EWG is calling on the FCC to update its testing guidelines to take account of the widespread use of smartphone cases. Such action is critical because mounting scientific studies have raised serious questions about the safety of cell phone radiation exposure over the short and long term. In the absence of meaningful action by the Commission, EWG offers consumers tips on how to reduce their exposure to cell phone radiation.
I also searched around to see if cell phone radiation was anything to worry about anyway. I turned up enough information from a lot of different credible sources to convince me it was worth protecting against the possible damaging effects of this radiation. IF there is no real health impact, then having a protective device would be overkill, but I figured better overkill than discover in time people started developing problems as a result of heavy cell phone use.
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.
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).
There is great variability in survival by brain tumor subtype, and by age at diagnosis. Overall, the 5-year relative survival for brain cancers diagnosed from 2008 through 2014 was 33.2% (49). This is the percentage of people diagnosed with brain cancer who will still be alive 5 years after diagnosis compared with the survival of a person of the same age and sex who does not have cancer.
Studies in people: Another type of study looks at cancer rates in different groups of people. Such a study might compare the cancer rate in a group exposed to something like cell phone use to the rate in a group not exposed to it, or compare it to what the expected cancer rate would be in the general population. But sometimes it can be hard to know what the results of these studies mean, because many other factors that might affect the results are hard to account for.
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.
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.
A recent small study in people has shown that cell phones may also have some other effects on the brain, although it’s not clear if they’re harmful. The study found that when people had an active cell phone held up to their ear for 50 minutes, brain tissues on the same side of the head as the phone used more glucose than did tissues on the other side of the brain. Glucose is a sugar that normally serves as the brain’s fuel. Glucose use goes up in certain parts of the brain when it is in use, such as when we are thinking, speaking, or moving. The possible health effect, if any, from the increase in glucose use from cell phone energy is unknown.
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.
In addition, the findings might be influenced by the fact that the study subjects owned cell phones that were in some cases manufactured two decades ago. The way we use cell phones and the networks they’re operated on have also changed since then. Last, cancer can develop slowly over decades, yet the studies have analyzed data over only about a five- to 20-year span.
EWG also reviewed data in the FCC filings on tests of battery life during a continuous call, measured on an iPhone 4 without a case and on the same phone with an Incipio Le Deux case. This case was chosen because it contains metallic parts (a stainless steel back plate). The presence of metallic components influences the phone’s radiation properties, as the FCC acknowledges (FCC 2001; FCC 2014). Under the test conditions with constant signal strength, an iPhone 4 without a case had 85 percent of battery capacity after a one-hour call and 70 percent after two hours. When the test was repeated with the Incipio Le Deux case, the phone had only 65 percent of battery capacity after a one-hour call and only 10 percent after two hours (Pong 2012).
If you paid an electrical engineer to shield something for you, depending on the application, they would either use MuMetal or this type of mesh shielding. It’s not some new technology, so there’s no question of whether it works, because it does. Regardless, it would still be nice for them to publish third-party independent testing to reassure people of this.
Single studies have alternately suggested cellphones are driving up cancer rates and that they pose no health threat at all. In 2011, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the devices are a “Class 2B carcinogen,” meaning they possibly can cause cancer in humans — but that’s also a distinction they share with pickles, aloe vera, and being a carpenter.
Fears that the low-energy radiation emitted by cellphones could cause cancer seem to have been simmering ever since cellphones went mainstream. The latest flare up is probably thanks to two things: an article in The Nation about “Big Wireless” and a government study that recently reported some male rats exposed to huge doses of full-body cellphone radiation developed a rare type of heart tumor.
For those of you who experience (or want to prevent) ES symptoms in your hands when using a computer keyboard, laptop, cell phone or other electronic devices, these gloves form a conductive enclosure and effectively shield radiowaves and electric fields. Soft, light weight, with ribbed cuff, and offering good tactile sensitivity. Polyester fiber is twisted with pure Silver fibers, then knit into a stretchy glove shape in basic gray color. Each glove has a 1.7 mm snap for a ground cord. Fully hand washable and tested for 50 cycles with no appreciable loss of conductivity. All fibers are conductive, achieving resistivity of less than 10 Ohm/sq. These gloves are also used in industry for static control when working with delicate static sensitive components and can even be used for TENS applications. Grounding is not necessary for Faraday Cage shielding effect, but is necessary for static control. Also useful on touch screens like an iGlove. We do not have the ground cord which fits this snap on these gloves. Shielded Gloves:
What the study showed: Self-reported cell phone use was not associated with an increased risk of glioma, meningioma, or non-central nervous system tumors. Although the original published findings reported an association with an increased risk of acoustic neuroma (14), this association disappeared after additional years of follow-up of the cohort (15).