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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

S.F. Cell Phone Radiation Law 'Bogus,' Says U.C. San Francisco Radiologist

Posted By on Tue, Jun 29, 2010 at 12:01 AM

click to enlarge Your cell phone's radiation emissions won't turn you into the Hulk. You have our word.
  • Your cell phone's radiation emissions won't turn you into the Hulk. You have our word.
Type of radiation emitted by cell phones, A-bombs not the same, says UCSF scientist dismissive of San Francisco's new law.

Fans of The Incredible Hulk will undoubtedly recall that it was massive doses of gamma radiation that led Dr. Bruce Banner to become someone you probably wouldn't like when he was angry

It turns out that being subjected to gamma rays doesn't turn one into a green-skinned freak but, less, incredibly, a corpse. It's the sort of destructive radiation released by X-Ray machines or atomic bombs that tear the electrons away from atoms -- potentially in your body. This is called "ionizing radiation" and is not a desirable life outcome (not if you want to live). On the other hand, it's not the sort of radiation emitted by cell phones -- that'd be non-ionizing radiation.

The only documented health maladies associated with non-ionizing

radiation are largely related to its ability to generate heat; this is

why your cell phone gets so hot. So a question like "Being on a cell

phone for an hour is equivalent to receiving how many cranial X-Rays?" is

impossible for scientists like U.C. San Francisco radiologist Dr. Fergus

Coakley to answer -- "you're comparing apples to oranges," he notes.

When asked his opinion of the law San Francisco passed last week mandating cell phones disclose their radiation output he didn't mince words: "I think it's bogus."

While the term "radiation" conjures up images of Hiroshima victims, Coakley notes again that radiation of the sort emitted by cellular phones has never conclusively been tied to cancer. "When you see reports in the paper about radiation causing cancer, that's all ionizing," he says. "I guess that, theoretically [non-ionizing radiation] may be dangerous over the long-term. But no one knows. It's not something that keeps me awake."

click to enlarge atomic_energy_merit_badge.jpg
If you want to stay alive while using your cell phone, he concludes, hang it up while you're driving.

"Honestly, if people stopped smoking and drove the speed limit, that'd save a lot more lives than worrying about cell phones."

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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