Kuro5hin.org: technology and culture, from the trenches
create account | help/FAQ | contact | links | search | IRC | site news
[ Everything | Diaries | Technology | Science | Culture | Politics | Media | News | Internet | Op-Ed | Fiction | Meta | MLP ]
We need your support: buy an ad | premium membership

[P]
Trains Trap 'Mobile Phone Radiation'

By valeko in Technology
Thu May 02, 2002 at 12:30:31 PM EST
Tags: News (all tags)
News

According to this BBC article, Japanese scientists have concluded that using mobile phones while onboard a train (and presumably, other enclosed spaces similar to train cars) can have adverse affects on the health of passengers.


According to the study, a significant amount of microwave radiation emitted by mobile phone units is trapped inside the train car because of few openings through which it might leave. According to the article, one researcher found that if just 30 people out of 151 are using mobile phones in a standard sized train car, radiation levels inside the car exceed limits suggested by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).

This is obviously a greater concern for places like Europe and Japan, where trains are more commonplace and mobile phone use is more dense, than it is for the US. Nevertheless, this is an important revalation that could possibly lead to new regulations on the use of mobile phones in closed areas.

It is logical to suppose that these findings hold true for other enclosed areas than train cars, as well as for other electronic communication devices that emit microwave radiation.

This is not to say that the findings have not drawn criticism, particularly from public health officials seeking to downplay the significance of emissions from the devices. From the bottom of the article:

Prof Les Barclay, who is a member of the Department of Health mobile phone research committee, suggested that the health risks were minimal.

"Signals from the antenna and mobile phone decrease very rapidly as you move away from the phone," he said.

"By the time a signal has been reflected by a distant wall it will be at a very low level."

This information seem like another banal study for many reasons, not the least of which is that radiation being trapped inside a mostly-closed metallic container is not exactly news. But because the Japanese research has produced some empirical data, this issue is worthy of our (re-?)examination.

Sponsors

Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure

Login

Related Links
o this BBC article
o International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP)
o Also by valeko


Display: Sort:
Trains Trap 'Mobile Phone Radiation' | 96 comments (92 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
Has it? (5.00 / 8) (#1)
by manobes on Wed May 01, 2002 at 10:05:02 PM EST

But because the Japanese research has produced some empirical data, this issue is worthy of our (re-?)examination.

I read the article, and nowhere did it say that they took actual data. The only information about the study is the following

Tsuyoshi Hondou, from Tohuku University, used the plans of a typical train carriage to calculate the impact of mobile phone mivrowave radiation

which doesn't mention actual data.

No one can defend creationism against the overwhelming scientific evidence of creationism. -- Big Sexxy Joe


Well. (none / 0) (#2)
by valeko on Wed May 01, 2002 at 10:06:31 PM EST

I think it's a safe conjecture that if they did a serious study, they probably took some serious measurements. You might be right, though.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

And you've made (none / 0) (#5)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu May 02, 2002 at 12:43:20 AM EST

At least two serious assumptions in your post. Ever hear of the Ig-Nobels?


--
Uhhh.... Where did I drop that clue?
I know I had one just a minute ago!


[ Parent ]
Not necessarily. (5.00 / 1) (#55)
by physicsgod on Thu May 02, 2002 at 02:04:50 PM EST

From my reading of the BBC article (anyone have a link to an english version of the primary?) the researchers just plugged the numbers from cell phones and train compartments into an EM propagation model. While that doesn't make it invalid, I would be hesitant to adjust public policy without some actual emperical data (as in put Bob in a compartment while George goes around measuring EM intensities); especially in cases of EM propagation, which exponentially go to hell.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
Radiation (4.33 / 3) (#3)
by Teehmar on Wed May 01, 2002 at 10:51:07 PM EST

Obviously RF can get out of the train, otherwise it'd be awfully difficult for the person on the other end of the phone to hear you.
I suspect their model needs work.

I don't think that was the issue. (4.00 / 1) (#4)
by valeko on Wed May 01, 2002 at 10:53:31 PM EST

I think it was more a question of how much stays inside and bounces around, even if RF can get out of the train fine. I don't know anything about it though - maybe it's a question of "peripheral" radiation that doesn't have to do with the substance of the communication, who knows.

I doubt their model would be so fundamentally flawed though.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Aha, an EM expert! (5.00 / 1) (#18)
by hoggy on Thu May 02, 2002 at 07:20:57 AM EST

Do you really think a bunch of smart guys would have missed something so obvious? EM waves propogate in all directions; some will go out the windows but, as the story says, much of it is reflected inwards.

Also, note that mobile phones tend to vary their power levels depending on how faint the signal being picked up by the station is. Thus, if much of the signal is being reflected into the carriage, the phone will ramp up it's output level increasing the radiation inside the carriage further.

I've been on trains where you weren't allowed to use your phone in the carriage itself but have to walk to the compartments at the ends. This is because people talking loudly into phones is annoying to other passengers, but with this study we might see the beginning of mobile phone users becoming social outcasts like smokers ;-)


[ Parent ]

Multiple phones (none / 0) (#22)
by John Thompson on Thu May 02, 2002 at 09:02:36 AM EST

Radiation wrote:

Obviously RF can get out of the train, otherwise it'd be awfully difficult for the person on the other end of the phone to hear you. I suspect their model needs work.

Indeed, enough RF must escape the car to allow calling, but it is certainly plausible that some may also be trapped, and in the event of multiple phones being used, the cumulative level of trapped RF radiation may well exceed safe levels.



