How many people now own a cell phone. Apparently, more than 90 million people have accounts in the US today. In europe cell phones have been popular for years. Nokia, a company making cell phones is based in Finland.

In that country cell phones are everywhere and you can do everything with them, even get a can of coke from a vending machines. They serve many different functions and it looks like their use will expand in the US too.

However, there has always been some controversy as to their safety. There have been campaigns to limit the positioning of transmitters so that children and other people are not within the immediate vicinity. Are these concerns warranted or baseless? It seems no one knows for sure what damage potentially happens from there use but it is worth our attention.

So, what happens when you use a cell phone is this: a low-energy radio wave is sent to a local antenna which connects you to the phone youre calling and also sends signals back to your phone, adjusting the strength of the signal, so you dont get cut off. These transmitting antennas are small and not very strong, which is why they have to be placed on so many towers and buildings.

Radio wave emission is a type of electromagnetic energy, as it consists of waves of electrical and magnetic energy woven together, travelling at the speed of light. There are many different types of electromagnetic waves depending on their wavelength and frequency. X-rays, gamma rays, microwaves, infrared radiation, radio waves, TV, cordless phones are all examples of EM waves. High frequency waves such as X rays are ionizing rays and can damage human tissue. The waves used in wireless phones systems are low frequency and thus non-ionizing. Until recently, scientific opinion held that the only impact this type of energy has on the body is to heat it up, but will not cause any damage.

However, many people do have concerns. When using a cell phone, a certain amount of electromagnetic force (EMF) is radiating from the phone. Although the amount of energy is limited by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), it is not possible to be sure these amounts are safe. The effect of cell phones, which is different to other radio waves is that they deliver large amounts of radio frequency energy to very small areas of the users body, creating "hot spots" in the skull. The handset also transfers energy to the head via inductance.

The greatest concern researchers have so far is the potential effect of these waves on children, whose brain and nervous system are still growing. The percentage of teenagers using cell phones rose from 15% to 35% in 1999 and is projected to reach 70% in 2002. Also, the number of transmitters existing very near schools and residences is also a cause for concern.

To minimize any potential risks you can do the following:

Keep conversations short.

Use the phone as little as possible in the car which can act like a metal cage and boost the phones power. If necessary, get a roof antenna.

Dont carry a turned-on phone in a baby carriage.

Dont carry a phone on a belt around your waist-its too near your reproductive organs. Avoid the breast pocket too.

Although no one as yet knows the long term effect of using cell phones it seems to make sense to be cautious until we have more evidence.