Cell Phones Expose Consumers to Radiation Levels Higher Than Manufacturers Claim

The safe use of mobile phones is one of our concerns. While we are exposed to radiation on a regular basis in our everyday life, it is important to know how we can protect ourselves from the impact that it may have on our health. One piece of advice that we could give you is to check if your smartphone meets the SAR value limits. You can read about it here.

That is why we are thrilled with the latest news. The ANFR measured the SAR value of mobile phones, however this time it was in direct contact with the body unlike all prior tests (with an average distance of more than 1cm). The results were just published in June. They have shown that 9 out of 10 phones fail to pass the safety test in real use conditions[1].

What were the results of the re-testing of SAR values in contact with the human body?

Tests in laboratory conditions are carried out on a phantom human head filled with liquid, and the main concern is that the electronic devices are kept at a distance ranging from 10 to 25mm from the test dummy[2]. Needless to say, nobody uses a smartphone that way. Do you use anything to separate yourself from your mobile phone while making calls?

When you keep a cell phone in your shirt pocket or — as some women do — in your bra, it is constantly in direct contact with your body. We are not exaggerating when we say that the tests made by the National Frequency Agency of France are groundbreaking. The ANFR measured the SAR value of mobile phones in the way that reflected how people actually use cell phones in real life.

As you may know, SAR (specific absorption rate) is an indication of the amount of radiation that is absorbed by the human head and body when using a mobile phone[3]. The higher the SAR rating, the more radiation is absorbed. You can read more about it in our article: “What is SAR radiation?”.

French government tests that included over hundred cell phones reveal that 9 out of 10 phones exceed the manufacturer’s reported radiation test levels when re-tested in direct contact with the body. Some mobile phones have exceeded the official values by as much as three times. Among the tested models were some of the most popular brands, such as Apple, Samsung and Huawei, so you have an opportunity to check if your smartphone is on the list.

89% of phones measured on contact had SAR values greater than the acceptable 2 W/kg and a further 25% had SAR values greater than 4 W/kg.

How was the test carried out? Authorized and sworn agents of ANFR collected mobile phones at points of sale between 2012 and 2016. First, SAR values of the tested devices were measured according to the official requirements (typically at a distance of 15 mm). Then, measurements were made in direct contact with the phantom body (less than 5mm). The results show that 89% of phones measured on contact had SAR values greater than the acceptable 2 W/kg and a further 25% had SAR values greater than 4 W/kg. It is alarming that almost every mobile phone available on the market has significantly higher SAR rating when measured in direct contact with the body.

Let us look at numbers. For example, the Samsung Galaxy J7 measured had a SAR value of 1,22 W/kg when tested in laboratory conditions, but in contact with the body it reached 3,56 W/kg. The Apple iPhone 5 had 1,45 W/kg reported during the regular test and 5,32 W/kg in contact with a phantom human body. The unfortunate record-holder is the Huawei Honor 4X which reached values as high as 7,39 W/kg.

You can have a look at the complete list here.

Phonegate: what can we do?

This is a huge story in France now. It is already called “Phonegate” because of its resemblance to “Dieselgate” from a few years ago.

As you can probably remember, Volkswagen cars passed diesel emission tests carried out in laboratory conditions, but when they were driven on real roads, they emitted much more harmful fumes. But what should we do? Specialists suggest reconsidering SAR value limits for smartphones before they are allowed to be launched in the market. Gilles Brégant, director of the ANFR, said that the current standards are being observed so there is no reason to panic, but he nevertheless stated that there is a need for new, more demanding regulations.

This so-called “Phonegate” has shown that there is still plenty to research in the area of the safe use of mobile phones. People — especially kids — should be aware of the fact that smartphones have to be used carefully. We think that there is a strong chance that a lot of alarming news like this is yet to come.

Check the ANFR results here.

References:

[1]http://www.activistpost.com/2017/06/data-cell-phones-expose-consumers-radiation-levels-higher-manufacturers-claim-says-french-government.html

[2]http://www.ets-lindgren.com/pdf/sar_lo.pdf

[3]https://www.fcc.gov/general/specific-absorption-rate-sar-cellular-telephones