epidemiology this refers to sick people) to show the exposure is toxic. Cell phone and other wireless emissions cannot be compared with talcum powder, coffee or pickled vegetables. Would you serve your child coffee in class all day long?
The Class 2B Carcinogen classification by the World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer only applies to cell phone emissions and not to emissions from other wireless devices.
Wireless radiation from any device is included in the Class 2B Carcinogen classification by the World Health Organization International Agency for the Research on Cancer (WHO/IARC). In fact, the WHO/IARC has repeatedly documented that radiofrequency radiation “from any source,” be it cell phones, baby monitors, cell towers or Wi-Fi routers, is the “potentially toxic agent.” The WHO/IARC Monograph on RF-EMF clearly states that the Class 2B carcinogen classification applies to RF-EMF in the range of 30 KHz to 300 GHz. Senior officials with the IARC, such as Dr. Robert Bann and Dr. Kurt Straif, have clarified this fact repeatedly in lectures and letters since the 2011 classification.
“This will never be as serious as tobacco.”
This is potentially far worse than tobacco. We never had 100% of people smoking, but we do have nearly all people using cell phones and wireless devices today—and non-users are also exposed to the emissions. Six billion people, including children, use cell phones regularly—some exclusively, as landlines are abandoned—resulting in considerable exposure. Several scientists have compared cigarette smoking to cell phone and wireless radiation. Dr. Franz Adlkofer gave a lecture at the Harvard Law Center for Ethics Lecture in 2011 and specifically paralleled cell phone emissions to cigarette smoke. Furthermore, it is curious how some tobacco industry scientists have moved on and are now defending the wireless industry.
“The Interphone study showed no link between cell phones and brain tumors.”
In the Interphone study, those who used a mobile phone for 10 or more years were found to be twice as likely to develop a brain tumor, a statistically significant finding. The heaviest users with the longest use had increased risk. While it is true that the final conclusion of the Interphone study states, “Overall, no increase in risk of glioma or meningioma was observed.” yet, in the heaviest usersin the Interphone study, a doubled or greater risk is evident. Lead authors of the study later published an article in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine calling for precautions to reduce exposures to the brain in light of the Interphone study’s findings.
“The Danish Cohort is proof there is no risk.”
The Danish Cohort Study used flawed data to arrive at a flawed conclusion. The Danish Cohort Study published in the British Medical Journal is often quoted as proof of safety as it did not find any causal link between brain cancer and cell phone radiation. However, many scientists (including scientists of the World Health Organization’s International Agency for the Research on Cancer) have critiqued the Danish Study for using flawed data resulting in an equally flawed analysis. The problem? Corporate subscribers (in other words: likeliest the heaviest cell phone users) were placed in the control group as they were excluded from the exposed group. When Michael Kundi and colleagues from the Medical University of Vienna mathematically corrected for this concern in the earlier Danish study, they found a significantly increased risk for brain tumors.
“The scientific consensus is that cell phones and wireless cannot harm us”
That is false. There is no scientific consensus that cell phones, wireless and electromagnetic fields are safe, and no medical organization assures us of safety. The opinion of independent scientists is strikingly different than that of industry funded sources who often use the phrase “scientific consensus.” The fact is that numerous medical and scientific organizations are calling for urgent action to reduce wireless exposures and protect public health. They have been warning the public for decades.
“Studies showing effects have not been replicated.”
Research has been replicated in several areas and has repeatedly shown increased brain cancer/tumor risk after over 10 years of cell phone use, increased blood-brain barrier permeability, and the ability of RF to promote cancer and act as a co-carcinogen. All independent research studies looking at long-term cell phone users found increased brain cancer after 10 years and “heavy use” or at about 1625 lifetime hours. Read Mobile phone radiation causes brain tumors and should be classified as a probable human carcinogen (2A) (review) for details.
In the 2016 released findings of the National Toxicology Program (NTP) study of the Carcinogenicity of Radiofrequency Radiation, male rats exposed to wireless radiation develop more unusual, highly malignant brain tumors—gliomas—as well as very rare tumors of the nerves around and within the heart—Schwannomas. The tumors found in the NTP rats parallel the same types of tumors found in human epidemiological studies looking at long-term use of cell phones. The NTP stated, “These findings appear to support the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) conclusions regarding the possible carcinogenic potential of RFR.” Read more about the National Toxicology Program Study here.
“The government safety standards have a safety margin of fifty-fold.”
There is no “fifty-fold safety” margin. The wireless industry repeatedly states that the current guidelines have a fifty-fold safety factor built in to protect the public. This statement is wrong and rests solely on avoiding heating effects rather than considering newer studies finding impacts on reproduction, development, and cancer. The standard refers solely to antiquated evidence based on an animal study of what temperature in the rectum of trained and food-deprived rats causes them to stop seeking a food reward.