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Beware — Cell Phones!

Cell phones are everywhere. Almost everyone has one. But there is mounting scientific evidence of the harm their radiation does to human health, especially to the health of children.

by Stephen Shenfield



4 min read

"cell phone" by samantha celera is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

According to Pew Research, almost all American adults – 97% — now own a cell phone. In fact, the figure for young adults (aged 18—49) is 100%, but for the elderly (aged 65+) it is ‘only’ 92%. My wife and I are among the 8% who don’t have one.

It gets harder and harder to live without a cell phone. Many jobs require their use. To verify your identity and gain access to an online account you often have to resend a code texted to a cell phone. True, when the Social Security Administration introduced this requirement the protests they received from pensioners without a cell phone (including me) prompted them to allow other methods of verifying identity. However, the reprieve is temporary. The telecommunications corporations plan to phase out landline phones altogether.

But it is not only adults who use cell phones. The average age at which children now get their first cell phone is six. That means many get theirs even earlier. It is common to amuse babies by showing them moving images on a cell phone. 

And yet there is mounting scientific evidence of the harm that radiation emitted by cell phones and other electronic devices is doing to human health and, above all, to the immature organisms of the young. The organs in greatest peril are the brain (e.g., headaches, damage to memory and concentration, heightened risk of brain cancer) and the reproductive organs. Testes irradiated by a cell phone carried in the pocket produce fewer and poorer-quality sperm. Women who carry a cell phone inside their bra are at heightened risk of breast cancer.  

Research shows that exposure to radiation progressively undermines the integrity of the bodily structure. This occurs, first, through the creation of gaps in the membranes that separate one cell from another; and, second, through the weakening of the barriers that protect the brain and liver from infection (the blood-brain and blood-bile barriers) by barring entry to all but the tiniest particles.        


The harm done to health can be significantly reduced, though not eliminated, by means of a few simple precautions. A cell phone should be carried not in the pocket but well away from the human body – say, on the outer side of a shopping bag. When in use it should be held not right up against the ear but with a gap of at least an inch, with the aid of an earpiece. 

Manufacturers may recommend such precautions, but only in small print. They avoid drawing too much attention to health issues, afraid that greater public awareness of them will decrease sales. People who don’t even know there is cause for concern cannot be expected to bother with precautions.

There are a few countries where there seems to be less ignorance than in the United States regarding the health threat posed by cell phones. They have been banned from kindergartens and schools in Britain, France, Israel, and some provinces and/or cities of Germany, Austria, and India.   

The US government agency responsible for regulating the telecommunications industry is the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). While the FCC, through its Consumer Advisory Committee, does concern itself with certain consumer grievances, mainly of a financial nature, on health issues it is wholly supportive of the corporations that constitute ‘the industry.’   

The industry position is to demand certain proof of causation as a condition of admitting the existence of a health risk. Complete certainty being unattainable, this means always giving the benefit of the doubt to industry profits. However, according to the ‘precautionary principle’ it is the public health that should get the benefit of the doubt.

The few independent American researchers who try to alert the public to the dangers of cell phone radiation, such as Dr. Joel Moskowitz of the University of California, Berkeley, get ridiculed as ‘truthers,’ purveyors of ‘junk science,’ and conspiracy theorists by pro-business outfits like the American Council on Science and Health. It is curious, incidentally, that these evildoers should use ‘truther’ as an insult. Is it perhaps their way of admitting that truth lies with their opponents, whom they really ridicule not for being wrong but for being naïve?  

Microwaves, Fitbits, 5G, 6G, Trees, Bees

The threat to human health from cell phones is only a small part of a much wider problem. There are many other radiation-emitting electronic devices besides cell phones. With some of them precautions are possible. For example: it helps to move away a few feet when you start up your microwave oven; and despite its name it is better not to use a laptop on your lap! With other devices, however, the only precaution is not to use them. One such – I had never heard of it until I did research for this article — is called a fitbit. You wear it around your wrist like a watch and it monitors your state of health. It may also cause skin irritation, burns, and wrist pain. You can’t keep it at a distance; it works only in direct contact with your body. 