[ Parent ]
Has anyone noticed... (none / 0) (#29)
by Chancellor Martok on Thu May 02, 2002 at 09:37:06 AM EST

From experience, I don't think I've noticed that reception is any poorer while on a train... has anyone else ever paid attention to this?

-----
Chancellor Martok  in Sydney, Australia
"Castrate instead. That can surely rehabilitate. I did it volunatrily, and my grades went up!"  -- Sen

[ Parent ]
Yes, but not on a mobile (none / 0) (#35)
by miller on Thu May 02, 2002 at 11:46:22 AM EST

FM radio reception is significantly restricted on a train. If mobile phones use a higher frequency than FM radio (and I can't remember if it does), and if I remember my school physics lessons correctly, that means smaller objects can create a radio shadow, and it takes a smaller apeture to cause waves to radiate out. So I'd expect a higher frequency equipment to be more adversely affected.

But the real test it to observe the reception indicator on a phone in, outside and away from a train, of course.

--
It's too bad I don't take drugs, I think it would be even better. -- Lagged2Death
[ Parent ]

TGV trains have non-phone compartments (4.22 / 9) (#6)
by sacrelicious on Thu May 02, 2002 at 01:07:29 AM EST

Due to many reasons (noise, radiation, etc.), there are many compartments on TGV trains in France where using a mobile phone is not permitted.

It seems like phones, like cigarettes, are not simply just addictive, but also tend to annoy the people around you (of course, if they are also phoning/smoking, they probably don't mind as much).



Inevitable... (none / 0) (#27)
by Chancellor Martok on Thu May 02, 2002 at 09:30:14 AM EST

Cool... this was just waiting to happen wasn't it? I never thought of it, but hey... just like smoking.

Maybe they should have carriages dedicated for testing out ringtones? :) Do they fine people who use mobiles in non-phone compartments?

Thanks for the comment...

-----
Chancellor Martok  in Sydney, Australia
"Castrate instead. That can surely rehabilitate. I did it volunatrily, and my grades went up!"  -- Sen

[ Parent ]

other than radiation concerns (4.40 / 5) (#7)
by xriso on Thu May 02, 2002 at 01:25:33 AM EST

It is annoying to other riders. Perhaps it would be an an advantageous business decision to create a nice environment. This is akin to putting no-smoke sections in a restaurant.
--
*** Quits: xriso:#kuro5hin (Forever)
oh, and (4.50 / 2) (#8)
by xriso on Thu May 02, 2002 at 01:27:52 AM EST

All the train company needs to do is to have a metal body on the train, and to put a thin transparent metal layer on the windows, and cell phones will have a difficult time even working. (My physics textbook mentioned this)
--
*** Quits: xriso:#kuro5hin (Forever)
[ Parent ]
that would multiply the 'radiation' (none / 0) (#54)
by rebelcool on Thu May 02, 2002 at 02:02:46 PM EST

I have a hard time calling it that because that connotates the bad kind... but anyway.

Cell phones increase their power depending on signal strength. Low strength = increased power. More power + more reflection = more radiation in the area.

If you want to make it radiation free, the best bet is to make the whole thing out of glass or plastic with minimal metal.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

We have that in the UK (none / 0) (#25)
by NoNeeeed on Thu May 02, 2002 at 09:20:44 AM EST

A lot of the inter-city routes now have mobile free coaches, often replacing the only smoking coaches (most of the companies have gone over to a fully no-smoking policy).

Paul

[ Parent ]
Something I've never understood (4.50 / 6) (#9)
by smarkb on Thu May 02, 2002 at 04:54:47 AM EST

Is why people get so annoyed when you use mobiles on trains?

There are a few people who insist on shouting down the thing, which is irritating, but most people in my experience speak at a normal volume.

So why is it any different to a couple fellow passengers talking to each other? Is it because you don't get to eavesdrop on the other side of the conversation? Or is everyone just envious of the fact that the mobile phone user has someone to talk to?

Please explain.

Depends (4.50 / 4) (#10)
by Zeshan on Thu May 02, 2002 at 06:00:47 AM EST

Someone speaking at a normal volume on a mobile phone doesn't really bother me either.

More annoying are

  • People who speak very loudly (as you said)
  • People who repeatedly receive calls and have loud/annoying ring tones
  • People who leave their phone ringing for ages because they don't realise it's their phone ringing
Some seem to get annoyed by people who phone someone up just to say "I'm on the train" or "I'll be home in 20 minutes" and suchlike, but that doesn't really bother me (perhaps since I do that myself on occasion...)

Zeshan

[ Parent ]

On that general note (none / 0) (#74)
by pietra on Thu May 02, 2002 at 04:23:06 PM EST

Many employers in the U.S. are very, very insistent that you call them if you're going to be even slightly late for a meeting or work. They tend to presume that there is no other purpose for a cell phone at all. As public transportation here is frequently late or delayed, the two frequently go together.

[ Parent ]
Most people shout or speak too loud. (1.00 / 1) (#12)
by Tezcatlipoca on Thu May 02, 2002 at 06:12:06 AM EST


---
_._ .....
... .._ _._. _._ ...
._.. ._ _ . ._.. _.__

[ Parent ]
uh-huh... (none / 0) (#21)
by BadDoggie on Thu May 02, 2002 at 08:57:54 AM EST

.. . _.._ .__. . _._. _ _ .... ._ _ .... ._ ... ... ___ __ . _ .... .. _. __. _ ___ _.. ___ .__ .. _ .... _ .... . __._ .._ ._ ._.. .. _ _.__ ___ .._. _._. ___ __ __ . _. _ ... .__. ___ ... _ . _.. .... . _._ . ._._._

Don't like it? Make it better or leave (and one of those choices not only doesn't preclude the other, but could be causal).

woof.

