But, dear reader, don’t think we’ve reached a “case closed” moment: Unfortunately, even the best evidence on cellphones and brain tumors is far from ideal. Remember, these cohort studies are still observational research — not experimental studies like RCTs. That means they can’t tell us about causation, and there are still many ways they could be biased.
Some products (http://www.safecell.net/reports01.html for example) are tested using a piece of shielding material in a laboratory test jig. These tests legitimately show the amount of radiation which penetrates the shield, but results will be very different when compared to putting a small amount of the same shield on a large transmitter like a cellphone. Remember, the entire phone radiates. Placing a small amount of shielding, even if it is an effective shielding material, only shields that small area at best. Think about this analogy: no light will penetrate a penny as it is a very effective light shield, but it is silly to think that holding a penny up to the sun will put you in darkness.
The study specifically used 2G and 3G frequencies — not the frequencies used on more advanced 4G or 5G networks. Researchers exposed the rodents’ entire bodies to the radiowaves for more than nine hours per day, for up to two years. (“A rat that is 2 years old is roughly equivalent to a 70-year-old person,” STAT News reports.) These exposure levels were much higher than what people would experience, John Bucher, senior scientist with the NTP, says in a statement. “So, these findings should not be directly extrapolated to human cell phone usage,” he says.
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.
By not formally reassessing its current limit, FCC cannot ensure it is using a limit that reflects the latest research on RF energy exposure. FCC has also not reassessed its testing requirements to ensure that they identify the maximum RF energy exposure a user could experience. Some consumers may use mobile phones against the body, which FCC does not currently test, and could result in RF energy exposure higher than the FCC limit.
Our homemade demonstration of all the cases uses a working phone. Not the shielding material by itself, but the actual "shielding" SafeSleeve, Pong, Reach, Vest, ShieldMe, and Defender Shield cases. First we get RF power density measurements from a phone that's on a call and then, in the same location, within minutes of the first reading, we place the same phone as it's engaged in a call into each case and we take additional reading with the meter.
A few other health concerns have been raised about cell phone use. One has been whether the RF waves from cell phones might interfere with medical devices such as heart pacemakers. According to the FDA, cell phones should not pose a major risk for the vast majority of pacemaker wearers. Still, people with pacemakers may want to take some simple precautions to help ensure that their cell phones don’t cause a problem, such as not putting the phone in a shirt pocket close to the pacemaker.
Since use of mobile phones by children began at a later stage compared to use by adults, the effects of exposure to mobile phones in this population have not yet been investigated. Considering their health sensitivity, the long life expectancy in the young population (probably involving the accumulation of significant exposure and development of morbidity in the long-run), and ethical issues involved in decision making regarding the population of minors, additional precaution is required in this population. Therefore, the Ministry of Health advises parents to reduce children’s exposure to mobile phones as much as possible, consider the age they start using them, reduce the amount of time mobile phones are used, and in any event, make sure they use earphones (not wireless) or a speaker when using the mobile phone.
So you are careful about NOT putting your radiation emitting mobile near your head. That’s good. But think about this: what body parts get the radiation when you put the thing on your pocket, bra, hat, purse, holster or elsewhere on your body? Now your vital and sometimes private organs are basically in contact with the source of the microwaves, getting the largest dose possible. Pocket Sticker is a high performance shielding patch that you stick onto your clothing which reflects that radiation away from your body.
If you want to use your phone for talking, then the idea is that you keep it flipped over the front of the screen – that way you’re blocking radiation on both the front and back. The speaker still works with the cover on, because there’s a small hole for that. The inevitable drawback of this is that you have to flip the cover open in order to access your keypad.
EWG believes that cell phone testing procedures should include cases and other accessories, whether supplied by the phone manufacturer or a third party. Since these cases and accessories have no other use and have the potential to influence the phone’s transmitting and receiving activity and the amount of radiation that a user might encounter, they fall within FCC’s authority.
“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.”
Leibovich was very careful to point out in our interview that Cellsafe is not claiming that the radiation absorbed by the body during phone use leads to health issues like brain tumours, male infertility or damage to unborn babies. But the Cellsafe website strongly suggests these links. Its homepage (image below) leads with the phrase "You should be concerned!" in an eye-catching red, and there is as much screen real estate on the site dedicated to information about the dangers of radiation, as there is for descriptions of the Cellsafe products. This information refers to "high levels of RF radiation" in several places, but it doesn't say whether this describes radiation from phone use.
The RF waves from cell phones come from the antenna, which is part of the body of a hand-held phone. The waves are strongest at the antenna and lose energy quickly as they travel away from the phone. The phone is typically held against the side of the head when in use. The closer the antenna is to the head, the greater a person’s expected exposure to RF energy. The body tissues closest to the phone absorb more energy than tissues farther away.
Another animal study, in which rats were exposed 7 days per week for 19 hours per day to radiofrequency radiation at 0.001, 0.03, and 0.1 watts per kilogram of body weight was reported by investigators at the Italian Ramazzini Institute (35). Among the rats with the highest exposure levels, the researchers noted an increase in heart schwannomas in male rats and non-malignant Schwann cell growth in the heart in male and female rats. However, key details necessary for interpretation of the results were missing: exposure methods, other standard operating procedures, and nutritional/feeding aspects. The gaps in the report from the study raise questions that have not been resolved.
The Ministry of Health Medical Administration circular (from 2002) addressed to hospital Directors, states that use of mobile phones and wireless handheld transceivers (walkie talkie) in the hospital, must on the one hand guarantee the patient’s wellbeing and safety, and on the other hand, allow the staff, the patients and their families to enjoy the service benefits. This circular outlines the areas where use of mobile phones is strictly forbidden and areas where use is permitted (while keeping an appropriate safety distance from areas where life-supporting equipment or systems are operated).
As far as which of those match your device, that really depends on your carrier. AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile all have different frequencies. To further complicate things, in one geographic region of the country they may use one frequency, while another is used elsewhere. It all depends on which FCC licenses they have the rights to in each region.
The authors found a consistent effect, in both types of studies, that cellphone radiation leads to decreased sperm motility (ability to swim) and viability, but not a decrease in overall concentration. While it’s unclear if these specific changes are enough to affect men’s fertility, the authors wrote, “mobile phone exposure may form part of a cumulative effect of modern day environmental exposures, that collectively reduce sperm quality and explain current trends in infertility.”