Mobile Phones and Brain Cancer
The spread of the mobile telephone and of the internet into the general population have taken place over roughly the same period of time; the late 1990s and the early 2000s. From a health perspective, it is not the use of the phones themselves which has given the most cause for public concern during this period but the erection of masts or ‘base stations’ in particular locations to improve the network coverage. People living in the vicinity of phone masts, or facing the prospect of doing so, quarrel with the companies for choosing their neighbourhood, and with the local authorities for allowing them to do so. Once erected, the masts are permanent fixtures, constantly in use, and may, it is feared, inflict health damage as well as interfering with other domestic equipment and creating an unwanted visual presence. Whereas individuals can choose whether or not to buy themselves a mobile phone, how much to use it, and whether to employ a hands-free attachment, they have no such personal control over the operation of the base stations. This aspect of the masts issue gives it a political edge that is much more muted in relation to the phones themselves. Meanwhile, the personal choice element in relation to the actual cellphones introduces an important component of reflexivity. ‘I must decide what is best for me, knowing what I know/believe not just about the technology, but also about myself.’ Although this chapter is mainly about phones not masts, it is not always possible to separate these in practice when the issue comes up for discussion.
KeywordsMobile Phone Precautionary Principle Brain Cancer Cellular Phone Mobile Telephone
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