Can Cellphones Pop Popcorn?

From the Hopkins Health Watch Q&A - Questions and Answers


Q: I saw a YouTube video showing cellphones creating so much heat that they are popping popcorn.

A: Many, many normally skeptical readers have fallen for this clever but deceptive video hoax. According to an article in the New York Times the popcorn video was a viral marketing campaign by Cardo, a maker of Bluetooth headsets. The company’s name now accompanies the video. The truth is that cellphones don’t generate enough heat to pop popcorn or cook eggs (the other cellphone heat rumor) —this has been very well researched. A cellphone, or even four cellphones, will not generate enough heat to cook food. See my article Can Cell Phones Cause Cancer? for details on how the heat may affect your salivary gland. If you’re in an area where you don’t have cellphone service and it keeps trying to connect to a tower, it can generate more heat than usual, but it’s still not enough to cook with.

Both cellphones and Bluetooth technology do operate on the same frequency as a microwave oven, which of course will pop popcorn—the difference is that the microwave oven radiation is nearly a million times stronger.

The primary concern over cellphone safety is related to the electromagnetic fields (EMFs) they generate. The term EMF covers a broad spectrum of radiation. The sun generates EMFs, the earth has its own EMF, as does every living cell. EMFs are generated by microwaves, x-rays, and radio waves. The gamma rays produced by radioactive material can kill you.

Numerous new EMFs have been added to the environment over the past century, including electric appliances, radio, TV, x-rays, computer screens, radar and cellphone towers. We know quite a bit about EMFs such as gamma-rays and x-rays that can do extreme damage to human bodies, but very little about how long-term exposure to EMFs on the frequency of cellphones affects us. It's entirely possible, and even probable, that the EMFs generated by frequent, long-term cellphone use can disrupt the electromagnetic fields of the body, in particular the brain, and cause damage. Nobody has proven conclusively that cellphones are or aren’t harmful, but there’s enough evidence that they are to warrant caution. Many thousands of people were harmed by the careless use of x-rays before their effects on the body were fully understood.

Although the EMFs around Bluetooth devices are more scattered and thus weaker than those around a cellphone, we still don’t understand the long term effects of hanging this device off your ear for long periods of time. How these particular EMFs affect our cells may have nothing to do with strength. For example, in January 2008, BBC News reported on a  study, funded by cellphone manufacturers, of how cellphone use affects sleep. Those exposed to radiation equivalent to cellphone use took longer to get to sleep and spent less time in deep sleep. One theory is that the cellphone radiation interfered with the brain’s production of melatonin, the sleep hormone.

The Bluetooth devices installed in new cars and trucks are frequently located under the passenger seat. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sit well with me! If I were pregnant I would not sit on a Bluetooth—here's an article about EMFs and Pregnancy.

If you want to know more about how EMFs can affect our own bioelectric fields, to heal or harm, delve into the writings of the brilliant scientist Robert O. Becker M.D., most notably his book, The Body Electric. Warning: You’ll never perceive the world the same way again!

Here's where you can find my Tips for Safer Cellphone Use.