Moreover, the telecommunications industry is promoting far-reaching schemes to interconnect devices and sensors over wide areas to form ‘smart cities’ and an ‘internet of things.’ The system currently under construction is labeled 5G, but the next stage – 6G – is already being planned. It is the total impact of these systems that we need to consider. 

Unless these plans can be halted, it is going to get increasingly difficult to escape the thickening ‘electro-smog.’ Eventually the only radiation-free spaces will be those in the immediate vicinity of radio telescopes, which can explore the skies only in the absence of extraneous ‘noise.’ Some people who are ultrasensitive to radiation have already taken refuge there. 

It is not only human beings whose health is endangered. There is evidence that animals and plants, especially trees, are also affected. The electro-smog appears to have something to do with the decline in the number of bees and the deterioration in their ability to pollinate.

The Connection With Transhumanism

There is a considerable overlap between the aspirations of the technologists who are planning these futuristic high-tech systems and the ideas expressed by the philosophers of transhumanism. Both seek to erase the psychological boundary between online experience and real life by making online experience ‘feel more real.’ Even the boundary between human beings and computers is blurred as computerized elements are attached to or inserted into the human body, while human personalities are preserved in cyberspace as bundles of software.

The end point is a wholly artificial technosphere imagined as beyond natural limits; in reality, the technosphere remains dependent on nature even as it degrades and destroys nature. Ultimately, therefore, it is a means of suicide.       

Consumer Demand?

In the theory of ‘free-market’ economics, capitalist firms decide what to produce, in what quantity, and at what price, in response to consumers’ demand. In the sphere of telecommunications it is surely obvious that this is bullshit. Very few consumers even understand what sort of dystopia the industry’s technologists have in store for them. How can they possibly be ‘demanding’ it? Minds soaked in a constant stream of open and disguised advertising hype about the marvels of 5G/6G, kept in blissful ignorance of all associated dangers, consumers are objects of manipulation, not autonomous ‘market actors.’  

Only in a socialist society will we all acquire influence over production and consumption decisions – not primarily as consumers, or indeed as producers, but as well-informed citizens collectively shaping our way of life – and as responsible stewards of the planet on behalf of future generations.  

To Learn More

The biological impact of radiation-emitting technology is a very complex topic. Here I have merely scratched the surface. But if I have whetted your appetite, here are my recommendations for further study.

One of the foremost scientists in the field as well as a popularizer is Dr. Devra Davis. Her book Disconnect: The Truth About Cell Phone Radiation, What the Industry Is Doing to Hide It, and How to Protect Your Family was published in New York by West 26th Street Press in 2015.

Dr. Davis’ latest video talk, given in February 2020, is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-AeSoC6la9c. Don’t be put off by the interruption that starts at 04:30, due to technical difficulties. Jump to where the talk resumes, at 11:50.

Dr. Davis set up the Environmental Health Trust. Its website at https://ehtrust.org/about/ is a rich resource. 

Another rich resource is the website of the Cellular Phone Task Force at https://www.cellphonetaskforce.org

Dr. Joel Moskowitz, whom I mentioned above, has a useful website at https://www.saferemr.com. He has a video presentation at 

A couple of collective statements by scientists made in 2017 and 2020:



Finally, Moms Clean Air Force

Tags: 5G, 6G, cell phones, telecommunications

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I grew up in Muswell Hill, north London, and joined the Socialist Party of Great Britain at age 16. After studying mathematics and statistics, I worked as a government statistician in the 1970s before entering Soviet Studies at the University of Birmingham. I was active in the nuclear disarmament movement. In 1989 I moved with my family to Providence, Rhode Island, USA to take up a position on the faculty of Brown University, where I taught International Relations. After leaving Brown in 2000, I worked mainly as a translator from Russian. I rejoined the World Socialist Movement about 2005 and am currently general secretary of the World Socialist Party of the United States. I have written two books: The Nuclear Predicament: Explorations in Soviet Ideology (Routledge, 1987) and Russian Fascism: Traditions, Tendencies, Movements (M.E. Sharpe, 2001) and more articles, papers, and book chapters that I care to recall.

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