Preface: I've spent a great deal of time researching this and believe that I'm onto something important. I also realize that many people may not detect The Smell that is so obvious to me regarding the way that direct/bodily contact with cell phones over time seems to affect the body. Maybe it will turn out to be like the woman who can smell Parkinson’s long before it gets diagnosed ---- or the dogs who can smell cancer? In other words, there may be something happening that not everyone can perceive. Regardless of how many people can or can’t smell it, I still want to express my concern about what damage may be happening to people’s health. Please feel free to leave your comments and/or share on Facebook and Twitter (all at the bottom of the page).
What kind of smell am I talking about? It's hard to describe, but it's likely that you’ve noticed it somewhere, on someone, at some time but didn't quite know what it was. I think The Smell is caused by direct/bodily contact with smartphones used over some period of time. "Direct contact" refers to holding your phone, yes, but it also refers to having it tucked into your pants pocket, shirt pocket, or bra. (For this blog post, since smartphones seem to be the most commonly used hand held device, I’ll just refer to them, but everything I say can be applied to tablets, as well.) It's a bad smell, but it’s different from the odor of sweat (“B.O.”), unwashed clothes, or the effects of dietary habits (e.g. eating lots of curry or garlic).
The short story is that the radiofrequency (RF) energy --- i.e. microwave radiation --- from your phone penetrates the tissues of your body. The FCC says that this usually is safe, but the FCC’s safety guidelines are 24 years old --- and phones are not tested in direct contact with the body (see the end of this blog post, if you want more details on this and other things discussed here). My theory is that the amount of microwave radiation you get from direct and frequent contact with your phone over time causes changes in your cells that can then produce a bad smell that comes out of your pores. The Smell can then transfer onto anything or anyone you touch --- and into the air around you. I think that The Smell may be a type of barometer, indicating potentially very unhealthy changes that are happening in the body --- changes that may not be able to be detected yet by currently available tests. You may have heard of the woman in Scotland who had noticed a change in the way her husband smelled. His smell had changed, 6 years before he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. https://www.parkinsons.org.uk/news/meet-woman-who-can-smell-parkinsons
As I mentioned above, this is not an ordinary odor. A shower won’t get rid of The Smell for long --- and maybe not at all --- because (I believe) The Smell is being continuously generated from inside your body, rather than being like bacteria that sits on the surface of your skin and can be rinsed off. No matter how much you wash your body or your clothes, if The Smell is already showing up in your life, and you continue to have frequent and direct contact with a phone, you’re probably going to continue to smell bad.
This microwave radiation of tissues inside the body might also partially explain what seems to be a staggering increase in the use of air conditioning. (A separate but related issue is the vicious cycle related to air conditioning: the primary refrigerant used for air conditioning is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, and it leaks out at various times, which contributes to global warming, which then leads to the use of more air conditioning. https://climate.org/cooling-your-home-but-warming-the-planet-how-we-can-stop-air-conditioning-from-worsening-climate-change/ )
But back to the issue of phones. A microwave oven cooks food by heating the water in that food with radiation. Our bodies are more than 50% water. So, is it possible that your phone’s microwave radiation is cooking you a little, by slightly heating up the water in your body? And if so, even if it doesn’t cause dramatic heating effects that can be measured immediately, maybe small heating effects, repeated thousands of times, could be damaging. Maybe this could partly explain the increased use of air conditioning. We expect grocery stores to be cold, but now it seems that it’s also most doctors’ and dentists’ offices, movie theaters, restaurants, bars, etc. It seems that the vast majority of places are being kept at much lower temperatures than they used to be, even as recently as 5 years ago. I’m guessing that this is because more and more of the people working in and visiting those places spend much of their time in contact with a phone that is radiating their bodies and maybe causing them to feel warmer than they used to. Now, most people seem to feel too warm in temperatures that used to be comfortable for them, so they turn on more A/C.
If you use a phone a lot, you may or may not be able to detect The Smell directly on your skin, but try smelling your clothes and your accessories (purse, wallet, hat, etc.). Smell any cash you have. The Smell may be in your car and on your furniture. You may smell it on some of your friends and family.
Maybe you don’t use a smartphone. But you probably go out to eat or to some other public place at least once in a while --- a restaurant, bar, library, or doctor’s office. The next time you do, when you are getting ready for bed that night, smell the back of your pants (yes, the butt and thigh areas). Chances are very high that they will have The Smell on them, because that’s the part of your clothing that was most in contact with surfaces that other people sat on --- many of whom do use phones frequently, whose smell is coming out their pores and onto their clothes, then transferring onto whatever they are sitting on, then finally transferring onto your clothing when you sit where they sat. That's what my observations suggest, anyway.
The Smell also transfers into the air. Recently, I went to get my vehicle emissions test done. When I entered the enclosed waiting room where you can watch them test your car, the strength of The Smell in there was overwhelming, even though there was only one other person in there. The Smell is everywhere people are, and it lingers long after they leave.
I’ve smelled The Smell on apparently healthy 5 year-olds swimming in a heavily chlorinated pool. I’ve smelled it on people in their 70s. I’ve smelled it on sick people and healthy people, rich people and poor people, hygiene nuts and the not-so-clean. It doesn’t discriminate. You can be very hygienic, very athletic, and have a very clean diet (no sugar, no processed foods, no alcohol) ---- and still be emitting The Smell.
Some people I've known went from having both a cell phone and a landline to having only a cell phone, and their smell went from bad to even worse. This would seem to suggest that some sort of unhealthy changes were occurring in their bodies.
Perhaps not surprisingly, I’ve never smelled The Smell on anyone who didn’t use a smartphone. However, not everyone who has a phone emits The Smell. It may have to do with individual vulnerabilities in people's bodies and/or how much time they spend in direct contact with a phone. There are studies showing that even low-intensity radiation exposure can cause damage to our DNA.
What if the presence of The Smell is an indicator of pathological (unhealthy) changes occurring in the body --- changes that can’t yet be detected with available tests --- and what if the strength of The Smell indicates the extent of those changes? I know that that’s a very upsetting possibility. And, for many people, the idea of not being in constant contact with their phone may be even more upsetting. But the good news is that, if I am right, maybe you could make a big difference in your smell and in your health. And that doesn’t stink.
If you want further reading
The SAR standards assume that a thermal (or heating) effect is the only way that
microwave radiation emitted by cell phones can harm tissue. However, many studies
have found that exposure to low-intensity, microwave radiation at non-thermal levels
where there is no measurable temperature change can produce DNA damage, reactive
oxygen species, and stress proteins, and can alter brain activity and open the blood-
brain-barrier. The SAR standards do not protect mobile device users from these non-
The standards only consider the immediate, acute effects of cell phone radiation
exposure. However, chronic effects due to long-term exposure are ignored.” Joel M.
Moskowitz, Ph.D., Director, Center for Family and Community Health, School of Public
Health, University of California, Berkeley
As stated by the FCC, there are no federally developed safety standards. Instead of proper
safety limits, the US government adopted “guidelines” developed by industry based on
decades old research. Guidelines have a much lower certainty than a “standard” as
proper long term safety testing was not done to ensure the public was protected from all
FCC exposure limits are based on the assumption that wireless signals at a human body
from a distance are from only one transmitter antenna. In the 21st century, we are not
exposed to one Wi-Fi transmitter antenna. One typical school classroom might have
dozens of radiation streams from dozens of transmitting antennas: 30 laptops, 30 cell
phones, a wireless printer, a wireless security system, an overhead internet access point
and a cell tower located in line of sight outside the window.”