Monday, August 26, 2019

Are cell phones as safe as regulators and manufacturers say they are? Could the levels of radiofrequency radiation be higher than reported and thus pose a potential danger to humans; especially to children and pregnant women?

The Chicago Tribune just published their findings of an investigation they did where they tested 11 popular smart phone models ( using a FCC accredited lab) and what they found is disturbing

Why you should care
We all have smart phones, in fact smart phone ownership has exploded in the last 10 years.... from an estimated 50 million smart phones actively in use in 2009 to over 285 million today!

It is not rare to see babies playing with their parent's phones. Additionally, kids are using and getting their own cel phones at a younger age than ever ( at my son’s school some 8 and 9 year olds already have their own) and teens are now using their phone around the clock... we are a society addicted to our smart phones.

So Why should we care about radiofrequency radiation exposure, especially for children? After all, we have been told that the level of radiation given off by phones is tiny?

There are different types of radiation and, yes, the radiofrequency radiation given off by cel phones is much lower than other types of radiation. The Tribune article explains this well:

“How cellphone radiation compares with other types:  Different kinds of electromagnetic radiation travel at different frequencies and wavelengths. At one end of the spectrum, gamma rays and X-rays have known health effects. Cellphones rely on radio waves, and the potential for harm from long-term exposure is less certain. 

This  (smart phone) kind of radiation, also known as radiofrequency energy, shouldn’t be confused with ionizing radiation, such as gamma rays and X-rays, which can strip electrons from atoms and cause serious biological harm, including cancer.

Radiofrequency energy from cellphones isn’t powerful enough to cause ionization, but at high levels it can heat biological tissue and cause harm. Eyes and testes are especially vulnerable because they do not dispel heat rapidly.”

A recent large study conducted by the National Toxicology Program, found that high exposure to the kind of radio frequency radiation used by cellphones was associated with “clear evidence” of cancerous heart tumors in male rats.
However- The USFDA responded to this study explaining that “there was no danger posed to the public at “exposures at or under” safety limits. ... “

So the main question is: are our favorite phones operating at or exceeding that safety limit?

Tribune’s Tests

Safety testing conducted by cellphone companies usually test phones at a specific distance from the body.

Apple tests at 5 mm
Samsung tests at 10 and 15 mm

The reason this is allowed is that the standard was set in the 1990 when people carried phones in belts and not in pockets as is normal now a days.

In fact most cellphone companies, like Apple, recommend using their phones at least 5 mm away from the body - the reason is that this is the distance these phones have been tested to meet safety requirements for radiation.

The tribune tested their phones at a distance of 2 mm - recreating the distance if you were to carry your phone in a pocket or bra strap.

Under those conditions, most of the models tested yielded results that were over the exposure limit, sometimes far exceeding it.

At this 2 mm distance ( which the companies DO NOT test at nor is required by the federal government to be tested at BUT that recreates the distance of holding phone in a pocket or to your ear)

  • - iPhone 7s : produced results twice the safety standard. These phones came in over the limit at a distance of 5 mm too
  • - IPhone 8 measured three times over
  • - Moto e5 Play from Motorola measured quadruple the standard.
  • - Samsung Galaxy phones:
  • Models tested: Galaxy S8, Galaxy S9 and Galaxy J3
  • All three measured at more than twice the standard, with the Galaxy S8 registering 8.22 W/kg — five times the standard and the highest exposure level seen in any of the Tribune tests.

Did any come in under the legal safety range in the 2 mm distance test scenario:
iPhone 8 Plus and a BLU Vivo 5 Mini.

What should you do?
No one is going to stop using smartphones anytime soon, but it is important to be aware of these studies and not let yourself and your family be the guinea pig in a greater societal experiment of long term cumulative cellphone radiation safety.

The truth is we do not know If long term exposure to low-level cellphone radiation over many years — from the time of fetal development and infancy through adulthood lead to effects on our health. It has not been studied- but we do know that certain habits can help decrease our exposure- so why not make these habits part of your daily routine?

  1. Never carry cellphones close to the body; a pocket, bra, baby carrier etc. Close proximity increases your potential exposure to radiofrequency radiation. If you have to have it attached to your body put it in airplane mode
  2. Never use the cellphone by your ear. Use speaker phone, ear buds or other accessories instead ( Apple makes this recommendation in their own company literature)
  3. Do not place cellphones in your nightstand ( or child’s nightstand) nor in your bed unless the phone is in airplane mode. Twenty-nine percent of U.S. teens sleep with their cellphones in bed with them!
  4. Try to avoid using the phone when you have low signal/ connection strength. This creates a ‘ worse case scenario’ of the highest level of radiofrequency radiation exposure.
  5. Dont give a small child or baby a smartphone to play with. Unless it is in airplane mode- but even then remember there are other chemicals they may contain that are not ideal ( especially if it is placed in their mouth)
  6. For older kids- push off giving children their own cel phones. The older they are the less exposure they will have
  7. Watch phones are popular- but they still give off radiofrequency

According to the Chicago Tribune all the companies mentioned disagreed with the tribune results ( there responses can be found at the full tribune article)

The FCC has been advised of the Tribune investigation and says they are investigating the findings

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