What is Too Close? Investigation Reveals People Don’t Know Cell Phone Safety Distances

~ Updated Sept 2020

How close is safe for you to carry your cell phone? Is this a question you even knew you needed to ask? If the answer is no, then you are not alone. Many consumers don’t realize there are explicit safety warnings typed in the fine-print within the safety manuals that come along with their cell phones.

This safe-distance concern provided the motivation behind the founding of SportPort in that there was a need to protect active cell phone users from the potentially harmful electromagnetic frequency and radiofrequency (EMF-RF) radiation emitted from their phones.

Storing cell phones in sports bras or on-body sport accessories while working out is common-place for people who want to keep their device with them. However, chances are most of these fitness-minded people haven’t read their cell phone manual detailing the recommended safe distance to carry their phone away from their body.

What is the Recommended EMF Safe-Distance for Your Cell Phone?

The recommended safe carrying distance is based on mandatory government testing and can vary per phone with most more commonly at 5mm away from the body to as much as 15mm away. See our "safe distance" graphic to know that it takes 25 sports bra layers to cover a 5mm distance and 75 sports bra layers to cover 15mm, while it takes only one SportPort sports bra because of it's patented EMF protective phone pocket design built-in!

Finding the EMF information, which is denoted in terms of SAR values (specific absorption rate values), can be confusing and hard to locate depending on the make and model of your cell phone. In an effort to aid this barrier, SportPort has created two separate guides to help both iPhone & Android cell phone users and allows for a quick, easy option to determine the recommended distance considered safe to carry your phone:


The significance of SportPort’s foresight on this important health matter was detailed in a 2017 press release, New Safe Distance Concerns for Cell Phone RF Exposure Credits SportPort Sportswear for Solutions.

Still wondering why this exposure should concern you? As described in a recent CBC article, “Radiofrequency radiation is waves generated by an electromagnetic field that transmit cell phone, radio and other signals. It has enough energy to set atoms vibrating and generate heat in fluids or body tissue but not as much as higher-energy radiation such as X-rays or UV light.” This physical reaction occurs whether you are aware of it or not and the fact that it is potentially harmful to your health should be enough to prompt you to take the cell phone out of your pocket.

Raising awareness on cell phone dangers is central to what drives SportPort, just as is providing a functional alternative for active cell phone storage. In line with this focus, SportPort is recognized as the first luxury athletic apparel company to design products with accessible pockets that offer a properly protective barrier between the user’s body and their cell phone. Not just any blocking or shielding pocket, SportPort products are designed effectively and have undergone Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) testing by an independent, accredited lab to ensure that their garments minimize the body’s exposure to RF radiation while allowing the phone to function when the phone is stored in the patented pocket. For an athlete who needs safe cell phone storage close to their body, as well as high quality compression and performance fabrics, they now have options thanks to the SportPort product line of athletic sports bras and tops.

Cell phone safety continues to be in the news with science studies unable to keep up with the speedy manufacturing of new, upgraded phones or phone service providers (eg: 5G cell service now). The hope is that this focus of concern will continue to raise awareness so people will start handling their devices in safer accordance to the FCC safety standards. To stay updated on the ongoing research and studies linked to cell phone safety, sign up for the SportPort newsletter.

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All SportPort™ activewear garments are unique, signature designs, all Made in the USA. Our passion for excellence is what drives our brand! When you wear SportPort™ activewear, you know you are wearing an original, one of a kind garment engineered to perfection.

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Safety APPs for Runners – 2020 Update – Free or Low-Cost

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With tons of running apps to help you get started or find a good path or trail, we like focusing on the apps that are either designed for safety or include an added safety option for you. Here are some of our favorite free or low-cost runner’s APPs that bring a safety feature for you on your run. Of course all of these can be used to track or trace you wherever you go and not just for running, jogging or exercising.

