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Should we be wary of telephone waves?

Between smarphones, digital tablets and relay antennas that flourish everywhere, electromagnetic waves have invaded our day-to-day. Some fear their health damage. And with the deployment of 5G, the controversy is reignited.

electromagnetic waves generated by wireless communication technologies are scary because they cannot be seen, heard or smelled.

And yet, they are everywhere, forming an electrosmog in which we bathe all day and night. Their health impact is controversial but it is not non-existent.

All scientists agree that they exert a thermal effect that heats up the body. Some also mention non-thermal effects related to the pulsating nature of these waves and the oscillations they cause on the molecules that make up our body.

It all depends of course on their intensity and the duration of exposure to which we are subjected, hence the difficulty for experts to establish a truly reliable assessment.

Possibly carcinogenic waves

Several studies conducted on rats and mice suggest that electromagnetic radiation can cause long-term brain tumors . These radio frequencies "could alter the expression of certain genes (…) and cause the induction of oxidative stress and inflammation", indicates Pr Dominique Belpomme, oncologist and co-author of the Livre noir des ondes em> (ed. Marco Pietteur).

Since 2011, they have also been classified as possible carcinogens by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Children, whose skull bones are thinner than those of adults, are at greater risk.

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A number of epidemiological studies also lead us to suspect a link between exposure to these waves and the risk of acute leukemia in children living near a high voltage line, the possibility of breast cancer in the event of occupational overexposure and tumor of a particular salivary gland, the parotid, in case of prolonged use of a mobile phone.

The authorities want to be reassuring

The National Health Security Agency (Anses) considers the danger unlikely and stresses that the current deployment of 5G in the 3.5 GHz frequency band does not present new health risks, based on scientific data. available today.

For the 26 GHz frequency band, which will also be used for 5G in the coming years, the data are not yet sufficient to conclude, says ANSES.

Some cases raise questions, however

An abnormally high number of glioblastomas – aggressive brain tumors – strikes the employees of the Atos company, in the Yvelines, whose building contains many computer servers and is surrounded by three relay antennas.

In 2020, the program Complément d’Enquête revealed that seven cases had already been diagnosed among the thousand employees or ex-employees of Atos. Since then, an 8 th case has been identified, as well as a dozen others in the surrounding area. The measurements taken in the field in April 2021 show, however, that the level of waves is "compliant with and below the regulatory exposure limit values", according to the mayor of the city.

What should we conclude from this:does this explosion of cancers have nothing to do with electromagnetic waves or are the regulatory thresholds not sufficiently protective? To be continued.

Immunity and fertility in danger?

Pr Dominique Belpomme not only warns about the risk of cancer formation. "Electromagnetic fields could be involved in the genesis and development of other pathologies, such as Charcot's disease, Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, but also subfertility even certain forms of sterility", he underlines.

The use of a mobile phone for several hours a day is indeed suspected of reducing the concentration, mobility and viability of sperm in men.

It also seems to have been proven in women that exposure to electromagnetic fields during pregnancy is the cause of miscarriages.

An American study by the Kaiser Foundation Research Institute in Oakland suggests that pregnant women regularly exposed to moderate intensity (magnetic fields greater than or equal to 1.6 uT) present an increased risk:20.5%, compared to 8.2% in those subjected to fields of lower intensity. Namely:a field of 1.6 uT corresponds to the waves emitted by a radio alarm clock located 30 cm from the head.

Electromagnetic waves:how to protect yourself?

To minimize your exposure, choose a low SAR phone model (specific absorption rate), i.e. whose emission power is less than 0.3 W/Kg. This value is theoretically displayed on the packaging of each device. Models put on the market before 2016 should therefore be avoided because their SAR is often much higher.

Instead of pressing your smartphone against your ear, use the speakerphone function or a hands-free kit to get it away from your head. And make your calls in good network conditions, so neither in a moving vehicle (train, car, etc.) nor in the basement.

Avoid carrying your phone in your pocket, near the heart or near the genitals . Do not charge it in the bedroom and place it at night more than two meters from you if you use it as an alarm clock. But the best is to turn it off at night.

Anti-radiation patches, anti-wifi paints and other silver thread panties supposed to reduce your exposure do not seem to be of formally demonstrated interest. Laboratory tests certainly suggest that certain patches can reduce the SAR of a telephone by 50 to 99%, but the values ​​recorded in laboratories do not necessarily reflect the current use of a telephone, according to the ANRF (National Agency for frequencies). Many parameters are taken into account:the distance of the device, its transmission power, the network used...

By trying to block the signal, we also push the transmitter to operate at maximum power, which can ultimately create the opposite effect to that intended.