Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Cell Phone Use and Salivary Gland Tumor Risk

Does cell phone use increase the chances of parotid gland tumor development?
A systematic review and meta-analysis

de Siqueira EC, de Souza FT, Gomez RS, Gomes CC, de Souza RP. Does cell phone use increase the chances of parotid gland tumor development? A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Oral Pathol Med. 2016 Dec 9. doi: 10.1111/jop.12531. [Epub ahead of print]


BACKGROUND: Prior epidemiological studies had examined the association between cell phone use and the development of tumors in the parotid glands. However there is no consensus about the question of whether cell phone use is associated with increased risk of tumors in the parotid glands. We performed a meta-analysis to evaluate the existing literature about the mean question and to determine their statistical significance.

METHODS: Primary association studies. Papers that associated cell phone use and parotid gland tumors development were included, with no restrictions regarding publication date, language and place of publication. Systematic literature search using PubMed, Scielo and Embase followed by meta-analysis.

RESULTS AND CONCLUSION: Initial screening included 37 articles and three were included in meta-analysis. Using three independent samples including 5087 subjects from retrospective case-control studies, cell phone use seems to be associated with greater odds (1.28, 95%- confidence interval 1.09 - 1.51) to develop salivary gland tumor. Results should be read with caution due to the limited number of studies available and their retrospective design.


Salivary gland tumors are relatively rare, accounting for 2-5% of all head and neck tumors, being the parotids the most affected salivary gland (6).

We further evaluated the levels of inflammatory cytokines in the saliva produced by the parotids according to self-reported exposure to cell phone, reporting an increase in pro-inflammatory and a decrease of anti-inflammatory cytokine levels in the sample evaluated, suggesting a pro-inflammatory effect of cell phones (8).

Cell phone use was associated with greater odds (increase of 28%) of presence of tumor in the parotid glands (O.R. 1.28 95% C.I. [1.09–1.51] p = 0.0025) (Figure 2).

Primary association studies have reported discordant results (3, 5, 10, 12, 14, 15). Possible explanations for conflicting results are differences in study design, genetic background of sampled populations or clinical-epidemiological sample structure. It is important to note that discordant results do not mean that some are incorrect. Tumor manifestation is clearly a multifactorial process whose risk factors are several. Most of the studies have not assessed other risk factors when estimating existence of association.

This is the first systematic review followed by a meta-analysis to evaluate that association. Here, we report usage of cell phone increase, on average, 28% the odds of presenting parotid glands tumors.

Our results need to be read and interpreted with caution due to important limitations that need to be addressed. Although the number of subjects compiled is reasonably large, the number of independent samples is small (n = 3) and results are clearly driven by two of three studies.


Taken together, our results provide evidence of association between cell phone use and parotid tumor although their association presents mild effect.


Histological and histochemical study of the protective role of rosemary extract against harmful effect of cell phone electromagnetic radiation on the parotid glands

Fatma M. Ghoneim, Eetmad A. Arafat. Histological and histochemical study of the protective role of rosemary extract against harmful effect of cell phone electromagnetic radiation on the parotid glands. Acta Histochemica, 118(5):478-485. June 2016.


Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) are a class of non-ionizing radiation (NIR) that is emitted from mobile phone. It may have hazardous effects on parotid glands. So, we aimed to investigate the histological and histochemical changes of the parotid glands of rats exposed to mobile phone and study the possible protective role of rosemary against its harmful effect. Forty adult male albino rats were used in this study. They were classified into 4 equal groups. Group I (control), group II (control receiving rosemary), group III (mobile phone exposed group) and group IV (mobile exposed, rosemary treated group). Parotid glands were dissected out for histological and histochemical study. Moreover, measurement of oxidative stress markers; malondialdehyde (MDA) and total antioxidant capacity (TAC) was done. The results of this study revealed that rosemary has protective effect through improving the histological and histochemical picture of the parotid gland in addition of its antioxidant effect. It could be concluded from the current study, that exposure of parotid gland of rat models to electromagnetic radiation of mobile phone resulted in structural changes at the level of light and electron microscopic examination which could be explained by oxidative stress effect of mobile phone. Rosemary could play a protective role against this harmful effect through its antioxidant activity.


From this study, it could be concluded that exposure of rat models to non-ionizing radiation emitted from mobile phone has hazardous effects on the histology and histochemistry of their parotid glands. Administration of rosemary extract which is a natural antioxidant resulted in a significant improvement. Unfortunately these preliminary results cannot be further extrapolated to humans. Therefore, we should adjust our use for mobile.