SportPort activewear features a patent protected phone pocket that shields your body from EMF and designed into many of its sports bras and sport tops for you to safely and securely carry your cell phone while you exercise or on a run.

sports bra with emf safe cell phone pocket

5+ Phone Apps That Help Keep Runners Safe

1) Road iD

Remains on our list of top safety apps for runners.  You can allow friends and family to track you in real time using the eCrumb feature which follows you much like Hansel & Gretel used in their story to help trace and find their way home. The app creates an "electronic breadcrumb" trail for your designated friends and family to follow along via a map link sent through email or SMS.

If you prefer, Road iD also uses physical wearables, bracelets and tags, that have been helping keep runners (and pets) safe for years.

In addition, the app can also set up an In Case of Emergency card with your emergency contacts, as well as health information like blood type and allergies that you can use as a lock-screen wallpaper.

Free, extra for accessories and wearables:

roadid runners app Available for iOS and Android Phones


2) Strava Beacon

The free Strava app is a running tracker and has a variety of training features. The app can record your running speed, distance traveled, time and course taken for metrics and tracking, but can also combine all that with leaderboards, achievements and challenges as you race against your friends.

You’ll have to upgrade to a paid monthly subscription to get access to advanced safety features like Beacon. Strava Beacon allows you to share your location and route details in real time with three designated friends or family safety contacts.

Strava supports a variety of smartwatches and fitness devices such as the Apple Watch and Wear OS devices.

Free, or $5 per month for the Beacon extras:

strava runners phone app Available for iOS and Android Phones


3) Runkeeper Go

This is another app that you’ll need to upgrade to get the premium safety Runkeeper Go option. The upgraded option will give you live tracking, premium training plans, weather insights, and more. But the main safety option allows you to select friends and family who will be able to see your races or runs in real time from their phone or desktop.

Runkeeper basic allows you to use your phone's GPS to track your running, cycling, hiking and other distance activities. The app records your pace, distance, total exercise time, calories burned and other useful metrics, while delivering a variety of training plans, complete with reminders and gamified challenges. Users can go freeform or download and follow popular running routes. You can measure your progress and workout history, as well as sync with numerous other apps and services and receive detailed reports of your tracked activity.

Runkeeper supports a variety of smartwatches and fitness devices such as the Apple Watch and Wear OS devices.

Free, or $10 per month or $40 per year for the premium Go options:

runkeeper runners phone app Available for iOS and Android Phones


4) Kitestring

Kitestring is an online service, and technically not an APP. The service allows you to activate a safety plan for the times when you’re headed into a potentially unsafe situation like a late night run or a just out late or alone.

Visit the Kitestring site to enter your emergency contacts. Then, when you’re ready to go out or on your nighttime run, let Kitestring know, and ask the service to check in with you via text in 15 minutes, 45 minutes, 2 hours, 5 hours or even 12 hours. If you don’t respond to their text message within a specific window of time (for example in five minutes), Kitestring will automatically notify your emergency contacts.

Free, or $3 per month for unlimited trips:

kitestring runners phone app Available on any device.


5) RunGo

RunGo, a run tracker and navigation aid, allows users to discover new running, jogging or walking routes, complete with voice navigation to help guide them through unfamiliar locales. So if you are new to a neighborhood or you are just starting out as a runner, this can help you past the tough task to find a good and safe jogging route in an unfamiliar or new area.

You can download routes for offline use, start routes halfway or create their own within the app. Coolest of all, premium subscribers can access "guided tours" — verified routes created by local runners through safe and scenic areas, with the app announcing points of interest and other information.

Free, or $1.99 per month for the subscription extras:

rungo runners phone app Available for iOS and Android Phones


+1) Extra Stay-Safe-At-Home App: Zwift

While the Zwift APP doesn’t hold a specific safety feature, staying at home in itself can! So… If you find yourself doing a lot of exercising at home these days, Zwift can help you change up your surroundings while you shelter in place. And the mobile app even adds a little gamification to your runs as part of the bargain.

With Zwift, you can take your runs through virtual courses, while staying on your treadmill. Along with the different courses, you can run alongside other people, using their times for encouragement or competition.

