Cell phones and health risk

Pascal's suggested wager was to the effect that God's existence can't be proven, but acting as if God exists is a no lose bet - and your reaction to the developing story of RF related health risks should be similar: act as if you believe because there's no cost to being right, and a real downside to being wrong.

I've said it before: (WiFi, Cancer, and Legal Liability), and I'll say it again: the evidence linking RF exposure to health risks is becoming more compelling every day - but the conclusions pointed to are neither definitive nor widely accepted.

This, for example, is the introductory paragraph from a December 5th Science Daily story: Mobile Phones Affect Memory In Laboratory Animals, Swedish Study Finds:

Can radiation from cell phones affect the memory? Yes -- at least it appears to do so in rat experiments conducted at the Division of Neurosurgery, Lund University, in Sweden. Henrietta Nittby studied rats that were exposed to mobile phone radiation for two hours a week for more than a year. These rats had poorer results on a memory test than rats that had not been exposed to radiation.

There's a lot of work like this - people skating the edges of the problem because it's politically impractical to take on the issue directly.

So if the science is scary but unsettled how should you respond? By looking for things you can do now that will prove valuable if the problem turns out to be real, but won't expose you to ridicule now or leave you looking like an idiot if the science eventually settles on harmless.

Don't, in other words, go public with the concern - and don't break out the tin foil hats - but do look carefully at what you can do now to reduce both health risks to your colleagues and legal risks to your employer in the event that the problem turns out to be real.

In doing this bear in mind that any written material refering to the problem might be found and used against your employer in some future civil action - so ensure that any action you take is entirely justified on normal business or professional practices.

For example, you can improve data security and network reliability by removing as many wireless devices as you can from employee working environments.

Similarly, you can look at making better use of VoIP technologies to reduce both traditional and cell calling costs, particularly for inter-office communication - and, in doing that, slip a line or two into employee procedure (and new employee briefing) manuals saying that they're encouraged to use land lines where ever possible for both security and cost reasons.

The bottom line on this is simple: the science on this isn't settled, but the risks look increasingly real -so finding sound business or technical reasons for actions whose side effect is to reduce everyone's RF exposure is a bet on which you can win, but not lose.