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Many of us use our mobile phones as an alarm clock, and keep it within reach all night – not to mention the third of us who actually check social media at night.
But is sleeping next to a mobile phone a bad idea?
Californian health chiefs have issued a warning that people should take steps to limit their exposure to mobile phone radiation – by keeping devices further from the body, and not sleeping next to them.
‘Although the science is still evolving, there are concerns among some public health professionals and members of the public regarding long-term, high use exposure to the energy emitted by cell phones,’ said California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith.
‘We know that simple steps, such as not keeping your phone in your pocket and moving it away from your bed at night, can help reduce exposure for both children and adults.’
Previous research by the CDPH found that people with certain kinds of brain tumour were more likely to have been phone users for 10 years or more – and that the tumours were often on the side of the head they used their phones.
Mobile phones emit radio frequency energy when they send and receive signals to and from towers – and this energy can ‘spike’ when a phone is struggling to get a signal, for instance on a train.
How to reduce your exposure
The CDPH guidelines advises that users can try
Keeping the phone away from the body
Reducing cell phone use when the signal is weak
Reducing the use of cell phones to stream audio or video, or to download or upload large files
Keeping the phone away from the bed at night
Removing headsets when not on a call
Avoiding products that claim to block radio frequency energy. These products may actually increase your exposure.
More than 70 million displaced worldwide, says UNHCR
The number of people fleeing war, persecution and conflict exceeded 70 million globally last year – the highest number in the UN refugee agency’s almost 70 years.
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The almost 70.8 million people forcibly displaced is up 2.3 million on the previous year, according to the agency’s annual Global Trends report.
This is also double the level recorded 20 years ago.
The number averaged out to 37,000 new displacements every day.
“What we are seeing in these figures is further confirmation of a longer-term rising trend in the number of people needing safety from war, conflict and persecution,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.
“While language around refugees and migrants is often divisive, we are also witnessing an outpouring of generosity and solidarity, especially by communities who are themselves hosting large numbers of refugees.
The actual figure is likely to be higher as the Venezuela crisis is only partly reflected, the report states.
Around four million Venezuelans have fled their country, according to some figures from countries taking them in, making it one of the world’s biggest recent displacement crises.
The report identifies three main groups.
Firstly, there are refugees, or people forced to leave their country because of conflict, war or persecution. In 2018, the number of refugees reached 25.9 million worldwide, 500,000 more than in 2017. Included in this total are 5.5 million Palestine refugees.
The second group is 3.5 million asylum seekers. These are people outside their country of birth who are under international protection, but are yet to be granted refugee status.
Thirdly, there are internally displaced persons, or IDPs. These people are displaced within their country and amount to 41.3 million globally.
More than two thirds of all refugees worldwide came from Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar and Somalia.
Syria had a considerably higher number than any other country with 6.7 million, followed by Afghanistan with 2.7 million.
Only 92,400 refugees were resettled in 2018, fewer than 7% of those awaiting resettlement.
The global population of forcibly displaced people has grown substantially from 43.3 million in 2009. Most of this increase was between 2012 and 2015 as a result of the Syrian conflict.
However, other conflicts have cropped up and continued across the globe, for example, in Iraq and Yemen in the Middle East, as well as parts of sub-Saharan Africa such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan.
The massive flow of Rohingya refugees to Bangladesh at the end of 2017 after they were driven out of Myanmar’s Rakhine state during military crackdowns was another major crisis.
At more than 1.5 million, Ethiopians were the largest newly displaced population in 2018, 98% of them internally, more than doubling the previous number.
These were mainly attributed to inter-communal violence throughout 2018, with communities living along disputed boundaries most affected.
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