Your cellphone is a potential source of a coronavirus infection.
And there has been evidence for years that cellphone radiation raises the risk of brain cancer.
Now, a new study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters shows that your phone may damage your health in another way.
Researchers found that halogenated flame retardants in the plastic parts of TVs can migrate into the air and into dust particles. They get on your hands and are transferred to your cellphone.
The chemicals then stick to your phone and renew your exposure to them every time you handle it. When you bring your phone to your face to speak into it, you breathe in the toxin.
Professor Miriam Diamond was co-author of the study. “It’s well-known that viruses are transferred between surfaces and hands,” she said. “Our study shows that toxic chemicals like flame retardants do the same. That’s another reason we should all wash our hands often and well.”
Halogenated flame retardants are bad for everyone, but are most dangerous for children. They have been found to lower IQ levels.
The crazy thing is that flame retardants aren’t even needed now, if they ever were. They were added to TV cases in the 1970s in response to fires caused by some types of cathode ray tubes. These tubes are long gone, having been replaced by flat-screen TVs. Modern TVs pose minimal fire risk. But regulations requiring the flame retardants still exist.
Arlene Blum is executive director of the Green Science Policy Institute. She said that to reduce harm from flame retardants, “the electronics industry should stop their unnecessary use.”
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) were the original chemicals used as flame retardants. They were phased out after being deemed unsafe. But they were replaced by organophosphates…which have turned out to be as bad or worse.
Researchers found that organophosphates actually saturate the air and dust at levels up 100 times higher than the flame retardants they replaced. And they were found in every person they tested…at levels high enough to damage adult fertility and children’s brains.
Dr. Linda Birnbaum is the former director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. “We need to realize that these flame retardants threaten the brain development of a whole generation,” she said.
4 Ways to Stop Your Phone from Making You Sick
As Professor Diamond noted, your cellphone harbors both germs and chemicals. Here how to reduce the risk:
- Keep it clean. Think of your phone like a third hand. Just like you wash your hands, you need to wash your phone regularly.
Turn it off before cleaning. Disinfect it using 70% alcohol, a disinfectant wipe, or soapy water if your phone is water resistant. Remember to disinfect under the cover. Pay special attention to the buttons and the spaces around them. They provide nooks for germs and chemicals to hide in.
Clean your phone at least once a day.
- Avoid bringing it to your face. Use the speaker phone…or get ear buds that include a microphone. You can buy them for as little as $14.95. This keeps pathogens and chemicals from entering your mouth, as well as keeping radiation away from your head.
- Never share it. If someone asks to use your phone, make the call for them.
- Watch where you put it. Avoid placing your cellphone on a potentially contaminated surface. Be mindful of dusty areas, since dust is one of the main sources of flame retardant chemicals. Make a point of keeping your phone in a pocket or phone holster.
Your cellphone can become your worst health enemy. Take these simple precautions to protect yourself.
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