Also see:

AirPods: Are Apple’s New Wireless Earbuds Safe?

December 13, 2016

Apple announced today that AirPods can be ordered online and will be available in stores next week. The wireless earbuds will be available in limited quantities in more than 100 countries and territories.

Apple originally planned to ship AirPods in October and has not explained the reason for the delay. The Wall Street Journal reported that the delay was due to problems with the Bluetooth wireless technology employed by this device.


September 12, 2016

Apple’s new AirPods are wireless earbuds that employ Bluetooth technology to communicate with your smart phone, laptop, or smart watch. 

According to Apple, “After a simple one-tap setup, AirPods are automatically on and always connected.”

The Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) for the AirPods

The left AirPod emits Bluetooth microwave radiation in the 2.402 – 2.480 GHz frequency range to communicate with a smart phone or other wireless device. The Specific Absorption Rate (or SAR) of the AirPod is 0.466 watts per kilogram (averaged over 1 gram). (1)  For more information about the SAR see my post on the iPhone 7.

If one uses the AirPods many hours a day, the cumulative exposure to the brain from this microwave radiation could be substantial. 

According to EE Times, the left AirPod communicates with the right AirPod using a different technology, "near field magnetic induction (NFMI)."

Although there is a substantial research literature on the health risks of exposure to magnetic fields, I am not aware of any biologic research that examines NFMI. Hence, this post focuses on the risks to the brain from exposure to Bluetooth radiation. 

Is Bluetooth safe?

The wireless industry argues that devices that use Bluetooth are safe because the microwave radiation emitted by such devices is low compared to FCC guidelines. The FCC requires the SAR to be 1.6 watts per kilogram or less.

More than 240 scientists who have published research on electromagnetic radiation safety believe that current national and international guidelines for exposure to radio frequency radiation are inadequate to protect human health (see the International EMF Scientist Appeal).

I could find only two peer-reviewed studies that have examined the effects of exposure to Bluetooth radiation. The studies which employed small samples evaluated the effects of brief exposure to Bluetooth radiation on the auditory system. (2) Given the study limitations, the absence of significant effects is not surprising. These studies do not provide the basis to argue that long-term exposure to Bluetooth radiation is safe.

Low-intensity microwave radiation can open the blood-brain barrier

In 1975, Allan Frey published a paper in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences which reported that exposure to low intensity microwave radiation could open the blood-brain barrier in rats. Moreover, pulsed radio frequency waves (like Bluetooth) were more likely to produce this effect than continuous waves. (3)

The blood-brain barrier is a special layer of cells in the brain that prevents chemical toxins in the blood system from reaching the brain. Breaching this barrier could potentially lead to neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative diseases and brain cancer.

More than a dozen peer-reviewed studies have replicated Frey's findingsexposure to low intensity microwave radiation can open the blood-brain barrier (see links below). (3)  

The effect of microwave radiation on the blood-brain barrier is nonlinear—it occurs with low intensity exposures but not at higher intensity exposures.

Although other published studies have failed to find the blood-brain barrier effect, these studies tended to use higher intensity exposures or employed small samples.


We may not be certain of the long-term risks of using Bluetooth devices, but why would anyone insert microwave-emitting devices in their ears near their brain when there are safer ways to use a cell phone?

I recommend the use of corded headsets or hands-free use of cell phones, not wireless earbuds. Moreover, one should never keep a cell phone next to your body, especially during a phone call, but also whenever the phone is powered on. For additional tips on how to reduce your exposure to wireless radiation see http://bit.ly/safewirelesstips.

News coverage

In the past few days, numerous news stories have appeared citing industry-affiliated scientists who claim that AirPods are safe. Nonetheless, a few news reports have addressed the potential health risks from using AirPods:

·         CBS San Francisco"Apple Unveils iPhone 7 Without Headphone Jack"
·         Daily Mail“Could wireless headphones harm your health?”

Since the stories in the Daily Mail and CNN were posted on September 8, over two dozen online news stories have appeared that discuss the potential health risks from the microwave radiation emitted by AirPods.