Truth is stranger than fiction because fiction has to make sense.
[ Parent ]

R is ._. not _._ (none / 0) (#28)
by miller on Thu May 02, 2002 at 09:33:22 AM EST

HTH

--
It's too bad I don't take drugs, I think it would be even better. -- Lagged2Death
[ Parent ]
Doh! (none / 0) (#34)
by BadDoggie on Thu May 02, 2002 at 11:22:40 AM EST

I'm not used to keying on a notebook. I#ll practice some more.

woof.

Truth is stranger than fiction because fiction has to make sense.
[ Parent ]

question: (none / 0) (#60)
by bunsen on Thu May 02, 2002 at 02:29:58 PM EST

.. ...
.. _
_._. .... . ._ _ .. _. __.
.. .._.
..
.._ ... .
._
_._. ___ __ .__. .._ _ . ._.
.._. ___ ._.
_ .... .. ...
..--..



---
Do you want your possessions identified? [ynq] (n)
[ Parent ]

some annoyances... (4.50 / 6) (#13)
by rvanrees on Thu May 02, 2002 at 06:16:32 AM EST

  • all those different ringtones...
  • speach voice level is normally OK, but those loud beeps...
  • the utter uselessness of half the conversations I do hear. "I'm now leaving the station". "I'm now halfway." "See you in 30 seconds." (Adding another 1.5 euro to their phone bill).
Makes me believe all those radiation stories. Half the population that has a phone is severely dumbed down. I'm actually feeling contempt for that half.

Reinout

[ Parent ]

Ringtones (4.00 / 1) (#31)
by mlapanadras on Thu May 02, 2002 at 10:23:28 AM EST

I suspect phone engineers to be deaf.

Still don't understand the reason why people are spending money on the device that is plain annoying. Thus the radiation is just a second-tier effect on their brains.

Besides that, the cell phone owner is own3d. Everyone can get him, his location can be easily uncovered, his phone conversation are wiretapped. Go explain your wife those SMSes.

[ Parent ]

Dunno about your train station (none / 0) (#93)
by davidduncanscott on Sat May 04, 2002 at 01:07:04 AM EST

but at mine they severely discourage cars loitering out front. Apparently there was some kind of incident last fall when a train or a bus or something hit some building in New York or something? :)

Anyway, yeah, I call my wife to say just that: I'm on the platform, so she can pull into the station and I'll be out before the security guy tells her to move along.

And hey, this is why we chose the plan with unlimited calls between our two phones.

I also told the clerk from the get-go: if the phone doesn't have a vibrate setting, leave it in the case.

[ Parent ]

Psychological, I guess. (4.85 / 7) (#15)
by ambrosen on Thu May 02, 2002 at 07:02:42 AM EST

I think hearing half of a conversation is something that is much harder to ignore than a whole conversation, maybe because with someone else's conversation it's clearly self contained as every conversational cue to pay attention is reciprocated by someone paying attention, whereas with a mobile conversation, it sounds as though the speaker could be addressing you, and you keep having your attention subconsciously attracted towards them only for your conscious mind to tell you you need to ignore them. All semi pop-psychology, so don't take it too seriously, but that's what it seems like to me.

--
Procrastination does not make you cool. Being cool makes you procrastinate. DesiredUsername.
[ Parent ]
Annoying when with party (4.16 / 6) (#30)
by Silent Chris on Thu May 02, 2002 at 10:08:16 AM EST

I find it more annoying when I'm speaking with someone, their cell phone rings, and they have theaudacity to take the call and continue to talk to the other person while I'm standing there.  At the very least, it's clearly rude - it's like saying "even though I'm spending time with you right now, I'd rather be talking to this other person".  That's fine, but say it to me - don't dwaddle around and use the phone as an excuse.

Ahem.  :)  As you can tell, I'm not very fond of people this morning.

[ Parent ]

Try Japan (4.75 / 4) (#32)
by CaptainZapp on Thu May 02, 2002 at 10:25:04 AM EST

In the Tokyo subway system the use of mobile phones are an absolute nono and you're a social outcast for even trying.

You must understand the dimensions though, Tokyo is such an incredible dense city and literally millions are trapped into subway cars for hours (2-3 hour train rides in one diection is not uncommon at all). Now if everybody would yack away this would put an incredible strain on everybody and is thus socially unacceptable.

In continental Europe, if you're not yelling like a complete jerk, I wouldn't really have noticed that anybody gives a shit. Besides German and Swiss trains have designated non-yacking cars, if you feel annoyed.

[ Parent ]

the Trains in japan (none / 0) (#45)
by Altus on Thu May 02, 2002 at 12:54:53 PM EST

have quite cars, no phones, minimal talking, and no station anouncements. its realy quite nice.

But this is only the trains, cell use on actual trains (inter-city) is relatively common, while in the citys it is not.
"In America, first you get the sugar, then you get the money, then you get the women..." -H. Simpson
[ Parent ]

When people talk (5.00 / 1) (#48)
by FredBloggs on Thu May 02, 2002 at 01:09:51 PM EST

on a train, its 2 (or more) people to a conversation. When people use phones, each of them has a conversation,so you hear more of it. And you become more aware of the fact that you are spending your life among a bunch of morons. I like the net, cos you can go to sites which attract people who share you`re interests. Your sort of music, tech stuff, news. When you`re out on the street,  you`ve got to put up with dumb-fucks talking crap about last nights tv, their pointless relationships, football, the crimes they`ve just committed, how much their last phone bill was, their parents illnesses etc...

