Friday, December 7, 2018

Worldwide Radio Frequency Radiation Exposure Limits versus Health Effects

December 5, 2018

RFR Exposure Limits (Updated Dec. 7)

The World Health Organization's Global Health Observatory data repository publishes radio frequency radiation (RFR) exposure limits for the general public and for workers. The repository also has exposure limits for low frequency and static electromagnetic fields.

Radio frequency radiation includes the radiation emitted by cell phones and cordless phones, cell towers, microwave ovens, wireless baby monitors and smart meters, and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth devices including laptops, tablets, and wireless wearables.

The RFR exposure limit data for the general public in 36 nations (as of May 31, 2017) can be downloaded as a pdf document from

WHO: RFR exposure limits for 36 nations
Health Effects

The RFR exposure limits were designed to protect the general public only from heating risks due to short-term exposure to this type of non-ionizing radiation. The limits were not designed to protect individuals from chronic exposure to low-intensity (i.e., non-thermal levels of) RFR. Yet the preponderance of peer-reviewed research on low-intensity RFR exposure finds biological effects and adverse health effects. Thus, one must carefully examine these studies to determine safe levels of RFR exposure.

BioInitiative 2012 provides charts that summarize RFR studies which employed low-intensity exposures. These charts can be downloaded as a pdf document from

BioInitiative 2012: first page of RF color chart 

Monday, November 19, 2018

National Toxicology Program: Peer & public review of cell phone radiation study reports

More Information: 

National Toxicology Program (NTP) Finds Cell Phone Radiation Causes Cancer

Nov 19, 2018

Review of the NTP and Ramazzini Institute Studies 
by the Swiss Expert Group on EMF and Non-Ionizing Radiation (BERENIS)


The NTP and Ramazzini studies are most comprehensive animal studies with regard to cancer and exposure to mobile phone and base station signals that have been conducted to date. The scientific quality and standard of laboratory techniques are high, especially in the NTP study…”

“The results of these two animal studies are of great scientific relevance and importance for health policy because according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), positive results from animal studies with lifetime exposure are very important with regard to the classification of cancer risk of an agent, together with data from epidemiological and mechanistic studies. Based on the observed evidence regarding a correlation between mobile phone use and gliomas as well as acoustic neuroma, the latter data led to the IARC classification of mobile phone radiation as ‘possibly carcinogenic’ (group 2B) in 2011…”

“Despite the methodological differences, both new animal studies showed relatively consistent results in schwannomas and gliomas, as well as a dose-dependent trend to an increase in the carcinogenicity of these tumors. The NTP study used high whole-body doses (SAR – specific absorption rates) as compared to the regulatory limits for whole-body exposure recommended by ICNIRP. For the general public, this limit is 0.08 W/kg, with Switzerland additionally having introduced lower precautionary limits. The question arises of how transferable the NTP study results are to real-life exposure of the public, considering that mobile phone use exposes only parts of the body to EMF levels comparable to the ones applied to the whole animal by the NTP study. First, it is common practice in toxicology to study higher doses to evaluate possible hazards of an agent. Second, the NTP study found an increase in carcinogenicity for GSM and CDMA exposure conditions. Since the findings are similar for both types of exposure, they indicate that the modulation of the signals does not seem to be relevant. Third, mobile phone use can cause local SAR values up to 2 W/kg, averaged over a cube of 21 mm side length in the closest proximity of the phone (e.g. at the ear, cheeks, hand, pocket locations, etc.). Thus, the results of the NTP study are mostly relevant for the exposure situation when using a mobile phone close to the body. In contrast, the Ramazzini study observed carcinogenicity at levels as high as the environmental exposure limits, with no statistically significant effect at lower doses. However, a dose-dependent trend was found for malignant heart schwannomas, which is consistent with the findings of the NTP study. This may indicate that the non-significant increase in case numbers at lower exposure levels represents a true effect that has not reached statistical significance due to the given sample size.

In summary, BERENIS supports a precautionary approach for regulating RF EMF based on the findings and their evaluation. A full risk assessment analysis taking into account all available studies (animal studies and epidemiological studies) is necessary to assess whether the current standards should be changed."

