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February 1, 2012

tawkon interviews cell phone radiation expert Dariusz Leszczynski.

Dariusz LeszczynskiAt tawkon, our passion is to make it simple for all of us - from the newly mobilized to the veteran cell phone user - to control our mobile radiation absorption and, well, talk on.

We also serve as a resource for understanding radiation risks, research, and of course - the debate.

So we're proud to share our recent interview with Dariusz Leszczynski, a known academic researcher and expert in the biological and health effects induced by cell phone-emitted radiation. You may recognize him from reading his Washington Times column, or if you're really in-the-know, viewing his lectures on YouTube or seeing his research.\r

We asked Dariusz to shine some light on the following questions:

What got you interested in specializing in cell phone radiation? 

I was asked by then Director General of STUK, Prof. Antti Vuorinen, to look into this issue. It was year 1997.

In a talk you did, you touch upon the issue of children using cell phones and what that could mean in the long term. What do you think about this particular aspect of radiation danger? Should we be proactively taking steps to protect our kids?

Yes. I think it is wise to limit exposures of children. There are studies showing that this radiation is causing some biological effects. However, we have no any idea what the long-term-use consequences will be - will there be any health effects or not? So, kids getting their first phones at the age of 6-7 years have some 70-80 years ahead of them during which they will be exposed to this radiation. We have no slightest idea what exposures over such a long period can cause.

In your opinion, what's the right alternative to the epidemiology method of studying mobile radiation? What could the research community be doing differently?

I think that studies on human volunteers looking on the molecular level for the responses of the human body to cell phone radiation should be given priority. There are only three studies that examined molecular level events in human volunteers. All of them were small pilot studies so their outcomes are insufficient to draw any far-reaching conclusions. However, it is amazing that we debate whether cell phone radiation causes any health effects and we still do not know if human body reacts to this radiation.

Do you believe people should take precaution until we know conclusively what radiation may or may not be doing to us?

Yes, it is always good to limit exposures to radiation whenever possible and feasible. Simply using the regular phone instead of your cell phone for longer calls, or whenever such option is available. Also, an ear-piece is a good way to limit exposures to the head. However, when using an ear-piece, people should not keep the phone in a pocket because then tissues close to the pocket are irradiated. Finally, keeping the phone in a pocket should be discouraged because the phones are designed to meet exposure safety standards when they are ca. 1 inch away from the body. Once in a pocket, the safety limits are exceeded in areas close to where the cell phone is located.

From what you've seen, which countries are taking the best, most forward action - policy-wise and research-wise?

At this point I do not have any candidate. It is a somewhat “messy” field in respect to advising precaution. Even worse is the situation of research funding. Needs are recognized, to some degree, but nobody is interested to fund research. It's a sort of attitude that as long as we do not know something, it does not exist. It is a very wrong attitude. That is why I am writing my science blog, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, and my weekly column at The Washington Times.

Dariusz Leszczynski is a Research Professor (Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, Helsinki, Finland) and Adjunct Professor (University of Helsinki). A big thanks to Dariusz for sharing his views with us. Check out his column and blog or follow him on Twitter.

Have thoughts to share on the topic? Let's carry the discussion into the comments below and keep talking on!

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