(1) UL Verification Services, Inc. SAR Evaluation Report for Wireless Headset. FCC ID: BCG-A1523. Model Name: A1523. Report Number: 16U23784-S6V1. Issue Date: 8/30/2016. Fremont, CA. https://fccid.io/document.php?id=3118442

(2) Peer-reviewed studies which reported on the effects of brief exposure to Bluetooth radiation:

Mandalà M, Colletti V, Sacchetto L, Manganotti P, Ramat S, Marcocci A, Colletti L. Effect of Bluetooth headset and mobile phone electromagnetic fields on the human auditory nerve. Laryngoscope. 2014 Jan;124(1):255-9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23619813

Balachandran R, Prepageran N, Rahmat O, Zulkiflee AB, Hufaida KS. Effects of Bluetooth device electromagnetic field on hearing: pilot study. J Laryngol Otol. 2012 Apr;126(4):345-8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22310164

(3) Peer-reviewed studies which reported opening of the blood-brain barrier from exposure to low-intensity microwave radiation:

Sırav B, Seyhan N. Effects of GSM modulated radio-frequency electromagnetic radiation on permeability of blood-brain barrier in male & female rats. J Chem Neuroanat. 2016 Sep;75(Pt B):123-7  23. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26723545?dopt=Abstract

Tang J, Zhang Y, Yang L, Chen Q, Tan L, Zuo S, Feng H, Chen Z, Zhu G. Exposure to 900MHz electromagnetic fields activates the mkp-1/ERK pathway and causes blood-brain barrier damage and cognitive impairment in rats. Brain Res. 2015 Jan 15. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25598203?dopt=Abstract

Sirav B, Seyhan N. Effects of radiofrequency radiation exposure on blood-brain barrier permeability in male and female rats. Electromagn Biol Med. 2011 Dec;30(4):253-60. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22047463

Sirav B, Seyhan N. Blood-brain barrier disruption by continuous-wave radio frequency radiation. Electromagn Biol Med. 2009;28(2):215-22. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19811403?dopt=Abstract

Nittby H, Brun A, Eberhardt J, Malmgren L, Persson BR, Salford LG. Increased blood-brain barrier permeability in mammalian brain 7 days after exposure to the radiation from a GSM-900 mobile phone. Pathophysiology. 2009 Aug;16(2-3):103-12. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19345073?dopt=Abstract

Söderqvist F, Carlberg M, Hansson Mild K, Hardell L. Exposure to an 890-MHz mobile phone-like signal and serum levels of S100B and transthyretin in volunteers. Toxicol Lett. 2009 Aug 25;189(1):63-6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19427372?dopt=Abstract

Eberhardt JL, Persson BR, Brun AE, Salford LG, Malmgren LO. Blood-brain barrier permeability and nerve cell damage in rat brain 14 and 28 days after exposure to microwaves from GSM mobile phones. Electromagn Biol Med. 2008;27(3):215-29. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18821198?dopt=Abstract

Belyaev IY,  Koch CB, Terenius O, Roxström-Lindquist K, Malmgren LO, H Sommer W, Salford LG, Persson BR. Exposure of rat brain to 915 MHz GSM microwaves induces changes in gene expression but not double stranded DNA breaks or effects on chromatin conformation. Bioelectromagnetics. 2006 May;27(4):295-306. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16511873?dopt=Abstract

Salford LG, Brun AE,  Eberhardt JL,  Malmgren L,  Persson BR. Nerve cell damage in mammalian brain after exposure to microwaves from GSM mobile phones. Environ Health Perspect. 2003 Jun;111(7):881-3; discussion A408. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12782486?dopt=Abstract

Leszczynski D, Joenväärä S, Reivinen J, Kuokka R. Non-thermal activation of the hsp27/p38MAPK stress pathway by mobile phone radiation in human endothelial cells: molecular mechanism for cancer- and blood-brain barrier-related effects. Differentiation. 2002 May;70(2-3):120-9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12076339?dopt=Abstract

Schirmacher A, Winters S, Fischer S, Goeke J, Galla HJ, Kullnick U, Ringelstein EB, Stögbauer F. Electromagnetic fields (1.8 GHz) increase the permeability to sucrose of the blood-brain barrier in vitro. Bioelectromagnetics. 2000 Jul;21(5):338-45. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10899769?dopt=Abstract

Fritze K, Sommer C, Schmitz B, Mies G, Hossmann KA, Kiessling M, Wiessner C. Effect of global system for mobile communication (GSM) microwave exposure on blood-brain barrier permeability in rat. Acta Neuropathol. 1997 Nov;94(5):465-70. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9386779?dopt=Abstract

Salford LG, Brun A, Sturesson K, Eberhardt JL, Persson BR. Permeability of the blood-brain barrier induced by 915 MHz electromagnetic radiation, continuous wave and modulated at 8, 16, 50, and 200 Hz. Microsc Res Tech. 1994 Apr 15;27(6):535-42. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8012056?dopt=Abstract

Persson BR, Salford LG, Brun A, Eberhardt JL, Malmgren L. Increased permeability of the blood-brain barrier induced by magnetic and electromagnetic fields. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1992 Mar 31;649:356-8.

