Fridge killed my baby? Mag-field radiation from household stuff 'boosts miscarriage risk'

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Radiation shielding does the opposite

Others organizations are showing more concern too. Last week, the California Department of Public Health took the unusual step of issuing guidelines on how to reduce exposure to radio frequency energy.

In a statement, CDPH director Dr Karen Smith said, "Although the science is still evolving, there are concerns among some public health professionals and members of the public regarding long-term, high use exposure to the energy emitted by cell phones."

The CDPH is now recommending that adults and particularly children take steps to keep phones away from their bodies, particularly when asleep. The agency also suggests removing headsets when not making calls.

Moreover, the agency advises against using products that purport to block radio frequency energy because such products "may actually increase your exposure."

In an email to The Register, a spokesperson for the CDPH said the publication of the Kaiser study and the CDPH guidelines during the same week as a coincidence.

"Within the last two years, more evidence has emerged documenting changing patterns of cell phone use – cell phone use is increasing overall and, importantly, we are seeing increased use among young children," the CDPH spokesperson said. "The overall increase in usage, especially when paired with lower age of use, is significant. It is in this context, and in response to growing concern among some members of the public that we are releasing this guidance."

The CDPH spokesperson said the science is still evolving and the CDPH continues to study and monitor the data.

Asked whether there is any particular health condition that has been affirmatively associated with exposure to high levels of MF, the CDPH spokesperson said, as per agency guidance, "studies do not establish a definite link and scientists disagree about whether cell phones cause certain health problems and how great the risks might be."

If there is a correlation between MF exposure and adverse health outcomes, the effects may be harder to avoid than moving phones away from nightstands and turning off the Wi-Fi network. Electronic appliances of all sorts emit MF radiation. For example, at a distance of one-inch, a clothes iron emits 80-300mG of MF radiation, and an electric blanket emits 3-50mG.

A 2002 report published by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences indicates that 6.3 per cent of people in the US are exposed to more than 3mG of MF radiation in a 24-hour period.

Given the levels measured in the Kaiser study, the proliferation of mobile phones and Wi-Fi devices appear to have increased the average level of exposure in the US.

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Ionizing radiation, such as X-rays, has long been known to have adverse health effects because it has enough energy to interact with human biology. Even so, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) cautions we don't really know what causes health problems that could be linked to ionizing radiation.

For example, airline crew members get an estimated annual average dose of cosmic ionizing radiation – ionizing radiation from space – that's three times higher (3.07 mSv) than the general public, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

A study of pregnant flight attendants by NIOSH found that those exposed to 0.36mSv or more of ionizing radiation in the first trimester were at greater risk of miscarriage.

Yet NIOSH offers an out, as if to immunize airlines from lawsuits: "If you are exposed to cosmic ionizing radiation and have these health problems, we can’t tell if it was caused by your work conditions or something else."

The same can be said about miscarriages and MF exposure.

Non-ionizing radiation has been generally regarded as safe at common exposure levels, at least among reputable studies. But the Kaiser study, along with other recent research, suggests further need to challenge that assumption.

Mobile industry trade group CTIA did not respond to a request for comment.

For those concerned about MF exposure, Li advised separation. "If anyone is concerned about the potential health risks from magnetic field non-ionizing radiation, one can take some simple precautionary steps such as keeping at a distance from the sources," he said. "In this case, distance is your friend." ®

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