ITGS Syllabus

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Topic 148

Effect on the environment of personal communications devices by XiaoXiao Li

First of all, what is a “personal communication device?” It is basically a fancy way of describing cell phones, pagers, wireless devices. Basically anything that can be used to communicate with your friends or family. A recent article, which I wrote, in the school newspaper raised the issue of cell phones effecting sperm.

A recent article banned the use of personal communication devices in the Johns Hopkins Hospital because they “undermine the integrity of an individual(s) rights to privacy, affect the quality of our patient care, and interfere with the efficient operation of the hospital.” Since it has been proved that personal communication devices do indeed distract the person, it is not right for the doctors to have these devices turned on while operating on someone with a severe disease.

Use of mobile phones has also been banned in Japan while driving. Most people have started using the earphones so that the police can’t see it. Perhaps, the use of earphones decreases the rate of accidents because both of your hands are on the steering wheel. However, the best solution of course is to stop the use of personal communication devices entirely. Because even if you are not using your hands to hold the device, your mind is still being distracted.

The effects listed above are on the personal lives of people. They can also have an effect on the other people if the person using the device, while driving, crashes into some other car and causes injuries to some other person. Distraction happens to myself sometimes – crossing the streets while talking on phone and not thinking whether the light has turned or not.

Those are the effects on a simple level. We all know or have at least heard about the radiation from cell phones. Now what exactly is this radiation stuff we hear about all the time? Basically cell phones have to emit signals via radio waves, which are composed of radio-frequency energy, which is a form of radio magnetic radiation. You shouldn’t use it too much because it might damage the tissue inside your head. The debate on this topic is still going on and perhaps we’ll never reach a sure conclusion. But what can be said is that excessive use of cell phones is not good.

Along with that, studies have shown that electronic waste (also referred to as e-waste) from personal communication devices like cell phones, PDA's and digital cameras contains toxins that are damaging to our environment. The e-waste is basically composed of things like lead and mercury and beryllium which are which are greatly found in circuit boards of these devices. Therefore, not only do these devices damage our sperm and tissues in the head but they also harm the environment.


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