Read this...ring any bells?

http://www.nyu.edu/classes/keefer/hell/sart.html

[ Parent ]

'A few'? More like 'almost all'! (none / 0) (#72)
by thebrix on Thu May 02, 2002 at 04:15:34 PM EST

What always slightly worries me is the lack of self-consciousness people show; I've heard people almost shout ludicrous things like 'put the microwave on, dahling' at which the other occupants of the carriage crack up (in the usual silent British fashion ;)

[ Parent ]
Mobile phones probably don't harm your health. (4.42 / 7) (#11)
by gordonjcp on Thu May 02, 2002 at 06:08:03 AM EST

People are really worried because they've heard that mobile phones use microwaves, just like microwave ovens. They're comparing the tiny Americium dot in a smoke detector with a nuclear reactor.
A microwave cooker works by directing an extremely powerful (>500W) beam of microwaves into a resonant box. It impinges on the food at a distance of around 6-8 inches, in a tightly-focused beam. Furthermore, it works on a fairly specific frequency, 2450MHz or so.
Now, consider a high-band GSM phone in the UK - it uses perhaps 100mW at the most (otherwise the batteries would work for *seconds*) on a lower frequency, around 1800MHz. The lower frequency means that for a given amount of RF output, you have less heating effect. Mobile phone masts use more powerful transmitters, but they top out at around 10-15W ERP. Plus, they're a lot further away than the waveguide of a microwave oven, and they're designed to spread the signal over a wide area.
Microwave effects from mobile phones can only be so tiny as to be insignificant.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


Mobile phones go up to 4W. (3.50 / 2) (#14)
by ambrosen on Thu May 02, 2002 at 06:57:43 AM EST

It's in the spec sheet of any phone, so it's not that hard to find out.

--
Procrastination does not make you cool. Being cool makes you procrastinate. DesiredUsername.
[ Parent ]
I beg to differ... (5.00 / 3) (#17)
by gordonjcp on Thu May 02, 2002 at 07:19:31 AM EST

For GSM-900 the peak output power is 2W, for GSM-1800 it's 1W. Bear in mind that this is the *peak* output power, and the maximum RMS output will be a lot less. Furthermore, mobile phones only ever use full output power in areas with a really ropey signal - this is why your phone goes flat faster when you've only got one bar of signal.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
Also (none / 0) (#36)
by jmzero on Thu May 02, 2002 at 11:48:45 AM EST

The little computer speakers I have on my desk said "380 Watts" on the box.  Apparently they're not very efficient.

That said, 4W does seem somewhat reasonable - at most an order of magnitude larger than I'd expect as a peak.  Then again, I'm only a dabbler in electronics.
.
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
[ Parent ]

No (none / 0) (#41)
by ambrosen on Thu May 02, 2002 at 12:37:31 PM EST

Gordonjcp's right. I misremembered it as 4W when actually it's 2W.

--
Procrastination does not make you cool. Being cool makes you procrastinate. DesiredUsername.
[ Parent ]
Rethink (4.50 / 4) (#26)
by chbm on Thu May 02, 2002 at 09:27:47 AM EST

A microwave cooker works by directing an extremely powerful (>500W) beam of microwaves into a resonant box.

Correct. A resonant box by definition doesn't leak, microwaves aren't perfect though and you do get some leaks but in civilized countries microwaves are tested before being aproved for market which means their radition leaks must under the safety parameters.

Now, consider a high-band GSM phone in the UK - it uses perhaps 100mW at the most

No, a 900/1800 GSM phone outputs 1W at max power. Inside a metal box moving at 60 km/h it will most likely be outputing more than 500mW. Those 500mW are being outputed by an omnidirectional antenna glued to your skull. That means you're getting something like 150mW going through your brain.

You might want to rethink your position.



-- if you don't agree reply don't moderate --
[ Parent ]
See my other comment... (none / 0) (#40)
by gordonjcp on Thu May 02, 2002 at 12:34:53 PM EST

Also, I seriously doubt that the phones use anything like 500mW under normal conditions. I still don't think there's any significant physiological effects from mobile phones.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
"areas with a ropey signal" (4.00 / 1) (#42)
by streetlawyer on Thu May 02, 2002 at 12:45:43 PM EST

Trains usually have a very poor signal.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
True.... (n/t) (none / 0) (#43)
by gordonjcp on Thu May 02, 2002 at 12:48:27 PM EST


Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
True.... (n/t) (none / 0) (#44)
by gordonjcp on Thu May 02, 2002 at 12:48:38 PM EST


Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
normal ? (2.00 / 1) (#61)
by chbm on Thu May 02, 2002 at 02:32:56 PM EST

Also, I seriously doubt that the phones use anything like 500mW under normal conditions.

Being inside a moving Faraday cage is hardly normal isn't it ? Not to mention the happy fun bursts you get when the phone is changing cell and the way the antenna becomes directional cause you're sitting next to a ground plane and sorrounded by a bunch of similar antennas.

I still don't think there's any significant physiological effects from mobile

But you do think there are significant effects from a properly closed microwave owen ? Right.



-- if you don't agree reply don't moderate --
[ Parent ]
Where did you get that idea? (none / 0) (#63)
by gordonjcp on Thu May 02, 2002 at 02:36:40 PM EST

But you do think there are significant effects from a properly closed microwave owen ? Right.
I don't see where you're getting that from. I didn't say anything about effects from microwave ovens, although if a microwave is leaking it can be nasty.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
Ops, might have misread (4.00 / 1) (#79)
by chbm on Thu May 02, 2002 at 06:41:48 PM EST

Reading again your first post looks like I got the wrong idea from your initial sentences. I'll eat those words - my bad.

