Mobile/Cell Phones

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Mobile Phones : (Part 1)

There is evidence that mobile phones can be incredibly useful.

This is the case for use in emergencies  when users require assistance to medical treatment or other public services, or when they have to contact relatives to relay good/bad news.

However, regular travellers o­n public transport in the UK would be forgiven   thinking that all mobile users all have incredibly loud voices  and that the users of mobile phones are determined that all the other passengers need to know that ‘I am o­n the train’ or ‘I will be home soon’.

This apparent disregard for other members of the public seems so real when the phone users become so involved in their own world, that they totally ignore or disregard the need for common courtesy.

“Bystanders rated mobile-phone conversations as dramatically more noticeable, intrusive, and annoying than conversations conducted face-to-face. While volume was an issue, hearing o­nly half a discussion also seemed to up the irritation factor.

If this is not bad enough, it gets even worse when health and safety issues are quite apparent to any observer. In such situations the users not o­nly represent health and safety hazards to themselves but also to other members of the public.


Mobile Etiquette


  • Remember that the person you’re with should take precedence over a phone call.
  • Utilize the phone’s caller ID feature to screen incoming calls and let voice mail take them if they’re not urgent.
  • Use silent or vibrating options when indoors or in a close environment. Or just turn off the phone.
  • Don’t engage in ‘cell yell.’ Nokia, the world’s largest mobile phone manufacturer, says there’s no need to speak louder o­n your cell phone than you would o­n any other phone.
  • Use text messaging if available.
  • Keep your phone close at hand for first-ring answering.
  • If you’re in a noisy place, call back from somewhere quieter.
  • Call other cell phone users during business hours, and not during meal times.
  • Don’t give out your cell phone number freely or leave it o­n your answering machine.
  • Don’t use a cell phone while driving. Pull over if you must take a call.Sources: Nokia; etiquette advisors

A number of health and safety issues can be identified:


1. The possible dangers of users from long, sustained exposure to microwave radiation.

OK…let’s just say that the jury is out o­n this o­ne.  We all know that microwaves have a heating effect, from our microwave cookers at home or workplaces.  Most food placed in a microwave should have some degree of water content.

The microwaves in a cooker have a wavelength which gives rise to resonance in water molecules.  They absorb the radiation, start vibrating like crazy, and this internal friction is the source of heat.  The heat is then transmitted, by conduction, to the rest of the food.

However, the intensity of the microwave radiation used for mobile phones is much less than in cookers, thank goodness.  We are not out of the woods yet, since the proximity of the phone to the head appears to be a factor, as is the duration of the use of the phone.

As with any low-level radiation it is the product of power and time which is crucial in determining of damage to the body.  Since no long-term studies have taken place with these relatively new low-level energy devices, the cumulative effect of power and time has yet to be established.

“Using a mobile phone for 10 years or more increases the risk of ear tumours by four times, research suggests.”

“Research into the area has produced inconclusive results – although some studies have suggested there is a cause for concern.”

“A study of children and mobile phone use has found that some spend up to 45 minutes a day making calls. Last year the government’s Stewart Report warned against children using mobiles because of the unknown effects of microwave radiation o­n developing brains.

A useful summary document o­n Recent Reports o­n use of Mobile Phones and Health can be downloaded at

2. The use of mobile phones when driving road vehicles.

How anyone can claim to have the same degree of concentration while conducting a conversation, with part of their brain activity o­n a different focus than the road is a big mystery to many people, including other drivers and road users.

While it can be argued that other factors can lead to distraction from driving, the use of mobile phones appears to compound and add to these other forms of distraction. Drivers are often seen speeding past our school, with o­ne hand o­n the wheel, and the other hand o­n the driving wheel.

It has been suggested that we could conduct a survey, in which drivers are photographed, as they go past the school. However, we appear to be more sensible that those drivers, realising that the very act of taking a photograph could, in itself, be a hazardous activity, and be an additional distraction for drivers!  In the USA they appear to take the lives of children more seriously and show this by  placing 5 mph speed limits outside of schools in session.

Other issues can be identified.  For example, the effect o­n the health of other members of public by noise and the invasion of their need for privacy. This will be discussed in the next ‘installment’ of this worldwide problem.

“It is now a specific offence to use a hand-held phone, or similar device, when driving. The penalty is a £30 fixed penalty or up to £1,000 o­n conviction in court (£2,500 for drivers of goods vehicles, buses or coaches). Drivers still risk prosecution (for failure to have proper control) if they use hands-free phones when driving.”

The National Police Agency of Japan in a recent survey found that Japanese drivers using cell phones during driving  caused 2297 accidents in 1997. These accidents resulted in 25 fatalities and injuries to over 3000. Another study o­n cell phones and road safety in South Africa, revealed that out of every four car crashes o­ne is cell phone related.

3. The increase in muggings/attacks for the users of mobile phones.

Do not underestimate the desirability of your superb latest mobile phones to other members of the public. Not a  good idea to flash the mobile around, and show off when using it. Using that expensive mobile in public often invites other people to acquire your mobile, for profit or gain.  OK, so you are the loser, financially.  However, if you attempt to resist you could also be the subject of next day’s news….and serious injury. Your life and health are much more important than a mobile, irrespective of the cost of the device.

“Mobile phones stolen in Britain are being re-sold in more than 40 countries in a trade worth millions of pounds, a police investigation has discovered.

A study of more than 1,000 mobiles stolen in Britain revealed that they ended up in at least 46 different countries, including Iraq, Peru, Australia, Dubai, China and Jamaica.”

” Increased use of mobile phones has been blamed for the dramatic hike in muggings, which in some areas has been as much as a third in the last year. ”

“As new figures show a surge in phone thefts, manufacturers are being urged to make mobiles more secure and people warned not to upgrade to avoid being robbed. Yet the industry is reliant o­n as many people as possible buying new phones. ”

4. Disposal of Mobile Phones

Millions of people use mobile phones. The rapid increase of technology and advances in electronics provides an endless stream of unwanted mobiles. The disposal of mobiles provides a severe challenge to prevent the pollution of our environment. The materials used  are such that they become hazardous chemicals when disposed of in the ground. This also applies to the batteries used with the mobiles.

If you need to research further, try the following sources of information….

“According to David Adam in the Guardian (8 Jan 2005), users o­n average replace mobiles every 18 months; 15 million are discarded in the UK each year but o­nly 4% are recycled, isn’t that staggering? They are a hazard if discarded and if they are recycled they can be put to very good use.”

“In an effort to do something about the millions of obsolete mobile phones that become potential garbage after being replaced, California has a new law mandating all handset retailers must offer recycling for old models. ”

“Mobile phones typically are used for just 18 months before being replaced. That means that by 2005, about 130 million handsets — with a collective weight of some 65,000 tons — will be discarded annually in the United States alone. ”

Further reading/research: