Of course, scientific seesawing like that doesn’t provide a lot of clarity or confidence for the 90 percent of American adults and roughly 80 percent of teens who report having a cell phone. So how concerned should you be about cell-phone radiation? Consumer Reports’ health and safety experts conducted a thorough review of the research and offer some guidance.
The Working Group indicated that, although the human studies were susceptible to bias, the findings could not be dismissed as reflecting bias alone, and that a causal interpretation could not be excluded. The Working Group noted that any interpretation of the evidence should also consider that the observed associations could reflect chance, bias, or confounding rather than an underlying causal effect. In addition, the Working Group stated that the investigation of risk of cancer of the brain associated with cell phone use poses complex methodologic challenges in the conduct of the research and in the analysis and interpretation of findings.
The government’s policies must change. Cell phone users should make their voices heard to prompt the FCC and manufacturers of cell phones and cases to ensure that these accessories never increase and, to the extent possible, decrease, users’ radiation exposure. At minimum, the FCC must take cell phone cases into consideration when it updates its standards to ensure that the use of a case will not expose people to more radiation than its legal SAR limit.
There were no biological hypotheses tested in the study. It was therefore only a numbers game. Ignored were mechanisms of disease found in other studies of cell phone radiation effects, including genetic damage, blood-brain barrier leakage, and disrupted intercellular communication. The study did not discuss any research supporting the notion that cell phones could cause problems in users.
"Possibly carcinogenic" was a phrase that may media outlets pulled out of the release, but it's a dangerous takeaway for consumers, out of context. "Possibly carcinogenic to humans", or group 2B, is a sub-classification or monograph, applied to agents by the IARC. Other agents (or items of everyday life) in Group 2B include pickled vegetables, lead and Potassium bromate — an oxidising additive common in flour. In all, there are 272 agents listed as possibly carcinogenic.
Several studies have investigated the other health effects (other than cancer) of mobile phone usage on human health. Hypotheses connecting mobile phone use to effects such as headaches, fatigue, sleep disorders, memory, vision or hearing impairment, have not been proven in established studies. A connection with reduced fertility has also not been scientifically proven.
To be fair I haven’t tried every single one on the list, but that just be careful in investing your sense of security, let alone good health, in a misplaced sense of something working just because someone says it does and they have “studies” to prove it. Every single company now claims “independently scientific studies” where as this is just usually falsified information and a marketing tactic.
(Some common flaws in these studies: The summaries of the evidence weren’t comprehensive, the researchers often didn’t look at the quality of the studies they found, and they failed to do other simple things that would limit bias from creeping in. They also relied on case-control studies, a poor method to determine causality — more on that soon.) So we didn’t include these eight reviews in our analysis.
As a result, stories about a single nuclear meltdown or possible link between cellphone radiation and cancer will be amplified much more than news about the nine people who probably died today in the US from distracted driving. “This possible health effect from radiation is pretty esoteric at this point. If there is anything there, it seems to me like it’s going to be very, very small,” says Kenneth R. Foster, a bioengineering professor at the University of Pennsylvania who has been investigating whether there are biological effects from radio waves since the 1970s. “Driving and texting, people get killed doing that — but it’s not a very exciting risk to worry about.”
Wi-Fi radiation, which falls into the RF category, is similarly damaging – particularly for men who stand to suffer reproductive damage when RF-emitting devices such as laptops are positioned too closely to the groin area. Like with the issues caused by cell phone radiation, it’s best to keep laptop computers off your lap and away from your body as much as possible.
A cellular phone is basically a radio that sends signals on waves to a base station. The carrier signal generates two types of radiation fields: a near-field plume and a far-field plume. Living organisms, too, generate electromagnetic fields at the cellular, tissue, organ, and organism level; this is called the biofield. Both the near-field and far-field plumes from cell phones and in the environment can wreak havoc with the human biofield, and when the biofield is compromised in any way, says Dr. Carlo, so is metabolism and physiology.
The following charts list SAR levels for the Apple iPhone, Samsung Galaxy S, as well as 20 of the highest SAR level cellphones and 20 of the lowest SAR level cellphones. The list provides the maximum possible SAR level from the phone (many phones have differing SAR levels depending on where and how the phone is used). If your phone is not on either list, you can find the SAR level for your specific phone by checking the online FCC database.
1. Keep your distance. Do not keep your cell phone next to your body or in your bra. Some athletic wear companies are now making bras with cell phone pockets, as seen in the picture above. PLEASE do not put your phone in the pocket unless your phone is on airplane mode. There is evidence offered by the Environmental Health Trust to suggest that women who keep a cellular phone in their bra may develop breast cancer. Research also indicates that men who keep their cell phones on their belt or near their reproductive organs may have lower sperm counts and less sperm motility.
