Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Buyer Beware: Cell Phone Radiation-Reducing Products

People often ask me to recommend a harm reduction product to reduce exposure to the electromagnetic radiation (EMR) emitted by their cell phone. 

Every few months a manufacturer asks me to endorse a new radiation-reducing product.

To avoid conflicts of interest, I do not promote or endorse any products. Moreover, I have little confidence in most manufacturers' product safety claims even by manufacturers who report independent laboratory test results for their products. 

Rather, I recommend people reduce their EMR exposure by making some simple behavioral changes. See "Some Tips to Reduce Your Exposure to Wireless Radiation" on my EMR Safety web site for suggestions.

In the news article below, Juli Clover, the author evaluated an iPhone case which is supposed to enhance the phone's signal strength. Although this product is not a harm reduction product, the article is useful to examine as the author compares how well the case functioned in the real world to the manufacturer's claims that were based on laboratory test results from "CETECOM, a well-respected test and certification lab for mobile devices."

The author concluded, "after several days of use, it remains difficult to conclusively say that the case improves signal in a meaningful way due to mixed test results." 

Her analysis validates my concern that testing a cell phone's radiation in a laboratory has limited utility because it does not yield results that accurately predict how the cell phone functions in the real world.

As I discussed in an interview in 2011, although the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires every cell phone in the U.S. to be tested in a laboratory for its Specific Absorption Rate (SAR), this measure is not useful to determine whether one cell phone is safer than another. In my opinion, the SAR is not useful to determine whether any cell phone is safe.

In sum, consumers would be wise to pay attention to the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) advice: "there is no scientific proof that so-called shields significantly reduce exposure from these electromagnetic emissions."

The FTC makes the following recommendations in an article entitled, "Cell Phone Radiation Scams":
  • "Increase the distance between your phone and your head by using a hands-free device, like an earpiece that is wired to the phone, or using the speakerphone feature.
  • Consider texting more and limiting your cell phone use to short conversations.
  • Wait for a good signal. When you have a weak signal, your phone works harder, emitting more radiation. Phones also give off more radiation when transmitting than when receiving, so tilt the phone away from your head when you're talking, and bring it back to your ear when you're listening.
  • A phone's specific absorption rate (SAR) reveals the maximum amount of radiation the human body absorbs from the phone while it's transmitting. SAR testing ensures that the devices sold in the U.S. comply with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) SAR exposure limit, but the single, worst-case value obtained from this SAR testing is not necessarily representative of the absorption during actual use, and therefore it is not recommended for comparisons among phones. In short, selecting a lower SAR phone will not reliably ensure lower radiation absorption during use. 
  • The FCC has more information at Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) For Cell Phones: What It Means For You." 


Hands-On With the Reach79 Signal Boosting Case - Does It Work?

Juli Clover, MacRumors, Jan 27, 2015