Gifting a cell phone or smart toy could put your child at risk for cancer this holiday season, experts warned today.
Their advise comes after California recommended that its residents take measures to keep more physical distance between themselves and their cell phones to minimize potentially dangerous radiation exposures last week.
Now, several health and technology experts, including former National Institutes for Health toxicologist Dr Ronald Melnick, held a discussion of cell phone and high-tech toy risks and preventative measures.
They advised families to use extra caution when buying wireless devices, smartphones and toys and virtual reality headsets, urging shoppers that all of these give off microwave radiation that may cause cancer and infertility.
Wirelessly-transmitting holiday gifts like the Jitterbug smartphone (left) and Apple Watch (right) emit radiation linked to brain cancers, a former NIH scientist warned today
Holiday gifts that could expose your children to microwave radiation
- Cell phones and smartphones, including those designed for children, like the $112 Jitterbug
- Smart watches, like the $329 Apple Watch
- Virtual reality headsets, like PlayStation’s $349 model
- Wi-Fi or cell phone connected dolls and stuffed animals, like the $60 Hello Barbie or $20 Cloud Pets
- Tablets, including the $80 Amazon Fire 7 Kids
- Wireless gaming systems, such as Nintendo’s new $300 Switch console
- Wirelessly-operated drones, such as the $500 DJI Spark
Smartphones and other wireless devices put out small amounts of low frequency microwave radiation when they connect networks and transmit information.
This energy is not nearly as strong as ultraviolet radiation or X-ray energy.
Alarmingly, however, recent research has linked our close and nearly constant contact with our smartphones to cancers and infertility in the parts of our bodies the devices touch.
In response, the California Department of Health warned last week that people should sleep with their phones shut off or an arm’s length away from them, and keep the devices in a bag rather than their pockets.
Radiation surges when cell phones are trying to connect to faint network signals or transmit large amounts of information.
Experts warn that its these inconsistent exposures that make the devices particularly risky.
Studies have established close statistical links between male infertility and smartphones stored in pockets.
Others have suggested that holding smartphones up to our ears may cause ear and brain cancers – including glioma, the same kind that Senator John McCain is battling.
The California warning emphasized that radiation may be even more dangerous for children’s developing brains.
Even if your children are too young for a smartphone, the experts warned today that buying some of the hottest smart toys on the market may still put their health at risk.
Some of this holiday season’s hottest high-dollar gifts for children and adolescents give off radio waves, ranging from the $60 Hello Barbie to the newest $329 Apple Watch.
‘Parents are often unaware that these child-friendly devices are basically two-way microwave radios, and children are much more vulnerable to the health risks of this radiation,’ said Dr Devra Davis, president of Environmental Health Trust.
Wirelessly-controlled drones like the DJI Phantom 4 (left) and virtual reality headsets such as Samsung’s Gear (right) were included in a list of holiday gifts that may be dangerous, especially to children’s developing brains
‘The scientific evidence is now clear and compelling. We need to give our children toys and tools to grow and learn, not toys and tools which could harm them,’ she added.
Dr Melnick was part of a $25 million study of the National Institutes of Health’s toxicology study on phone radiation.
The study intentionally exposed rats to cell phone radiation.
‘Results from that study showed that rats developed tumors, gliomas (brain tumors) and malignant [tumors] of the heart. In addition, there was DNA damage in brain cells of exposed animals,’ he said.
Dr Melnick was particularly concerned because he says that the rat developed the same kinds of cancers other studies had observed occurring in cell phone using humans.
‘In my view, this should raise public health concerns to a much higher level than exists now,’ Dr Melnick said.