Monday, March 20, 2023

How your mobile is harming your health

My walk with doing my bit to the best of my knowledge and ability to ‘save the environment’ began about twenty odd years ago. Reducing the use of plastic, planting trees, using water wisely, recycling everything possible and shopping local produce are some of the changes I began with.  About twenty-five years ago, the first cell phone reached India, and only the few elite influential owned one; we have come a long way since then. The steady increase of service providers, the move from 2G LTE to 3G LTE to 4G LTE and now 5G LTE has only made the world, ‘mobile tower happy.’ The latest sanction being— permission to erect mobile towers on any movable or immovable object or place for better connectivity.

I can already visualize a van driving across the city with a mobile tower on its roof!

The cell phone tops the list of — ‘gadgets you cant live without.”

India alone has approximately 927 million (and counting) mobile phone users. The second highest cell phone users in the world. The all consuming, ever important gadget that is in the palm of every human, from the day one can comprehend till death do us apart is causing some serious despair among environmentalists.

To understand very simply what cell phone connectivity is all about — LTE is the short form of ‘Long Term Evolution,’ 2G, 3G and so on stands for 2nd generation, 3rd generation, each the successor of the previous generation providing significantly faster data transfer.

Higher the power transmission, higher the radiation.

Higher the radiation, higher the health hazards.

The city of Mumbai got its sanction in 2017 to be Wi-Fi enabled granting over 1200 hotspots for mobile phone antennae to be installed anywhere and everywhere for better connectivity and communication. Electromagnetic Field Radiation is nothing but ‘slow poison’ and not yet proven to be safe for humans, animals, flora, or fauna.

So while we open our eyes each morning to this bright blue light and a multitude of messages across time zones, all over the world connectivity and communication is buzzing. A great phenomenon I must say, the world has never seemed smaller, but lets just stop in our tracks right here and right now to weigh the health hazards this gadget might be causing you—

  • In the initial stages of the pandemic, when the transmission of the virus was still unclear, everyone was in a state of paranoia about cleanliness and germs at large, whether it transported the coronavirus or not. Constantly using sanitizers, washing hands every step of your way, cleaning every item that entered your home, double washing raw food items became the norm. Little did everyone know that they were neglecting to clean the most used and exposed item — the cell phone, Yes your cell phone as associate professor Lotti Tajouri (Bond University) says, “ mobiles are the five-star hotels with premium heated spas, free buffet for microbes to thrive on. They have temperature control, we keep them in our pockets, we talk into them and deposit droplets that can be full of viruses and bacteria. We also eat with them, so we give nutrients to micro-organisms —and absolutely nobody decontaminates their phone.”

Are you cleaning your phone daily? If not it can become a vector for viruses and a reservoir of germs.


  • The correct position of sitting, standing or lying down while using your phone will save you many a muscle pull or strain. Long periods of cell phone use especially if hand held, can cause neck strain, tightness or spasms, and possible damage to your tendons in your wrists and thumbs from holding your phone constantly or typing.

Are you balancing your phone between your shoulder and ear to free your hands?

Are you looking down at your phone for long periods of time?

Make sure you take breaks from your phone and keep stretching your fingers, wrists and neck.


  • With the amount of time one spends on a cell phone the comfort of texting while on the go is now second nature to many. Walking on the road, using the stairs, driving and multitasking can leave you distracted and cause serious accidents as you actually lose focus. Wearing earphones and listening to music or conversing makes it even more dangerous as your earing is now compromised, where music or conversation precede road safety honking or other alerts.

Are you being cautious with using your cell phone when on the go?


  • The blue light that cell phones give out can cause a strain on your eyes and result in eye problems. The shorter wavelength of the blue light smart phones give off can cause your eyes to tire, ache, and its detrimental to your sleep patterns.

Are you taking regular breaks from your phone throughout the day?

Are you sleeping with your cell phone off?


  • The most important of all are the diseases caused by cell phone radiation, especially if your home is located close to mobile tower antennae. Older adults, children, pregnant women and the infirm are out of the safety net. The radiation waves could harm any part of the organic body and responsible for headaches, fatigue, sleep disturbance, skin allergies, tumors and psychological disorders.

All of a sudden we are exposed to radiation a billion times higher than we were exposed to just twenty years ago. Are you out of the safety net?


How can I protect myself  —

Do not touch or press your cell phone to your ear, let there be a half-inch gap.

Use wired earphones versus blue tooth pods.

Use blue light protective glasses when your screen time is excessive.

Get the anti -radiation sticker chip for your gadget to protect yourself.

Use the speaker option whenever possible.

Use a landline whenever possible.

Use a stylis instead of your fingers when typing.

Use the mic for voice notes whenever possible.

Switch to predictive text.

Carry your phone in a pouch —

Do not pop it into your hip pocket (radiation causes impotency)

Do not carry it in your chest pocket near your heart or breasts (can cause heart disease or breast cancer)

Do not hold in your palm for long, the wrists get stiff.

Switch off your WI-FI hotspots for the night in your home.

Turn your phone off or to airplane mode at night.

Keep your phone far away from you when sleeping or in a bedside drawer that is closed.


The bottom line —

Medicines and drugs have to undergo tests for years to get licensed for human consumption. In India, the same rule has not been followed for mobile telephony. We are getting hit 24×7 by radiation. The pocket-sized computers have been a boon for mankind, made our multitasking loads easier, and nobody is averse to technology advancement. Connectivity, communication and entertainment are definitely a big part of life and living, but is there not yet a single generation of humans from cradle to grave who have been fully exposed to radiation and come out of it safe or for research to know the extent of damage it could cause in one lifetime. If each one does their bit to better the environment, making it a safe place for generations to come through mindful use of cell phones, being vocal for a better informed safe society and most of all make health a top priority.

Lets be smarter than our smart phones.

Vinita Alvares Fernandes
Vinita Alvares Fernandes is an Economics graduate, a writer and a Trinity College certified public speaker and communicator

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  1. Perfectly explained, calling the spade a spade. In early ’90s, when this cello-hello (short for cellular telephone) made its presence felt, it had become a status symbol to flaunt the handset so as to impress. As for self, it was only in May, 2006 that I had my first mobile phone connection when I joined the bandwagon of ANI to be a copy editor since the management insisted that I ought to have 24×7 connectivity.
    Prior to this, I learnt the rudiments of operating a mobile set on taking up the assignment of Branch Head & Copywriter) of INS Accredited Ad Aency. Of course I was ridiculed in the society for my ignorance in this segmentof communication at which on a couple of occasions I had to silence my critics by telling them that in the means of communication, I don’t need their certification since the nine long years spent in the IAF as a Wireless Operator had taught me W/T (wireless telegraph) in Morse code, R/T (radio telephony) in point to point and ground to air conversation, tracking & forward telling on the radar and above all, perfect operation of both land and radio teleprinters including telex.
    No doubt, mobile phones provide instant access to communicate with the rest of the world (subject to network connectivity). So let it be a gadget of utility and not necessarily a mandatory necessity. More than often, I have moved around, far away from my residence without the mobile set as and when it is kept on charge at home. On such occasions, let me admit that I don’t feel like fish out of water. And in this context, I am reminded of my late mother Sita Panje’s sane advice: MOVE WITH THE TIDE BUT DON’T DROWN IN IT.


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