You'll need a compatible treadmill and footpod, supported watch, smart shoes or treadmill sensor to make Zwift work. But the run aspect of Zwift is free to use. (Zwift also works with cycling, but after a 7-day trial, rides require a $15 monthly membership.) If you've got the right equipment, Zwift offers a unique way to get more out of your at-home runs.

Free for Runners:

zwift runners phone app Available for iOS and Android Phones


Additional Safety Phone APP Resources:

Other safety APPs to check out from our 2018 list of 5 Phone Apps that Keep Runners Safe:

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Cell Phone Towers on the Rise: Do We Need to Know More About RF Exposure?

SportPort™ Activewear continues its research and news reporting around the health and safety for active people who regularly carry around and use their phones close to their bodies. This week’s news release focuses on the growing concerns and continuous rise of cell phone towers across the US, in our neighborhoods, backyards, schools, church grounds, and elsewhere.

Did you know, according to GSMA Intelligence, there are now more cellphones in use in the U.S. than there are people? To keep up with the ever-increasing demand for coverage, cell phone towers are sprouting up like weeds — by churches, schools and even in homeowners’ yards. The towers, sometimes affixed onto existing structures and other times freestanding, are nearly everywhere. So, should you be concerned about that new cell phone tower in your neighbor’s backyard or community? Will they help or cause us more harm than good? Will they expand the healthy limits of EMF and RF exposure around us or help us by boosting the demands needed for more and better cell phone service?

Cell Phone Towers: A Real Health Risk or a Chip Off the Tinfoil Hat?

Since the dawn of the cell phone era, worries about electromagnetic frequency (EMF) and RF (higher frequency EMF) radiation concerns have persisted. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), people today are exposed to 100-million times more electromagnetic radiation than their grandparents’ generations! Still, decades of scientific research have yet to establish a solid connection between health issues, RF exposure limits, cell phone use and cell phone towers needed to transmit and boost the power needed for our phones. The idea behind cell phone use, cell phone towers and RF radiation are now, more than ever, a much-discussed controversy.

Is there a hazard or potential risk of cancer in humans who are exposed to RF fields?

According to some studies, your risk may depend on how close you are to strong RF (radio wave frequency) fields. Thus, the question may be in how close you live, work or play near the rising cell phone towers. After all, according to the EWG (Environmental Working Group), you may be more likely to be closely exposed to RF if you hold a cell phone against your head and ear or in your bra or pocket versus standing outside in the nearby vicinity of a cell tower.

While information on RF exposure from these towers may seem small or of no concern, many of those concerned seem to feel that it may be more appropriate to be more cautious and better understand what risks, if any, there might be for us.

Why the Sudden Boost for More Cell Phone Towers?

So, who is supporting the boost in construction of these cell phone towers if they could potentially be detrimental to our health?

More and more school districts, local churches and neighborhood homeowners are turning to an unlikely source of revenue: cell towers. Especially with school budgets declining across the country, local districts are beginning to form partnerships with cell phone providers and telecom giants such as Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T. These agreements are formed out of the idea that the schools and other property owners will grant telecom companies access to their land in exchange for a portion of their profits thus providing a public service by expanding wireless coverage and giving money back to everyone.

Sounds like everyone wins, right? Maybe, maybe not.

As enticing as these arrangements are for both parties, they are not without controversy. A growing number of parents and locals are expressing concerns about the schools and churches “selling out” to these companies, citing studies that indicate a relationship between radiation and health complications for their kids and the neighboring community.

U.S. vs Overseas: How European Countries Are Handling the RF Controversy

According to several European countries, these RF studies do, in fact, hold weight, and they’re taking preemptive measures to protect their citizens. The French National Agency for Radio Frequencies, the ANFR, recently updated their website to offer a huge database to the public of information regarding SAR (specific absorption rate) values associated with almost 400 different brands, styles and types of cell phones used by people globally.

What about cell phone towers?

