Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Google Glass Alert: Potential health risks from wireless radiation

The Google Glass, an optical head-mounted display designed in the shape of a pair of eyeglasses, was not embraced by the general public when it was introduced in 2013-2014. So Google changed its marketing strategy to target specific occupational needs including healthcare, military, and sports applications.
Recently, a colleague told me that some physician offices in California require their staff to wear the Glass. Last week, National Public Radio reported that some factory workers must also wear the Glass.
Tasnim Shamma, Google Glass Didn't Disappear. You Can Find It On The Factory Floor. WABE/National Public Radio, March 18, 2017. http://n.pr/2nDG22d
Following is a press release I prepared three years ago which provides precautionary information about this wireless device. SAR values for the latest model of the Google Glass follow the press release.
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Google Glass Alert: Potential health risks from wireless radiation
The Google Glass emits more wireless radiation than most cell phones on the market, but unlike cell phone users, Glass users may be wearing this device on their heads for more than 12 hours a day putting their health at risk.

By Joel M. Moskowitz, Ph.D., School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley

BERKELEY, Calif. - April 15, 2014 - PRLog -- The Google Glass emits both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radiation. Although the Glass official web site, http://www.google.com/glass/start/ , contains information warning consumers about the device's potential interference with radio or television reception, the site provides no safety information to consumers.

As a body-worn, microwave-emitting device, Google is required by Federal law to test the Specific Absorption Rate or SAR of the Glass. This is a measure of the maximum microwave radiation absorbed by the user in 6 minutes averaged over one gram of tissue. 

Although Google did not post the SAR information on its web site, the Glass test reports can be found on the FCC's web site at [https://fccid.io/document.php?id=1910822]. The FCC ID for the current version of the Glass is X1.

The official test report indicates that the SAR for the Glass is much higher than the SARs for the iPhone 5, the Samsung Galaxy S5, or most cell phones on the market.

During the last year, Google improved the antenna on the Glass which resulted in an increase in the SAR from 1.11 to 1.42 watts/kilogram (W/kg).  In contrast, the Samsung Galaxy S5 has a head and body SAR of 0.57 and 0.64 W/kg, respectively. The Apple iPhone 5 has a head SAR of 1.17 and a body SAR of 1.18 W/kg.

In the U.S. no personal wireless device can have a SAR that exceeds 1.6 W/kg. The SAR standard, however, was developed several decades ago in the U.S. primarily by physicists and engineers to protect users from the acute effects of the heat generated by microwave radiation. The standards do not protect users from the non-thermal effects of cell phone radiation which have been associated with increased brain cancer risk among long-term cell phone users and other health problems in the short term including electrosensitivity, sperm damage and infertility, and reproductive health risks in children.

Just because these devices are legal does not mean they are safe

Although many health researchers, including myself, have questioned the utility of assessing only a device's SAR, currently that is all governments measure and regulate. 

Governments want consumers to believe that all legally marketed wireless devices are safe, and that the SAR level does not matter as long as it meets the legal standard.  Yet no study has proved that exposure to low-intensity microwave radiation is safe, and thousands of peer-reviewed, published studies have found biologic effects from such exposures. The research suggests that governments need to adopt more stringent, biologically-based, standards to protect consumers' health.

Medical and public health professionals should call on Google to end this experiment on Glass users or at least fully inform consumers of the potential long-term health risks from wearing this device.


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Google Glass SAR test report update

Following are the results from the SAR test report for the Google Glass Model GG1 (A4R-GG1; dated May 18, 2015):

Head test: 0.293 W/kg for Wi-Fi (2.4 GHz) and 0.790 W/kg for Wi-Fi (5 GHz)

Simultaneous transmission: 0.874 W/kg

Bluetooth was excluded from testing as the maximum output power is 2.0 dBm.


Massachusetts Cell Phone & Wireless Safety Legislation

Five Cell Phone & Wireless Safety Bills introduced in Massachusetts Legislature

In 2017, the Massachusetts state legislature introduced five bills to address wireless radiation and public health:

S.107 would require manufacturers’ RF safety information to be plainly visible on cell phone product packaging or direct customers to safety notifications within the user manual including information pertaining to RF radiation exposure, compliance with RF regulatory requirements, and the minimum separation distance between the device and the person’s body.

S.108 would require the following language to appear on cell phone product packaging: 
"To assure safety, the Federal Government requires that cell phones meet radio frequency (RF) exposure guidelines. If you carry or use your phone in a pocket or the phone is otherwise in contact with your body when the phone is on and connected to a wireless network, you may exceed the federal guidelines for exposure to RF radiation. Refer to the instructions in your phone or user manual for information about how to use your phone safely." 
This notification is required by the model cell phone “right to know” ordinance that was adopted in 2015 in Berkeley, California. The Berkeley ordinance allows the retailer the option to post the notice in the store or provide it to the customer. It does not require the notice to be placed on the cell phone product packaging.

S. 1268 would create a commission to study the health impacts of electromagnetic fields (EMF). The commission will review non-industry funded science on the health impacts of all sources of EMF on reproductive systems, brain function including memory loss, diminished learning, performance impairment in children, headaches and neurodegenerative conditions, melatonin suppression and sleep disorders, fatigue, hormonal imbalances, immune dysregulation such as allergic and inflammatory responses, cardiac and blood pressure problems, genotoxic effects like miscarriage, cancers such as childhood leukemia, and childhood and adult brain tumors.

The commission will study whether EMF has a disparate impact on potentially vulnerable subgroups including children, fetuses, pregnant women, the elderly and those with pre-existing illnesses or impairments. The commission will investigate whether children are more vulnerable.

The commission will file a report by July 31, 2018, and recommend legislation needed to protect public health including a recommendation on whether children’s EMF (including Wi-Fi) exposure in schools should be eliminated or reduced. No commission member shall have a financial conflict of interest.

S.1864 would give residents the right to keep non-RF-emitting water, gas and electrical meters instead of "smart" utility meters without having to pay extra fees. Ratepayers will have the right to request that utility companies remove wireless meters and install electromechanical analog meters that emit no RF radiation. 

H.2030 would require the state government to develop best practices and guidance for the purchase and installation of wireless internet service in public schools, colleges and universities. The guidelines would prioritize practices that protect the health and safety of students and staff.