Posts Tagged ‘mythbusters’

Five mobile phone myths debunked

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

We’ve all heard the myths and urban legends surrounding cell phones, so how do we know which are true and which are false?

For instance, we read with skepticism a press release published last week on that claimed:

“A new review of more than 100 studies on the safety of mobile phones has concluded that cellular devices are poised to cause an epidemic of brain tumors that will kill more people than smoking or asbestos.”

The only doctor quoted in the story is cited on many websites as a “Mayo-clinic trained neurosurgeon.” However, it plainly states on the official Mayo Clinic website that:

More-common forms of radiation, such as electromagnetic fields from power lines and radio frequency radiation from cell phones and microwave ovens, have not been conclusively linked to brain tumors.

In the same press release the neurosurgeon claims

It is anticipated that this danger has far broader public health ramifications than asbestos and smoking. While one billion people worldwide smoke tobacco, three times as many now use mobile phones.

Yet, a study in 2006 by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute that tracked over 420,000 cell phone users, including thousands that had used their phones for more than 10 years found no increased risk of cancer among those using cell phones.

So, in the spirit of debatable claims like the one above, we’ve gathered a list of the most common “Mobile Myths” and debunk them one by one.

Mobile Myth #1: Cell phones cause cancer. (Still debatable)
No medical study to date has been able to show this to be true. Yes, radiation causes cancer but it has not been proven that cell phones emit enough radiation to have negative health effects. Of course the long term effects are unknown but it is highly unlikely that malignant tumors will result from cell phone use.

According to the National Cancer Institute website, “research has not consistently demonstrated a link between cellular telephone use and cancer or any other adverse health effect.”

Mobile Myth #2: Gas station fires can be caused by cell phones. (FALSE!)
Maybe it is because we laugh in the face of danger, but we personally ignore all signs asking to “Refrain from Cell Phone Use at the Pump.”  We don’t let the large vehicle with a large tank that takes forever to fill up stop us from talking or texting on our mobile.

Years ago a chain email was sent out stating that there were instances where cell phone sparks ignited gas fumes and that Shell issued a warning stating the dangers of cell phone use at the pump.

Our favorite Mythbusters featured this myth on their show; result: busted. A cell phone cannot create enough of a spark to ignite gas fumes. However, static electricity can cause sparks which is the likely source for these gas station fires.

At the end of the day however, the more people who believe this myth, the better. Why? Because the best reason to stay off your mobile phone while pumping gas is so you can pay attention to what you are doing. Those signs at the stations protect us from the folks out there who can’t walk and chew gum at the same time, let alone pump a highly flammable liquid into their car while trying to have a conversation.

Mobile Myth #3: Cell phones can crash airplanes. (Debatable)
Never has a cell phone been determined to be the cause of an airplane crash. Cell phones can disrupt the navigation systems of planes, however. As technology advances this is becoming less of an issue and soon travelers will be able to freely use their mobile and wireless devices in air.

BBC News announced in April that the European Union made it possible for travelers to make mid-air calls. Individual airlines will make the final decision on whether or not to offer the service, but this is a big step forward in showing that cell phone use in-flight can be safe. A picocell, a mobile base station, is installed in the plane and, after the plane reaches a certain altitude, the picocell is switched on providing a bubble of cell service for the passengers.

Mobile Myth #4: You can unlock your car via cell phone. (FALSE!)
Don’t cancel your AAA membership yet! The myth is that if you’ve locked your keys in your car and you have a spare at home you can have someone press the unlock button into the home phone while you hold your cell to your car and it will magically unlock. Remote entry locks use radio waves, which are not transmitted via cell phone speaker, and require the proper proximity to work. Busted.

Mobile Myth #5: Using cell phones near hospital equipment can cause malfunctions leading to injury/death. (FALSE!)
The Mayo Clinic conducted a study to test the theory that cell phones disrupted hospital equipment and found it to be completely false. If the Mayo Clinic has busted the myth I think it is safe to say that you are good to go on that next surgery or visit to the doctor’s office.

Once again, this is a case of “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should;” meaning if you are at the doctor’s office it is courteous to refrain from shouting into your phone from the waiting room. If you need to make a phone call, good manners tell you to step outside for the call. And for the love of God, if you are at the hospital and your wife is in labor, the last thing she wants you to be doing is talking on your cell phone. Trust us. So just use good judgment and be considerate of those around you before making that mobile call from the doctors office or hospital  – even if your cell phone won’t cause the heart and lung machine to stop working.