2012 update: how safe is your mobile/cellular phone?
A 2012 update of the radiation levels of popular mobile/cellular devices in the Caribbean.
In an effort to increase awareness of radiation emitted from mobile/cellular devices, in July last year we published data on the radiation levels from a broad range of popular handsets sold in the Caribbean (See How safe is your mobile phone?). We have updated this listing, and have included a wide cross section of phones from the following brands: BlackBerry; iPhone; Motorola; Nokia; Samsung; Sony Ericsson.
What are acceptable radiation levels?
Mobile/cellular phones, similar to microwave ovens, emit non-ionising radiation, which heat up a body at the cellular level. The rate at which this energy is absorbed by the body is called the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) – the power absorbed per mass of tissue – with units Watts per kilogram (W/kg).
Within the Caribbean, mobile phone vendors typically reference the SAR limits used in the United States and in Europe:
- In the United States, the SAR for mobile phones must be less than or equal to1.6 W/kg.
- In Europe, the SAR limit for mobile phones is 2.0 W/kg.
However, as mentioned in our 2011 review, there are a number of factors that affect the amount of energy emitted by a mobile/cellular handset, and consequently the amount of radiation to which a user is exposed. They include:
- the distance between the phone’s antenna and the user
- the distance from the nearest base station
- the quality of the mobile device
- the quality of connection
- the level of network congestion at a given time (NCI).
The sections that follow present the SAR for a number of popular devices sold across the Caribbean. Although well-known brands are presented, the result vary drastically, and does not appear to be influenced by the since of the device, or whether it is a no-frills handset or a smartphone.
Did not see your device listed? Send us a note in the Comments section, or via social media (FB, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, etc.), and we will provide the SAR for your handset.
Since the 2011 exercise, a number of new BlackBerry devices have entered the market, including the BlackBerry Bold 9790, BlackBerry Bold 9900, BlackBerry Torch 9860 and BlackBerry Curve 9360. Figure 1 shows the SARs for a number of popular BlackBerry devices in the Caribbean. For the listed devices, SARs ranged from between 1.12 W/Kg and 1.47 W/Kg, all well under both the US and European safety limits.
Apple iPhone devices are a new entry in this assessment and start from the iPhone 3G, up to the most recent offerings. SAR values range from 0.52 W/Kg for the iPhone 3G, to 1.18 W/Kg for the iPhone 4S (Figure 2).
Motorola is also a new entry in this year’s exercise, and there is wide cross section of devices available across the Caribbean. Figure 3 presents the SARs for select handsets offered by telecom operators’ websites in the region. The results range from 0.86 W/Kg for the RAZR V8, to 1.25 W/Kg for the Karma QA1.
The Nokia line in the Caribbean consists of a number of simple handsets, which would appeal to those who cannot afford or might not have need for a smartphone. This year’s review includes a number of new entries, including the Nokia 100, 201, 300, 302, C2-01 and C2-02. Figure 4 shows the SAR for a number of Nokia devices sold within the Caribbean region. The results fall between 0.66 W/Kg for the N97, which was featured last year, and 1.51 W/Kg for the Nokia 300.
The Samsung products featured this year comprises a combination of basic mobile/cellular phones and some of the most sophisticated smartphones on the market toay, including the most recent release, the Samsung Galaxy SIII. The i9300 model of the SIII is the version that is officially on sale within the Caribbean, but many people acquire US versions of the device, which would not only have different features and capabilities, but also different radiation results. Nevertheless, for the devices listed in Figure 5, SARs range from 0.268 W/Kg for the Samsung i9000 Galaxy S, the first in the “Galaxy S” series, to 0.797 W/Kg for the Samsung S5380.
The Sony Ericsson devices featured this year have remained unchanged, and does suggest that the brand might not be very popular within the Caribbean. Nevertheless, the SARs for the three devices highlighted in Figure 6, fall between 1.01 W/Kg for the W705 and 1.18 W/Kg for the C510.
Minimising risk associated with prolonged exposure
Finally, as reported in our earlier post, Can your mobile phone make you sick?, there still does not appear to be conclusive evidence of health risks associated with mobile/cellular phone use. However, studies examining prolonged and long-term use are still in progress, as the widespread and intensive use of those devices is a relatively recent occurrence. However, with mobile/cellular devices becoming increasing indispensible to our lives and lifestyle, it is still recommended that practices be adopted that minimise radiation exposure.
Critical to minimising your exposure to mobile/cellular phone radiation is limiting the time that the device’s antenna is close to your body. To achieve this, the following is advised:
- keeping conversations on mobile/cellular phones short
- not carrying the phones on your person, and
- using accessories or features that allow hands-free use.
Image credit: Techzblog.in