Thursday, June 12, 2008

Cell Phone Radiation

A few studies about potential dangers of cell phones (linked to brain tumors, and potentially harming developing fetuses, for instance) have been released recently, one of which in The New York Times prompted me to now regularly use my hands-free device when talking on my cell phone.

I'm really happy to have found an up-to-date list of cell phones and their radiation levels, maintained by CNET. I'm unhappy to see that mine is one of the highest radiation levels allowed by the US government. Click on the link below to search for your phone's model to see the radiation levels and how it compares.

Cell phone radiation levels

By CNET staff (updated May 23, 2008)

Ten highest-radiation cell phones

What it all means
According to the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA), specific absorption rate, or SAR, is "a way of measuring the quantity of radiofrequency (RF) energy that is absorbed by the body." For a phone to pass FCC certification, that phone's maximum SAR level must be less than 1.6W/kg (watts per kilogram). In Europe, the level is capped at 2W/kg while Canada allows a maximum of 1.6W/kg. The SAR level listed in our charts represents the highest SAR level with the phone next to the ear as tested by the FCC. Keep in mind that it is possible for the SAR level to vary between different transmission bands and that different testing bodies can obtain different results. Also, it's possible for results to vary between different editions of the same phone (such as a handset that's offered by multiple carriers).

It's important to note that in publishing this list are we in no way implying that cell phone use is or isn't harmful to your health. While research abounds and some tests have shown that cell phone radiofrequency (RF) could accelerate cancer in laboratory animals, the studies have not been replicated. Cell phones can affect internal pacemakers, but there is not conclusive or demonstrated evidence that they cause adverse health affects in humans. Conversely, there is not conclusive or demonstrated evidence that they don't cause adverse health affects in humans. So, in short, the jury is still out, research is ongoing, and we will continue to monitor its results.

If your phone isn't listed here (U.S. customers) and you've purchased it within the last few years (the FCC Web site currently does not provide information on models certified before 1998), you can request the SAR information from the manufacturer or your carrier. You'll need the model number and FCC ID number, which is usually but not always listed in your owner's manual or under your phone's battery (you must pop the battery out). For links to the FCC's Web site, please see the More Resources section below. We'll continue to update the list as new phones are announced. To be the first to know when we've added more phones, subscribe to the On Call Newsletter.


My beloved phone, the Motorola v360, ties at the same level as the 10th highest SAR level (1.51) - which is almost as high as you can go under US regulations. In general, Nokia and LG seem to have lower radiation levels. I now rely entirely on a hands-free ear-bud device (NOT a bluetooth, which may possibly amplify the radiation absorbed into your body). I found the hands-free headset to be really easy to adapt to, and it actually fits in my ear rather comfortably! I encourage everyone to use hands-free headsets whenever possible!

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