The important part of this story has been buried…

March 12, 2007 at 8:54 am | Posted in Technical | Leave a comment

It’s all over the news today that the Mayo Clinic has proven fairly conclusively that cel phones do not interfere with medical equipment, and are probably safe to use in hospitals.

The part that is at the very bottom of the story, though, includes anecdotal evidence of the types of devices that *do* interfere with medical equipment. Although the Mayo study finds that cel phones do not generate the correct RFI or electromagnetic interference (EMI) to disrupt medical gear, it seems logical that devices using different frequencies or field strengths might. The fine print of today’s press stories, for instance, suggests that EMI generated by  electronic article surveillance (EAS) systems can interfere with implanted pacemakers and defibrillators.

Should our Red  Cross first aid training now include dragging the victim away from the store’s security archway, which may or may not have caused them to collapse?

I think there’s a definite need for more inquiry into this field. We all agree that our cel phones probably do not cause cancer, cause airplanes to crash, or cause an explosion at a gas station. As these myths continue to be brought to light, it highlights just how little we really know about the effects of EMI and RFI, especially as laypeople. Here we are, all blithely  carting around one or more RF and EM emitting devices at any given time, with very little information on how these devices are affecting our bodies, which are, of course, dependent on electrical signals conducted via the nervous system to operate.

The long and short is that I am not a conspiracy theorist, and I don’t think we all need to start wearing tin foil hats to protect our brainwaves. I do, however, think we are getting an awful lot of false alarms about EMI and RFI, and that all these lies/mistakes are making the scientific community sound like Chicken Little. It’s time to get the facts on this stuff straight, and present it to the public in a logical, non-alarmist way, please.

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