Before we proceed, I must remind you that this article is latched into several key points and facts. And they are:
- Mobile phones emit radio frequency.
- The radio frequency emitted by the phone may depend on the type of the phone and all other factors.
- Although there is still no general and united standpoint from the scientific community for its negative effects, the emitted radiation from phones are posing health risks according to several studies.
- Phone radiation exposure can be minimized.
Mobile Phone – The Basics
The mobile phone has taken its idea from the old time radios. Old mobile phones only included call feature, mimicking that of the radio and of the telephone, only its wireless. Until texting became a norm, mobile phones are only known and readily available to a handful of people. Motorola’s DynaTAC 8000x introduced in 1983 is the first readily available mobile device costing $4,000. The late 1990’s saw the major breakthrough after these wireless handsets have permeated the public’s consciousness until it gets into full blown popularity in the early years of the new millennium. From then on, the mobile phone industry had no way to go but up. With its full functional features today, most Smartphones became a necessary companion. This year, the total smart phone users are estimated to rise at 1.75 billion. In no time, the Smartphone devices are predicted to exceed the total population of the world. Wall Street Journal has a short video on mobile phone history which you may found here.
In hindsight, although mobilisation has brought forth the advantages and huge revolutionary milestones in digital history, it also has raised skepticism in the field of medicine and health. Several definitive studies have been conducted and serious questions over mobile phone’s safety have been raised. In 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an arm of the World Health Organization, listed mobile phones as a carcinogenic hazard putting it under the likes of chloroform, gasoline engine exhaust and lead based on reviewed published studies. The overall Chairman of the IARC’s Working group Jonathan Samet, MD, and professor from he University of Southern California said that “The evidence, while still accumulating, is strong enough to support a conclusion and the 2B classification. The conclusion means that there could be some risk, and therefore we need to keep a close watch for a link between mobile phones and cancer risk.” The FCC or the Federal Communications Commission of the US has set up a legal maximum radiation emission. 17 years after, the same radiation limit that used to be implemented over not-so-sophisticated mobile phones which could last up to 3 hours max were being used for the current smart phones that boasts of up to 20 hours talk time. Critiqued by critics, these safety standards were based on the studies conducted in the 1980s.
Radiation from Mobile Phones
Studied mobile phone disadvantages involved health risks associated with germs, traffic accidents, health, psychological effects, cancer and many more. The most debated today though is the phone’s emission of radiation. Mobile phones emit signal via radio waves which are comprised of the radio frequency energy. RF has a thermal effect which raises body temperature. Electromagnetic radiation may also be emitted by a slew of other technologies, from appliances to power lines to wirings. Mobile phone though, has become a daily companion, the radiation emitter that is near our body 24/7. There are two types of radiation, the ionizing radiation or the IR and the Non-ionizing radiation or the NIR. The former issued in x-rays and gamma rays and can cause changes in the body. The latter doesn’t cause changes, but can raise the temperature in the body. The latter is the radiation emitted by the sun, light bulbs, infrared, microwave and radio frequency energy. First generation mobile phones were never tested for safety. Proponents and major health critics of mobile phones posted several health problems caused by phone radiation. These include damage to the DNA, impaired NA repair and intervention in cardiac pacemakers. It has also been associated to brain dysfunction and tumours while others pointed to it as a possible contributor to conditions such as ADHD, autism, and psycho-behavioural problems. Even in standby mode, carried in pockets or in purse, mobile phones still manages to expose people in harmful ELF Radiation. Potential side effects of exposure include; Blurry Vision , Headaches , Nausea , Fatigue , Neck Pain , Memory Loss , Birth Defects , Changes In Metabolism , Increased Risk For Alzheimer’s Disease , Increased Risk For Heart Conditions and Neurological Hormone Changes Linked Impaired Brain Function. Other studies have shown that the use of mobile phone during sleep may affect the REM which may alter lead to impaired learning and memory. This is due to the impairment of the melatonin production that has been affected by the ELF radiation. The radio frequency absorbance of the body may depend on several factors: which are:
- Length of time of phone use
- Proximity of the phone to the body
- Your proximity to the base station (the farther you are from the base station, the more radiation your mobile phone emits to compensate)
The most intense EMR emitted by phones are from its antenna, typically at the bottom of the phone that is usually located in the user’s cheek and jaw. The Australian government through Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency has set an exposure limit for its citizen. The exposure limits for the RF was set below the level where meaningful heating will occur. With this, all mobile phones in the country must meet the Standard RPS 3 set. The European Union has their standards same those of Australia while countries like Switzerland and Russia have much lower limits. They described this as a precautionary move.
Mobile Phones that Emits the Highest and Lowest Radiation
Below is the list of mobile phones that emits the highest and the lowest radiation. Apple’s iPhones are nowhere in the top, their Specific Absorbance Rate are at midpoint. iPhone 5 is at 1.18 while 4S is at 1.11. The SAR may also vary depending on the carrier. IF your mobile phone is not listed below, you may visit the FCC’s website to check on your phone’s SAR, follow the link here.
How to Reduce Radiation Exposure from Mobile Phones
You may follow the following precautionary measures:
- Keep the phone away from your head. Using some headset is recommended. A Bluetooth headset is the best way to keep the phone away from the body and from the head while calling.
- Limit kids mobile phone exposure. Kids absorb more radiation than adults. Limit their use to a few hours a day or set schedules per week. Experts even advice to delay the owning of mobile phones for kids.
- Limit use in low reception areas. When reception is low, tendency is, the phone will give off more radiation thus heightening your exposure.
- Avoid use when the battery is low. Radiation emission is higher when battery is low.
- Put phone far from your body as much as possible. When not in use, avoid putting the phone in the pocket or in your purse.
- Limit use in enclosed metal spaces. Radiation emission is heightened when the phone is used in elevators. Keep phone off during this time.
- Text more, call less if possible. Calling means getting the phone near your head so text only as much as possible. And if it is not that important, avoid the use of your phone altogether.
- Avoid radiation shields. The trend today is covering the phone with radiation shield products. These may only hamper your phone’s capability to reach for signals. Due to this, it will emit more radiation.
- Choose phones wisely. Some phones emits more radiation, some emits less. Choose your phone wisely as a precaution.
featured image viaMarjan Lazarevski