While not banned entirely, other countries have stricter guidelines in place than the U.S. that prevent companies from installing cell towers within a certain distance from schools, typically mandating a barrier of at least 1,500 feet. Since our mobile device use has increased so rapidly, the growing concern over RF use is founded in the “what if,” and certain European countries are taking action with a “better safe than sorry” approach.

Countries such as Switzerland, Italy, France, Austria, Luxembourg, Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary, Israel, Russia and China have set RF exposure limits 100 to 10,000 times less than the USA, and are already recognizing the possible biological effects from wireless and RF radiation.

Communities Are Fighting Back Against Emerging Cell Phone Towers

Although U.S. government agencies such as the FCC, Federal Communications Commission, say there is little to be worried about in regards to new cell phone towers, others beg to differ and argue that Europe is on the right track.

Neighborhoods across the country — and even overseas — are joining forces to protest the construction of cell phone towers. These communities, local officials and organizations have one mission: to control or stop construction of cell towers on church grounds, on school land and in their backyards. Their motivation is driven not only by the significant negative impact that radiation could have on their communities, but also about news and studies suggesting possible harm to babies, pregnant women, their unborn children and senior citizens. There are other concerns as well, including worries about the possibility of property devaluation, the visual impact on the land and anxiety that their children might get hurt while playing near the towers.

Keep in mind that the first cell phone was invented in 1973, but it wasn’t until the mid- to late-1980s (or even the early 1990s) that it became popular. If it does, in fact, take decades for the effects of possible carcinogen exposure to take effect, we could only be on the cusp of determining just how cell phones and towers are taking a toll on not only our bodies but on our children’s bodies as well.

Do You Know Your Cell Phone Safe Distance?

Concern isn’t simply for the towers, but also in pro-active business owners working to come up with innovative solutions for this growing issue. One such concerned citizen, parent, and active cell phone user, Kim Highfield said that she became an entrepreneur, with her innovative small-business SportPort™, specifically so that she could undertake the pro-active task of creating a better, more protective line of sportswear clothing. She built her company specifically for herself and others concerned about their health and safety and who rely on their cell phones being with them and close to their bodies during exercise and workouts. Her concern for the public’s health had her focused on learning and gathering as much information as she could about cell phone radiation, cell phone safe distances from the body, and possible links to health issues and cancer illnesses.

Not wanting to stop using her cell phone and still complaining regularly about bad cell service, she stated, “if I want to and am going to actively keep using my smart phone, I’d like to be smarter about how I do that.” Simply put, it is in the best interest of the consumer to better understand the possible health risks around cell phones, cell phone towers and RF factors so that better decisions can be made on how, when and where we live with this.

She continues to say, “We know the technology needs will continue to grow and evolve but we don’t want to be wrong about business and community decisions today at the risk of our health or the health of our kids years from now.”

Knowledge is POWER!

So, while some studies say one thing and other studies may say the opposite, right now, we believe that additional studies are much-needed to determine the safety and effects of cell phones near our bodies and cell phone towers in our communities. While it’s nice to imagine that the debate is pointless and that no one is at risk from higher-powered cell towers, analyzing research from both sides has yet to yield a safe and conclusive answer.

Whether you fear that radiation will have severe health consequences for you and your loved ones or you vehemently oppose yet another unsightly tower with its hundreds of miles of hanging wires in your own backyard, we believe that the old adage holds true:

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At-Home Safe Cell Phone Use | Smart Home Smart Phone

Right now, while we are working to maintain more physical distance from others, we may be finding ourselves more physically close to our phones and WiFi gadgets.

We are having to rely more heavily on technology, wireless devices, and cell phones to attend conference calls, chat with family, and to try to stay as sane as possible in a constantly changing -- and uncertain Covid-19 -- situation.

If you are quarantined at-home working to stay at safe physical distances, you may have more than yourself in your home with you. Maybe you have your spouse, children or other family members home with you right now -- and likely for a while longer. This could mean that each and everyone in your house also has their own cell phone or a wireless device right next to them too.