Complete review:

Oct 24, 2018

Peer-reviewed comments on NTP cellphone radiation study by Hardell and Carlberg

    Hardell L, Carlberg M. Comments on the US National Toxicology Program technical reports on toxicology and carcinogenesis study in rats exposed to whole-body radiofrequency radiation at 900 MHz and in mice exposed to whole-body radiofrequency radiation at 1,900 MHz. International Journal of Oncology. Published Oct 24, 2018.


    During the use of handheld mobile and cordless phones, the brain is the main target of radiofrequency (RF) radiation. An increased risk of developing glioma and acoustic neuroma has been found in human epidemiological studies. Primarily based on these findings, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) at the World Health Organization (WHO) classified in May, 2011 RF radiation at the frequency range of 30 kHz‑300 GHz as a ‘possible’ human carcinogen, Group 2B. A carcinogenic potential for RF radiation in animal studies was already published in 1982. This has been confirmed over the years, more recently in the Ramazzini Institute rat study. An increased incidence of glioma in the brain and malignant schwannoma in the heart was found in the US National Toxicology Program (NTP) study on rats and mice. The NTP final report is to be published; however, the extended reports are published on the internet for evaluation and are reviewed herein in more detail in relation to human epidemiological studies. Thus, the main aim of this study was to compare earlier human epidemiological studies with NTP findings, including a short review of animal studies. We conclude that there is clear evidence that RF radiation is a human carcinogen, causing glioma and vestibular schwannoma (acoustic neuroma). There is some evidence of an increased risk of developing thyroid cancer, and clear evidence that RF radiation is a multi‑site carcinogen. Based on the Preamble to the IARC Monographs, RF radiation should be classified as carcinogenic to humans, Group 1.

    Sep 24, 2018

    Peer-reviewed comments on NTP cell phone data for assessing human health risks
    by Ronald Melnick, Former NTP Director of Special Programs

    Melnick RL. Commentary on the utility of the National Toxicology Program study on cell phone radiofrequency radiation data for assessing human health risks despite unfounded criticisms aimed at minimizing the findings of adverse health effects. Environ Res. 2018 Sep 19;168:1-6. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2018.09.010. 


    The National Toxicology Program (NTP) conducted two-year studies of cell phone radiation in rats and mice exposed to CDMA- or GSM-modulated radiofrequency radiation (RFR) at exposure intensities in the brain of rats that were similar to or only slightly higher than potential, localized human exposures from cell phones held next to the head. This study was designed to test the (null) hypothesis that cell phone radiation at non-thermal exposure intensities could not cause adverse health effects, and to provide dose-response data for any detected toxic or carcinogenic effects. 

    Partial findings released from that study showed significantly increased incidences and/or trends for gliomas and glial cell hyperplasias in the brain and schwannomas and Schwann cell hyperplasias in the heart of exposed male rats. These results, as well as the findings of significantly increased DNA damage (strand breaks) in the brains of exposed rats and mice, reduced pup birth weights when pregnant dams were exposed to GSM- or CDMA-modulated RFR, and the induction of cardiomyopathy of the right ventricle in male and female rats clearly demonstrate that the null hypothesis has been disproved. 

     The NTP findings are most important because the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified RFR as a "possible human carcinogen" based largely on increased risks of gliomas and acoustic neuromas (which are Schwann cell tumors on the acoustic nerve) among long term users of cell phones. The concordance between rats and humans in cell type affected by RFR strengthens the animal-to-human association. 

    This commentary addresses several unfounded criticisms about the design and results of the NTP study that have been promoted to minimize the utility of the experimental data on RFR for assessing human health risks. In contrast to those criticisms, an expert peer-review panel recently concluded that the NTP studies were well designed, and that the results demonstrated that both GSM- and CDMA-modulated RFR were carcinogenic to the heart (schwannomas) and brain (gliomas) of male rats.

    Note: Dr. Melnick was a senior toxicologist and Director of Special Programs in the Environmental Toxicology Program at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health. He led the design of the cell phone radiation studies discussed in this commentary.

    Sep 6, 2018

    Official Summary of Peer Review Meeting about the NTP's Cell Phone 
    Radiofrequency Radiation Studies

    The official summary of the three-day peer review meeting to discuss the draft technical reports about the cell phone radiation studies conducted by the National Toxicology Program is now available.

    National Toxicology Program (NTP). Peer Review of the Draft NTP Technical Reports on Cell Phone Radiofrequency Radiation. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. 2018. pp. 1-51. 

