The FCC safety limits are based on what’s called the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR), which the agency defines as "the amount of radio frequency energy absorbed by the body when using a mobile phone." It measures the energy in watts, per kilogram (of body weight). The FCC has a SAR Webpage, and a link there to the searchable database. EWG has created its own listing of currently available U.S. cell phones, and their SAR data.
According to the FCC, "Any cell phone at or below these SAR levels (that is, any phone legally sold in the U.S.) is a ‘safe’ phone, as measured by these standards. The FCC limit for public exposure from cellular telephones is an SAR level of 1.6 Watts per kilogram (1.6 W/kg)."
Using the FCC’s data, EWG finds that the four phones (others are listed in the press release) have SAR levels close to the FCC maximum: Droid, 1.50 W/kg; Nexus One, 1.39; Bold 9700, 1.55, and LG Chocolate Touch, 1.46.
As recently as September 2009, the CTIA, a group of wireless industry vendors, reiterated its position that several government and other groups have sifted the evidence and "have all concluded that the scientific evidence to date does not demonstrate any adverse health effects associated with the use of wireless phones."
Another industry group, the Mobile Manufacturers’ Forum notes on its SAR Web page that SAR testing is done in laboratory conditions using the maximum power of the phone. "However, the actual SAR level of the phone while operating can be well below this value," MMF notes. "This is because the phone is designed to use the minimum power required to reach the network. Therefore, the closer you are to a base station, the more likely it is that the actual SAR level will be lower."
According to EWG, "Scientists around the world are conducting studies to address the outstanding questions on human health effects of radiofrequency radiation. In the meantime, EWG recommends that cell phone users buy phones with low emissions."
John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World. Twitter: http://twitter.com/johnwcoxnwwEmail: firstname.lastname@example.orgBlog RSS feed: http://www.networkworld.com/community/blog/2989/feed
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