The young scientist in the lab. The young scientist in the lab.

Scientist, 14, verifies phone signal threat

Oyster larvae mortality attributed to mobile phones

Research by a budding scientist from La Paz, Baja California Sur, has found that mobile phone signals can have a harmful impact on the development of shellfish.

Fourteen-year-old María Paulina Amézquita Arce is an avid mobile phone user and it was her interest in all things smartphone that guided her most recent foray into research, supported by her advisers, marine biologist Luis García Corona and María del Carmen Rodríguez Jaramillo, senior researcher at the Cibnor Histology Laboratory.

Amézquita had heard of a local oyster farmer who was concerned about the mortality rate of oyster larvae. It turned out the larvae were close to an area where workers took their breaks — and checked their phones.

Intrigued, Amézquita set out to verify if the extremely low frequency magnetic fields (ELFs) generated by the handheld devices, while deemed safe for humans, were affecting the oysters.

Assisted by her advisers, Amézquita was directly involved in all the stages of the research, which concluded that ELFs did indeed have a negative impact during the developmental stages of the oysters and were the cause of the high mortality rates.

A paper including Amézquita’s research will be published later this year in a peer-reviewed scientific publication.

That event will be but one more milestone in Amézquita’s journey through the sciences, a journey that has already earned her recognition in Mexico — she won the 2016 State Youth Award for Science — and abroad, where she participated successfully in science fairs in Argentina and Brazil.

Her aptitude for sciences was first identified by her secondary school teachers, who put her in contact with the Biological Research Center of the Northeast (Cibnor) and its Science-Education Approach Program.

She has been collaborating with scientists since 2015, spending her weekends in a laboratory and becoming one of the most outstanding students enrolled in that program.

Spending Saturdays preparing her paper and studying for several science competitions has not been an imposition for Amézquita, although she does enjoy playing baseball. “To the contrary, I do it with pleasure, I enjoy it.”

Source: El Universal (sp)

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