[Please note there is contact information included here. Perhaps this Show/Station is interested in requests to hear more interviews about this and other EMF topics.]
Following is an unofficial transcript prepared by Barb Payne (not by CJAD).
[CJAD staff advised that generally it’s okay to share a CJAD listener’s transcript and post it on a website if the following requirements are met: the transcript text includes an obvious and clear statement that it’s an unofficial transcript and was not prepared by CJAD; the posting website’s focus is not intended to be defamatory to the participants nor CJAD.]
Live broadcast August 5, 2013 beginning at 11:30 a.m.
Tommy Schnurmacher Show
9:00am - 12:00pm
1717 boulevard René-Lévesque Est Montréal (Québec) H2L 4T9
Main Switchboard: (514) 989-CJAD (2523)
Studio Line: (514) 790-0991
Long Distance Line: 1-800-491-CJAD (2523)
T: = Tommy Schnurmacher (host)
D: = Dr. Devra Davis (guest)
T: We know that elderly people may suffer from dementia, but is it really possibly your teenager could be suffering from digital dementia? Could that be possible? The answer to that question coming up.
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T: Do you love your smartphone? Can you not go a minute without checking for new texts, tweets, emails? Don’t look now: you’re turning into an e-zombie. Think that’s silly? Actually, it’s serious. Are there long-term consequences to smartphone addiction, and is something like digital dementia is that actually for real? I’m joined by Dr. Devra Davis, President of Environmental Health Trust, who offers us her take. Good morning.
D: Good morning, Tommy. Thank you for inviting me to talk with you about this important issue.
T: Dr. Davis, can dependence on something like a smartphone really be called an addiction?
D: Well, neuropsychiatrists in Korea have actually classified children with digital dementia based on their analyses of their brains after they start using phones at a very young age. And, as you may be aware, in the United States and Canada today, some people who are uninformed are giving smartphone-like devices to children as early as six months of age. And there are many apps—thousands of apps—designed for very young children today. So for young children whose brains double in the first year of life, there’s little question that electronic stimulation of these devices is not a good idea.
T: What is digital dementia?
D: Well, it’s a term that has been coined by psychiatrists in Korea. Now, you understand, of course, that Korea is one of the most sophisticated and tech-savvy nations in the world. They have broadband connection speeds that are 50 to 100 times faster than ours, because they rely on wired—and not wireless. And that’s a very important thing, just as a start. Growing numbers of businesses recognize that if you continue to rely on wireless, you’re going to be damaging business because of security. And there are long-term health effects as well. And this category of digital dementia was developed in Korea because psychiatrists there were starting to see young people who were addicted to their devices. Literally, they were unable not to use them. And their brains were not developing fully. I think we’ve all seen young children who can’t look you in the eye, who would rather look at their tablet or their phone. And that phenomenon is actually having consequences physiologically, according to these psychiatrists in Korea. And the American Academy of Pediatrics has recently re-affirmed its position that children should have limited amounts of screen time and that they need more lap-time than app-time.
T: So, tell me how much screen-time is acceptable?
D: Well, for children under two, the American Academy of Pediatrics says almost none, all right. That they don’t need any stimulation; what they need is eye-hand contact, they need to feel and touch and smell another human being as they learn how to become a social creature.
T: What exactly are parents giving kids who are a year-and-a-half or a year old?
D: Well, believe it or not, you can get apps that you can program that you can put the phone next to the baby and when the baby cries, the phone will play Mommy’s voice saying, “Shhh. Now, it’s okay.” There are apps that are designed to be used to detect motion of a baby. You can get an app that will entertain a baby—literally with baby-like noises and giggly, using circles and triangles and squares to teach them shapes and numbers—the kinds of things parents have been teaching children for thousands of years directly, can now be done with machines. And there are… if you to babyapps, you’ll be astonished at the number of things. But this is not just a problem for babies. I think we all know people who, literally, cannot function separate from their smartphones. And I would say it’s not really a smartphone if it’s damaging your brain.
T: Now, what about is it true that they have internet addiction camps in South Korea?
D: As a matter of fact, there are… the Atlantic Monthly ran a story a few months ago that there are more than 100 internet addiction camps in Korea, in South Korea. And I know that a couple programs have been started in California—where, of course, people are very tech-savvy. And C-NET ran a story recently—that’s one of the computer-savvy online reporting sources—that said that many of the parents of Silicon Valley do not allow their children to have access to devices when they’re very young; and limit their own access, because people are starting to recognize that these devices can take over lives.
