Earth Day

When the final credits roll on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, young Canadians won’t just be saying goodbye to the franchise but closing a seminal chapter of their childhood.

Now in their late teens and early 20s, the generation that came of age with J.K. Rowling’s characters, and alongside the actors that portrayed them, are steeling themselves for the end — Part 1 of which hits theatres Nov. 19. Part 2 is set for release on July 15, 2011.

“We are the Harry Potter generation,” says Andrea Hill, 19. “We started in elementary school, reading about a boy our age who was going through the same things we were going through. We grew up, so did he.”

Hill expects her heart to be as heavy upon the movie saga’s end as it was when the book series reached its conclusion. The Edmonton native takes solace, however, in the knowledge that “there are so many things that will keep Harry Potter alive,” from Universal Orlando’s new Wizarding World theme park to real-life school Quidditch teams — one of which Hill personally founded, at Ottawa’s Carleton University.

“We’re not waiting anymore to see what happens to Harry next,” says Hill. “But we’re still engaged in that magical community.”

Jake Kalbhenn, Toronto-based guitarist for The Nifflers — one of more than 450 “wizard rock” bands inspired by Rowling’s books — believes he wouldn’t be the person he is today were it not for the encouragement, acceptance and support of fellow Potter enthusiasts.

But after 13 years of steering youth culture, Harry Potter is moving on, and fans like Kalbhenn with him.

“If it just continued forever, like Star Wars, it would be terrible,” says Kalbhenn, 20. “We had our fun but it’s time to let go and just be happy that we had it while we did.”

Rupert Grint, best known as Ron Weasley, says he’s happy to finally have time to pursue romance. Emma Watson, who plays Hermione Granger, says she looks forward to “finally being free, being my own person” — a transformation signalled by the actress’s dramatic new pixie cut.

And Daniel Radcliffe, who since 2001 has been the face of the teen wizard, says that although he “did cry like a little girl” when Deathly Hallows production wrapped, he’s eager to see what life holds for him beyond the halls of Hogwarts.

keep phones away from the abdomen

Holding a cellphone against your ear or storing it in your pocket may be hazardous to your health.

This paraphrases a warning that cellphone manufacturers include in the small print that is often tossed aside when a new phone is purchased. Apple, for example, doesn’t want iPhones to come closer to you than 1.5 centimeters; Research In Motion, BlackBerry’s manufacturer, recommends 2.5 centimeters.

If health issues arise from cellphone use, the implications are huge. Voice calls – Americans chat on cellphones 2.26 trillion minutes annually – generate $109 billion for the wireless carriers.

Devra Davis, an epidemiologist who has worked for the University of Pittsburgh, has published a book about cellphone radiation, “Disconnect.” The book surveys scientific research and concludes the question is not settled.

Brain cancer is a concern that Ms. Davis examines. Over all, there has not been an increase in its incidence since cellphones arrived. But the average masks an increase in brain cancer in the 20-to-29 age group and a drop for the older population.

“Most cancers have multiple causes,” she says, but she points to laboratory research that suggests low-energy radiation could damage cells that could possibly lead to cancerinternship.

Children are more vulnerable to radiation than adults, Ms. Davis and other scientists point out. Radiation that penetrates only five centimeters into the brain of an adult will reach much deeper into the brains of children because their skulls are thinner and their brains contain more absorptive fluid. No studies have yet been completed on cellphone radiation and children, she says.

Henry Lai, a research professor in the bioengineering department at the University of Washington, began laboratory radiation studies in 1980 and found that rats exposed to radiofrequency radiation had damaged DNA in their brains.

Ms. Davis recommends using wired headsets or the phone’s speaker. Children should text rather than call, she said, and pregnant women should keep phones away from the abdomen.

children globally are couch potatoes

American children aren’t the only couch potatoes with nearly one third of children globally spending three hours a day or more watching TV or on computers, according to study of over 70,000 teens in 34 nations.

From Argentina to Zambia, Regina Guthold of the World Health Organization in Geneva and her colleagues found most children aren’t getting enough exercise and it made no difference if they lived in a rich or a poor country.

“With regards to physical activity levels, we did not find much of a difference between poor and rich countries,” Guthold said. “Growing up in a poor country does not necessarily mean that kids get more physical activity.”

The study, published in The Journal of Pediatrics, looking at 72,845 schoolchildren aged 13 to 15 from North and South America, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. The children were surveyed between 2003 and 2007.

The researchers defined adequate physical activity as at least an hour of exercise outside of gym class at least five days a week.

Children who spent three or more hours a day watching TV, playing computer games, or chatting with friends — aside from time in school or time spent doing homework — were classified as sedentary.

The researchers found only one quarter of the boys and 15 percent of the girls were getting enough exercise by these definitions.

A quarter of boys and nearly 30 percent of girls were sedentary and didn’t get enough exercise with girls less active than boys in every country aside from Zambia.

Uruguay had the highest percentage of active boys, at 42 percent, while Zambia had the lowest, at 8 percent.

Girls from India were the most active, with 37 percent meeting exercise recommendations, while girls from Egypt were the least active, with just 4 percent getting adequate exercise.

Children in Myanmar were the least sedentary, with 13 percent of boys and 8 percent of girls classified as sedentary. The most sedentary nations were St. Lucia and the Cayman Islands, with 58 percent of boys and 64 percent of girls spending at least three hours a day in sedentary activities.

While the study didn’t look at the reasons behind the lack of physical activity in various nations, Guthold speculated that urbanization could be a factor as well as access to cars and TVs