Frey AH, Feld SR, Frey B. Neural function and behavior: Defining the relationship. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 247: 433–439. 1975. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

Four lectures on wireless radiation health effects

The slides from three lectures about the health effects of wireless radiation presented by Dr. Dariusz Leszczynski in Melbourne, Australia are available from his blog site, "Between a Rock and a Hard Place."
  • "How probable are health effects of radiation from wireless transmitting devices?"
  • "Explaining ambiguous science requires high ethics and low conflict of interest"
  • "Health effects of wireless radiation--possible or probable"
Dr. Leszczynski has 20 years of experience researching the effects of electromagnetic fields on health. He is an adjunct professor of biochemistry at the University of Helsinki, Finland and Editor-in-Chief of the journal, "Frontiers in Radiation and Health." 

He was one of 31 members of the expert working group convened by the International Agency for Research on Cancer of the World Health Organization in 2011 that classified radio frequency radiation as "possibly carcinogenic to humans" (Group 2B)." In his recent lectures he argues that we have sufficient research evidence to change this classification to "probably carcinogenic to humans" (Group 2A).

The slides from my recent lecture to MPH students enrolled in the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley are now available.
  • "Wireless Phone Radiation Risks and Public Health"

Monday, October 24, 2016

Do iPhones emit more radiation than Samsung Galaxy phones?

Caveat Emptor:  In the following post, I re-iterate the concern of the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) that it is deceptive for the FCC to apply the SAR test in a manner that does not reflect how consumers actually use cell phones. I am not endorsing use of the SAR test for cell phone safety certification because the test fails to address the risks from exposure to non-thermal levels of microwave radiation. We need to adopt biologically-based safety limits and an appropriate testing procedure. See my earlier post, "What's Wrong with Cellphone Radiation Safety Limits," for more information.

Several recent news stories reported that Apple iPhones emit twice as much radiation as Samsung Galaxy phones (Cho Mu-Hyun, “iPhones 'emit double the radiation' of Galaxy handsets: Korean agency,” ZDNet, September 27, 2016). This story has been reported in Australia, China, France, India, Japan, and South Korea.

According to Yonhap News Agency, Representative Choi Myung-gil who serves on the South Korean Assembly’s Telecommunications Committee stated that six Apple products received a Tier 2 rating from the country's National Radio Research Agency (NRRA). In contrast, all Samsung products received a Tier 1 rating. The Tier 1 rating is awarded to mobile devices with a Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) below 0.8 watts/kilogram (W/kg) whereas devices with a higher SAR are given a Tier 2 rating.

Representative Choi also expressed concern that the SAR has been increasing over time for all cell phones and tablets and asked his government to do more to protect the public from wireless radiation exposure.

In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) considers all cell phones with a SAR of 1.60 W/kg or less to be safe. Unlike Korea and Belgium (below), the FCC discourages consumers from comparing SARs when selecting a phone. According to the FCC:

“ALL cell phones must meet the FCC’s RF exposure standard, which is set at a level well below that at which laboratory testing indicates, and medical and biological experts generally agree, adverse health effects could occur. For users who are concerned with the adequacy of this standard or who otherwise wish to further reduce their exposure, the most effective means to reduce exposure are to hold the cell phone away from the head or body and to use a speakerphone or hands-free accessory. These measures will generally have much more impact on RF energy absorption than the small difference in SAR between individual cell phones, which, in any event, is an unreliable comparison of RF exposure to consumers, given the variables of individual use.”

What is the full story?

The SAR is a measure of the maximum amount of microwave radiation absorbed by a test dummy, not the amount of microwave radiation emitted by a wireless device. Moreover, according to a report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), the SAR does not provide an accurate representation of the amount of radiation that the typical cell phone user’s head and body absorb over time. For more information about how to interpret the SAR see the links at the end of this article.

The tier rating classifications in Korea are misleading because they only account for the SAR tested at the head. Furthermore, they only address the situation when Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are turned off while testing cellular transmission.