T: Dr. Devra Davis is my guest, President of Environmental Health Trust. If you have any questions or comments for her: 514-790-0991, star talk, text your question, your comment to 514800. We’re talking about babies and teenagers. For an adult, what would be a normal amount of time to check on your Twitter feed and see what’s doing on facebook? How much per day would be acceptable?
D: Well, like most things in life, one size does not fit all. And there are some businesses that have become completely dependent on these devices. And certainly, I’m not going to second guess that except to say that Environmental Health Trust—the group that I started—has safety tips on what to do, that can be downloaded from our webpage. And they include some very basic advice about never keeping phones directly next to the brain or body. If you look inside your iPhone now—and you go to Settings on your own phone… on iPhone, and then you click on General from Settings, and then you go to the top of that screen and go to About, and then you go scroll all the way to the bottom to something called “Legal,” and then all to the bottom of that “RF Exposure”—you will see inside the iPhone the following advice. And I read, “To reduce exposure to RF energy,” comma, “use a hands-free option, such as the built-in speakerphone,” comma, “the supplied headphones, or other similar accessories. Carry iPhone at least 10 millimetres away from your body to ensure exposure levels remain at or below the as-tested levels. Cases with metal parts may change the RF performance of the device, including its compliance with RF exposure guidelines.” That’s what’s inside your phone.
T: But most people hadn’t seen it or heard about it ‘til… ‘til you just told them.
D: Not until your radio program today, Tommy.
D: Right. Now, also there’s groups informed in Canada. There’s a group called “Citizens For Safe Technology,” which is trying to promote more sensible use of technology as well. And there are groups all over the world that Environmental Health Trust is working with. We just returned from a trip to Turkey and Greece. In Turkey, I met with the Governor and the Mayor of Samsun Province. And they are now issuing—in Turkish language—our doctors’ pamphlet telling people simple things they can do to use phones in a wiser way. I’m not telling people not to use phones, but they need to understand that phones are basically two-way microwave radios.
T: We’re going to continue our discussion. Any questions you have for our guest, Dr. Devra Davis, President of Environmental Health Trust, 514-790-0991, star talk, text your comment to 514800. 11:45 the time, and check your traffic [traffic report and radio station commercial advertisements follow].
T: Our conversation with Dr. Devra Davis. Not only is she President of Environmental Health Trust, she’s the author of Disconnect: The Truth About Cell Phone Radiation, What the Industry Is Doing to Hide It, and How to Protect Your Family. We’re getting all kinds of texts. I’d like you to react to them, Dr. Davis. This one says, “My best friend’s father developed a brain tumour attributed to overuse of a cell phone. He died less than two years following the diagnosis.” That’s from Richard. What would you say to that?
D: I’m sorry to hear that. And unfortunately, I have published an article with some of Canada’s leading epidemiologists that say that cell phone radiation is a probable cause of malignant brain cancer. Professor Tony Miller, Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto, and Professor Colin Soskolne from Alberta, and I have authored a recent paper—that can be found on our website at ehtrust.org—in which we review all of the world’s literature, and we conclude based on our expertise in epidemiology that long-term use of cell phones does increase the risk of brain cancer. But brain cancer is not the most important or worst problem we’re worried about right now; we’re worried about more immediate issues. And those issues involve what’s happening to our brains, our bodies, on the short-term with wireless exposure and cell phone radiation. It’s harder to pin down in some ways, but the effects are much more broad. And we’re all growing up now and living in a world where we have a sea of radiofrequency radiation that did not exist even five years ago.
T: Now, let’s talk about… you mentioned before about what the instructions are if you go deep into the iPhone. Is it a good idea if you have your phone with you to turn it off completely and use it when you need to make a call, when you need to call somebody, or check if anybody has called you in the last couple of hours? Is that a good strategy?
D: Well, you know, again it depends on your… your situation. But my advice is that you can… the best phone is one that’s turned off and you turn it on when you want to be interrupted, so that we get control of our lives again instead of the situation where so many of us feel like we’re constantly on standby for an emergency. There are emergencies but our life doesn’t have to be treated as though it is one. And so, having your phone on standby on airplane mode means you’re not getting microwaves signals at all. Steve Jobs famously refused to put an easy on-off switch on the iPhone, because he thought it would be, ironically, like death. And yet he himself ended up dying, tragically, at an early age. And I think in part his death was due to some of the things he was exposed to. But we are finding that if people can take control again—use their cell phones as answering machines—that it… it really improves your life remarkably.
T: Dr. Devra Davis, my guest. 514-790-0991, star talk, text your question, your comment to 514800. Listen to this text, Dr. Davis, that just came in for you. It says, “If your reasoning is sound then every ham operator should be dead, as we use much higher power levels compared to cell phones. This is hokum,” he saids.