A phone's specific absorption rate (SAR) reveals the maximum amount of radiation the human body absorbs from the phone while it's transmitting. SAR testing ensures that the devices sold in the U.S. comply with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) SAR exposure limit, but the single, worst-case value obtained from this SAR testing is not necessarily representative of the absorption during actual use, and therefore it is not recommended for comparisons among phones. In short, selecting a lower SAR phone will not reliably ensure lower radiation absorption during use. The FCC has more information at Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) For Cell Phones: What It Means For You.
There’s a broad range of radiation types, and lots of harmless things emit radiation — like bananas, Brazil nuts, and granite countertops, according to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. The type of radiation that comes out of our cellphones isn’t the same radiation that’s released by nuclear fallout or X-rays. Cellphone radiation, also known as radiofrequency radiation, is much weaker — so it can’t cause the same kind of cell damage that can lead to cancer.
The next scientific step will be to determine what this means for humans. The peer-reviewed papers will be passed on to the US Food and Drug Administration, which is responsible for determining human risk and issuing any guidelines to the public, and the Federal Communications Commission, which develops safety standards for cell phones. The FDA was part of the group of federal agencies who commissioned the studies back in the early 2000s.
Mobile or cell phones are now a days an integral part of modern telecommunications in every individual life. In many countries, over half of the population use mobile phones and the mobile phone market is growing rapidly. Saudi Arabia rank first among the countries of the gulf region with highest proportion of mobile users, a study conducted by United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). In gulf countries, Oman ranked second, followed by Kuwait and the UAE. As billions of people use mobile phones globally, a small increase in the incidence of adverse effects on health could have major public health implications on long term basis. Besides the number of cell phone calls per day, the length of each call and the amount of time people use cell phones are important factors which enhance the health related risk. (1)
Another thing that many people fail to realize is that EMF-emitting devices such as laptop computers are exceptionally more harmful when plugged in as opposed to when they’re operating on battery power alone. Tests have shown that working on a laptop that’s plugged in can result in up to 100 times more radiation exposure than using one that’s operating on battery power.
These expert committees determined that there are indeed gaps in the knowledge concerning the implications of exposure to this radiation, and therefore they called for further studies on the subjects and recommended to adopt the “precautionary principle". This principle adopts simple and relatively cheap means to reduce exposure to the minimum radiation levels possible with existing technology.
It'd be wrong to say that there is no evidence of harm at all. In fact, the re-classification by the IARC came about in the first place because the Working Group contributing to the Interphone study acknowledged "limited evidence" of an increase in glioma (a type of tumour, commonly found in the brain) among phone users in one of the studies. In this study, which concluded in 2004, researchers found that participating phone owners who had used their handsets for calls for more than 30-minutes a day, over a period of ten years, had an increase incidence of glioma.
Dr Devra Davis is an internationally recognised expert on electromagnetic radiation from mobile phones and other wireless transmitting devices. She is currently the Visiting Professor of Medicine at the Hebrew University Hadassah Medical School, and Visiting Professor of Medicine at Ondokuz Mayis University, Turkey. Dr Davis was Founding Director of the Center for Environmental Oncology at The University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute — the first institute of its kind in the world, to examine the environmental factors that contribute to the majority of cases of cancer.
*SAR values are from tests conducted by Pong Research Corp on March 29, 2012 and submitted to the FCC on May 31, 2012. Because the SAR values were submitted to the FCC in graph form, EWG estimated numerical SAR values based on the chart available in WT Docket 11-186 (http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=7021921006). Pong’s filing to the FCC did not indicate whether SAR measurements were done at the head or in a body-worn configuration. In a personal communication, Pong informed EWG that the SAR measurements were done in a body-worn configuration, with the same distance from the test mannequin used by the phone manufacturer. Tests in the body-worn configuration were done at a 10 millimeter separation distance.
Our recommendation is to reduce your exposure from wireless sources. We advocate what’s referred to as the Precautionary Principle. Basically, this means that because there’s research, lots of it actually, saying the energy that powers our cellphones (RF radiation) could be causing health concerns like tumors and cancer. We ought to take care when using our cell phones and all devices that emit RF, using them mindfully.
The guidelines created a measure of the rate that body tissue absorbs radiation during cell phone use called the specific absorption rate (SAR). The SAR for cell phone radiation was set at a maximum of 1.6 watts of energy absorbed per kilogram of body weight. The limit was set due to the thermal effects of cell phone radiation (all RF radiation can heat human body tissue at high enough levels) - it was not set to mitigate other biological effects cell phone radiation might have such as DNA damage or cancer.
The frequency of radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation ranges from 30 kilohertz (30 kHz, or 30,000 Hz) to 300 gigahertz (300 GHz, or 300 billion Hz). Electromagnetic fields in the radiofrequency range are used for telecommunications applications, including cell phones, televisions, and radio transmissions. The human body absorbs energy from devices that emit radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation. The dose of the absorbed energy is estimated using a measure called the specific absorption rate (SAR), which is expressed in watts per kilogram of body weight.