    May 3, 2018

    Videos of NTP Peer Review Meeting

    Videos with closed captions for the peer review meeting of the draft NTP technical reports on cell phone radiation are now available on the NTP website at

    April 10, 2018

    Experts Find "Clear Evidence" of Cancer from Cell Phone Radiation in NTP Study

    March 28, 2018 (Last updated April 10)

    Eleven experts convened by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) over a three day period to review the draft technical reports from the NTP's cell phone radiation studies concluded that there is "clear evidence" that exposure to cell phone radiation caused a rare cancer in the hearts of male rats, and "there is equivocal evidence" in the hearts of female rats.

    The expert panel also reported "some evidence" that cell phone radiation exposure caused brain cancer in male and female rats and cancer of the adrenal glands in male rats. 

    Additionally, "equivocal evidence" of cancer risk was reported in the pituitary, adrenal, and prostate glands and pancreas and liver in male rats and adrenal glands in female rats.

    The mice in the study, exposed to a different cell phone radiation frequency than the rats (1800 MHz vs. 900 MHz), displayed less evidence of cancer risk. Equivocal evidence of cancer risk from cell phone radiation was reported for lymphoma in male and female mice. Equivocal evidence was also reported for skin, lung, and liver cancer in male mice.

    In seven instances, the expert group upgraded the evaluations of evidence published by NTP staff in the draft technical reports. Thus, the NTP scientists appear to have been overly conservative in their assessment of the hazards of long-term exposure to cell phone radiation. According to a former NTP scientist, "There was never a time when so many upgrades were recommended."

    The following table based upon NTP's official summary of actions compares the evaluations of evidence of carcinogenicity prepared by NTP staff with the expert committee's findings. The two-page document which also contains the committee's findings for nonneoplastic lesions can be be downloaded from

    The presentations and oral public comments are available at the following link:

    Clear Evidence of Carcinogenic Activity is demonstrated by studies that are interpreted as showing a dose-related (i) increase of malignant neoplasms, (ii) increase of a combination of malignant and benign neoplasms, or (iii) marked increase of benign neoplasms if there is an indication from this or other studies of the ability of such tumors to progress to malignancy.
    Some Evidence of Carcinogenic Activity is demonstrated by studies that are interpreted as showing a chemical-related increased incidence of neoplasms (malignant, benign, or combined) in which the strength of the response is less than that required for clear evidence.
    Equivocal Evidence of Carcinogenic Activity is demonstrated by studies that are interpreted as showing a marginal increase of neoplasms that may be chemically related.
    No Evidence of Carcinogenic Activity is demonstrated by studies that are interpreted as showing no chemical-related increases in malignant or benign neoplasms. 
    Note: Although the definitions typically are applied to chemical agents, NTP also uses them with physical agents like cell phone radiation.

    PDF of document also includes nonneoplastic results & definitions:

    March 16, 2018 (Updated March 25)

    To view webcast of NTP review meeting on March 26-28 from 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM EDT:

    The National Toxicology Program (NTP) requested public comments about the two draft NTP Technical Reports on Cell Phone Radiofrequency Radiation. Due to a lag between when comments were submitted and posted to the NTP website, below are links to selected comments from scientists and environmental health organizations about the reports.

    Public Comments: Scientists

    George Carlo, PhD, The Science and Public Policy Institute

    C.K. Chou, PhD, CK Chou Consulting

    Lennart Hardell, MD, PhD, Michael Carlberg, MSc, University Hospital, Ã–rebro, Sweden; Lena Hedendahl, MD, The Environment and Cancer Research Foundation

    Magda Havas, PhD, Trent University 

    Ronald Kostoff, PhD

    Ronald Melnick, PhD, Retired Senior Toxicologist, National Toxicology Program

    Joel Moskowitz, PhD, University of California, Berkeley

    Cindy Russell, MD, Physicians for Safe Technology

    Annie J. Sasco, MD, DrPH, SM, MPH, retired Director of Research,INSERM (French NIH); former Unit Chief, IARC-WHO

    Public Comments: Organizations

    Association Alerte Phonegate (Dr. Marc Arazi)

    EMF Research Committee, Korean Institute of Electromagnetic Engineering and Science (KIEES), South Korea

    Environmental Health Trust

    Environmental Working Group

    More Information

    Peer Review

    The members of the two peer review committees for the NTP meeting have been announced.

