Tag Archives: children

Children and Cell Phones: Is Phone Radiation Risky for Kids?

Hannah Kalvin

Children use cell phones to watch TV, play games, make phone calls, and send text
messages.  Many older kids and teens have their own cell phones, which they are attached to kid texting24/7. But are there risks to such frequent use by children, and if so is that different than the risks for adults?

Cell phones emit a type of radiation that is known as Radio Frequency-Electromagnetic Radiation (RF-EMR), also referred to as microwave radiation. There have been concerns from the scientific community about whether or not cell phones are safe. Cancer is a particular concern, but since cancers take 10-20 years to develop and children’s frequent cell phone use is a relatively recent development, there are more questions than answers.  To read more about whether we should be worried about cell phone radiation in general, read our article here.

There are several studies of the impact of cell phone radiation on children. Here are some of the conclusions so far:

  • A 2010 study of cell phone radiation noted that, “in general and on average, children suffer a higher exposure of their brain regions than adults.”  This is because children have proportionally smaller heads and brains, yet receive the same levels of cell phone radiation as adults.1 The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees, saying that “when used by children, the average RF energy deposition is two times higher in the brain and 10 times higher in the bone marrow of the skull, compared with mobile phone use by adults.”2
  • Another study found that people who begin using cell phones (and cordless landline phones) before the age of 20 are at an even higher risk of developing brain tumors than people who begin using these wireless phones as adults.3,4 This is because of the closer proximity of the source of radiation to the brain of kids (they have thinner tissues and bones than adults).
  • Research also suggests that cell phone exposure could affect children’s behavior.5 The children in the study who were hyperactive or had emotional or behavioral problems, including trouble getting along with other kids, were much more likely to have mothers who used cell phones during pregnancy. After accounting for other factors that could affect behavior, the children of these mothers were 80% more likely to have behavioral problems than children whose mothers rarely or didn’t use cell phones. However, this is difficult to study because mothers who use cell phones frequently during pregnancy or after the baby is born, may pay less attention to their children, resulting in the children’s bad behavior. More research is needed to understand the link between mother’s cell phone use and children’s behavior.
  • Children that used cell phones more were more likely to have ADHD. Although the link to ADHD was only for children who also had high levels of lead in their blood, when researchers adjusted for blood lead level, they still found that ADHD was more likely for children who made more phone calls and spent a longer amount of time on the phone.6 This study was conducted in Korea, so it would be important to do similar research on children living in other countries.
  • A 2014 article reviewing studies on children and their cell phone use found that the younger the child, the greater the risk of brain cancer and brain tumors. The same article also points to studies concluding that cell phones are associated with an increased risk of breast cancer (due to adolescents putting cell phones in their bras), parotid (salivary) gland tumors, and sperm damage for adolescents and adults.7

Reactions To Research About Cell Phone Radiation

In 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics wrote a letter to the Federal Communications Commission, which sets the standards for cell phone radiation in the United States, and recommended that they reevaluate these standards since this had not been done since 1996. Their reasoning is that “children, however, are not little adults and are disproportionately impacted by all environmental exposures, including cell phone radiation.”2 But, as of 2015, the FCC still says that there is no evidence between wireless device use and health problems and continues to uphold the regulations from 1996.8 Other countries have taken a different approach. As of 2014, Turkey, Belgium, Australia, and France have warned about the dangers of children’s cell phone usage.7



Scientists disagree on whether cell phone radiation can cause cancer or other health problems.  Since so many children and adults use cell phones so frequently, that makes it difficult to do a study comparing high and low cell phone usage.  And since brain tumors and other cancers usually do not develop until several decades after the initial exposure, it could be years before we know how risky cell phones are and under what circumstances.7

By the time we find out, many people will have been harmed if cell phones are found to be dangerous. Here are some precautionary tips on how to protect your children from the health issues that could be connected to cell phone radiation.9

  1. Turn airplane mode on when giving a child a technology device or when a cell phone is near a pregnant abdomen, to prevent exposure to radiation.
  2. Turn off wireless networks and devices to decrease your family’s radiation exposure whenever you aren’t actively using them. As an easy first step, turn your Wi-Fi router off at bedtime.
  3. Decrease use of phones or wifi where wireless coverage is difficult, in order to avoid an increase in radiation exposure.
    The warning about RF exposure found on an iPhone 5s.
    The warning about RF exposure found on an iPhone 5s.
  4. Use the speaker phone or a plug in earpiece when you use a cell phone. To protect children from radiation, they should not use cell phones except in emergency and should use the speaker phone.
  5. Increase the distance between you and your cell phone whenever it is on, to reduce your exposure to radiation emitted. For example, do not use a cell phone while a child is on your lap, and do not carry your cell phone in your baby carrier, crib, or pockets. When the phone is on, tell your kids to put it in a backpack as far from their body as possible (such as an outside pocket) or on the desk or other furniture at home, instead of holding it or carrying it in a pocket.
  6. Read the fine print: All device manufacturers advise that cell phones should be at least 5 millimeters, or about ¼ of an inch away from your body or brain. With the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6s, the company advises users to keep the cell phone at least 10 millimeters, or about half an inch, away from your body or brain. See the safe distance for your phone. For iPhone 5 and iPhone 6, this is located under: Settings -> General -> About -> Legal -> RF Exposure.
  7. Share this info with your friends, family, and schools so that they can make these simple changes as well.


All articles on our website have been approved by Dr. Diana Zuckerman and other senior staff.

Are Pesticides, Roundup, and Cancer in Children Connected?

