Most Germans Are Convinced Their Mobiles Are Killing Them
Deutsche Presse Agentur
Journalist: Ernest Gill
September 06, 2006
There are now more mobile phones in
Germany than there are Germans and a new poll shows most Germans are
convinced their mobiles are slowly killing them. In the nation that
invented the word "angst," the fear barometer of the respected Emnid
Institute is a well-known gauge of German angst levels. The latest
Emnid survey shows that, despite terrorism jitters, more Germans are
afraid of harmful effects from mobiles than of the threat of radical
A whopping 55 per cent said they believe cell phones emit harmful
levels of electromagnetic and low-level microwave radiation. Germans
even have a word for this unseen killer: "elektro-smog."
In contrast to their fear of insidious elektro-smog, just 38 per cent believe Germany faces any imminent terrorist threat.
And that elektro-smog percentage level was nationwide, both rural
and urban. In urban areas the angst levels are much higher. In the
major port of Hamburg, which has a population of nearly 2 million,
Emnid researchers found that 82 per cent are convinced their mobiles
pose a serious health threat.
Ironically, the survey findings coincide with figures from the
telecommunications industry showing that there are now more than 90
million mobiles in Germany, compared to 82 million human beings.
A quarter of those human beings - presumably infants and inmates
and invalids - still have no mobile. That means the vast majority of
Germans have at least one mobile phone if not two or more.
And mobile ownership is higher in eastern Germany where, after the
fall of the Berlin Wall, many people went from having no individual
home phone connection of their own at all to having only mobiles,
bypassing landlines entirely.
So for millions of Germans, mobiles are their only link with the
outside world. And most Germans are convinced they are carrying
elektro-smog emitters around with them in their purses and pockets
This national angst has been fuelled by frightening new findings
by the renowned Max Planck Institute revealing that mobile phone
emissions do appear in fact to have a deleterious effect, at least on
synthetic cell membranes.
Researchers say that long term exposure to low-level phone
emissions at very close range resulted in an elevation of membrane
temperature to the boiling point of water.
"That indicates an emission level 100 times higher than previously
thought possible," said Max Planck Institute director Markus
The findings allegedly show that localized radiation can result in
even higher temperatures - up to 10,000 degrees Celsius - for
exceedingly brief periods of a fraction of a second in very isolated
"And the energy from mobiles disrupts molecules so thoroughly that cell membranes can in fact rupture," he added.
He cautioned against panic, saying that further research is needed on human cell membranes.
"But we are now aware of a mechanism that could potentially lead
to cell damage," Antonietti said. "As a scientist, I am concerned. I'm
not letting my kids use their mobiles more than five minutes a day."
New reports of the shocking findings were plastered over tabloid
front pages and were trumpeted on radio and television newscasts - and
via instant text-messaging to mobile users throughout the land.
Afternoon TV talk shows have been full of helpful hints on how to
reduce "elektro-smog," for example by holding your mobile at arm's
length to dial or to transmit text-messages or by keeping your mobile
in one of those lead-lined bags that photographers use to protect film
from airport X-rays.
The airwaves have been filled with man-in-the-street interviews
with mobile-users, not all of whom seemed to share the national sense
"My wife calls me a dozen times a day at work on my mobile," said
Christian Saenger, himself a molecular biologist in Hamburg.
"Afterwards I always have a headache. It must be that nasty
elektro-smog," he said wryly. "I think I'll tell her I'm turning it off
to prevent brain-cell damage."