Two days ago, San Francisco mandated that all cell phones bear a new label: amount of radiation emitted. A sort of calorie-labeling for health-conscious tech consumers. The science is arguably not set in stone, but the watchdog organization Environmental Working Group (EWG) released a study earlier this year, citing cell phone radiation as being very likely linked to two types of brain tumor, one malignant, one not. (Click here for the three safest and three most dangerous phone models, radiation-wise). EWG and many consumers fear cell phones will turn out to be the cigarette of the 21st century – we’ve all shifted gleefully and without hesitation over to wireless, and may discover too late that our handhelds have been killing us gently.
For me, one of the most compelling reasons to take precautionary action at this point, while the science works itself out, is that cell phones have only really been prevalent for 10 years. When did you get your first? Did you use one as a kid? If you’re a parent, do your children now use cell phones? We just haven’t been using these life-changing gizmos long enough to know – statistically speaking – if they’re taking lives.
A side-note that didn’t get attention in the New York Times’ coverage of Mayor Gavin Newsom’s forward-thinking decision: headsets, headsets, headsets.
For those who can’t afford to splash out on a new low-radiation phone, or who just don’t want to create unnecessary e-waste by chucking a perfectly good phone, a headset may be a good option. Not just any headset, though. Some cut down significantly on the amount of radiation that makes it into the user’s brain, and some don’t.
I use a Blue Tube headset, which is exactly what it sounds like: a headset that connects to your ear by a blue plastic tube (as opposed to continued electric wire). That blue tube conducts sound waves, but not radiation, keeping your brain safe and, ah, sound. Here’s the product website; ignore the video intro if you’re short on time, and scroll right to the bottom of the page.