Friday, December 22, 2017

California says the only safe way to talk on your cell phone is to text

Earlier this month, the California department of health released guidelines warning residents to avoid putting mobile phones up to their heads.

“Keep your phone away from your body,” the state health department writes. “Although the science is still evolving, some laboratory experiments and human health studies have suggested the possibility” that typical long-term cell phone use could be linked to “brain cancer and tumors of the acoustic nerve,” “lower sperm counts,” and “effects on learning and memory.”

Mobile phones emit radiation, which is measured in radio-frequency (RF) energy. In the manual that comes pre-installed on your iPhone, Apple explicitly tells you to use a hands-free option like speakerphone or headphones while talking in order to “reduce exposure to RF energy.” The manual also notes that cell phones are currently tested for radiation assuming the devices would be kept at least 5 mm (0.2 in) away from the body while being carried. That’s a lot more than the thickness of pocket fabric. (On an iPhone 6 and above, you can find this information by going to Settings > General > About > Legal > RF Exposure.)

Previous iPhone manuals were even more conservative: The manual for the iPhone 5 says users should carry their iPhones a full 10 millimeters (or 0.39 inches) away from their bodies at all times.

US law demands that all cell phones function in such a way that they cause less than 1.6 watts of radiation to be absorbed by the human body, per gram of body tissue (known as specific absorption rate, or SAR 1.6). The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) tests all mobile phones coming onto the market for compliance. But that rule is designed only to prevent harm from excess heat that can be generated by RF waves. It doesn’t consider (pdf) other potential biological effects, like DNA damage or altered protein expression—the FCC calls these all “ambiguous and unproven.”

Further, while cell phones are tested against a simulated human head in the “talking” position, they are not tested against the body (or in a pocket) in the “carrying” position. Instead, the tests assume the user is holding the phone away from the body whenever the phone is broadcasting at full power. And since RF energy exposure increases sharply if the phone is in contact with your body, and falls off rapidly at a distance, some worry that FCC testing is missing a lot of actual exposure.

Experts and organizations like the nonprofit Environmental Working Group have expressed concern over these rules, citing studies that show links between cell phone radiation exposure and heightened cancer risk. In 2011, a World Health Organization report classified radiation from cell phones as “possibly carcinogenic to humans”; in particular, the WHO noted that cell phone use correlated with an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer. - Read More

California says the only safe way to talk on your cell phone is to text


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