A research study last week indicating that most brain tumors occur out of range of cellular radio signals contradicts a study of a few weeks that suggested (weakly, if you read it) cellphone users were more likely to get brain cancer. For more than a decade, we've seen the constant ping-pong of studies that raise and dismiss these fears and the hysteria they cause either way.
Ironically, tech-savvy areas seem most susceptible to this irrational fear about technology. College-educated, well-paid, iPhone-addicted, Web-smart professionals in the San Francisco Bay Area (where I work and live) are proof of that. We complain about poor reception for our smartphones and tablets, but freak out when AT&T or Verizon Wireless wants to install a cell in a church steeple, on a telephone pole, or atop a roof. A good friend of mine is a high-level IT manager in a Fortune 500 company with the usual tech toys of a Silicon Valleyite: flat-screen TV, iMac, MacBook Pro, and BlackBerry. But he flipped when the phone company wanted to add a cell repeater on the phone pole next door.
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Basic physics, aka the inverse square law, shows that such radiation diminishes to background levels way before it hits his house, much less him or his family. The wiring in his home office emits more radiation -- still below background levels -- in the area he sits than a cell repeater outside.
The city and county of San Francisco (the two cover the one and same geography, so we have a unified government) recently tried to force stores to publish the radiation levels of each cellphone, wireless headset, and smartphone sold, ostensiby to help consumers choose. But the proposal was more likely to create fear with information whose value was unclear, to put it politely, and that consumers wouldn't know how to evaluate -- even assuming the numbers had any meaning.