Chances are, you have a cell phone within inches of you. Maybe you recently sent a text message, used an APP, took a photo, made a phone call, or you might be reading this blog post on one. Nowadays, most of us have our cell phones close to us pretty much every waking minute. They connect us to our world and are connected to us… all the time. So, it makes sense that we might be concerned about their possible health effects, or have questions about the electromagnetic waves, or high-energy radiation particles, needed to make our cellular devices work for us. That “radiation” is also known as radiofrequency (RF) energy or electromagnetic frequency (EMF). It is also a form of non-ionizing radiation. Confusing?
Well, there is concern that our bodies may be affected negatively with the addition of these cell-phone-necessary radiation waves that pass through our phones and into our bodies and possibly disrupt our internal body cells, thus putting us at an increased risk of developing cancer or health complications. Worried?
There’s a lot being done to further increase the technological abilities and capacities of our cell phones but still not enough in medical studies to know about the physical cell disruptions that might be taking place inside our bodies while we keep our cell phones close to us. Questions?
Yes, we continue to all have questions. And, to help navigate the confusion, concerns and worry, we’ve taken the liberty of answering some of the most frequently asked questions about cell phone radiation and its potential link to our health and well-being.
1. Should I be scared about cell phone radiation?
We believe the answer is still unclear. For now, we don’t want to be scared, so we prefer to be “proactive” and “informed” about cell phone radiation. We personally use and carry our phones with us every day at work, home, and play. Our answer to this is to keep questioning and pushing for more scientific studies and tests to determine implications of cell phone EMF radiation on our bodies. However few, the most current studies state that there is “some evidence” that cell phone radiation can be harmful. “Some” is not “none,” and is therefore too much for us! So learning about how cell phone radiation works as well as how to properly and effectively protect our bodies while we continue to use our phones are important things to understand.
2. Can cell phone radiation harm me?
The answer is that, yes, there is potential harm that can come from cell phone use. While the FCC (Federal Communication Commission) and FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) suggest there isn’t any “real” or “definite” science to support cell phone radiation being harmful to the human body, they do share information that some believe to be better safety practices for cell phone use. They also state that they are working to stay up on the advances and technological changes and will alert to public to studies that show more. The NIH (National Institute of Health) does share reports that there is clear evidence (highest) and some evidence of malignant tumors found in studies of cell phone radiation tested on rats. (Note that the scale allows for “equivocal evidence” and “no evidence” (lowest) in findings). Here are some good reports and more information from these government sources:
a) U.S. FDA Radiation-Emitting Products: Cell Phones: https://www.fda.gov/radiation-emittingproducts/radiationemittingproductsandprocedures/homebusinessandentertainment/cellphones/default.htm
b) FCC info on Wireless Devices and Health Concerns: https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/wireless-devices-and-health-concerns
c) National Toxicology Program of the NIH: March 2018 report Cell Phone Radio Frequency Radiation: https://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/results/areas/cellphones/index.html
3. How can I protect myself from cell phone radiation?
The only way to completely protect yourself from cell phone radiation is to stop using your cell phone entirely! In other words, turn it off and throw it away. Since we aren’t going to do that and we know that’s probably not a viable option for anyone else, there are other ways you can reduce your exposure to the radiation used for our phones, including:
● Using a device with hands-free technology such as wired headsets which place more distance between your head and the EMF used by our phones. Note that wireless or Bluetooth headphones need EMF to work, too, so we prefer wired headphones to keep the phones at a farther distance from our bodies.
● Reserving the amount of time used on your cell phones. Opt for your wired landline phones for calls when possible, use your apps on wired computers or WiFi ones that sit at a distance away from your body, and keep your phone conversations as short as possible.
● Talking using your speakerphone to reduce the amount of time you spend holding a cell phone up against your head and ears.
● Turning off your phone when it’s not in use.
● Keeping your phone physically away from you and not under your pillow or by your head when sleeping.
● Texting as far away from your body as possible.
● Limiting your use of wireless headphone devices or Bluetooth and removing your headset as soon as you finish your call or listening to music.
● Wearing properly protective or shielding clothing that helps to guard your body against potentially harmful EMF radiation when you need to keep your phone close to you.
4. Does my cell phone give off radiation?
No, your phone does not hold or give off EMF radiation by itself, BUT your phone does need EMF (or RF) to function. So, the EMF rays emitted from cell phone providers and towers are designed to find our phones and send the necessary signals of EMF rays to them to make them work. Those EMF rays come into and pass through our phones. If your phone is next to your body, those rays pass through the phone and keep going into and through your body, too. There’s nothing set to stop these rays at the point of your phone… except if you have a proper shield that is designed to collect the EMF at your phone AND also deflect the radiation rays away from your body!
5. How do I know my cell phone radiation levels?
Different makes, models, and phone brands have differing cell phone radiation levels. The radiation levels are checked by knowing the SAR (specific absorption rate) level of your phone. The SAR level of your phone shows how much of the radiation from the cellular device is absorbed into our body tissue. For this reason, it’s best if the SAR value is as low as possible. The maximum level allowed by the FCC is 1.6 watts per one kilogram of body weight. To check your cell phone radiation levels, you have several options:
● Conduct a search on a website that collects SAR values of different mobile phone models, ex: https://www.sportportactive.com/blogs/news/what-is-too-close-investigation-reveals-people-don-t-know-cell-phone-safety-distances
● Visit the phone manufacturer’s website.
