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Does Wearable Technology on Holiday Shopping List Pose Health Risks?

PHOTO: Google Glass, although not yet available to the general public, joins smart watches, wrist phones and all kinds of wearable cell phones and digital devices as hot consumer products for this holiday season  but scientists have health concerns about them. Photo credit: Wikipedia.org.
November 25. 2013
PHOTO: Google Glass, although not yet available to the general public, joins smart watches, wrist phones and all kinds of wearable cell phones and digital devices as hot consumer products for this holiday season but scientists have health concerns about them. Photo credit: Wikipedia.org.

DES MOINES, Iowa - Wearable phones and computers are on loads of shopping lists as the holiday shopping season begins in earnest this week, but scientists are warning that research indicates they present likely health risks, especially from cell phone radiation.

In one study, Dr. Hugh Taylor of Yale University exposed pregnant mice to close-up cell phone signals and observed the offspring behaving like children with attention deficit disorder.

"I think all these radiation-emitting technologies deserve a proper evaluation that includes not only exposure to adults but what happens to the fetus, the most vulnerable stage of life," Taylor said.

He said the recommendations are to keep cell phones and other devices away from sensitive body parts, but the wireless industry says reviews of all the research have not found clear, consistent evidence of any adverse effects.

According to Dr. Martin Blank of Columbia University, a DNA expert, research such as that which found the DNA of mice altered by cell phone exposure is more than enough to prompt action.

"When you get a situation when a problem arises, you invoke what's known as the precautionary principle," he said. "You take a certain amount of precaution as a result of a risk that has been identified."

Dr. David Gultekin, assistant attending physicist, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, who did a study that showed brain tissue can be heated by cell phone radiation, said wearable gadgets are brought to the marketplace with little concern for safety.

"When they're designing and developing a new product and introducing it, very rarely the health aspects of it is mentioned, or not mentioned at all," he said.

Gultekin's study used a living cow brain in the lab and found that it does in fact get hot when exposed to a few minutes of a normal microwave-producing cell phone.

Taylor's study is at bit.ly/191Stm9. Gultekin's study is at bit.ly/1aZgMRH. Information on the mobile industry stance is at bit.ly/19Urit2.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - IA