    David Eaton, PhD, University of Washington, Chair

    Technical Panel 1: Reverberation Chamber Exposure System: Assess the reverberation chamber technology for evaluating the effects of cell phone radiofrequency radiation exposure in rats and mice.

    Frank Barnes, PhD, University of Colorado Boulder
    Asimini Kiourti, PhD, Ohio State University
    James Lin, PhD, University of Illinois at Chicago

    Technical Panel 2: NTP Findings in Rats and Mice: (1) Review and evaluate the scientific and technical elements of the study and its presentation; (2) Determine whether the study’s experimental design, conduct, and findings support the NTP’s conclusions regarding the carcinogenic activity and toxicity of the test agent.

    Rick Adler, DVM, PhD, DACVP, Glaxo Smith Kline
    Lydia Andrews-Jones, DVM, PhD, DACVP, Allergan, Inc,
    J. Mark Cline, DVM, PhD, DACVP, Wake Forest School of Medicine
    George Corcoran, PhD, ATS, Wayne State University
    Susan Felter, PhD, Proctor & Gamble
    Jack Harkema, DVM, PhD, DACVP, Michigan State University
    Wolfgang Kaufmann, DVM, PhD, DECVP, Fellow IATP, Merck (retired)
    Tyler Malys, PhD, National Cancer Institute
    Kamala Pant, MS, BioReliance
    Matthias Rinke, DVM, PhD, FTA Pathology, CVP, Fellow IATP, Bayer Pharma (retired)
    Laurence Whiteley, DVM, PhD, DACVP, Pfizer 

    Jan 29, 2018 (Updated Jan 31, 2018)

    The following information was excerpted from the Federal Register.

    On January 29, 2018, the National Toxicology Program (NTP) announced a meeting to peer review two draft NTP Technical Reports on Cell Phone Radiofrequency Radiation. These reports present the results of NTP studies conducted to evaluate the impact of cell phone radiofrequency radiation exposure in mice and rats.

    The peer-review meeting will be held at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) in Research Triangle Park, NC and is open to the public. Registration is requested for attendance at the meeting either in-person or by webcast and to present oral comments. Information about the meeting and registration will be available at​go/36051.


    Tentatively scheduled for March 26, 2018, 8:30 a.m. to adjournment on March 28, 2018, at approximately 5:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The preliminary agenda will be available at​go/​36051 and will be updated one week before the meeting.

    Document Availability

    The NTP will post the two draft technical reports at 12 noon (Eastern Standard Time) on Friday, February 2 on the NTP web site:​go/​36051.


    Written Public Comment Submissions: March 12, 2018
    Registration for Oral Comments: March 12, 2018
    Registration to Attend Meeting In-person: March 28, 2018
    Registration to View Webcast: March 28, 2018


    Personal (cellular) telecommunications is a rapidly evolving technology that uses radiofrequency energy or radiation for mobile communication. According to a 2016 survey, 95 percent of American adults now use cell phones. Given such broad use, adverse health effects shown to be associated with cell phone use could be a widespread public health concern.

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) nominated cell phone radiofrequency radiation for NTP study because (a) widespread human exposure is possible, (b) current exposure guidelines are based largely on protection from acute injury due to thermal effects, (c) little is known about the potential health effects of long-term exposure to radiofrequency radiation, and (d) currently available human studies have found limited evidence of an increased risk of cancer from cell phone use.

    NTP studied in rats and mice the effects of exposure to cell phone radiofrequency radiation from two system modulations: Global System for Mobile Communications and Code Division Multiple Access. NTP released the “Report of Partial Findings from the National Toxicology Program Carcinogenesis Studies of Cell Phone Radiofrequency Radiation in Hsd: Sprague Dawley SD Rats (Whole Body Exposure)” in May 2016 (​10.1101/​055699). The partial findings will be included in the draft NTP technical report for rats. The two draft NTP technical reports present results for all NTP studies on rats and mice on the toxicity and carcinogenicity of cell phone-emitted radiofrequency radiation.

    Public Comment Registration

    NTP invites written and oral public comments on the draft NTP technical reports: Guidelines for Public Comments.