D: Well, you know, I can appreciate that ham operators are… do get higher exposure. And in fact here’s the problem. Epidemiology studies patterns in people in time and space, and it takes a long time for brain cancer to develop. In fact, ham operators do have an increased risk of certain types of brain disorders and brain cancer. But because there are not that many ham operators, because we don’t have a registry of all of those who have ever been exposed, and because today exposure is universal, it becomes very, very difficult to study these things. What I rely on—and what I’ve written about in my book Disconnect—is that there’s experimental evidence that if you take brain cells and you exposure them under controlled conditions in a laboratory to the kind of pulsed digital signal that you get from cell phones today, you can actually damage those brain cells in ways that we didn’t understand. And the damage doesn’t come about from the weak signal that you get from the cell phone—because a cell phone does have less than a watt of power, much less than a ham radio—but it comes about from the pulsed, erratic, digital nature of the signal, which disrupts our normal healthy cells, which themselves function with electricity as well.
T: Okay, this text for you, “What if we always use a bluetooth and always have the phone in a holster?”
D: Well. For some people bluetooth seems to be all right. But bluetooth doesn’t mean no radiation, it just means a lot less. But keep the phone, I say, several inches off of your body, when it’s on. And that makes thousands or 10,000 times less exposure. So for those who can tolerate it, a bluetooth seems to be all right. But many people cannot. And it is a form of exposure although much, much lower.
T: So you’re saying if you keep it away from you…
D: Like, my phone right now is on my desk. Okay? It’s approximately 8 inches away. I happen to have it on airplane mode because I’m talking to you and I don’t want to be interrupted. I get in the habit of keeping my phone on airplane mode, and turning it on when I’m ready to call someone or have someone call me. It’s easier for women because we can use purses. Men are going to have to start to carry manbags or murses again.
T: Or keep the phone off.
T: Right. Okay. This one says, “My wife thinks I use it too much. I don’t. I’m not on facebook. And I’m an involved parent. What is too much?”
D: You know, you gotta talk to your wife and figure that one out. I’m not going to get in the middle of it. But I’ll say that, you know, every… every family has its own standards and reasons for thinking and acting as they do.
T: All right. We’ll continue our discussion. Dr. Devra Davis, President of Environmental Health Trust. The book: Disconnect: The Truth About Cell Phone Radiation, What the Industry Is Doing to Hide It, and How to Protect Your Family. Any questions or comments: 514800. You’re listening to the Tommy Schnurmacher Show on CJAD.
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T: My guest is Dr. Devra Davis. The book is called Disconnect: The Truth About Cell Phone Radiation, What the Industry Is Doing to Hide It. And ehtrust.org if you want to check out her website. This text for you from Alan. He says, “How much screen-time for my 8-year-old son?”
D: Your son needs to be physically active. That’s most important. And we want we find is that in many children today they’re spending up to 6 hours a day in front of the television or some other screen. And as a consequence, there are all kinds of things happening to their bodies that should not happen. They’re not developing the muscles, the energy, the reflexes that they should. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends measured use of such devices, appropriate to each family. I would say that, in general, for school purposes—because schools are using these things—they should be used only when necessary, and for maybe an hour or two a day throughout the day, so long as they’re not connected to the wireless but wired or you’ve downloaded the information to the device. So if you have to give your child an… a device to use for educational purposes, then make sure you’ve downloading the information to it and the device is not connected to the WiFi.
T: Okay. All right. This one. Two quick questions. Andrea wants to know, “If you don’t have a bluetooth but use the wire earplugs, is that worse or better?” And André from Chateauguay wants to know, “What about tablet devices?”
D: Well, tablets are approved to be used at a distance of 20 centimetres from the body. They’re tested. That means about 8 inches away, from you. And so that means that they not… should never be held directly on the body. Think about all these little children that are using these things. You… if you’re not connected to the internet, you’re only getting electromagnetic fields—which themselves we want to minimize. So I advise that anyone using a tablet should use it with a pillow, a book, or on the desk—as my computer sits right now.
T: All right. And the earplugs… the wire earplugs instead of bluetooth?
D: Wired is always better, but again if the wired earplugs are on you and you have them draped down the body and the phone in the pocket you’re really not achieving much of a reduction. Although you’re reducing your exposure to your brain, you’re increasing it to the rest of your body. BlackBerry comes with advice that says the BlackBerry device should be held 2.54 centimetres away from the abdomen of teenagers or pregnant women.
T: Women. All right. Thank you so much for joining us. Dr. Devra Davis, President of Environmental Health Trust, ehtrust.org.
[end of interview]
[end of transcript]