Shoppers looking for smart phones with the most features don’t have to expose themselves to higher radiation levels to get what they want, a new analysis by Environmental Working Group shows.
A review of the capabilities of 80 models of the latest generation of smart phones — and the published radiation levels that industry doesn’t like to talk about — showed that some full-feature phones emit relatively low levels of radiation. EWG’s analysis undercuts industry’s contention that feature-packed phones inevitably produce higher emissions.
For example, the hot-selling LG Quantum phone has a “specific absorption rate” or SAR value of just 0.35 watts per kilogram (W/kg), one-quarter of the radiation emitted by the Motorola Droid and other high radiation models. The SAR is a government-mandated measure of how much radiation is absorbed by the body.
For the past several years, industry has been pressing the Federal Communications Commission, the Food and Drug Administration and other federal agencies to raise the maximum allowable SAR value of 1.6 W/kg, a safety standard adopted in 1996 based on industry’s own recommendations. Industry has also fiercely opposed efforts by San Francisco and other jurisdictions to require that cell phone retailers provide consumers with easy-to-find information on each phone’s radiation output at the point of sale, arguing that calling attention to these numbers suggests that there is a health risk from cell phones that meet the federal standard.
The issue of whether cell phone use, especially by children, may increase the risk of some kinds of head and brain tumors remains unresolved. Research to date has not produced conclusive results, but several large epidemiological studies have pointed to an increased risk for people who have used cell phones the longest.
“As this review shows, it’s relatively easy to select a number of smart phones for your family and friends this holiday season that emit less radiation,” said Jane Houlihan, EWG’s senior vice president for research. “These devices are likely at the top of many children’s wish lists this year, and parents should know there are big differences in how much radiation each emits when making their selections.”
Find the cellphone radiation guide here.