Disconnect, by Devra Davis

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Reviewed by Fran Maclure “There is a disconnect between the way that cell phones tie us all together and what these revolutionary tools can do to our bodies as they press up against our ears every day”. Thus starts Devra Davis’ first explanation of what kinds of disconnects exist and the hidden dangers of frequent and long-term cell phone use. In this intriguing and compelling read, she uncovers the secret history of buried past studies on the dangers of cell phone radiation and compares them with the benign reputation these ‘slick’ gadgets have today.

Dr. Davis is convinced that even a little bit of evidence of DNA damage should be enough to take simple precautions to reduce direct exposure of both our brains and bodies to cell phone radiation. So why is there such hesitancy for the industries that compete for our loyalty to their products to admit that this very same product needs to be made safer? Sadly, it’s a question of money which they prefer to spend manufacturing doubt about the certainty of the dangers of radio frequency radiation. This is what the true scientific studies are up against – the government-sponsored industry studies. Whenever an independent scientific study is done – and there have been several – money gets pulled and careers get quietly quashed. But Davis admits that science is in a bind here: it’s impossible to do a blind test on the dangers of cell phone use when practically every adult uses one! So what’s the solution?

In June 2010, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and city commissioners bravely adopted right-to-know legislation stating that cell phones release radio frequency radiation and that the public has a right to readable, printed warnings on every cell phone purchased. This is definitely the beginning of the push-back by honest legislators who ignore the fear-mongering by the industry, and care more about the health and safety of its citizens. Mayor Newsom is on the right track: looking at the evidence and taking every precaution to avoid an epidemic in the future. As Davis says, “In science, as in much of life, the perfect is the enemy of the pretty damn good.” And the evidence that today’s cell phones cause harm is pretty damn good.