In light of this week’s announcement by the World Health Organization that cellphone radiation could pose a higher risk of brain cancer, it may be time to take steps to reduce your exposure.
There are three ways to attack the problem: distance yourself from the phone, reduce the frequency of use and choose a phone that emits less radiation. Some tips are obvious and some may come as a surprise. Take a look:
You may have noticed people holding their phones in front of their mouths while talking. This is not a bad idea, said Olga Naidenko, a senior scientist at Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit organization that provides guidance on cellphone use.
Users should also consider headsets and Bluetooth in-ear units, since these accessories emit much less radiation than phones.
“Some experts say wired [headsets are even] better, others say any headset is better than none,” Naidenko told TechNewsDaily. “A Bluetooth headset is strong enough to send a signal up to 30 feet max, but a cellphone is capable of sending a signal up to three miles.”
As for so-called radiation shields such as antenna caps or keypad covers, Naidenko says, “Skip them.”
“It’s an unregulated market with lots of claims, not verified by anybody,” she said. Another concern of hers was that some radiation blockers also end up blocking cellphone antennas, which could result in even higher radiation being aimed at humans.
To put an even greater distance between you and your phone, consider using a handset, a device that consists of a cellphone connector on one end and the business end of an old-fashioned landline telephone on the other. Native Union has launched a series of designer-inspired handsets under the brand Moshi Moshi that have been certified to reduce radiation by 94 percent.
Anytime the phone is away from your head, you are reducing potentially harmful radiation. Texting is preferable to talking, but you can do even more.
The EWG states that your phone emits radiation when you talk or text but not when you're receiving messages. Listening more and talking less reduces your exposure.
Check your phone’s signal strength before you make a call. If the signal is weak, the phone will emit significantly more radiation to make the call. Move to a better location or delay the call until you’ve got more bars.
If you’re one of the rapidly shrinking households that still have a landline, use it when you are at home by forwarding your cell to the home number.
$10 safety gift
There is a wide variation in the amount of radio frequency energy absorbed by the body when using different phones. For FCC approval, the SAR (Specific Absorption Rate) may not be higher than 1.6 watts per kilograms, but the range varies from a low of 0.2 SAR for Samsung’s Infuse 4G to a high of 1.59 SAR for Motorola’s Bravo. For more phone SAR ratings, visit EWG.
But what may come as a surprise is the fact that the FCC established the limit in 1996 based on studies of adult male Air Force personnel.
“In 1996, when the FCC set up the standard, there were no children using phones, mostly just male executives who could afford mobile phones,” Naidenko said. “A child would end up getting much higher radiation than the men used in the tests.”
While it’s wise to select a phone with a lower SAR, it’s even smarter to practice safe cellphone use, no matter your size or age, and to train your children to do the same.
“Nobody can say how safe cellphone use is,” she said. “Give yourself the gift of a $10 headset.”
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