-- if you don't agree reply don't moderate --
[ Parent ]
No probs (none / 0) (#84)
by gordonjcp on Fri May 03, 2002 at 05:04:14 AM EST

I was comparing the amount of energy produced, not the potential for damage. Maybe I was a little unclear.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
phones != microwave oven (4.00 / 1) (#69)
by rebelcool on Thu May 02, 2002 at 03:23:19 PM EST

A microwave oven is around 800-1200 watts of high frequency microwave energy in a tightly confined space that is designed to reflect as much of the energy as possible.

There is about as much comparison to a mobile phone as there is comparing the effects of what happens when you put 2 fingers on the ends of a 1.5 volt battery cell, and when you stick your finger in a 120 volt wall socket.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

Heating isn't the only issue (none / 0) (#82)
by gidds on Thu May 02, 2002 at 11:46:21 PM EST

The heating effect from the microwave radiation may well be negligible (we can argue the exact figures, but at most we're talking of one or two degrees Celsius, attained after several minutes of continuous exposure).

But that doesn't mean that mobile phones aren't harmful.  It's ionising radiation; that means there's a danger of it causing chemical changes to your cells, possibly leading to mutation of the DNA, possibly causing cancer.

Personally, I expect that these effects are also negligible (or there'd have been enough cases to notice over the last year or so), but they still need to be considered before we can say that mobile phones are completely safe.

Andy/
[ Parent ]

Ionising? (5.00 / 1) (#83)
by physicsgod on Fri May 03, 2002 at 01:00:21 AM EST

Perhaps you're using a different definition of ionising than I'm used to, but high-band phones (1800Mhz in europe, 1900 in the states) have only ~8e-6 eV, compared to the ~.3eV of the strongest hydrogen bonds (and there are at least 2 hydrogen bonds holding each basepair together). Hell, I'd be surprised if you could bump electrons out of metal at those energies (anyone with acess to a CRC want to check that?).

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
RF is *non*-ionising (5.00 / 1) (#86)
by gordonjcp on Fri May 03, 2002 at 05:38:42 AM EST

Because the energy of each photon is too low (consider the particle model rather than the wave model). Ionising radiation is typically from radioactive sources. If you live in an area with a lot of granite buildings, you'll get more ionising radiation from Radon emissions, than non-ionising from mobile phones.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
if it were ionizing.. power problems solved! (5.00 / 1) (#87)
by rebelcool on Fri May 03, 2002 at 12:44:40 PM EST

One could just microwave some water molecules to create hydrogen gas and burn that...a pure clean source of almost endless energy!

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

Few Openings? (3.50 / 2) (#16)
by kaemaril on Thu May 02, 2002 at 07:13:27 AM EST

What about the windows? There are normally quite a few of those, at least in the trains I've been in...


Why, yes, I am being sarcastic. Why do you ask?


Three words: read the article. [n/t] (1.00 / 1) (#19)
by valeko on Thu May 02, 2002 at 07:59:04 AM EST


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Two words: I did. (none / 0) (#37)
by kaemaril on Thu May 02, 2002 at 11:54:06 AM EST

I did, I was referring to the phrase few openings through which it might leave in the k5 article, which (to my mind) was suggesting basically a dirty great metal box with one or two grilles somewhere :)

Interestingly, the article does say that the windows don't seem to let the radiation through, though not why. Are they using the same glass as the companies that build microwave ovens or something? :)


Why, yes, I am being sarcastic. Why do you ask?


[ Parent ]
microwave oven glass lets it through too. (5.00 / 1) (#53)
by rebelcool on Thu May 02, 2002 at 01:53:54 PM EST

Thats why there is that metal grill in front of the window. The gaps in the grill are narrow enough that the waves cant pass through, but wide enough you can see inside when the light is on.

This whole fear about cell phone radiation is pretty ridiculous. The wattages are low, so is the frequency.

Compare this to a microwave oven. A small box that uses very high wattage waves along with perfect reflection.

A train. Very large box, fairly low reflectivity (otherwise no signal would even be able to escape), extremely low wattages and low-frequency signals emanating from the phones.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

Thirty? (5.00 / 1) (#33)
by ucblockhead on Thu May 02, 2002 at 11:13:47 AM EST

I ride the train twice a day, and I don't think I've ever seen more than two or three people talking on cell phones at one. Thirty? I can't even begin to imagine the cacaphony... I frankly don't see that as a likely occurance, all the more so because cell-phones don't work underground, making subway conversations difficult.
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
You don't commute in London then! (none / 0) (#50)
by SIGFPE on Thu May 02, 2002 at 01:12:06 PM EST

Even in the tunnels everyone is messaging.
SIGFPE
[ Parent ]
japan and cellphones (none / 0) (#90)
by christfokkar on Fri May 03, 2002 at 03:56:30 PM EST

Thirty? I can't even begin to imagine the cacaphony...

Yeah, I thought it was a high number, too.  Then I realized this study came out of Japan, where cellphones are near ubiquitous and public spaces are a lot more crowded (or such is my understanding).

[ Parent ]

They do... (none / 0) (#91)
by LeftOfCentre on Fri May 03, 2002 at 09:45:43 PM EST

...work under-ground very nicely. At least here in Stockholm. And are heavily used in trains.

