Iphone 6: safe… if you don’t touch it!

Dr. Weeks’ Comment:  Electronic devices are convenient and dangerous.  Read on

“…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 most cell phones would fail the SAR test as the radiation absorption increases dramatically when the cell phone is close to the body…”

 

iPhone 6 SAR: Radiation Levels and Separation Distance

What are the SAR levels for Apple’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus? 

What is the minimum body separation distance?  How should the consumer use this information?

For both Apple iPhone 6 models, the SAR level for the head is 1.18. When using a body-worn accessory to keep the phone five millimeters from the body, the SAR level is 1.18 for the iPhone 6 and 1.19 for the iPhone 6 Plus. (1, 2) Thus, the minimum separation distance that the phones should be kept from the body is approximately two-tenths of an inch (i.e., 5 millimeters).

Like most cell phones, both new iPhone models have several transmitters that can simultaneously emit microwave radiation, which includes cellular, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth radiation. When all these transmitters are turned on, the SAR value is 1.58 for the iPhone 6 and 1.59 for the iPhone 6 Plus. (1, 2) These levels are very close to the legal limit which is 1.60. To reduce exposure to microwave radiation, turn off any transmitters not in use.

 

What does this information mean to the consumer?

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires all cell phone models to 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 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 what the laboratory-generated SAR reflects. (5)

The FCC assumes that consumers will carry their cell phones in a manufacturer-approved holder that keeps the phone a minimum distance from the body. However, people do not reliably keep their phone away from their body in a cell phone holder. For the 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. Few consumers are aware of the manufacturer’s recommended minimum body separation 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.

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 most 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?

 

U.S. Federal policies and practices 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)

 

The Environmental Working Group and other scientific 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 natural conditions.  The evidence suggests that how one uses the phone (e.g., hands-free) and one’s cell phone carrier actually matters a great deal 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 non-thermal effects of cell phone radiation.

 

Yet, hundreds 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 any chemical toxins in the blood 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)  Largely 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 attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder). (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)

 

For tips on how to reduce exposure to wireless radiation, see Electromagnetic Radiation Safety (http://www.saferemr.com). (17)

 

 

Joel M. Moskowitz, Ph.D.

School of Public Health

University of California, Berkeley

 

 

References

 

(1) Apple, Inc. “BCG-E2816A by Apple Inc. for Cellular Phone with Bluetooth and WLAN Radios.” Report No. 14U17673-S1C submitted to FCC.  Aug 15, 2014.

 

iPhone 6 SAR Levels (in watts per kilogram)

Head = 1.18

Body-worn Accessory = 1.18

Wireless Router (Hotspot) = 1.18

Simultaneous Transmission (Head) = 1.51

Simultaneous Transmission (Body) = 1.58

 

(2)  Apple, Inc. “BCG-E2817A by Apple Inc. for Cellular Phone with Bluetooth and WLAN Radios.” Report No. 14U17676-S1C submitted to FCC. Aug 15, 2014.

 

iPhone 6 Plus SAR Levels (in watts per kilogram)

Head = 1.18

Body-worn Accessory = 1.19

Wireless Router (Hotspot) = 1.19

Simultaneous Transmission (Head) = 1.59

Simultaneous Transmission (Body) = 1.54
(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. http://www.ewg.org/cellphoneradiation/where_database

 

(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. Some Tips to Reduce Your Exposure to Wireless Radiation  (one page handout). Undated.http://www.saferemr.com.

 

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Dr. Weeks’ Comment:  Electronic devices are convenient and dangerous.  Read on “…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 most cell phones would fail the…
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