Nearly 200 scientists submitted an appeal to the United Nations (UN) on Monday (11 May) requesting it to adopt guidelines to protect against the electromagnetic radiation that emit from cell phones, laptops, tablets and other wireless devices.

"They are damaging the living cells in our bodies and killing many of us prematurely," said Martin Blank, a retired special lecturer in the effects of electromagnetic radiation on cells at Columbia University Medical Center.

"Cell towers are blanketing our neighbourhoods with radiation. It's particularly frightening that radiation from our telecommunication and power line technology is damaging the DNA in our cells. It is clear to many biologists that this can account for the rising cancer rates."

The constant electromagnetic radiation from communication towers could lead to cancer and also cause neurological, cardiac and respiratory disorders, scientists say.

"As cell biologists, we can understand what the cells are saying and it's quite clear," said Blank.

"But when you have physicists and engineers and politicians and industrial people who are sitting and making these decisions as to what is safe, we're getting into a situation where it's more and more of this radiation in our environment with no apparent control. And the levels are so high, that we're getting the biological reactions and the problems, the medical problems, that are beginning to afflict people in larger numbers."

Blank said that the increase in obesity, autism and still births may be associated with electromagnetic radiation in the environment. His suggestion for curbing wireless usage was to turn off cell phones and wireless devices when not in use.

The International EMF Scientist Appeal asked the UN, its member states and the World Health Organization (WHO) to provide leadership in limiting electromagnetic radiation exposure and to educate the public about its health risks.