[ Parent ]
Just to clarify ... (none / 0) (#94)
by thebrix on Sat May 04, 2002 at 09:48:00 AM EST

... in London they don't send or receive underground except on 'cut and cover' lines where the track is just below ground and the roof is partly open. (And large parts of the network, outside the centre of London, are above ground anyway).

This was by vote of the passengers about two years ago: London Underground was building a new communications network for itself, had spare capacity and asked whether it should be used for mobile phone calls.

However, plenty of people compose SMS messages offline anyway ...

[ Parent ]

When you're not actively using the phone (none / 0) (#38)
by etherdeath on Thu May 02, 2002 at 12:21:05 PM EST

I used to shut off my phone when I went into the subway, because the batteries on my old phone weren't so great, and the phone seemed to keep search for a signal during the whole ride. My new phone has better batteries or something, so I don't shut it off in the subway anymore. I'm curious how much the average phone tries to send out information when you aren't activily on the phone. I don't know the details of how cell phones worked, but I imagine it's possible phones send out small amounts of data with some regularity? I don't see many people using cell phones in the NYC subway - even in the elevated/outdoor trains where it's possible.

It works like this... (4.66 / 3) (#62)
by gordonjcp on Thu May 02, 2002 at 02:35:12 PM EST

The cell tower is constantly broadcasting a signal, from an aerial high up, and fairly powerful. So, over a wide area, the phone can "hear" it. However, because the transmitter on a phone is tiny and low down, with lots of things potentially blocking the signal path, the cell tower can't necessarily hear it.
Every few seconds then, perhaps up to a minute, if the phone's receiving anything like a signal, it sends a message out. If the cell tower can hear the signal from the phone it registers on the network - a bit like getting a DHCP lease.
When you pass from one cell to the next, there's a "handoff" message sent. This is what gives the "biddybeep biddybeep" noise you sometimes get when you're driving along, and the phone interferes with the radio.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
It might have been analogue roaming (5.00 / 1) (#76)
by lordpixel on Thu May 02, 2002 at 05:38:30 PM EST

Since you're in the US its very likely you old phone was dual analogue/digital.

On the subway, it may have switched to anaologue roaming (when it lost the digital signal) which runs the battery down pretty quick.

Most phones have a feature to turn off analogue roaming. Maybe its off on your new phone.

If you don't use analogue roaming, you probably should turn it off because it'll suck your batteries.

I am the cat who walks through walls, all places and all times are alike to me.
[ Parent ]

Gives off MORE radiation while searching (5.00 / 3) (#92)
by isaac_akira on Fri May 03, 2002 at 10:22:53 PM EST

When a cell phone is searching for a signal it is broadcasting continuously at it's highest power level, which is why the batteries run down so quickly. Digital phones normally send out signals at the lowest power level they can, but if they don't get a response from a cell tower, they bump up the signal power a notch. Your new phone is probobly smarter about giving up if it doesn't find a tower (my phone searches for a couple minutes, but then goes into "power save mode" where it only does a quick check every 5 or 10 minutes to see if it's in range yet).



[ Parent ]

Thats it! (5.00 / 2) (#46)
by FredBloggs on Thu May 02, 2002 at 01:06:53 PM EST

I`ve had enough!! I`m building a mobile phone jammer.  And i`ll use it until the UK starts having "Shut up - i`m working/resting, so no walkmen, phones, loud talking` carriages like they do in Denmark!  Its bad enough have peasants carry on with their low-quality conversations at full volume, but if its going to make bad things happen to me they can fsck right off!

</rant>

Hey! A jammer is more carcinogenic than... (none / 0) (#47)
by SIGFPE on Thu May 02, 2002 at 01:08:28 PM EST

...a phone.
SIGFPE
[ Parent ]
I`m sure (none / 0) (#49)
by FredBloggs on Thu May 02, 2002 at 01:11:59 PM EST

i read that they just have to broadcast a very low powered signal to interrupt/confuse the phones, rather than the standard military approach, which is to broadcast a powerful silence (or noise) on the same frequency? But i`m certainly no expert on the subject!

[ Parent ]
You could be right. (none / 0) (#52)
by SIGFPE on Thu May 02, 2002 at 01:22:43 PM EST

I was just assuming they took the military approach.
SIGFPE
[ Parent ]
It varies (none / 0) (#57)
by KWillets on Thu May 02, 2002 at 02:11:42 PM EST

The more expensive ones emulate a cell and acquire the phones which enter the cell.  The cheap ones generate noise.  

[ Parent ]
Well. (5.00 / 1) (#51)
by ambrosen on Thu May 02, 2002 at 01:15:34 PM EST

There'll be no need to use it, as the 4 big Intercity train companies (Virgin, GNER, First Great Western & Midland Mainline) all have quiet carriages. I don't think anyone was saying they existed on suburban or commuter trains.

--
Procrastination does not make you cool. Being cool makes you procrastinate. DesiredUsername.
[ Parent ]
There are some (none / 0) (#71)
by thebrix on Thu May 02, 2002 at 04:12:43 PM EST

Policy varies (there are umpteen different UK train operators) but Thames Trains, for one, has them.

[ Parent ]
Thats my local service!! (none / 0) (#85)
by FredBloggs on Fri May 03, 2002 at 05:18:26 AM EST

And i assure you they dont. At least, not on the Reading <-> Paddington line!

[ Parent ]
What's the big deal? (4.00 / 1) (#56)
by bumdass on Thu May 02, 2002 at 02:09:14 PM EST

Has there been a single study showing that the non-ionizing radition is actually harmful?  Sure, we can find a few correlations that seem to show this sort of thing, but as anyone in freshman stats will tell you, correlation != causation.

