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Awareness among the college students about the harmful effects of cell phone radiations

Abstract

The use of the modern means of communication has become an indispensable part of college student’s life. College students are connected to global networks through cell phones and internet. Since, cell phones and internet access is getting cheaper and easily available, the number of students using the cell phones is increasing. Hence, the objective of the study is to find out the awareness among the college students about the harmful effects of cell phone radiations and its precautionary measures. A survey of 100 Commerce students was conducted by collecting data through dichotomous questionnaire. It has been observed that the students have various degree of awareness about different kinds of cell phone hazards. The maximum no. of students were aware about deafness caused by cell phones, but they showed less awareness about other issues like male infertility caused by them and the precautionary measures that should be taken to minimize such harmful effects.

Key Words: Awareness, cell phone radiations, harmful effects, precautionary measures.

1. Introduction:

A cell phone is a wireless device which allows users to carry out multiple activities like calling, messaging, internet surfing etc. Its use and user base has increased over the years. At the end of January 2019, there were total 1″,181.97 million wireless subscribers (GSM, CDMA & LTE) in India (TRAI”,2019). These cell phones use non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation in the microwave range (450–3800 MHz). The human body absorbs energy from cell phone’s radiation. The dose of the absorbed energy is estimated using the specific absorption rate (SAR), which is expressed in watts per kilogram of body weight.The exposure to radiation because of the cell phone use has raised concern as it has the potential to cause certain types of cancer or other health problems like deafness, infertility etc.

1.1. Effects of cell phone radiation on human health:

Cell phones EMF can possibly be carcinogenic (NCI, 2019).The radiofrequency radiation from cell phones can cause biological effects like heating of the ear and head where the cell phone is being held. (Mitra et.al”,2014).The study conducted by Velayutham, Govindasamy& Raman (2011) has shown that the cell phone radiations have caused hearing loss in the dominant ear i.e. the ear which is often used with or exposed to the cell phones. The degree of hearing loss depends upon the length of usage of cell phone.

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Phone radiations can also cause Transient Smartphone Blindness due to the long-term exposure in darkness. (Alim-Marvasti A.et.al.2016). Long-term exposure to cell phone radiations can significantly decrease number of sperms. Cell phone radiations may cause DNA fragmentation if directly exposed to such radiations for a longer period. (Gorpinchenko”,Nikitin”,2014). Radiofrequency energy (RF) causes electromagnetic interference (EMI) in some electronic devices like pacemaker or Implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) which is dangerous for heart patients. (Raghu.N.et.al 2016)

1.2. Precautionary measures:

i. Headphones should be used while talking on phone and use text messages for longer conversations.

ii. Cell phones should be kept 30-40 cm away from body when not in use.

iii. We should be switching ears alternatively while talking on the cell phone for longer duration.

iv. Cell phone should not be used in dark. Night mode is preferable if it is used in darkness.

v. Avoid receiving or placing a call on cell phone during train travel.

vi. Avoid keeping the cell phone under the pillow or near one’s head while sleeping.

vii. Avoid placing a call if the signal is weak or low.

viii. If the phone is getting heated we should switch it off or discontinue its use.

ix. Cell phones should not be overcharged or kept plugged in the charger.

x. Cell phones having the least SAR value within given permissible limit (i.e. 1.6 W/Kg) should be given preference while purchasing cell phones.

xi. Avoid staring at the cell phone screen for a longer time.

xii. The FDA recommends that people keep their cellphones at least five to seven inches away from a pacemaker or ICD. Avoid keeping your phone in your shirt pocket.

xiii. Avoid keeping cell phones in your trouser pockets.

xiv. Put your cell phones on Airplane mode when not it use and while you are sleeping.

2. Objective:

There is growing use of cell phones among college students hence it is necessary that they should be aware of its health hazards.The objective of this study was to find out the awareness among the college students about the harmful effects of cell phone radiation and its precautionary measures as well as their willingness to reduce the use cell phones perceiving its harmful effects.

