There was a story I did about 15 years ago, having to do with cell phones and the possible long-term effects caused by radiation emitted from them and from the cell towers.
It was in response to an effort by one of the large cell phone service providers to put up a tower in one of our neighborhoods to improve reception in our town.
The neighbors expressed concern about the health risks associated with exposure to the radiation, and the hazards of commercial expansion.
The company presented information attesting to the safety of the technology, and said the radiation would exist at such low levels it would pose no more of a threat to those families than their television, refrigerator or microwave oven. Considering how much disease can be traced to those three household items, I didn’t find any particular reassurance in that statement.
The neighbors came forth with their own packet of information, studies suggesting there are significant health risks associated with cell phones.
Public opinion didn’t go one way or another with any certainty. In fact, it was the uncertainty that finally put the kibosh on the project. Enough people spoke up and said we just don’t know for sure, so we can’t let it happen.
Despite the uncertainty and the contradictory evidence, my intuition, or whatever you might care to call one’s knowing sense, felt that, yes, there are risks to our health and our quality of life. Then again, it could have had something to do with me not having a cell phone at that time, nor being able to afford one.
Now, one is with me all the time and I use it all day long.
I’ve never ceased believing the radiation is harmful, but that doesn’t stop me from using it.
It’s the same thing with the computer. I sit in front of one and stare at its screen for far too many hours and in long stretches at a time, despite the havoc it wreaks on my eyes and neck and muscles.
It’s like people who smoke cigarettes. They know, as do we all, that smoking is hazardous to your health, but they smoke anyway. Either they don’t care, or they have convinced themselves that what they get from it is worth it enough, or important enough to disregard the health hazards.
I’ve written columns in the past about aspartame and diet soft drinks, and about Fen phen and miracle weight-loss pills, and said that when the information came out describing how bad these things are for us, my reaction was like, isn’t that obvious and hasn’t it always been obvious?
Now, with this cell phone column, it becomes clear in my mind that it’s not that we don’t know, it’s that we don’t really care.
That’s a hard one to own up to because, while I thank God every day for the blessings of health, I have to admit I don’t always do my part — in the way of eating, sleeping and exercising — to preserve good health. God help me.
Ron Colone can be reached at email@example.com