The fact is that the only danger from non-ionizing radiation is from the heat.  Heat can cause DNA to rearrange itself, and that's the fear here: that the heat caused from the cell phone will cause a cancer cell to be created in your brain.

But, I don't see how the heating from a cell phone is  any less dangerous than the sun's rays (which ARE ionizing).

Not just a few (none / 0) (#64)
by greenrd on Thu May 02, 2002 at 02:37:52 PM EST

Has there been a single study showing that the non-ionizing radition is actually harmful? Sure, we can find a few correlations that seem to show this sort of thing, but as anyone in freshman stats will tell you, correlation != causation.

A few? 5 seconds on Google tells me there've been quite a lot, in fact:

0.1 W/cm2 (0.001 W/Kg SAR)EEG brain waves are altered when exposed to cell phone signal Von Klitzing, 1995
0.16 W/cm2 Motor function, memory and attention of school children affected (Latvia) Kolodynski, 1996
0.168 - 1.053 W/cm2 Irreversible infertility in mice after 5 generations of exposure to cell phone signals from antenna park Magras & Xenos, 1997
0.2 - 8 W/cm2 Two-fold increase in childhood leukemia from AM-FM exposure Hocking, 1996
1.3 - 5.7 W/cm2 Two-fold increase in leukemia in adults from AM RF exposure Dolk, 1997
2.4 W/cm2 Interference with medical devices at least up to 1000 MHz Joyner, 1996


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]
now do a search that refutes those. (none / 0) (#68)
by rebelcool on Thu May 02, 2002 at 03:18:57 PM EST

You'll find just as many.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

Sponsored by cellphone companies, no doubt? [NC] (none / 0) (#77)
by greenrd on Thu May 02, 2002 at 06:07:08 PM EST


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]
or perhaps.. (none / 0) (#78)
by rebelcool on Thu May 02, 2002 at 06:40:10 PM EST

people without an anti-cellphone agenda.

*shrug*

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

Forgive my cynicism (5.00 / 1) (#80)
by greenrd on Thu May 02, 2002 at 07:07:38 PM EST

I'm just a little jaded.


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

Lincoln tunnel (4.00 / 3) (#58)
by Silent Chris on Thu May 02, 2002 at 02:26:35 PM EST

By this logic, the Lincoln tunnel should be a cesspool of radiation that instantly kills anyone who enters.  And while I sometimes hope that would be the case :) , it's not necessarily true.

why? (3.00 / 1) (#75)
by pschap on Thu May 02, 2002 at 04:56:48 PM EST

Each tunnel has a big openning on each end. The problem with the train is that it doesn't have any openings that stay open for a long period of time... or at least thats what I got from the article.

--
"In 1991, we had almost nothing. We'd only begun building cocks. After just 10 years, we have a very robust, active cock."

[ Parent ]
Lincoln tunnel (none / 0) (#89)
by awgsilyari on Fri May 03, 2002 at 01:39:26 PM EST

Is the Lincoln tunnel encased in metal? If not, then it will not trap EM like a metal train car.



--------
Please direct SPAM to john@neuralnw.com
[ Parent ]

Sounds kind of bunky to me (5.00 / 1) (#59)
by KWillets on Thu May 02, 2002 at 02:27:33 PM EST

Most of the EM radiation I've seen in trains comes from the motors. I once watched a paperclip stand on end on the floor of a BART train.

I suspect most people get more radiation from cordless phones at home than from cellular ones. The power limits for cordless phones are about one third that of cellular, but the fact that the base station is nearby means there's twice as much energy around. Add a cordless baby monitor, an X-cam, a lidless PC, Microwave background radiation, Alpha waves, and we could all be dead within 100 years.

And, of course, the effects of DHMO in closed train cars should not be ignored.

i'm curious... (none / 0) (#67)
by rebelcool on Thu May 02, 2002 at 03:17:57 PM EST

anyone know the ambient wattage levels from radio broadcast stations? I imagine its very tiny, but theres tons of it around.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

Radiation (none / 0) (#88)
by awgsilyari on Fri May 03, 2002 at 01:37:57 PM EST

You saw a paperclip standing on end? That indicates a static field, not radiation. Unchanging fields are not equivalent to radiation.

This isn't to say that a static EM field can have no effects, but it's definitely not the same as an EM wave.

I would really have liked to see that, though ;)

--------
Please direct SPAM to john@neuralnw.com
[ Parent ]

Yes I know it's static (none / 0) (#96)
by KWillets on Mon May 06, 2002 at 05:28:49 PM EST

But there's probably some alternating component as well, albeit low frequency. It was going up during acceleration, probably the field from a static winding.

[ Parent ]
Quick order of magnitude test (4.00 / 1) (#65)
by weirdling on Thu May 02, 2002 at 03:11:36 PM EST

Well, my cellphone has ~1300mAh of battery life in it, which is pretty high for most PCS phones.  ~750-800mAh is far more common.  My phone will work in talk mode for at least two hours, dissipating, in full talk mode, around 600mA.  Thirty people talking on a train would produce 18 amps total dissipation.  At 1.6V, that comes out to around 30 watts.  At 6V, that comes out to around 120 watts.  Now, remember that we're in a giant steel cage, and radiation both reflects and is absorbed by the cage.  Also remember that microwave does not well penetrate anything with water in it, so it takes a large amount of radiation to actually injure someone.