    The deadline for submission of written comments is March 12, 2018. Written public comments should be submitted through the meeting website. Persons submitting written comments should include name, affiliation, mailing address, phone, email, and sponsoring organization (if any). Written comments received in response to this notice will be posted on the NTP website, and the submitter will be identified by name, affiliation, and sponsoring organization (if any). Comments that address scientific or technical issues will be forwarded to the peer-review panel and NTP staff prior to the meeting.

    Registration to provide oral comments is on or before March 12, 2018, at​go/​36051. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis, and registrants will be assigned a number in their confirmation email. Oral comments may be presented in person at NIEHS or by teleconference line. The access number for the teleconference line will be provided to registrants by email prior to the meeting. Each organization is allowed one time slot per comment period. The agenda allows for two public comment periods: The first comment period on the exposure system (12 commenters, up to 5 minutes per speaker), and the second comment period on the NTP findings in rats and mice (24 commenters, up to 5 minutes per speaker). After the maximum number of speakers per comment period is exceeded, individuals registered to provide oral comment will be placed on a wait list and notified should an opening become available. Commenters will be notified after March 12, 2018, the deadline to register for oral public comments, about the actual time allotted per speaker.

    If possible, oral public commenters should send a copy of their slides and/or statement or talking points to Canden Byrd by email: by March 12, 2018.

    Background Information on NTP Peer-Review Panels

    NTP panels are technical, scientific advisory bodies to provide independent scientific peer review. These panels help ensure transparent, unbiased, and scientifically rigorous input to the program. Scientists interested in serving on an NTP panel should provide their current curriculum vitae to Canden Byrd by email:

    More information about the meeting​go/​36051

    Information about NTP Partial Report of Findings

    Tuesday, November 13, 2018

    Yale Univ. / Connecticut Health Dept. Study: Heavy Cell Phone Use Linked to Thyroid Cancer

    Yale University / Connecticut Health Department Study Finds Heavy Cell Phone Use Linked to Thyroid Cancer

    From Carlberg et al. (2016)

    The first case-control study examining the association between cell phone use and thyroid cancer found elevated risks of thyroid cancer among heavier, long-term cell phone users.

    At greater risk of thyroid cancer were individuals who used a cell phone for more than 15 years, for more than two hours per day, or for a greater number of lifetime hours. Also, those who made the most cell phone calls in their lifetime were at increased risk.

    Men who used cell phones for more than 15 years had over twice the risk of thyroid cancer as compared to non-cell phone users after controlling for other factors. Women who used cell phones for more than two hours per day had a 52% greater risk of thyroid cancer as compared to non-cell phone users.

    Although the key findings in this study were of borderline statistical significance, this may be due to the relatively small sample size, especially for males. The study included 462 histologically-confirmed thyroid cancer cases and 498 population-based controls. Also, the study did not control for cordless phone use which may be a risk factor for thyroid cancer.

    The study, published online in the Annals of Epidemiology on October 29, was conducted by researchers from the Yale School of Medicine and the Connecticut Health Department.

    The authors recommended more research since the results from this study may not be generalizable to current cell phone users due to changing technology and patterns of use (e.g., hands-free use, texting). The authors noted that smart phones were not in common use during the period prior to 2010-2011 when the data for this study were collected. The majority of study participants did not start using cell phones until age 21. Future research should determine if age of first cell phone use is associated with greater thyroid cancer risk.

    The authors reported that thyroid cancer is the fastest growing cancer in the U.S. Incidence has nearly tripled since the 1980’s from four per 100,000 in 1980 to fifteen per 100,000 in 2014 making this the fifth most common cancer among women in the country. Although over-diagnosis is believed to account for about half of this increase, the remainder is likely due to changing environmental and lifestyle factors.

    Yawei Zhang, MD, PhD, of the Yale School of Medicine and Cancer Center was the senior author of this paper. The research was supported by the American Cancer Society, the U.S. National Institutes of Health, and the Ministry of Science and Technology of the People’s Republic of China.

    My comments: The National Cancer Institute (NCI) estimates that 53,990 new cases of thyroid cancer will be diagnosed in 2018 making this the 12th most common cancer in the U.S. Rates for new thyroid cancer cases have increased 3.1% per year over the last ten years (on average) based upon an analysis of data from the NCI Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results-9 (SEER-9) cancer registry program.

