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April 21, 2008

iPods & Health Problems

iPods & Health Problems
(iPods Given a Clean Bill of Health by FDA

Portable devices are everywhere these days. MP3 players, cell phones, GPS navigator’s, palmtop computers and other electronic devices have become ubiquitous, but many critics have speculated that the electromagnetic fields produced by these gadgets could be dangerous, or even deadly.

The Food and Drug Administration has finally weighed in on the argument, releasing the results of a recent study that suggests that Apple iPods and similar portable devices do not interfere with cardiac pacemakers.

Since the release of the iPod, several people have claimed to have developed irregular heart beats, or unusual activity from cardiac pacemakers after using the portable MP3 player. Activists have been lobbying for warning labels to be placed on iPods and other small electromagnetic devices to protect individuals with pacemakers from potential problems.

But Howard Basson of the FDA says, “based on the observations of our in vitro study we conclude that no interference effects can occur in pacemakers exposed to the iPods we tested.” Apple, the creator of the iPod, is surely relieved at this latest pronouncement by the FDA, as having to label their product with a health warning would not exactly be good for business.

But the bigger question about portable electromagnetic devices is whether they have long-term health effects, caused by low but consistent emmissions of radiation. Several consumer protection groups have focused in on cell phones as a health risk, particularly when used often.

Unfortunately, the FDA and other consumer protection agencies have not thoroughly examined the effects of cell phones and palmtop computers over the long-term. There have been anecdotal cases reported of brain tumors and other abnormalities in individuals who were heavy cell phone users. However, it is not known for certain if there is a direct causal link between cell phone electromagnetic radiation and the abnormalities.

What is needed is a long-term comprehensive study of the effects of electromagnetic radiation emitted from cell phones and other personal devices — preferably, a study that is not funded by any of the parties involved.

Concern about the effects of EMR had been taken much more seriously in other countries. For example, Canada has outlawed placing cell phone towers in the vicinity of schools. New Zealand, the UK and Germany are all considering similar laws. So far though, the United States government has failed to take a serious look at the effects of all this electromagnetic activity we are adding to our environment.

With portable electronic devices becoming more powerful and more common in our society, it is high time we had unbiased research on their impact to our environment and health.

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