When tested near the head with W-Fi and Bluetooth turned off, the iPhone 7 does indeed have higher SARs than Galaxy 7 smartphones. However, in simultaneous mode with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth turned on along with the cellular transmitter(s), the iPhones and Galaxy phones have similar SARs near the head. According to test reports filed with the FCC, without Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, iPhone SARs ranged from 1.09 to 1.19 W/kg as compared to 0.62 to 0.64 W/kg for Galaxy phones (see results below). However in simultaneous mode with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth turned on, iPhone SARs ranged from 1.42 to 1.49 W/kg as compared to 1.40 to 1.56 W/kg for Galaxy phones.

Unlike the SAR head test which is conducted at a fixed distance from the test dummy (about 6 millimeters), the SAR body test can be conducted at different distances from the dummy (up to 25 millimeters). The distance is selected by the phone’s manufacturer. SAR values from phones tested at different distances from the dummy should not be directly compared because they are not comparable.

Although with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth turned off, the iPhone 7 and Galaxy 7 smartphones appear to have similar body SARs, these phones were tested at different distances from the body. The iPhones were tested at 5 millimeters, and the Galaxy phones were tested at 15 millimeters. If the Galaxy phones had been tested at 5 millimeters, the SAR values would likely have been between 1.73 and 2.78 W/kg. (These estimates are based on research by Om Gandhi which found that SAR increases 5% to 10% for each millimeter closer to the body.) Moreover, since the body SARs for the iPhone ranged from 1.09 to 1.14 W/kg, the body is exposed to less radiation from an iPhone than a Galaxy phone when Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are turned off.

Based upon SAR test results, when Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are turned on in addition to cellular, the body absorbs considerably less radiation from an iPhone, whereas the head absorbs similar amounts of radiation as compared to Galaxy phones. 

FCC needs to standardize the body SAR test

The FCC should standardize the distance from the test dummy for the SAR body test. Since hardly anyone uses a manufacturer-approved cell phone holder to keep the phone away from their body, there is no justification for allowing phones to be tested at different distances from the dummy. Also, consumers who wanted to compare the body SARs from different phones would then be able to do so.

All phones should be tested next to the body where people actually keep their cell phones. However, it is likely that no phone would pass the test and be certified for sale in the U.S. 

Some phones may even fail the SAR test with a 5 millimeter body separation distance. For example, the Samsung Galaxy 7 phones would not likely have been certified for sale because the maximum SAR allowed in the U.S. or Korea is 1.60 W/kg, and the body SARs would have exceeded this limit if the phones were tested at 5 millimeters.

Belgium’s 5-tier safety system for cell phones

Belgium has a 5-tier safety classification system. All cell phones in Belgium are labeled with the letter A, B, C, D, or E, corresponding to the phone's head SAR (averaged over 10 grams of simulated tissue):
  • "A" indicates a SAR less than 0.4 watts/kilogram (W/kg),
  • "B" from 0.4 to less than 0.8 W/kg, 
  • "C" from 0.8 to less than 1.2 W/kg, 
  • "D" from 1.2 to less than 1.6 W/kg, and 
  • "E" more than 1.6 W/kg.
In Belgium it is compulsory to display a poster at the point of sale that explains the SAR-value categories and advises the consumer to make phone calls wearing an earpiece and to choose a mobile phone with a lower radiation value.

“Think about your health – use your mobile phone moderately, make your calls wearing an earpiece and choose a set with a lower SAR value.”

SARs reported to the 
Federal Communications Commission

The maximum SAR allowed in the U.S. and Korea is 1.60 W/kg averaged over one gram of simulated tissue. The SARs reported below were averaged over one gram. 


iPhone 7 (Model A1660: GSM and CDMA)
Head = 1.10 watts per kilogram (W/kg) 
Body = 1.14 W/kg
Hotspot = 1.16 W/kg
Simultaneous (cellular plus Wi-Fi) = 1.49 W/kg (head), 1.56 W/kg (body), 1.56 W/kg (hotspot)

iPhone 7 (Model A1778: GSM, no CDMA) 
Head = 1.19 W/kg 
Body = 1.09 W/kg
Hotspot = 1.14 W/kg
Simultaneous (cellular plus Wi-Fi) = 1.56 W/kg (head), 1.51 W/kg (body), 1.58 W/kg (hotspot)

iPhone 7 Plus (Model A1661: GSM and CDMA)
Head = 1.09 W/kg 
Body = 1.10 W/kg
Hotspot = 1.13 W/kg
Simultaneous (cellular plus Wi-Fi) = 1.45 W/kg (head), 1.51 W/kg (body), 1.58 W/kg (hotspot)

iPhone 7 Plus (Model A1784: GSM, no CDMA) 
Head = 1.09 W/kg 
Body = 1.14 W/kg
Hotspot = 1.14 W/kg
Simultaneous (cellular plus Wi-Fi) = 1.42 W/kg (head), 1.54 W/kg (body), 1.54 W/kg (hotspot)


