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The Science Journal of the Lander College of Arts and Sciences

Abstract

It has long been debated whether or not cell phones have a deleterious effect on the brain. Recent studies indicate that the electro-magnetic field emitted by cell phones called RF-EMF is linked to cancer. Guidelines created to limit the exposure have not been changed since 1981 and do not consider children. The mechanism thought to cause cancer is reactive oxygen species (ROS), which cause the creation of micronuclei. RF-EMF poses a greater threat to children than adults. This is due to the major anatomical differences between the head of a child and an adult. The skull of a child is much thinner than that of an adult. Additionally, the marrow in the skull of a child is much more vulnerable to RF-EMF. Another difference is the presence of myelin in the brain of a child. Until the age of two production of myelin sheath occurs at a frenzied pace. After age two production slows but continues into adulthood. The uncompleted myelin sheaths, as well as the unprotected axons, can be easily damaged by RF-EMF. This can lead to axonal degeneration and decreased action potential speeds. Another difference is the presence of neural stem cells. Neural stem cells differentiate from neuroepithelial tissue. These cells then commit to oligodendrocytes or astrocytes and undergo cell division to form immature glial cells. Research shows that children contain a substantial amount of these stem cells, whereas adults do not. RF-EMF inhibits cell division resulting in a decreased number of immature glial cells. Because of these anatomical differences, parents should be wary of the amount of “screen time” they provide their children. The guidelines of acceptable SAR should also be changed to take the risks to children into account.

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