If you use a cell phone, you should wear a headset, right? I got my first cell phone in 2000 and have known for years that it might be dangerous to hold the phone right up to my head. Nevertheless, year after year, I did exactly that and felt the heat cooking my brain. I think I was in denial. But a few weeks ago, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans (PDF), based on an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer associated with wireless phone use. And while there is debate about results of studies conducted to date, this recent news was enough to wake me up.
I really don’t want brain cancer.
But I also didn’t want to have to go out and search for a plastic headset in plastic packaging. I was being stubborn. Fortunately, I discovered that thinksound, the company that makes the PVC-free headphones I fell in love with last year, has come out with the ts02+mic model, which does double duty as regular music headphones and as a headset for many different smartphones. (Check their web site to see if your smartphone is listed. If it’s not, call the company and ask about your model. My Samsung phone wasn’t listed [more on my phone in a later post], but the headset works great with it. Note: the thinksound headset will only work with smartphones like Blackberry, iPhone, Android, etc. Not regular phones. But there are plenty of other headsets out there for other kinds of phones.)
Thinksound sent me a pair to try out. As you might recall, I raved about thinksound’s regular headphones a year ago. The new ts02+mic model is made with the same materials: housing of wood and aluminum instead of plastic; ear inserts from silicone; cable insulation of TPE (a safer type of plastic) instead of the usual PVC.
They arrived in a plain cardboard mailer without any additional shipping material. The packaging is almost plastic-free, made from recycled cardboard instead of plastic. I do wish, however, they could get rid of the plastic window, but apparently that’s required for retail marketing purposes. There’s also still a tiny plastic bag holding the alternative ear pieces. But the company has eliminated the plastic-coated wire twisties from the previous packaging. So that’s a step.
So how does it work? Well, the headset took a little getting used to. I had to remember which side I’d put the mic on and try not to talk in the opposite direction, but once I got the hang of it, the sound on the other end was great.
I also found it very strange to try and talk with both headphones in. I couldn’t hear my own voice very well and couldn’t tell how loud I was talking. Using only one ear piece while talking works a lot better for me.
The sound while listening to music or podcasts is just as clear and rich as that from my original thinksound headphones.
Thinksound is offering My Plastic-free Life readers a 20% Discount for the next 30 days (through 7/20/2011). Use discount code PLASTICFREE when ordering.
Environmental Working Group’s Mobile Phone Safety Guide
After finally deciding to do something to keep cell phone radiation from my brain, I got kind of obsessed with learning all the ways we can protect ourselves. The Environmental Working Group has published some very useful information.
- Want to know how your phone’s radiation level compares to other phones? You can look up your model and see what phones give off the highest and lowest levels of radiation. (I was somewhat relieved to see my phone listed among the better smartphones. But really, I should have checked the list before I got it.) And don’t think that a smaller phone with fewer bells and whistles gives off less radiation. Michael’s plain old LG stupidphone gives off way more radiation than mine.
- Learn eight ways to reduce cell phone radiation exposure, including why you should forget about buying a radiation shield and where you should and shouldn’t hold/carry a cell phone.
- Read the list of frequently asked questions about cell phones to understand the difference between the types of radiation, how other wireless devices compare, whether you should choose a wireless or corded headset (the jury is out), and all kinds of other stuff.
- Take Action. Ask the FTC and FDA to modernize their cell phone radiation standards.
Of course, I’m guessing that more people will be killed or injured because they used their cell phone while driving or doing some other activity requiring attention (like walking down steps… eh hem…) than will get brain cancer from cell phone radiation. So pay attention. Don’t text while you’re walking down the street. Don’t talk while riding your bike. And don’t annoy us all by talking loudly in public. I’m just saying.