In the modern world, electromagnetic fields (EMF) emit radiation wherever we go.
Even where you’re sitting right now reading this article, waves of electric and magnetic energy surround you. For example, the device you’re holding or sitting at to read this is actively emitting it.
That’s the world we’re living in today.
Mobile, or cell phones, especially, have become integral to every individual’s life.
We use smartphones for almost everything. In most cases, we need them to function in our daily lives. In some cases, it’s even an addiction.
In 2021, over 80% (around 6.378 Billion) of the world’s population were self-reported cell phone users..
That is one staggering number.
But are they harming us in the process? What does this mean to the safety of the population? How much radiation does your iPhone emit, and how does this directly affect your health? Let’s find out.
Table of Contents
Cell phones are generally low radio frequency transmitters. A mobile phone emits non-ionizing radiation (NIR) when in use. NIR is a type of radiation that does not cause any changes in atoms or molecules in organic matter but can prompt them to vibrate.
The radiofrequency radiation in a cell phone is in the same class as microwave energy, light bulb, and infrared radiation.
A mobile phone is estimated to operate at a frequency of 450 and 2700 MHz with peaks of between 0.1 to 2 watts.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which regulates mobile phones in the US, stipulates that a cell phone cannot emit more than 1.6 watts per kilogram on average over one gram of tissue.
However, a recent study done by the Chicago Tribune confirms that the most popular smartphones on the market today exceed this limit.
Through a series of self-commissioned tests using accredited lab tests to mimic human tissue, the Tribunal tested a total of 11 models from different manufacturers.
Of those tested, the iPhone, which is one of the most popular smartphones of all time, tested over the radiation limit set by the FCC. The amount was also at least twice what Apple reported to cell phone regulators.
The same trend is reported for three different Samsung models as well.
The results show that it is likely that the device you have in your hand right now is above the legal radiation limit and, without the non-ionizing radiation protection of a Faraday bag, might be causing harm to your health.
The radiofrequency radiation emitted by cell phones when turned on is low. However, the emission goes high when they’rein use. As such, you’re exposed to radiation whenever your phone is active.
Radiation exposure reduces rapidly with every centimeter of distance from the handset. For example, if you’re using a handset 40–50 cm from your body, you have much lower exposure to the radiation than when putting it against your ear.
Also, limiting the number of calls you receive daily and reducing the time generally spent with your device significantly reduces exposure to the radiofrequency radiation emitted.
In addition, using your cell phone device in areas with good reception helps to reduce exposure; good reception helps cell phones transmit at reduced power.
Below is a video that illustrates how much radiation you absorb while using your mobile device.
Many people are concerned that radiofrequency radiation exposure from mobile phones might lead to cancer or other health problems.
Earlier studies conducted by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) on rats and mice show evidence of both cancerous (cancers of Schwann cells) and non-cancerous changes in the tissue of some animals.
The research exposed the rodents to 3, 6, or 9 watts per kilogram of body weight. They were subjected to radiation for either 5 or 7 days a week for 18 hours a day.
The results of the National Toxicology Program showed traces of cancerous cells in male rats. Usually, cancer of the heart is very rare in animals. As such, these results raised a lot more questions.
Another study performed under the same laboratory practice by the Italian Ramazzini Institute showed the same results. However, according to ICNIRP (an independent nonprofit environmental research organization), which critically analyzed both studies, the results have limitations and are inconclusive.
In addition to testing radiation on animals, researchers have also done extensive research on the health effects of cell phone radiation on human health. Two studies carried out in 2011 showed conflicting results.
One showed an increased glucose metabolism on the side of the brain exposed to radiation, while the other study showed reduced glucose metabolism on that side of the brain.
Other studies have shown evidence of a statistical association between cell phone radiation and brain cancer risk, but many more studies have shown no association at all.
According to the FDA, the results found in animals, particularly the ones from the National Toxicology Program, are “ambiguous” and should not be directly extrapolated to human studies.
This information, together with the inconclusive evidence on the effects of radiofrequency exposure on human tissue, shows that the association between cell phone radiation and cancer is weak.
The scientific evidence establishes that a person experiences slight biological tissue heating when there’s an increased interaction between high radio frequency energy and the human tissue.
Extended use of a cell phone device that emits more than the FCC-stipulated 1.6 watts might lead to a slight increase in body temperature and other health problems. However, radiation from cell phone exposure is absorbed by the skin and other superficial tissues, leaving no severe damage to the individual.
There have been many investigations on the health effects of radiofrequency on the following:
However, there has never been consistent evidence of severe health problems. The only consistent result was negligible tissue heating and increased body temperature. No newly identified health risks were found.
Many speculate that long-term exposure to cell phone radiation might lead to brain cancer risk.
As a result, many have conducted detailed epidemiological research to determine the relationship between long-term exposure of low-level radiofrequency exposure to brain tumor risk. The results are still inconclusive.
One of the reasons for these inconclusive results is that cancer, in general, takes time to manifest. It may take many years after interaction before the health effects are detectable.
Assuming that radiation from cell phones does cause brain cancer, it has not been long enough after cordless phones became popular to detect such health effects. If there’s any brain tumor risk, it will only become evident several years later.
For the time being, human exposure to cell phone radiation remains “possibly carcinogenic,” as the World Health Organization (WHO) refers to it.
Although it’s not clear yet what the long-term health problems of cell phone radiation on the human body are, it’s still unsettling. After all, we put our cell phones right beside our brains when talking on our phones.
The current universal understanding from the studies carried out so far is that cell phone radiation shouldn’t give you cancer risk. In fact, they say that there is an increased risk of dying from driving and texting than from cell phone radiation.
Indeed, the non-ionizing radiation emitted by cell phones does not cause immediate DNA damage like ionizing radiation. But the question remains whether this type of radiation from cell phones could lead to problems after long-term exposure.
So, should people throw out their cell phones? Since there is so much radiation around us anyway, there is no reason to. Cordless phones are a basic need in today’s society.
If you are worried about the effect of cell phone use on your health, follow the tips below to reduce your exposure levels.
As a rule of thumb, the closer you are to a device and the longer you use it, the higher your exposure. Here are tips to help you reduce radiofrequency radiation exposure.
There is no conclusive scientific evidence that indicates radiofrequency exposure from cell phone devices can cause health problems. However, if the radiation is high enough, it can cause raised body temperatures.
There are also concerns that long-term exposure to low levels of cell phone radiation might lead to an increased risk of headaches or, worst-case scenario, brain cancer.
From research carried out by a German Federal Office for Radiation Protection, Samsung Galaxy Note8 emits the least amount of radiation of the tested sample, coming in at just 0.17 watts per kilogram.
Although there is not enough scientific evidence to stipulate what level of radiation is considered safe, Samsung Galaxy Note8 fairs well in relation to the benchmark (1.6 watts per kilogram on average over one gram of tissue) set by the FCC.
According to the National Cancer Institute, there is no conclusive evidence to suggest that the radiation emitted by cell phones has any serious health hazards to the human body.
Generally, cell phones generate low levels of non-ionizing radiation (also known as radiofrequency energy). This type of energy does not have enough power to break chemical bonds or directly affect cells in organic matter.
There were no newly identified health risks discovered. Therefore, there is no clear scientific evidence that cell phone radiation can cause harm to people.