Galaxy S7
Head = 0.62 W/kg 
Body = 1.06 W/kg
Hotspot = 0.55 W/kg (head)
Simultaneous (cellular plus Wi-Fi) = 1.40 W/kg (head), 1.50 W/kg (body), 1.59 W/kg (hotspot)

Galaxy S7 Edge
Head = 0.64 W/kg 
Body = 1.07 W/kg
Hotspot = 1.10 W/kg
Simultaneous (cellular plus Wi-Fi) = 1.56 W/kg hotspot

Also see:

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge Specific Absorption Rates (SAR)

What are the SAR values for Samsung’s new smart phones? 

What is the manufacturer's recommended minimum 
body separation distance?

How should consumers use this information?

Be sure to read the latest 
Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Recall

October 10, 2016 (updated Oct 11)

Today the New York Times reported that Samsung has decided to permanently stop producing the Note 7 smartphone due to problems with the replacement phones.

On October 10, the BBC reported that Samsung temporarily stopped production of the Galaxy Note 7 smartphone due to reports of replacement phones catching on fire. Several phone companies in the U.S. stopped selling this phone or replacing existing phones. 

CNN reported that Samsung issued an alert to all Galaxy Note 7 owners to turn off their phones immediately to prevent fires.

September 15, 2016

Today the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a recall of all Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones sold prior to September 15 because the lithium ion battery can overheat and catch fire. Canada and Mexico also issued recalls. Samsung has received 92 reports of batteries overheating in the U.S.

To find out more the recall and whether your cell phone battery is safe, see Samsung's recall notice.

September 2, 2016

Samsung has stopped sales on the Galaxy Note 7 and issued a voluntary recall due to potential battery problems. As of September 1, 35 devices have caught fire when charging. Contact your cell phone company for details about the recall.

SAR Values for Galaxy S7, S7 Edge, and Note 7

March 1, 2016 (Updated on August 4, 2016 with Galaxy Note 7 SARs)

According to test reports filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) for the Galaxy S7 for cellular transmission is 0.62 watts per kilogram (w/kg) at the head, and 1.06 w/kg when worn on the body. The wireless router SAR is 0.55 w/kg at the head. The SAR for simultaneous transmission (cellular plus Wi-Fi) is 1.40 w/kg at the head, 1.50 w/kg when worn on the body, and 1.59 w/kg when used as a hotspot. (1)

For the Galaxy S7 Edge, the SAR for cellular transmission is 0.64 watts per kilogram (w/kg) at the head, and 1.07 w/kg when worn on the body. The wireless router SAR is 1.10 w/kg. The SAR for simultaneous transmission (cellular plus Wi-Fi) is 1.56 w/kg when used as a hotspot. (2)

For the Galaxy Note 7, the SAR for cellular transmission is 0.39 watts per kilogram (w/kg) at the head, and 0.67 w/kg when worn on the body. The wireless router SAR is 0.85 w/kg at the head. The SAR for simultaneous transmission (cellular plus Wi-Fi) is 1.24 w/kg at the head, 1.41 w/kg when worn on the body, and 1.59 w/kg when used as a hotspot. (2A)

All SARs reported above are averaged over one gram of body tissue corresponding to the US standard. The SARs may vary depending upon your specific cell phone carrier (e.g., AT&T = A, Sprint = P, T-Mobile = T, Verizon = V). The SARs for the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge can be found at http://bit.ly/galaxy6sar.

The minimum separation distance for body-worn testing was 15 mm (about 0.6 of an inch). According to Samsung, "To meet RF exposure guidelines during body-worn operation, the device should be positioned at least this distance away from the body." 

The SARs for the Apple iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus were obtained at a separation distance of 5 mm (about 0.2 of an inch) from the body so the body-worn SAR values are not comparable to those reported for the Samsung phones. The iPhone SAR values can be found in my article on Apple smart phones.

