Cellphones Cause Cancer?

One of my favorite organizations, Environmental Working Group, recently released the results of their 10 month study into radiation emitted from cellphones. They report studies have found higher incidences of brain and salivary gland tumors in people who have used cell phones for ten or more years. This caught my attention since I have just hit a decade of cell phone usage myself, and my husband has used one for over 15 years.

I could not find a link to their source of information about the link between cell phones and cancer, so I conducted my own search. I found an article from Surgical Neurology, an International Journal of Neurosurgery and Neuroscience. The article was published in their September 2009 issue, and was a meta-analysis of 11 long term studies, which means it was a statical look at data gathered from multiple studies. All of the studies used had been published in peer-reviewed journals, included participants with over 10 years of cell phone usage, and were looking at cancer rates on the side of the head the user frequently held their phone to.

girl on cellphone

The results of the study indicated being a long-term, frequent cell phone user doubles the chance of tumors of the brain on the side of their head most used for cell phones. The authors state that the “data achieve statistical significance for glioma and acoustic neuroma but not for meningioma.” All three of these conditions are brain tumors, but not all of them are cancerous.

With this in mind, I checked back in at the Environmental Working Group’s website. EWG has come up with a list of over 1000 cell phones and their radiation emissions. Of course I checked my phone and was dismayed to find it is fairly high on the list. My husband’s phone was much lower. I then clicked on the link Guide to Reduce Cell Phone Radiation Exposure. Here I read about tips to reduce my exposure, and I found out that listening is better than talking or texting and texting is better than talking when it comes to the radiation your phone emits. I also learned that using a headset or speakerphone can help, but it is important to keep the phone away from your body so the soft tissues don’t absorb the radiation.

The report by EWG is a great resource if you are phone shopping. If I were in the market for a new phone I would consult this list to help narrow my search. While I’m not going to stop using my cell, the report will make me rethink how often I use my phone and how I talk on it when I do. For centuries smoking was not considered hazardous to a person’s health, yet it turned out to be one of the most harmful personal habits. The first report linking smoking to lung cancer was published in 1929, yet it took until 1964 for the surgeon general make a statement about the relationship between the two. Perhaps with new information coming to light we can take steps now to prevent cell phones from causing illness before it becomes a national health problem.

young child on cell phone

photo from thisiswireless.com

Keep Your Dog Happy!

Recently I decided my dogs needed to get out  more without driving miles and wasting gas and time. I was sure I could find them something new right in our backyard. I used a search engine to look for local parks and paths that allowed dogs. During my search I came across a group called Columbia Dogs-on-the-Go. This local meetup group is for dog owners and their dogs to socialize and exercise together. I loved the idea and joined up.


Rory in the water at a Columbia Dogs-on-the-Go meetup spot

Going green includes family pets, and it isn’t all about the right food and shampoo. Most dogs need to stay active, and taking them on walks is key. A green dog walk is nearby, requiring little to no driving. It means picking up after your dog and if possible, composting the waste. Keeping your dog walk green also includes not littering, recycling your waste, and bringing reusable water bottles to keep you hydrated.

Dogs are naturally pack animals and most are ecstatic in a group with other dogs. Although many dogs include their humans in their pack, spending time with other dogs is fun for most of our pet dogs. Even though Canis lupus familiaris has been domesticated for about 15,000 years, dogs still retain some of their wild behaviors and social hierarchy.  Bored dogs tend to be behavior problems, so keeping a dogs happy and engaged is a boon for both the dog and the owner.


A picture from our walk by a fellow Columbia Dogs-on-the-Go member Amy Pickwick

The group I joined has frequent walks and events; right now they seem to average once per week. There are events at dog-friendly businesses and after work and weekend walks. On our first walk we met at a local lake and used the path around it to walk for nearly an hour. Abby brought her tricycle and Chuck walked Rory and I took Blue while pushing Abby. It was the first time Rory and Blue had walked with other dogs. Both dogs got along with all of the other dogs, and Rory actually calmed down a little bit and stopped pulling hard near the end; Blue is only a year old but is much better on the leash than Rory and rarely pulls unless we are running.

The walk was great! There were small dogs and big dogs, young dogs and old dogs. Almost 18 people attended and just about as many dogs. We had a number of people on the path ask about such a large group walking with dogs, and the organizers of Columbia Dogs-on-the-Go are looking into bandannas and t-shirts to advertise the group to encourage more people to join.


Rory and a new friend at a Columbia Dogs-on-the-Go meetup. Picture also by Amy Pickwick

If you are a dog owner, I encourage you to look for similar groups in your area. If you don’t find one, start one! The exercise and socializing is good for both humans and adults and it is a great chance to meet new people. Still unsure? Show your dog his leash and his tail wagging will convince you!

Need $25 Million?

Two years ago today, the Virgin Earth Challenge was launched. With a prize of $25 million to any person or team that can design something feasible commercially to remove man-made greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere. The competion was thought up and finaced by the founder of Virgin Records and over 350 other companies under the Virgin brand, Sir Richard Branson. Branson stated,

“We all now know that something radical has got to be done to turn back the tide of global warming.  By launching the $25 million Virgin Earth Challenge, the largest ever science and technology prize to be offered in history, we want to encourage scientists and individuals from around the world to come up with a way of removing lethal carbon dioxide from the earth’s atmosphere.  By competing for this prize they will follow in the footsteps of many of history’s greatest inventors and innovators.  But in this case potentially save the planet. It is our hope and belief that the winner of The Virgin Earth Challenge will help to reverse the collision course our beautiful world is currently on.  They will not only make history but preserve history for many, many generations to come.

However, it is important to remember that there is a real possibility that no one will win this prize.  Governments, and their people, must continue to use every effort to radically reduce CO2 emissions.”

Do you think you have a idea that could win the prize? Email me with your plans and I will make sure they are submitted! If you would rather do the legwork yourself, visit the Virgin Earth Challenge website for all the details.

Game Review of the EPA’s Recycle City

My daughter Ari discovered a game on the EPA’s website called Recycle City. She enjoyed it and learned in the process. The game starts with Dumptown, a municipality that sends all of its trash to the dump and it doesn’t look like a nice place to live. When City Hall is clicked, nine different recycling programs are available. Each program has a short description, the associated costs, and examples of how it has worked in different communities.


Continue reading “Game Review of the EPA’s Recycle City”

The Story of Stuff

Today seems the day for sending you off on merry adventures. If you’ve never seen the Story of Stuff, it is a definite must-see! Every time I see it I am reminded of why I need to stop buying new if I can reuse something.

If you like it, bookmark it and view it every 3-6 months to renew your commitment to accumulating less stuff.

The Story of Stuff