● Check the phone’s user guide.
● Locate the SAR value in your mobile phone’s settings.
● Dial a USSD code such as *#07# to check the radiation level or SAR value of your smartphone.
6. Do cell phone radiation shields really work?
Cell phone shields can work if you understand how to shield your body against EMF. The way in which many companies that sell EMF blocks or shields often describe how they function is typically incorrect and inappropriate to really help. For cell phone radiation shields to work, they first need to use effective materials that will deflect EMF away. These shields should then be designed to cover one side of the phone completely — specifically, the side that is positioned between you and your phone. If you place something on one side of the phone itself, you might inadvertently make the shield ineffective if you put the phone your pocket or against your head in the wrong direction. By the same token, enclosing the phone entirely with a block or phone-shielding case prevents EMF waves from entering the device and doesn’t allow the phone to function properly. It may also cause the phone to keep trying to “call out” for more waves in an attempt to connect itself for service, thus causing a surge of waves to come into the phone once it gains access to the necessary EMF. Partial radiation shields or phone radiation stickers may only deflect small parts, or the wrong directions, for the EMF radiation waves coming into the phone, and so your body is still exposed to receiving waves passing through from other parts or directions.
7. Are there any cell phone cases that protect against radiation?
We don’t believe so. Although purchasing a cell phone case to protect against radiation may seem like a good idea, you might as well just turn your phone off while carrying it with you. Full cases that enclose the phone entirely will prevent the phone from working properly since phones need EMF to work. Keep in mind that an analysis conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) of data submitted to the Federal Communications Commission by one manufacturer shows that some cases are so poorly designed that they may actually intensify the radiation that’s drawn into the phone and thus strike a user’s body and/or head. Cases may also weaken the phone’s signal by blocking the phone’s antenna, thus depleting the phone’s battery quicker and causing dropped calls.
8. What is the difference between cell phone EMF-blocking and cell phone-shielding?
No difference. Both EMF-blocking and phone-shielding products function in the same way. They are all designed to deflect EMF radiation waves away from the point of contact. If you’re looking for ways to be able to use your cell phone but also limit your exposure to your phone’s electromagnetic emissions, you’re going to want to try an EMF-blocking product or shield that remains between your body and your phone. Remember that you need to allow the device to get the EMF it needs to operate without allowing those radiation waves to pass through the phone and into your body.
9. Do anti-radiation stickers work?
Since most anti-radiation stickers are rather small and do not cover the entire back-side of the phone, they do little to reduce the EMF pass-through absorption rate of your device — because the entire phone draws EMF waves into and through the unit. In other words, think of it like you’re trying to put a Bandaid on a crack in the Hoover Dam — it’s just not going to be very helpful. One small, sticker-sized, protected area of your phone simply isn’t large enough to deflect all of the rays. Anti-radiation stickers came to the public’s attention back in 2002 when the Federal Trade Commission charged two manufacturers of these “radiation protection patches” with making false claims, and in June 2011, the FTC issued an alert stating that these so-called stickers are without any scientific merit and should be avoided.
10. Is it dangerous to keep your phone in your bra?
Tucking a cell phone in the bra has become a hip, cool way to have easy, quick access to these devices, especially in sports bras during workouts. However, doing so might increase your risk of developing breast cancer or other potential complications since the radiation from the phone can seep into the soft fatty tissue and disrupt the cells of your breast. If you must carry your phone in your bra, SportPort is the only sports bra that has a patent for the protective EMF phone pocket designed to keep your body safe from potential radiation harm.
11. How do I protect my cell phone from radiation EMF?
There is no way to protect your cell phone from radiation EMF. When your phone is on, it needs and will “call out” for radiation constantly while turned on, even when you’re not actively using it. Your phone will always be collecting radiation EMF since it uses these waves to function. Only by turning the phone completely off will you protect it from radiation EMF.
12. Do cordless phones emit radiation?
Cordless phones work the same as cell phones and thus require EMF to function. The difference between a cell phone and cordless phone is in the design of the phones themselves. For instance, cordless phones are limited to being close to the single base unit to which it belongs, while cell phones can be carried anywhere because they connect to base stations and cell towers available for that cell phone system. There are no specific results from studies available at this time that compare the risks of using cordless phones to the risks of using cell phones.
13. What factors affect the amount of RF energy to which you are exposed from your phone?
There are a number of things that affect how exposed you are when it comes to cell phone radiation, including:
● The model of your phone. Different phones send and receive different signal levels and amounts of RF energy.
● The amount of cell phone traffic in your area at the time. Higher traffic means more energy to give you a good signal.
● The path and distance to the nearest tower. Cell phones adjust their power to use the least amount possible to get a good signal. Being inside a building or farther away requires more energy for a good signal.
● Whether you are using a hands-free device or speaker mode. These allow you to hold the phone away from your head.
● The amount of time you are on the phone.
14. Should I stop using my cell phone?
Cell phones are our lifelines. They can be used to save time and even save lives. However, we must also consider the fact that we don’t have enough science nor much evidence to know just how safe or how dangerous they may be to our lives. Scientific studies conducted over the last several years have determined there may be a relationship between cancer and cell phone use, but until we know for sure, it’s best to stay as safe and informed as possible to reduce any potential risk of future health complications.
Find more information and additional references on cell phones and cell phone safety on the SportPort website in the Knowledge Base section found here: https://www.sportportactive.com/pages/knowledge-base-cell-phone-health-safety