Anyway, as the power falls off as the square of the distance, being three feet away would see nine times less energy as being one foot away, and, as we can assume people are at least an average of three feet from a wall, the next person the wave hits is an average of six feet from the source on a bounce, at least, meaning the energy is 36 times less.  I realise this is somewhat faulty math, but I'm headed for an order of magnitude test, not an actual number, and that order of magnitude suggests un upper limit of exposure to around 40 watts, with an expected amount to be no more than half a watt.  Now, throw in interference from returning waves, inductive wires, other phones out of phase, and we've got an even lower number.  I expect the actual ambient level to not exceed, say, 50 milliwatts.  

Of course, the weasel word is in evidence: *may* be a health issue.  Truth is that nobody knows how much microwave causes cancer, and the scientists promise us they'll figure that out just as soon as they figure out if it actually *does* cause cancer.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.

Ah, darn (none / 0) (#66)
by weirdling on Thu May 02, 2002 at 03:13:27 PM EST

Make that upper limit of 4 watts and expected limit of 50 milliwatts and ambient of 5 milliwatts.  Off by an order of magnitude, sorry...

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
Trains aren't squares. (5.00 / 1) (#95)
by vastor on Sat May 04, 2002 at 06:36:02 PM EST

They tend to be rectangular. They also tend to have the rows of seats up against the walls with the aisle down the middle.

If you've got a window seat you've got one wall directly beside you. So half the passangers are going to be 25cm or so away from the first wall. Admittedly if they're seated in the middle of the train the front/back ends of the carriage may be quite a way away, but the sides are always going to be pretty nearby.

Anyway, the point is that particularly where distance makes a huge difference to the dissipation, presenting an overall average makes it look like much more will have dispersed than actually will have (floors/ceilings may be interesting to consider as well).

That said, I do like the idea of mobile phone free carriages, though they don't really bother me much since most of the train trips I take are intercity and hence tend to have reasonable stretches where there is just no mobile phone reception (so things tend to be concentrated around the train stations, which are where more people start talking/moving around anyway, so it's not significant).

But loud talking in general gets annoying on train trips. Normally if you talk to someone on the train they sit right next to you and so you speak with a somewhat lower voice than normal. People on mobiles however generally speak atleast at normal, often louder if the reception is dubious. If you're trying to nap, then the small difference can be enough to make you irritable about it (particularly if it is an overnighter and most of the others have already ceased their conversations with each other).

However I doubt that there is significant increase in radiation on trains, could see it doubling or so, but that just makes the minor dangers a tiny bit less minor.

Within 3 foot of you on a train are atleast five other people (if it's full - person beside you, two infront and two behind, not sure whether to count people in the far aisle or not).


[ Parent ]

One Datapoint: Kyocera 2255 from Sprint (US) (none / 0) (#70)
by molo on Thu May 02, 2002 at 04:07:17 PM EST

I would like to point out one datapoint for RF output on my phone.  From the Kyocera 2255 Manual, page 5
Radio Frequency (RF) energy

Your telephone is a radio transmitter and receiver.  When it is on, it receives and sends out RF energy.  Your service provider's network controls the power of the RF signal.  This power level can range from 0.006 to 0.6 watts.


This phone will do CDMA (800 MHz and 1900 MHz) and analog (800 MHz).  I'm assuming the 0.006 watt output is digital standby and the 0.6 watt output is analog transmission.

600 mW is not small, but its nothing like the 2 watts that some people are quoting.

It would be nice if there were more detailed specs available (CDMA trasmission wattage ranges especially).

-molo

--
Whenever you walk by a computer and see someone using pico, be kind. Pause for a second and remind yourself that: "There, but for the grace of God, go I." -- Harley Hahn

i believe... (none / 0) (#73)
by rebelcool on Thu May 02, 2002 at 04:18:51 PM EST

(and i could be wrong), that the higher watts are typically for much older phones using the crappy cellular type.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

More info at the FCC (none / 0) (#81)
by molo on Thu May 02, 2002 at 09:12:01 PM EST

The US FCC requires manufacturers to test the RF Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) on tissue.  The FCC specifies a maximum SAR of 1.6 W/kg of tissue. All of the filings are available for public consumption at http://www.fcc.gov/oet/fccid/

Enter the FCC ID number from your cell phone (mine was under the battery) in the form, with the first 3 characters in the left dialog and the rest in the right.

This links to a list of filings for this device.  Check the "Display Exhibits" and you'll see the SAR report for the device.  For example, for the phone I mentioned in the previous comment, this is the report filed for body-worn SAR:

https://gullfoss2.fcc.gov/prod/oet/forms/blobs/retrieve.cgi?attachment_id=182858 &native_or_pdf=pdf

The data included has the power output and SAR at all of the different transmission modes for the device.  Also, check out the neat-o plots.

Interesting that they have different permeabilities for muscle fluid and brain fluid, resulting in much higher maximum SAR for holding the phone to the ear (1.47 W/kg) than when its on the body (0.562 W/kg).

-molo

--
Whenever you walk by a computer and see someone using pico, be kind. Pause for a second and remind yourself that: "There, but for the grace of God, go I." -- Harley Hahn
[ Parent ]

Trains Trap 'Mobile Phone Radiation' | 96 comments (92 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
Display: Sort:

kuro5hin.org

[XML]
All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. The Rest 2000 - Present Kuro5hin.org Inc.
See our legalese page for copyright policies. Please also read our Privacy Policy.
Kuro5hin.org is powered by Free Software, including Apache, Perl, and Linux, The Scoop Engine that runs this site is freely available, under the terms of the GPL.
Need some help? Email help@kuro5hin.org.
My heart's the long stairs.

Powered by Scoop create account | help/FAQ | mission | links | search | IRC | YOU choose the stories!