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3. Methodology and Results:

This study is done by collecting data through a dichotomous questionnaire. The sample included 50 male and 50 female commerce students from VIVA College, Virar. The observations obtained as follows:

1. Cell phone usage: The maximum students were using their cell phone for more than one hour. They were mainly using it for internet surfing. (Fig.3.1&3.2)

2. 73% students carried their cell phones in their pockets.(Fig.3.3)

3. 75% of the students were aware that cell phones emit radiations. 70% of them know that cell radiations may cause cancer.

4. Only 31% students are aware about checking SAR value before purchasing a cell phone.

5. 54% students kept their cell phones near bed but 78% of students were unaware about use of airplane mode.

6. 92% of students were aware about deafness caused by cell phones but only 66%were aware that the use of headsets can reduce radiation side effects.

7. 81% of students were aware that the use of phone in darkness can lead to blindness but only 66% of them used night mode in darkness.

8. 67% students felt dizziness while talking on phone for longer duration but only 65% were aware that while calling you should alternatively switch your ear.

9. 68% students were aware that they should not use cell phone when network signal is low or while traveling on the train.

10. 81% students knew that the heart patients should not keep cell phone near their chest or front pocket but only 44% aware that keeping the cell phone in trouser pocket can cause infertility in males. Nearly 52% male students knew this hazard of cell phone still most of them kept the phones trouser pockets because of convenience.

11. 77% students knew about basic precautions like we should not overcharge the cell phone or keep it plugged in the charger.

12. 86% of students were willing to reduce cell phone usage in order to minimize its harmful effects.

4. Conclusion and suggestions:

Cell phones have not been around long enough to determine long term repercussions of their use but everyday there is more evidence of the health problems and risks caused by them. According to this study, students have shown various degree of awareness about different kinds of cell phone hazards. And it further shows that the students have shown less awareness about precautionary measures as compared to awareness about the cell phone hazards.

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The measures that can be suggested in order to create awareness among the students can be summarized as follows:

1. A seminar for students can be conducted highlighting the precautionary measures and the hazards relating to radiation.

2. College professors can be briefed about the awareness who in turn can guide the students regarding cell radiation awareness.

3. Poster, flyers, banners etc. can be displayed at prominent places in college campus.

5. References:

1. Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (2019, January31) No. 22/2019 [Press Release]

2. “Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) For Cell Phones: What It Means For You.” Federal Communications Commission, 5 Mar. 2019, www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/specific-absorption-rate-sar-cell-phones-what-it-means-you.

3. “Cell Phones and Cancer Risk.” National Cancer Institute, www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/radiation/cell-phones-fact-sheet#r1.

4. “Electromagnetic Fields and Public Health: Mobile Phones.” World Health Organization, www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/electromagnetic-fields-and-public-health-mobile-phones.

5. Mitra R., Mazumder M., Pal K, Jana S. (2014) A study on effect of mobile phone radiation on human health. Exploratory animal and Medical Research, 4(2): 246-252.

6. Velayutham, P., Govindasamy, G. K., Raman, R., Prepageran, N., & Ng, K. H. (2011). High-frequency hearing loss among mobile phone users. Indian journal of otolaryngology and head and neck surgery : official publication of the Association of Otolaryngologists of India, 66(1), 169–172. doi:10.1007/s12070-011-0406-4

7. Alim-Marvasti, A., Bi, W., Mahroo, O. A., Barbur, J. L. & Plant, G. T. (2016). Transient Smartphone “Blindness”. The New England Journal of Medicine, 374(25), pp. 2502-2504. doi: 10.1056/NEJMc1514294

8. Gorpinchenko, I., Nikitin, O., Banyra, O., & Shulyak, A. (2014). The influence of direct mobile phone radiation on sperm quality. Central European journal of urology, 67(1), 65–71. doi:10.5173/ceju.2014.01.art14

9. Ferrer J. & Fernández-Seivane L. & Hernando J.M. & Castan, M.B. & Garcia L. & Vazquez, J. (2005). On the exposure to mobile phone radiation in trains. Applied Physics Letters. 86. 224101 – 224101. 10.1063/1.1940120.

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