Cell phones

Warnings about cell phones have been raised all around the world including France, Finland, Israel, Russia, India and the European Parliament.  There has also been the recent World Health Organisation announcement in May 2011 classifying radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B) associated with wireless phone use.

The Interphone Study, a large, decade long, international study (2000 – 2010) funded by the cell phone industry found a significant increase in brain cancers in people who used cell phones half an hour a day for ten years.  Other studies have suggested an increased risk of brain cancer on the side of the head where the cellphone is normally used.

  • Some Smart phones are set up to operate 24/7. Make sure to tune your smart phone settings so that it does not transmit continually. For example, check the WiFi, airplane mode settings on the iPhone or set the autosync interval to on demand on the Android.
  • Beware of differences in signal modulations. For example, some scientists suggest UMTS could be more damaging than GSM and that pulsed radiation may be more dangerous than non-pulsed radiation.
  • The Specific Absorption Rating (SAR) can be misleading.  Buying a low-SAR phone can be deceptive, because of time and spatial averaging. Furthermore, measurements are not readily comparable because they can be performed at differences from the body.
  • Be aware of  Bluetooth.  Despite being generally of lower power adopted for short range operation (<10 m), Bluetooth technology can be used directly at the ear and worn for extended periods in close proximity to the head.

There are plenty of reports and studies regarding the dangers of cell phones coming to the fore and can be found easily on the internet. (See links/resources).  One of the latest studies (2013) comes from Brazil linking 7000 cancer deaths with cell phone towers http://www.naturalnews.com/040905_cell_phone_towers_radiation_cancer.html.

Manufacturers Device Use Recommendations

Here are some safety recommendations for safe distance use taken from the user manuals and documentation for iPhone, Blackberry and Motorola smart phones.  This idea of keeping the device away from you is not something normally emphasised in society. We seem to assume that there is an automatic safety and we go about placing these devices directly again the head even though the manufacturer warns against it.









  • Stop your cell phone from communicating when you aren’t. It will automatically communicate with the local communications tower periodically whether you are using your cell phone or not. Set the auto sync mode to be on-demand.
  • Keep a distance from the head and body with an airtube headset, or use loud speaker mode or use texting. Also if  you must use a mobile phone consider using a protective pouch (BlocSock) which shields the side facing your head and thus minimises microwave exposure.
  • Hold the phone away from your body when switching it on and immediately after dialling until you hear the person answer. (It uses more power in searching for a connection).
  • Ideally, keep the phone away from your body (such as in a bag) when it is not in use. If you have to keep it next to your body, try to make sure the antenna is on the outer side or purchase a shielded sleeve.  (It’s probably not a good idea to carry your mobile phone in a shirt pocket next to your heart).
  • Use sparingly even after observing distance.
  • Turn off your cell phone whenever possible especially when:
    • the wireless signal is low; the cell phone will use high power to compensate
    • When sleeping, or use ‘airplane’ or ‘flight’ mode, and keep it away from your body.
    • On mobile platforms, i.e., trains, cars, buses etc., since phones may transmit more frequently to handle region changes.
    • In enclosed spaces with metal walls, i.e., cars, trains, elevators, when the plane lands. The reflection of radiation off the walls can magnify signals and create local hotspots.
  • Best not to use phone when wireless signal is low: basements, thick walled buildings, rural areas since the cell phone will have to boost its power to make contact with local communication mast.
  • Forward your mobile number to a landline when possible.