When it comes to the radiation levels a smartphone emits, we tend to give it a miss, almost everytime as there are many users who don’t even know what SAR value of a smartphone is and why should they be worried about the radiation levels?
A smartphone is one of the essential pieces of technology these days and while you might be sleeping and waking up with your smartphone, constantly worrying about any new notification that you get, you might have also heard that sleeping with your smartphone and keeping this device with you, all the time, can cause some serious issues to your body. If yes, then whatever you know is true as your smartphone’s radiation levels or SAR value should be given more importance than you ever thought.
It is also true that when we go out to buy a new smartphone, the only thing we focus on is the specs-sheet – which one has the better camera, which is the best gaming phone for your price range or can it act as a status symbol in your circle. But the matter of fact is, when it comes to the radiation levels a smartphone emits, we tend to give it a miss, almost everytime as there are many users who don’t even know what SAR value of a smartphone is and why should they be worried about the radiation levels?
It is no secret that smartphone and even feature phones use electromagnetic radiation to communicate with a cellular tower in the spectrum of radio waves. The frequency emitted is between 450-2100MHz, which also depends on our device as well as the carrier’s network. Specific Absorption Rate (SAR), on the other hand, is the rate at which electromagnetic power is radiated from smartphone and cellular towers near you and which is absorbed by the human body. The SAR value is a measure of the maximum energy which is absorbed by a unit of mass of exposed tissue in a human being using a mobile phone, over a given time.
Smartphones’ radiation levels or SAR values are usually depicted in units of watts per kilogram (W/kg) in either one gram or 10 gram of tissue. Every handset is tested for radio wave emissions using internationally standardised methods that meet government as well as regulatory requirements. Then a measurement is made in order to determine how much electromagnetic energy will be absorbed by body tissue which gives out the SAR (specific absorption rate) value. All governmental and regulatory agencies around the globe have established their SAR limits under which mobile phone use has been determined by them to be safe.
What is considered as a safe SAR value?
The matter of fact is, mobile manufacturers, conduct their own SAR measurement tests under the worst case scenarios and the SAR value that a particular smartphone or any other mobile phone emits can usually be found printed in the manual, which is also the highest possible value of that device.
In the United States, mobile phones should have a SAR value of 1.6 W/Kg or below, and in Europe, the limit is at 2 W/kg. However, while in the US, the SAR value is calculated over the volume containing a mass of one gram of tissue, it is calculated with 10 grams of tissue in Europe. That said, it doesn’t mean that in Europe, the regulators have allowed a higher limit than in the US as they refer to different amounts of tissue.
While we can only compare two SAR values calculated on the same amount of tissues, as for the measurements in India, the Inter-Ministerial Committee on EMF Radiation which is set up by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology suggested SAR limits for mobile handsets of 2 watts per kg. However, the Indian Government has recently decided to set a new SAR limit of 1.6 watts per kg which would make the Indian standards almost similar to the US standards as both are measured on a mass of one gram of tissue.
1. On a website which collects SAR values of mobile phone models (https://www.sarchecker.com/brand/).
2. On the website of a mobile phone manufacturer
3. Inside the user guide of a device
4. In your mobile phone’s settings (‘general’ or ‘about phone’ section)
5. By dialling *#07# from your smartphone
What studies have found in regards to smartphone radiation levels or SAR value?
The World Health Organization
“To date, research does not suggest any consistent evidence of adverse health effects from exposure to radiofrequency fields at levels below those that cause tissue heating. Further, research has not been able to provide support for a causal relationship between exposure to electromagnetic fields and self-reported symptoms, or “electromagnetic hypersensitivity,” said WHO.
Department of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics at Columbia University reported,
“Putting it bluntly (cellphones) are damaging the living cells in our bodies and killing many of us prematurely… We have created something that is harming us, and it is getting out of control. Before Edison’s light bulb there was very little electromagnetic radiation in our environment. The levels today are very many times higher than natural background levels, and are growing rapidly because of all the new devices that emit this radiation”.
Most of the published analyses from this study showed no statistically significant increase in brain and central nervous system cancers which are related to higher amounts of cell phone usage. However, a particular analysis showed a statistically significant, but still modest, increase in the risk of glioma in a small number of study participants who spent most of their time on cell phone calls.
Another analysis from this study found no connection between brain tumour locations as well as regions of the brain which were exposed to the highest levels of radio frequency energy coming from cell phones.
No association was observed between cell phone usage and the incidence of glioma, acoustic neuroma or meningioma, even among users who had been cell phone subscribers for more than 13 years.
Million women study
Self-reported cell phone usage was not associated with an increased risk of glioma, non-central nervous system tumours, and meningioma. However, the original published findings reported the association with an increased risk of acoustic neuroma but this association was then proven wrong after an additional follow-up of the cohort.
1. Use an earpiece, speakerphone or headset to reduce proximity to the head. While wired earpieces might conduct some energy to the head, wireless earpieces also emit a small amount of radio frequency energy. However, wired and wireless earpieces can remove the greatest source of RF energy from proximity to the head, which is the cell phone and thus reduce the total amount of exposure to the head.
2. Start carrying your cell phone away from your body. It could be in a purse, computer bag or briefcase, just not in your pocket where it is directly pressed up against you.
3. Increase the distance between your cell phone and your body while sitting, sleeping or when the device is not in use.
4. Consider texting rather than talking, if possible.
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