Thursday, March 26, 2015

Cell Phone Cases Can Increase Radiation Exposure

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) issued a press release and a report on a study that has important implications. Not only are the FCC's cell phone certification testing procedures inadequate to protect consumer safety, the cell phone manufacturer's safety instructions fail to warn the consumer that some cell phone cases may significantly increase the user's exposure to microwave radiation.

Legislation may be needed to ban the sale of cases that increases a cell phone's Specific Absorption Rate (SAR). At the very least, warning labels should be required on these cases. 
Some cell phones may exceed the SAR legal limit of 1.6 watts per kilogram when used with certain cases.

The White House must end the diffusion of responsibility among government agencies and between government and the Telecom industry as public health and safety are at risk. 
The Federal Communications Commission, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Federal Trade Commission should immediately address all of the health and safety risks associated with cell phone use.

In 1996 when the Federal government adopted the legal limit for cell phone radiation exposure, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health lobbied for 1.0 watts per kilogram. However, industry and military lobbyists prevailed in getting Congress to adopt the more permissive limit of 1.6 watts per kilogram.

The EWG report examines only one smart phone, the iPhone 4, that was tested alone and with several cell phone cases. The iPhone 4, unlike most other cell phones, has antennas on the exterior of the case. The results of the current study may have limited generalizability. The study should be replicated with other cell phones and other cases. 

The EWG report was based on a study commissioned by Pong Research Corporation, a cell phone case manufacturer that may have a vested interest in the outcome; however, the tests were conducted by CETECOM, an independent testing and certification laboratory used by many cell phone manufacturers for FCC certification of their handsets.


Cell Phone Cases Can Increase Radiation Exposure 
Up To 70 Percent

Press Release, Environmental Working Group, Mar 3, 2015

WASHINGTON – Most cell phone cases are so badly designed that they partially block the antenna, making the phone work harder to transmit a signal and intensifying the radiation that strikes the user’s head and body, a new Environmental Working Group analysis shows.

The analysis released today, based on data submitted to the Federal Communications Commission by case-maker Pong Research Corp., reveals that some cell phone cases on the market are so poorly engineered that the Specific Absorption Rate – a measure of the amount of radiation absorbed by the body – increased by 20 to 70 percent. While the jury is still out as to whether exposure to cell phone radiation can cause adverse health effects, a growing body of evidence points to this possibility.


Environmental Working Group Press Release
"Does Your Cell Phone Case Raise 
Your Radiation Exposure?"
Excerpts from the Environmental Working Group Report
Table 1: Cell phone cases can significantly increase radiation exposure
*SAR values are from tests conducted by Pong Research Corp on March 29, 2012 and submitted to the FCC on May 31, 2012. Because the SAR values were submitted to the FCC in graph form, EWG estimated numerical SAR values based on the chart available in WT Docket 11-186. Pong’s filing to the FCC did not indicate whether SAR measurements were done at the head or in a body-worn configuration. In a personal communication, Pong informed EWG that the SAR measurements were done in a body-worn configuration, with the same distance from the test mannequin used by the phone manufacturer. Tests in the body-worn configuration were done at a 10 millimeter separation distance.
** Percent SAR increase rounded to the nearest decile.

Table 2: Cell phone cases diminish signal strength, measured as Total Radiating Power