The FCC ID number for the Galaxy S7 is A3LSMG930US; for the S7 Edge it is A3LSMG935US, and for the S7 Note it is A3LSMN930F. The SAR values for these smart phones can be found on the following FCC website: www.fcc.gov/oet/ea/

What do SAR values mean to the consumer?

The legal limit for the SAR in the U.S. is 1.60 w/kg (averaged over one gram of tissue).

The FCC requires that all cell phone models be tested for their Specific Absorption Rate or SAR. The SAR is a measure of the maximum amount of microwave radiation absorbed by the head or the body. It is measured in a laboratory using an artificial model of a large adult male with different fluids to simulate human tissue. The SAR, which is measured in watts per kilogram, represents the maximum amount of energy absorbed in any one gram of tissue in the test model. Phones sold in the U.S. typically range in SAR values from about 0.20 w/kg up to the 1.60 legal limit. (3, 4)

The SAR test, adopted in 1996 by the FCC, was criticized by the U.S. Government Accountability Office in 2012. (5) The test does not reflect those who currently use cell phones, nor does it correspond to the way people use them. Today many children are cell phone users -- the child’s brain absorbs twice the radiation as the adult’s brain. Moreover, the artificial head does not contain any metal (e.g., dental fillings, earrings, or eyeglass frames) which could increase the radiation absorption beyond the measured SAR in the laboratory. (5)

The FCC assumes that consumers will carry their cell phones in a manufacturer-approved holder that keeps the phone a minimum distance away from the body. However, most people do not keep their phone in a cell phone holder. For the body-worn SAR test, the FCC allows the manufacturer to choose the separation distance between the cell phone and the test model as long as consumers are informed about the minimum distance tested. However, few consumers are aware of the manufacturer’s recommended minimum body separation distance from their cell phone because this information is often difficult to find. Thus, most consumers are in the dark about precautions they can take to keep their exposure to microwave radiation below the legal limit. This prompted the city of Berkeley, California to adopt landmark legislation that requires cellphone retailers to inform their customers about the manufacturer’s safety information.

To ensure that the cell phone does not exceed the legal limit, consumers should never keep their cell phone in their pockets or next to their skin. The cell phone is not tested directly against the body because almost all cell phones would fail the SAR test as the radiation absorption increases dramatically when the cell phone is close to the body.

Is the legal limit sufficient to protect the cell phone user’s health?

Federal policies in the U.S. could lead the public to believe that all legally-marketed cell phones are safe, and that a cell phone's SAR doesn't matter as long as it meets the legal limit: 1.6 watts per kilogram. (3, 4)

However, the Environmental Working Group and experts point out that the SAR only measures the maximum microwave absorption from cell phone use that perfectly matches laboratory conditions. The SAR is not a good indicator of one’s cumulative microwave exposure under naturalistic conditions.  The research evidence suggests that how one uses the phone (e.g., hands-free) and one’s cell phone carrier actually matters more than the phone’s SAR level.  (4, 6, 7)

The SAR standard was developed to protect users only from the acute effects of the heat generated by microwave radiation (i.e., the thermal effect). (5) The SAR limit does not protect users from the non-thermal effects caused by the cumulative exposure over time to cell phone radiation.

Yet, thousands of laboratory studies with animals and cell samples have found deleterious biologic effects from short-term exposure to low intensity cell phone radiation, including development of stress proteins, micronuclei, free radicals, DNA breakage, and sperm damage. (8) Human studies have also found that brief exposure to cell phone radiation alters brain activity and can open the blood-brain barrier which could enable chemical toxins in the circulatory system to penetrate the brain. (9)

Major studies with humans have found increased cancer risk, including a three-fold increase in brain cancer among those who used wireless phones (cell phones and cordless phones) for 25 or more years. (10)  Based upon this research, the World Health Organization in 2011 declared radiofrequency radiation "possibly carcinogenic" in humans (Group 2B). (11)

Other risks from cell phone use include reproductive health damage and male infertility, and neurological disorders (e.g., impaired cognitive functioning, headaches and migraines, and ADHD [attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder]) in children. (12, 13)

Based upon the weight of the evidence from several decades of research including thousands of peer-reviewed published studies, many experts worldwide have signed declarations calling upon government to adopt stronger radiation standards to protect consumers from low intensity, non-thermal exposures from radiation associated with wireless communications, and to alert consumers about how to reduce their risk of harm. (14 -16) Recent evidence suggests that brain tumor incidence is increasing in the U.S. and other countries and exposure to cell phone radiation may be contributing to this increase. (17) In May, 2015, about 200 scientists who have published peer-reviewed research on electromagnetic fields and biology or health signed a petition, the International EMFScientist Appeal, calling for stronger regulation of wireless radiation. 

