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.
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 tricky part about measuring the radiation from a cell phone is that the emission strength varies widely over time. There will be strong bursts of varying intensity, followed by quiet periods. This makes it hard to compare "apples to apples". Also, because you are measuring up close to the source, you must use a near field meter AND you must maintain the position of the meter very precisely.
All cell phones emit Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR). Most people are aware of Radio Frequency (RF) (also known as Microwave) signals that connect your cell phone to a cell tower, a WiFi router and Bluetooth devices. These cell phone signals are always on. But did you know that cell phones also emit Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) radiation produced by the cell phone’s internal components?
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We also spoke to experts and searched government reports to try to find any other high-quality evidence that may not have been published in an academic database. We included the National Toxicology Program’s animal studies, since they are considered some of the most important animal research that was funded by the government to help answer the question of whether cellphones cause cancer. We also included research on the fertility effects of cellphone radiation, since that was a concern many researchers in the field had.
Cell-phone designs have changed a lot since the studies described above were completed. For example, the antennas—where most of the radiation from cell phones is emitted—are no longer located outside of phones near the top, closest to your brain when you talk, but are inside the phone, and they can be toward the bottom. As a result, the antenna may not be held against your head when you’re on the phone. That’s important because when it comes to cell-phone radiation, every millimeter counts: The strength of exposure drops dramatically as the distance from your body increases.
Among the hundreds of smartphone cases available for iPhone and a bevy of popular Android phones, there are some that claim to reduce the amount of radiation your body absorbs when you have the handset close to your body. Pong Research is a US brand that offers a range of products fitting this description, as is Cellsafe, a company based in Victoria, Australia.
Still, despite the odds, these fears could be around for a while — because it’s hard to prove that cellphone radiation doesn’t cause harm. There are just too many combinations of genes, environmental exposures, patterns of cellphone use, plus a healthy helping of random chance to consider. It’s why we’re still having the conversation about whether coffee, for example, is good or bad for us. So while the bulk of evidence points to no health effects from cellphone radiation, the scientific literature is still somewhat mixed, Foster says. “Someone who wants to worry can pick and choose and find a lot of evidence that would support their theories.”
It also means regulators need to make sure their policies reflect new levels of exposure. The Federal Communications Commission currently oversees cellphone safety and sets the limits for how much radiation people should be exposed to. (This is measured by the specific absorption rate — the rate at which the body absorbs radio frequency energy — and the current limit for cellphones is 1.6 watts of energy per kilogram of tissue. The whole-body threshold is a SAR value of 0.08 watts per kilogram, and the tower radiation limit is 10 watts per square meter.)
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This substantially changes the debate on whether cell phone use is a cancer risk. Up until this point, the federal government and cell phone manufacturers operated on the assumption that cell phones cannot by their very nature cause cancer, because they emit non-ionizing radiation. Whereas ionizing radiation—the kind associated with x-rays, CT scans, and nuclear power plants, among others—definitely causes cancer at high enough doses, non-ionizing radiation was believed to not emit enough energy to break chemical bonds. That meant it couldn’t damage DNA, and therefore couldn’t lead to mutations that cause cancer.
Using a speaker/personal speakerphone or earplug (not wireless) during conversation - distancing the mobile phone from the user’s body reduces his exposure to the radiowave radiation. Therefore, keep the mobile phone at a distance from the body (do not carry it on the body, such as in the belt, pocket or on a neck strap). Obviously, reducing the amount and duration of calls on the mobile phone is another simple measure to reduce exposure.
Today there are more than two billion cell phone users being exposed every day to the dangers of electromagnetic radiation (EMR)—dangers government regulators and the cell phone industry refuse to admit exist. Included are: genetic damage, brain dysfunction, brain tumors, and other conditions such as sleep disorders and headaches.1-9 The amount of time spent on the phone is irrelevant, according to Dr. Carlo, as the danger mechanism is triggered within seconds. Researchers say if there is a safe level of exposure to EMR, it’s so low that we can’t detect it.
Researchers need funding to move fast to study the potential health effects of 5G networks and how they might change our exposures to radiation. “So far, we’ve got research that’s done on 3G and 4G but not 5G,” said Brawley of the American Cancer Society. “We do think the answers [about cell radiation’s cancer effects] for 5G may be different from the answers for 4G or 3G. ... As these types of radio waves and energy change over time, the answers [about their health effects] may change.”
Well, either the sleeve blocks 99.9% of all emissions or it doesn’t. The point is, anything less than what the company is advertising constitutes FRAUD. If they had said a 50% reduction would be seen, then the RF meter should have reflected that. Methinks that this company is duping a lot of customers. While the product ‘looks’ good, my experience was that it made NO difference at all. In fact, it was worse having this case and the notion of false security. I ended up getting horrific migraines right after I started using it. I was falsely confident that I was being protected. Perhaps part of the case blocked the signal which forced the phone to work that much harder, therefore nullifying any benefit. Please note, consumers. I would not recommend SafeSleeve based on my experience.
One of the studies reports that male rats exposed to very high levels of radiofrequency radiation grew tumors around their hearts. Female rats exposed to the radiation didn’t, and neither male nor female mice showed obvious health problems in a second study. Neither study turned up clear evidence that radiofrequency radiation causes brain tumors, although the researchers are continuing to investigate. The studies are drafts that haven’t yet been reviewed by outside scientists.
SafeSleeve's report is right up front about showing that they do not test or certify the Safe Sleeve case, rather they are simply testing the material they put into the case in a completely artificial environment, in a laboratory setting, using a signal generator and a power amplifier. Safe Sleeve includes photos showing how the measurements are taken. But that may not be how anyone will ever use their phone.
Peer review is a vital part of any scientific study; it brings several more lifetimes of expertise into the room to rigorously check a study for any weak points. Melnick calls the peer reviewers’ choice to change some conclusions an unusual move; “It’s quite uncommon that the peer review panel changes the final determination,” he says, noting if anything, he’s seen peer reviewers downgrade findings, not upgrade them. “Typically when NTP presents their findings, the peer review almost in all cases goes along with that.” In this case, the peer reviewers felt the data—when combined with their knowledge of the cancers and with the study design itself—was significant enough to upgrade several of the findings.
In June, at a meeting of scientific counselors to the toxicology agency, Donald Stump, one of the members, worried that the study “will be vulnerable to criticism that it was conducted using outdated technology.” The challenge, he added, is how to move forward with experiments that are large enough to be significant yet nimble enough to keep pace with the rapidly evolving devices.
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Generally speaking, the near-field refers to the RF field close to the antenna and the far-field is the RF field further away from the antenna. Often times when you use your cell phone, your body is often located in the near-field (one wavelength or less) of the cell phone antenna. It is especially concerning when you hold your phone next to your head or wear it on your body as you can be exposed to very intense near-field radiation from the phone.
“The near field plume is the one we’re most concerned with. This plume that’s generated within five or six inches of the center of a cell phone’s antenna is determined by the amount of power necessary to carry the signal to the base station,” he explains. “The more power there is, the farther the plume radiates the dangerous information-carrying radio waves.”
Use the speaker mode on the phone or a hands-free device such as a corded or cordless earpiece. This moves the antenna away from your head, which decreases the amount of RF waves that reach the head. Corded earpieces emit virtually no RF waves (although the phone itself still emits small amounts of RF waves that can reach parts of the body if close enough, such as on the waist or in a pocket). Bluetooth® earpieces have an SAR value of around 0.001 watts/kg (less than one thousandth the SAR limit for cell phones as set by the FDA and FCC).