May, 2011, World Health Organization has for the first time stated that there is the possibility that cell phones may cause health problems.
A NIH study in 2011, found that the brain region nearest a cell phone antenna can increase activity in some parts of the brain nearest the antenna. We do not know if this is good or bad yet.
Environmental Working Group continues their research and has issued a report on the safety of Cell Phone Radiation. It brings to light many possible health issues and calls for more research. We would rather err on the safe side rather than wait for a definitive study. Most of these studies fail to examine children. We would definitely put off giving a kid a cell phone for as long as possible.
According to the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association, specific absorption rate, or SAR, is “a way of measuring the quantity of radio frequency (RF) energy that is absorbed by the body.” For a phone to pass FCC certification and be sold in the United States, its maximum SAR level must be less than 1.6 watts per kilogram. In Europe, the level is capped at 2 watts per kilogram, while Canada allows a maximum of 1.6 watts per kilogram.
The SAR rating is not very useful measure because it’s a peak rating on a variety of tests conducted on phones. The rating does not indicate the average amount of radiation a user would be exposed to. It is possible to buy a lower SAR phone that could on average produce more radiation than a high SAR phone. Unfortunately there is no better measurement right now.
If you are buying a new cell phone, be sure to check out their 10 Best Phone list with lower emissions. The Samsung Impression (SGH-a877) (AT&T) is the best on the list. Cell phone models change every year, so you may need to do some research to find a current low radiation cell phone. See how much radiation your phone emits.
It is interesting to see that some phone emit more when sitting in your pocket than when next to your head. Cell phones are always on, even when you are not on the phone. They emit radiation while pinging cell phone towers.
Apple iPhone manual warning
Check out this excerpt from the Apple iPhone 3G manual:
SAR measurement may exceed the FCC exposure guidelines for body-worn operation if positioned less than 15 mm (5/8 inch) from the body (e.g. when carrying iPhone in your pocket). For optimal mobile device performance and to be sure that human exposure to RF energy does not exceed the FCC, IC, and European Union guidelines, always follow these instructions and precautions: When on a call using the built-in audio receiver in iPhone, hold iPhone with the dock connector pointed down toward your shoulder to increase separation from the antenna. When using iPhone near your body for voice calls or for wireless data transmission over a cellular network, keep iPhone at least 15 mm (5/8 inch) away from the body, and only use carrying cases, belt clips, or holders that do not have metal parts and that maintain at least 15 mm (5/8 inch) separation between iPhone and the body. If you are still concerned about exposure to RF energy, you can further limit your exposure by limiting the amount of time using iPhone, since time is a factor in how much exposure a person receives, and by placing more distance between your body and iPhone, since exposure level drops off dramatically with distance. Seizures, Blackouts, and Eyestrain A small percentage of people may be susceptible to blackouts or seizures (even if they have never had one before) when exposed to flashing lights or light patterns such as when playing games or watching video. If you have experienced seizures or blackouts or have a family history of such occurrences, you should consult a physician before playing games (if available) or watching videos on your iPhone. Discontinue use of iPhone and consult a physician if you experience headaches, blackouts, seizures, convulsion, eye or muscle twitching, loss of awareness, involuntary movement, or disorientation. To reduce risk of headaches, blackouts, seizures, and eyestrain, avoid prolonged use, hold iPhone some distance from your eyes, use iPhone in a well lit room, and take frequent breaks.
Apple’s iPhone4 manual states:
For optimal mobile device performance and to be sure that human
exposure to RF energy does not exceed the FCC, IC, and European Union
guidelines, always follow these instructions and precautions: When on a
call using the built-in audio receiver in iPhone, hold iPhone with the dock
connector pointed down toward your shoulder to increase separation
from the antenna. When using iPhone near your body for voice calls
or for wireless data transmission over a cellular network, keep iPhone
at least 15 mm (5/8 inch) away from the body, and only use carrying cases,
belt clips, or holders that do not have metal parts and that maintain at
least 15 mm (5/8 inch) separation between iPhone and the body.
iPhone is designed and manufactured to comply with the limits for
exposure to RF energy set by the Federal Communications Commission
(FCC) of the United States, Industry Canada (IC) of Canada, and regulating
entities of Japan, the European Union, and other countries. The exposure
standard employs a unit of measurement known as the specific
absorption rate, or SAR. The SAR limit applicable to iPhone set by the
FCC is 1.6 watts per kilogram (W/kg), 1.6 W/kg by Industry Canada,
and 2.0 W/kg by the Council of the European Union. Tests for SAR are
conducted using standard operating positions (i.e., at the ear and worn
on the body) specified by these agencies, with iPhone transmitting
at its highest certified power level in all tested frequency bands.
Although SAR is determined at the highest certified power level in each
frequency band, the actual SAR level of iPhone while in operation can
be well below the maximum value because iPhone adjusts its cellular
transmitting power based in part on proximity to the wireless network.
In general, the closer you are to a cellular base station, the lower the
cellular transmitting power level.
iPhone’s SAR measurement may exceed the FCC exposure guidelines for
body-worn operation if positioned less than 15 mm (5/8 inch) from the
body (e.g., when carrying iPhone in your pocket).
Tips to minimize cell phone radiation exposure:
- Using remote ear pieces would help keep the phone away from your body. Bluetooth headsets just add to the radiation mix. Airtube headsets may work best. Using the speakerphone also helps.
- When not using your phone, try to take it out of your pocket, handbag, or holster. Keep it away from your body.
- Limit cell phone use to essential calls and do not gab endlessly because you have a lot of minutes.
- Do not use cell phones in elevators or metal cages that may concentrate radiation.
- Use the speakerphone function when possible, to maximize the distance between the cell phone and your head.
GQ recently had an article about cell phone safety.
San Francisco and other cities now requires wireless retailers to post cell phone radiation levels. Other cities are moving in the same direction.
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