Cellphone radiation: Do you really want to know?

It’s long been known that mobile phones emit low levels of radiation, and scientists have been divided over how much radiation is safe. But if you’re a frequent user, it might be a good idea to find out.

While the folks with scientific expertise try to figure out if the radiation levels in cell phones can cause real harm, the best you can probably do is find out if your phone — or the ones you issue to workers — emits low or high levels. Then you can take whatever action you think is appropriate to protect against what may be dangerous amounts.

As a guideline, there are some standards the Federal government has set for emissions in these units.

The Federal Communications Commission sets the acceptable U.S. radiation standards for cellphones. Radiation effects depend on the rate the rate at which energy (in this case, radiation) is absorbed by a mass of tissue — the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR). It’s measured in watts per kilogram (W/kg).

Cellphone makers hire private certification companies to test their device’s SAR.

The FCC limits SAR levels for partial-body exposure (including head) to up to 1.6 W/kg, and whole body exposure to up to 0.08 W/kg. For hands, wrists, feet, and ankles, the limit is up to 4 W/kg, averaged over 10 grams of tissue. But remember this: These levels are set based on advice from the industry group that represents the folks who make the phones.

To find out where your phone, or the ones you give employees, ranks in radiation emissions, check out the database that’s been assembled on emissions by the Environmental Working Group.

0 thoughts on “Cellphone radiation: Do you really want to know?”

  1. Before you jump in the RF hazard debate, you should do a bit of fact checking. The SAR limits are not set by device manufacturers. RF safety standards were evolved by the IEEE and ANSI, both impartial scientific and standards groups with a wide constituency. RF safety standards for the public are set at levels 10 times less than any known effect. In operation, most cellphones expose the user to even a fraction of that because the power level of cellphones is set to the lowest possible level by the system to avoid intrasystem interference. Only in a rural area, far from a tower, would a user typically experience anything like the safe limit. As a practical matter, with everyone using cellphones and otherwise being in the electronic fog of WiFi, radio, TV, radars, etc., shouldn’t we be dropping like flies? But, duh, the rate of brain cancer has actually decreased in the US! Go figure…

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