    Since smart phones are more likely to have cell antennas located in the bottom of the phones than earlier cell phone models, the peak radiation exposure from a smart phone is more likely in the neck than in the brain. Hence, I would hypothesize that the association between cell phone use and thyroid cancer has increased in recent years. The switch from “candy bar" and flip phones to smart phones could explain upward trends over time in thyroid cancer incidence and relatively flat trends in brain cancer observed in some countries.

    Luo J, Deziel NC, Huang H, Chen Y, Ni X, Ma S, Udelsman R, Zhang Y. Cell phone use and risk of thyroid cancer: a population-based case-control study in Connecticut. Annals of Epidemiology. Published online Oct 29, 2018.


    Purpose. This study aims to investigate the association between cell phone use and thyroid cancer.

    Methods.  A population-based case-control study was conducted in Connecticut between 2010 and 2011 including 462 histologically confirmed thyroid cancer cases and 498 population-based controls. Multivariate unconditional logistic regression was used to estimate odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) for associations between cell phone use and thyroid cancer.

    Results. Cell phone use was not associated with thyroid cancer (OR: 1.05, 95% CI: 0.74-1.48). A suggestive increase in risk of thyroid microcarcinoma (tumor size ≤10mm) was observed for long-term and more frequent users. Compared to cell phone non-users, several groups had non-statistically significantly increased risk of thyroid microcarcinoma: individuals who had used a cell phone >15 years (OR: 1.29, 95% CI: 0.83-2.00), who had used a cell phone >2 hours per day (OR: 1.40, 95% CI: 0.83-2.35), who had the most cumulative use hours (OR: 1.58, 95% CI: 0.98-2.54), and who had the most cumulative calls (OR: 1.20, 95% CI: 0.78-1.84).

    Conclusion. This study found no significant association between cell phone use and thyroid cancer. A suggestive elevated risk of thyroid microcarcinoma associated with long-term and more frequent uses warrants further investigation.

    More information:

    Thursday, October 25, 2018

    iPhone XS and XR: Specific Absorption Rates (SAR) or RF Exposure

    What are the SAR values for iPhone’s new smart phones? 
    How should consumers use this information?

    about cell phone use.

    Also see: "Do iPhones emit more radiation than 
    Samsung Galaxy phones?"

    To reduce your exposure to microwave radiation: 
    • When communication is unnecessary, use Airplane mode.
    • When using cellular, turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
    • When using Wi-Fi, turn off cellular and Bluetooth.
    • When phone is powered on, never keep phone next to your body, especially during a phone call.
    • When communicating, use phone in speaker mode or a wired earpiece.
    For information about wireless head sets, see my AirPods post.

    Sep 13, 2018 (Updated Oct 25, 2018)

    According to test reports filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) for the iPhone XS Models A1920, A2099 and A2100 (FCC #BCG-E3218A) for cellular transmission is 0.90 watts per kilogram (w/kg) at the head, and 0.99 w/kg when worn on the body. The hotspot/Airplay SAR is 0.99 w/kg. The SAR for simultaneous transmission (cellular plus Wi-Fi) is 1.35 w/kg at the head, 1.53 w/kg when worn on the body, and 1.53 w/kg when used as a hotspot. (1a)

    The SAR for the iPhone XS Max Models A1921, A2103 and A2104 (BCG-E3219A) for cellular transmission is 1.00 watts per kilogram (w/kg) at the head, and 1.00 w/kg when worn on the body. The hotspot/Airplay SAR is 1.00 w/kg. The SAR for simultaneous transmission (cellular plus Wi-Fi) is 1.39 w/kg at the head, 1.52 w/kg when worn on the body, and 1.52 w/kg when used as a hotspot. (1b)

    The SAR for the iPhone XR Models A1984, A2107 and A2108 (BCG-E3220A) for cellular transmission is 0.90 watts per kilogram (w/kg) at the head, and 1.10 w/kg when worn on the body. The hotspot/Airplay SAR is 1.10 w/kg. The SAR for simultaneous transmission (cellular plus Wi-Fi) is 1.41 w/kg at the head, 1.59 w/kg when worn on the body, and 1.59 w/kg when used as a hotspot. (2)

    All SARs reported above are averaged over one gram of body tissue corresponding to the US guidelines. The SAR values may vary by cell phone carrier. 

    The SAR values listed above are for conventional cell phone communications using spectrum licensed to cell phone carriers (i.e., PCE). Apple has not yet posted the SAR values for these phones on its website. Apple will likely list slightly higher values for the head and body which represent cell phone communications using unlicensed spectrum (i.e., NII). Note that Apple does not report on its website the SARs in hotspot mode or for simultaneous transmission of cellular and Wi-Fi.

