ADDED TO MUDITA BLOG: DO NOT PUBLISH! What is SAR?

Have you heard about the radiation given off by electronic devices?

Nowadays, there’s a lot of pressure to be online, all the time. Mobile phones are now essential in our everyday life. We could say that they are probably the most useful gadgets that have ever been invented. It’s considered ‘normal’ that our children are addicted to their smartphones and even some parents and grandparents are using them endlessly!

By using our phones (and by being connected to the internet) we can keep in touch with each other as well as access both useful and useless information, anytime we want. Because of this, we are in constant physical contact with our mobile phones.

Did you know that your phone radiates? Is it healthy? What can it cause? Several months ago we couldn’t spend a day without our smartphones. Now, that has changed. We’d like to share our discoveries and thoughts with you.

What is SAR?

Perhaps you know that every electronic device gives off radiation, but we would like to focus on mobile phones. There are various types of radiation. The most popular type, which can be measured, is SAR. SAR (specific absorption rate) is an indication of the amount of radiation that is absorbed into a head when we are using a mobile phone.

The higher the SAR rating, the more radiation is absorbed into the head. SAR causes great concern among people. The ongoing studies have clearly indicated that SAR can be potentially harmful to human health, including damage to DNA[1], cardiac symptoms, cognitive impairment and leakage of the blood-brain barrier[2].

The research on SAR

During our research into SAR, we found that in 2011, the World Health Organization classified mobile devices as a group 2B risk, which means that they have the potential to be carcinogenic. This year, a major U.S. government study (National Toxicology Program), which was conducted on rats, has found a link between mobile phones and cancer[3].

The tumours identified were gliomas, which arise from the glial cells of the brain and schwannomas of the heart. In the research, more than 2,500 rats and mice were exposed to radio-frequency energy at various intervals over a period of 2 years.

This said study and other epidemiological studies support the WHO’s decision to classify SAR as a possible carcinogen. The NTP report said that the complete results of the study would be released by the fall of 2017[4].

Mobile communication devices are widespread among users of all ages — as mentioned earlier, it’s common that three or four generations (our generation, the generation of our parents and of course the generation of our children) can’t live without their smartphones. It’s believed to be commonplace.

Due to this, even a small increase in the incidence of diseases resulting from exposure to radiation might have an effect on public health. Children, young people and pregnant women might be more at risk. Let’s do a small and simple experiment, touch your ears after a phone call (without headphones). You can surely feel that one ear is warmer than the other one. This could be some of the most basic proof that radiation is absorbed by the human body!

What can you do?

The strength of SAR drops off at a distance which is why experts strongly advise keeping all mobile devices as far as possible from the body, especially away from the head and vulnerable brain tissue. The easiest solution is to choose a mobile phone with a lower SAR and a good quality speaker or an air tube headset.

When you walk your dog, leave your phone at home, at night, keep your phone on aeroplane mode, these are just some of the ways we can break up with our smartphones (temporarily). These steps may reduce radiation but mobile phones still mightn’t be as safe as we once thought, remember that!

Try to be SAR-aware. Focus on your well-being and health, in order to have a balanced lifestyle. Start a digital detox. Take a rest. Join our offline world. See for yourself that technology can be something more than being constantly online.

Find out more:

http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/pr/2011/pdfs/pr208_E.pdf

http://biorxiv.org/content/early/2016/05/26/055699

Of course, not all biological effects observed in animals can necessarily be applied to humans. The National Toxicology Program’s $25 million study is one of the biggest of its kind, in this field and has involved the most comprehensive experiments on the health effects of using mobile phones.

If you want to keep up to date with us and our articles (or follow what we’re doing in general) then you can find us via Facebook: Slow Digital

[1]BioInitiative (2014) New Studies Show Health Risks from Wireless Tech[Online] http://www.bioinitiative.org/new-studies-show-health-risks-from-wireless-tech/ (Accessed 23/06/2017)

[2] Tang, J. (2015) Exposure to 900 MHz electromagnetic fields activates the mkp-1/ERK pathway and causes blood-brain barrier damage and cognitive impairment in rats. [Online] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25598203 (Accessed 23/06/2017)

[3]BioInitiative (2014) New Studies Show Health Risks from Wireless Tech[Online] http://www.bioinitiative.org/new-studies-show-health-risks-from-wireless-tech/ (Accessed 23/06/2017)

[4]Tang, J. (2015) Exposure to 900 MHz electromagnetic fields activates the mkp-1/ERK pathway and causes blood-brain barrier damage and cognitive impairment in rats. [Online] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25598203 (Accessed 23/06/2017)