By Prianka Waghray and Avni Patel

In murder mysteries, rat poison and pesticides intentionally added to food are sometimes used to kill.  Scientists have also warned they can cause birth defects.  However, more recent research shows that relatively low levels of pesticides and indoor bug sprays can cause cancer and other serious medical problems in children, and possibly adults.

A study published in 2020 found that children exposed to pesticides are more likely to develop cancer later in life. The study highlights an urgent need to prevent and child’s exposure to pesticides 1. Although it was already known that many chemicals used in pesticides, such as certain organophosphates, can cause cancer, the study aimed to find out how much exposure is likely to cause cancer in children.

The evidence about the risks of various chemicals has been growing. There is some evidence that high level of exposures to pesticides, especially among farm workers, may increase the chances of developing lung cancer, but more research is needed on which pesticides are most likely to cause harm 2. In 2019, a University of  Washington study showed that the use of a widely used weed killer called Roundup increases the chances of contracting non-Hodgkin lymphoma by 21% 3.  Children are especially vulnerable to even small amounts of insecticides and pesticides that are meant to kill rodents or insects, even in tick and flea sprays used on pets, because children are smaller than adults and their bodies and brains are still developing.  Roundup, which has been banned in 41 countries as of 2021 due to health concerns, as well as other weed killers are currently being investigated by scientists to learn more about the risks for adults and children. 4.

Even before the latest study, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which is the nonprofit organization for pediatricians, warned that children can be harmed by pesticides in their daily life.5. The AAP concludes that exposure to pesticides early in life can result in childhood cancers, behavioral problems, and lower scores on tests to measure thinking, reasoning, and remembering. They recommend that parents reduce their children’s exposure to pesticides as much as possible, by controlling bugs and other pests using non-chemical methods whenever possible, and by reducing the amount of pesticides in what children eat and drink.

Several studies have found, for instance, that children exposed to organophosphates, which are common in household insecticides, in their early years tend to have lower IQ and more likely to show the behaviors typical of autism and attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders.6

Several cancer-causing organophosphates have been banned from household pesticides. Unfortunately, they have been replaced with other organophosphates that have not yet been studied. Whether or not these chemicals cause cancer, they can be dangerous and children should not be exposed to them.8

Young children are more likely to be exposed to more pesticides and insecticides than adults because they are closer to the ground and often put whatever they find there, along with their own fingers, in their mouths. When bug spray or other pesticides are used in the home, chemical residues can linger in the air, on the floor or carpet where children crawl and play, and on toys.10 Children breathe in more pesticide than adults, too, because they are down low where the chemicals accumulate. Lawn and garden weed killers can be tracked in the house by pets or people, and left in carpets and rugs.

How can we reduce children’s exposure to pesticides?

The good news is that parents can reduce their children’s exposure to these chemicals. The easiest way is to stop using them in your home and garden. It is also safer to use roach motels, ant baits, and mouse traps instead of chemical sprays. You can weed the yard by hand instead of using weed killers (at least while your children are young).

What about the fruits and vegetables that you buy?  Be sure to wash, scrub, and peel fruits and vegetables if you don’t buy organic produce. Although washing and peeling fruits and vegetables doesn’t get rid of the pesticides that have been absorbed into the growing vegetable or fruit, it is still better than nothing. However, if you can afford to buy them, organic fruits and vegetables have the least amount of pesticide on and inside the fruit or vegetable.11

One way to reduce the use of bug sprays and other chemicals in the home is to not leave out food overnight that can attract bugs or rodents. Discourage rats by covering garbage cans.

If you must use pesticides, use the ones that are less toxic. If you aren’t sure how a product kills pests, look at the label. According to the EPA, pesticides with “warning” on the label are more dangerous to humans than the ones that say “caution.” Products with labels that say “danger” are the most harmful.12 13 Besides using the lowest risk products, be careful where you store pesticides, so that children can’t reach them and the chemicals won’t contaminate foods or medicines.

Is buying organic really better for you?

Researchers at Stanford University have concluded that organic fruits and vegetables are not more nutritious than other produce. However, they also found that children who eat organic produce have significantly lower levels of pesticides in their bodies than children who eat regular produce.14,15,16

Unfortunately, organic fruits and vegetables are not always available, and they are often more expensive. One way to eat organic less expensively is to limit your organic purchases to the fruits and vegetables on the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Dirty Dozen list.17 These are the 12 fruits and vegetables that tend to have the highest amount of pesticide residues. The list is constantly being updated based on recent test results so check it regularly (http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/). There is also a Clean 15 list, which lists 15 foods that have the least amount of pesticides and, therefore, are safe even when they are not organic. By following these lists, you can feed your children more safely without breaking the bank.

As of Feburary 2022, the Dirty Dozen consists of the following foods:

  1. Strawberries
  2. Dirty dozen; peachesSpinach
  3. Kale, collard, and mustard greens
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Cherries
  8. Peaches
  9. Pears
  10. Bell and hot peppers
  11. Celery
  12. Tomatoes

The Clean 15 list consists of the following foods, where it is not necessary to buy organic:

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Onionsclean 15; red onions
  5. Papaya
  6. Sweet Peas (frozen)
  7. Eggplant
  8. Asparagus
  9. Broccoli
  10. Cabbage
  11. Kiwi
  12. Cauliflower
  13. Mushrooms
  14. Honeydew Melon
  15. Cantaloupe


Even small amounts of pesticides are very harmful for children. They may cause behavior problems, harm children’s thinking and memory, and increase their risk of childhood cancers.  These chemicals can also harm adults, especially after years of exposure.  To help prevent these problems, limit your use of bug sprays, weed killers, and other pesticides and herbicides and buy organic fruits and vegetables that would otherwise have a lot of pesticide residue.

All articles on our website have been approved by Dr. Diana Zuckerman and other senior staff.