    The minimum separation distance for body-worn testing was 5 mm (about two-tenths of an inch).

    Outside of the United States, Apple markets other versions of these iPhone models that use different carrier frequencies. The names for these models are A2097, A2098, A2101, and A2102. The corresponding FCC IDs for these models are BCG-3232A, BCG-3233A, BCG-3234A, BCG-3235A, respectively. The SARs (averaged over 1 gram) are similar to those reported above. Note that some countries require the SARs to be averaged over 10 grams which is a more permissive test of RF exposure than averaging over 1 gram.

    The SAR values for the Samsung Galaxy S8, 8 Plus, and Note smart phones were obtained at a separation distance of 15 mm (about six-tenths of an inch) from the torso so the body-worn SAR values are not comparable to those reported for the Apple iPhones. For more information see my article about Samsung smart phones.

    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). In many countries the legal limit for the SAR is 2.00 w/kg (averaged over ten grams) which enables the body to absorb 2-3 times the radiation than the U.S. guideline permits.

    The FCC requires that all cell phone models be tested for their Specific Absorption Rate or SAR prior to marketing. 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 of 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 dose 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 harm 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) More than 240 scientists who have published peer-reviewed research on electromagnetic fields and biology or health have signed a petition, the International EMF Scientist Appeal, calling for stronger regulation of wireless radiation.

    For tips on how to reduce exposure to wireless radiation, see "
    Some Tips to Reduce Your 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).


    (1a) UL Verification Services, Inc. SAR Evaluation Report for Smartphone. FCC ID: BCG-E3218A. Model Name: A1920, A2099, A2100. Prepared for Apple, Inc. Report Number: 12124121-S1V2. Issue Date: 8/30/2018. Fremont, CA.

    (1b) UL Verification Services, Inc. SAR Evaluation Report for Smartphone. FCC ID: BCG-E3219A. Model Name: A1921, A2103, A2104. Prepared for Apple, Inc. Report Number: 12124122-S1V1. Issue Date: 8/30/2018. Fremont, CA.

    (2) UL Verification Services, Inc. SAR Evaluation Report for Smartphone. FCC ID: BCG-E3220A. Model Name: A1984, 2108, 2107. Prepared for Apple, Inc. Report Number: 12162294-S1V1. Issue Date: 8/30/2018. Fremont, CA.

    (3) FCC. Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) for Cellular Telephones. Undated.

    (4) FCC. “Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) For Cell Phones: What It Means For You.” Undated.

    (5) Joel Moskowitz. “"Comments on the 2012 GAO Report: 'Exposure and Testing Requirements for Mobile Phones Should Be Reassessed'.:”

    (6) Wolchover N. Radiation Risk: Are Some Cellphones More Dangerous Than Others? Life's Little Mysteries. June 23, 2011.

    (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.

    (9) Joel Moskowitz. “LTE Cell Phone Radiation Affects Brain Activity in Cell Phone Users.” Sep 20, 2013.

    (10) Joel Moskowitz. “Brain Cancer Risk Increases with the Amount of Wireless Phone Use: Study.

    (11) Joel Moskowitz. “Most Significant Government Health Report on Mobile Phone Radiation Ever Published.”

    (12) Joel Moskowitz. “Cell Phone Radiation, Pregnancy, and Sperm.” Nov 19, 2012.

    (13) Joel Moskowitz. “Cell Phone Use and Prenatal Exposure to Cell Phone Radiation May Cause Headaches in Children.“

    (14) Joel Moskowitz. “Part I: Why We Need Stronger Cell Phone Radiation Regulations--Key Testimony Submitted to the FCC.” Aug 4, 2014.

    (15) Joel Moskowitz. “Part II: Why We Need Stronger Cell Phone Radiation Regulations--Key Research Papers Submitted to the FCC.” Aug 4, 2014.

    (16) Joel Moskowitz. “Part III: Why We Need Stronger Cell Phone Radiation Regulations--98 Scientific Experts Who Signed Resolutions.” Aug 4, 2014.

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

    (18) Joel Moskowitz. Some Tips to Reduce Your Exposure to Wireless Radiation  (one page handout). Undated.