For tips on how to reduce exposure to wireless radiation, see "Some Tips to ReduceYour Exposure to Wireless Radiation". (18) In short, limit your use of the phone, keep the phone away from your body whenever it is powered on, use the phone hands-free, and turn off transmitters not in use (e.g., shut off Wi-Fi or use airplane mode).


(1) PCTEST Engineering Laboratory, Inc. SAR Evaluation Report. Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. FCC ID: A3LSMG930US. Date of Testing: 12/04/2015 to 1/04/2016.https://fccid.io/document.php?id=2894014

(2) PCTEST Engineering Laboratory, Inc. SAR Evaluation Report. Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. FCC ID: A3LSMG935US. Date of Testing: 12/02/2015 to 1/06/2015. https://fccid.io/document.php?id=2894155

(2A) PCTEST Engineering Laboratory, Inc. SAR Evaluation Report. Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. FCC ID: A3LSMN930F. Date of Testing: 5/28/2016 to 6/06/16.

(3) FCC. Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) for Cellular Telephones. Undated. http://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/specific-absorption-rate-sar-cellular-telephones

(4) FCC. “Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) For Cell Phones: What It Means For You.” Undated. http://www.fcc.gov/guides/specific-absorption-rate-sar-cell-phones-what-it-means-you

(5) Joel Moskowitz. “"Comments on the 2012 GAO Report: 'Exposure and Testing Requirements for Mobile Phones Should Be Reassessed'.:” http://www.saferemr.com/2013/01/commentary-gao-2012-report-on-mobile.html

(6) Wolchover N. Radiation Risk: Are Some Cellphones More Dangerous Than Others? Life's Little Mysteries. June 23, 2011. http://www.lifeslittlemysteries.com/1550-radiation-risk-some-cell-phones-more-dangerous-than-others.html

(7) Environmental Working Group. EWG’s Guide to Safer Cell Phone Use: Where is EWG's cell phone database? August 27 2013. 

(8) Giuliani L. Soffritti M. Non-thermal effects and mechanisms of interaction between electromagnetic fields and living matter. ICEMS Monograph. Bologna, Italy: National Institute for the Study and Control of Cancer. 2010. http://www.icems.eu/papers.htm

(9) Joel Moskowitz. “LTE Cell Phone Radiation Affects Brain Activity in Cell Phone Users.” Sep 20, 2013. http://www.prlog.org/12215083

(10) Joel Moskowitz. “Brain Cancer Risk Increases with the Amount of Wireless Phone Use: Study. http://www.prlog.org/12216483

(11) Joel Moskowitz. “Most Significant Government Health Report on Mobile Phone Radiation Ever Published.” http://www.prlog.org/12125230

(12) Joel Moskowitz. “Cell Phone Radiation, Pregnancy, and Sperm.” Nov 19, 2012.     http://www.prlog.org/12026867

(13) Joel Moskowitz. “Cell Phone Use and Prenatal Exposure to Cell Phone Radiation May Cause Headaches in Children.“ http://www.prlog.org/12269207

(14) Joel Moskowitz. “Part I: Why We Need Stronger Cell Phone Radiation Regulations--Key Testimony Submitted to the FCC.” Aug 4, 2014. http://www.saferemr.com/2014/08/why-we-need-stronger-cell-phone.html

(15) Joel Moskowitz. “Part II: Why We Need Stronger Cell Phone Radiation Regulations--Key Research Papers Submitted to the FCC.” Aug 4, 2014. http://www.saferemr.com/2014/08/why-we-need-stronger-cell-phone_43.html

(16) Joel Moskowitz. “Part III: Why We Need Stronger Cell Phone Radiation Regulations--98 Scientific Experts Who Signed Resolutions.” Aug 4, 2014. http://www.saferemr.com/2014/08/why-we-need-stronger-cell-phone_4.html

(17) Joel Moskowitz. Brain Tumor Rates are Increasing in the U.S.: The Role of Cell Phone and Cordless Phone Use. http://bit.ly/risingtumors

(18) Joel Moskowitz. Some Tips to Reduce Your Exposure to Wireless Radiation  (one page handout). Undated. http://bit.ly/saferemrtips3