Over the past two years there have been occasional reports about radiation from cell phones causing brain tumors, but no one is yelling loud enough for us to listen.....yet. By FCC regulation, only cell phones whose tested SAR (specific absorption rate) is less than 1.6 Watts per kilogram can be sold in the United States. Manufacturers use this test for their phone models to show compliance with this regulation. However, studies to date have been contradictory in their results as to the possible dangers of tumors from cell phone radiation. Is the public talking and texting, blindly uninformed?
Today, the first thing I read online was this OpEd piece in the NYTimes. To the dismay of major cell phone manufacturers, San Francisco has passed legislation requiring them to post SAR levels from cell phones. Mayor Newsom fought for this bill despite argument from telecommunications lobbyists and the loss of the Wireless Association convention from his city after this year’s event, which will be financially harmful to San Francisco. It would be ideal if our Federal government would step in and make this a national requirement, in support of San Francisco’s decision and to help protect the health of our citizens.
The Environmental Workers Group website lists the SAR output from a vast array of cell and smart phones, along with suggestions for limiting your risk of exposure. I found it interesting that making phone calls from areas with low connectivity is more dangerous since the phone has to “work harder”, emitting more SAR. Also eye opening is that soft tissue absorbs radiation, so keeping it in your pocket or attached to your belt is possibly dangerous. The FCC website has links to several manufacturers’ sites so you can look up your model.
I was able to find my phone on the Verizon Wireless website. It’s not one of the best, or the worst. But I’m questioning my safety. I’m headed to the Vz store today to buy an earpiece. It seems that either corded or Bluetooth-style still carries some risk of exposure and the decision is still out as to which is safer, but I’m going with the belief that it’s better than nothing. And I will no longer carry my phone in my pocket when cycling. It’s going in a pack on the bike.
All this makes me wish I had more carefully read a report I skimmed last week regarding the potential dangers of computers, especially laptops that are balanced on our laps.