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Are Mobile Phones Essential or Dangerous?

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Essay title: Are Mobile Phones Essential or Dangerous?

This is the question the country is asking. Mobile phones are considered by many as an essential part of modern day life, from the businessperson who uses the mobile phone as a vital link with the office, to the teenager who has the phone for recreational use. By using mobile phones are we damaging our long-term health just to stay in contact or worse simply just for a good image?

Mobile or cellular phones have changed dramatically over the past two or three years. The new generation of WAP phones now allow the user to connect to the Internet, send e-mail and even listen to the radio. The e-mail feature, a tremendous advancement in technology, allows businesspeople to contact their office at anytime day or night. Not only can e-mail be used throughout Britain but also messages can be sent globally. Sending e-mail is not nearly as expensive as the conventional methods of contact, therefore has the potential to reduce costs considerably for the company. The e-mail can be sent anytime, not just within office hours, and time differences between countries are no longer a consideration.

Many mobile phone users claim one of the main advantages of ownership is the ability to contact friends or family in the event of an emergency. Most women who travel alone feel more secure knowing that in an emergency or breakdown they can summon help without leaving the safety of their car therefore, the mobile reduces the chances of being run over or worse raped. By having your mobile phones with you could it be a silent killer?

The reduction in costs associated with owning and using a mobile phone, largely due to the introduction of the new pay and go tariff, means that many more people are now able to afford a mobile phone. The main disadvantage of this is that the networks can become overloaded and make it extremely difficult to connect to the network. The consequences of this could be disastrous, mobile phone owners are lead to believe that they can contact help in the event of an emergency when, in effect the crowed network may make this impossible.

Many parents are increasingly buying mobile phones to stay in contact with their children. In doing so are they endangering their own health and more importantly the health of their children? Many studies have been commissioned to assess the health risks associated with ownership and use of a mobile phone. Mobile phone emits a type of electromagnetic radiation called radio-frequency radiation (RFR). The possible health risks of RFR can be characterised in two ways: thermal and non-thermal. Thermal effects occur when enough RFR, at certain frequencies, is absorbed to be converted to heat, increasing tissue temperature. However non-thermal effects and their health risks are something of an unknown quantity. Though disputed, it's suggested they can occur at lower levels of exposure and involve changes to body cells, possibly leading to anything from memory loss and headaches to tumours and even Alzheimer's. So far reports and investigations have been inconclusive. The long awaited study by Sir William Stewart into mobile phone safety concluded,

" The balance of evidence does not suggest mobile phones technologies put the health of the general population at risk."

He did however recommend children should only use mobile phones for essential calls. In September 1999 an all-party of MP's agreed there was no firm evidence that mobile phones pose a threat to health. So it has been left to parents to decide whether or not the advantages of being able to "stay in touch" with their children out-ways any potential health risks.

Many scientists consider the mobile phone transmitters to be the greatest danger to public health. The planning laws at present allows transmitters to be erected anywhere in the country as long as they are under the height of fifteen metres. Until the evidence is conclusive as to whether mobile phones and transmitters are endangering public's health the government should enforce more strictly the regulations, which control the location of mobile phone transmitters. One way in which this could be done is to ban or severely restrict the erecting of these transmitters in built up or residential areas. The public have a choice whether or not to subject themselves to the potential risks of using a mobile phone yet this freedom is taken away when a transmitting mast is erected outside a school or close to their own home. With the experts unsure at present whether transmitting masts pose a health risk, especially to children under the age of fifteen, the ease at which telephone companies can site and erect these masts is, at best, irresponsible. There are insistences of mobile phone transmitters being erected outside Primary schools. Transport and environment minister Sarah Boyack promised MSP's

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