By Kim Tae-gyu
The Korea Times
May 3 2006
Mobile operators and governments have claimed cell phones don’t emit enough microwaves harm people, but sensitive Koreans are feeling their negative effects.
According to a survey by Rep. Suh Hae-suk at the governing Uri Party, 10.9 percent of 1,034 respondents said that they felt physical disorders due to cell phone usage.
As for the most common symptoms, 67 complained about a brief deafness and 59 suffered from headaches. Forty-six felt a sudden paroxysm of tiredness and 29 couldn’t concentrate.
In addition, 93 percent of respondents said electromagnetic fields (EMF) from cell phones are harmful or affect human health in some ways while just 0.5 percent were against the idea.
To avoid microwave spectrum, 23.6 percent and 20.8 percent showed tendencies of turning to EMF-free fixed-line phones or communication with text messages.
In this climate, Suh urged the government to come up with measures geared toward reducing risks of microwaves stemming from mobile handsets.
``There are lingering disputes on whether EMF is bad for health but some researches point out it can be harmful for humans. We need to conduct an exhaustive study on the issue,’’ Suh said.
EMF is the physical influence that arises from charged objects. It can occur in various fashions and one of the sources is microwaves carrying bits and packets of data.
Cell phones emit EMF like other wireless gizmos such as cordless phones. As long as it is a communication device and is not attached to the wall by a wire, it emits radiation.
For decades, scientists from around the world have tried to find out the exact repercussions of EMF on human bodies but they have yet to reach a consensus on its potential damage.
With radio waves becoming an inseparable part of everyday lives, however, broad-based concerns have flared up regarding continual contact with EMF.
In particular, mobile phones become an issue as handset networks blanket Korea, creating the so-called electromagnetic smog. And people use the gadget in a most dangerous fashion _ putting it up to their head close to the sensitive brain.
The Korean government has concluded that the amount of EMF coming from cell phones is negligible but more and more overseas reports start raising its potential risks.
For example, scientists from Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne recently found people’s response times slowed during a 30-minute mobile phone call.
Also some doctors point their fingers at the cell phone microwaves as one of the major triggers of brain tumors.
``We need to leverage the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) as the way to shun strong electromagnetic radiations from cell phones but people’s recognition on it is still low,’’ Suh said.
Indeed, the poll showed only 23.5 percent of respondents knew the SAR, which is supposed to indicate the rate at which energy is absorbed by the brain from a particular model.
The results of the nationwide poll carried out on 1,034 people who aged 20 or older have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.05 percentage points.