So, with everyone right next to each other, using their phones or WiFi devices, how do you continue to work, play, and connect with others while protecting yourself and your loved ones from the potentially harmful effects of EMF radiation coming into our homes for all of our devices to work? We have a few ideas.

10 Precautions You Can Take to Reduce Your (and your loved ones) Exposure to Cell Phone Radiation at Home

  1. Keep as much distance from each other as possible. When it comes to EMF exposure, the greater the distance between your body and your phone (and others’ phones!), the better. Staying home day in and day out, chances are you’ll probably end up sitting next to your family on the sofa while all of the phones or WiFi devices in the household are in use. Not only are you subjecting yourself to radiation from your own cell phone, but you are also more likely to experience secondhand exposure through your child or spouse’s cell phone too. If everyone must be on their phones at the same time, why not consider dividing and conquering? One person can take the living room, another can move into the office, and someone else can head upstairs to a bedroom. And, let’s be honest, you might wind up enjoying a little distance!
    at-home-cell phone risk too close
  1. Use speakerphone or computer audio. Whether your boss has scheduled the most important (virtual) meeting of the quarter or your child’s teacher just sent an invite for a Zoom session to connect with the rest of the class, there are times -- even while quarantined -- when you just have to speak with others. However, rather than putting a cell phone to your ear, use the speakerphone function or set up your meeting apps on a laptop or wired computer where you can use the computer’s audio instead. Using speakerphone allows you to keep your cell phone away from your body and reduce the amount of time you would spend with a phone against your ears and head.
  1. Use a corded headset. Whether you need to keep your hands free to take notes during an important conference call or Junior needs to strategize with his buddies during an intense game of Call of Duty, you’re likely going to need a headset. While Bluetooth and wireless headsets have their benefits, they also need EMF signals to work. In other words, while you’re still at risk of being exposed to some level of radiation, the amount is much less -- particularly for corded headphones that keep our phones farther from our bodies -- than if you were to hold a phone directly to your ear. Remember to remove the headset when you are finished with your call or game.
    at-home cell phone use schedule
  1. Set a schedule. You have a virtual conference to attend, your spouse is speaking to a relative across the country, and your child needs to catch up on his online classes. Although it would be great if we could limit our use to one cell phone or electronic device at a time, that’s just not realistic for most families today. Instead, consider scheduling times for when phones get used or go down to reduce the risk of electromagnetic radiation within the home. Doing so also means that your kids won’t spend all of their time in front of a phone or WiFi gadget or have them attached to their hips as they do other things. This one may cause some protests but learning to schedule things is a useful life-skill [wink]!
  1. Keep WiFi devices on a table. Sure, it’s become a habit to curl up on the sofa or lay back in your recliner with a cell phone in your lap, but keeping a phone so close to your body increases the risk of EMF exposure to the soft tissues that connect, support, and surround the body’s organs. Instead, when you’re watching a movie with your spouse or playing a game with the kids, keep your devices on a table instead of close to your body or, even better, in another room entirely. And, let’s be honest, if the goal is to spend quality time with your loved ones, you probably don’t want to be on your phone, or at least checking it constantly, anyway!
  1. Use cell phones a little less. Over the next month or so, it’s important to try to not rely on our cell phones and WiFi devices 24/7. Instead, organize a scavenger hunt for fun, try a new recipe, take the dog for a walk through the neighborhood, play outside with the kids (at a safe distance and away from playgrounds!) or clean your house, if you’re feeling particularly motivated. There are also many ways to get moving that not only keep us active and healthy but also set a farther distance between our phones and bodies. Looking for ideas? Check out our monthly exercise calendar page for totally free exercise, health, and fitness events organized into a week-by-week format with classes for every day. While you could use your phone, you can also set these up on your smart TV or on a computer that is placed further away from your body while you engage in online activities.
    at-home cell phone risk bathroom
  1. Avoid bathroom use. Before cell phones, we often found ourselves reading shampoo or cleaning product labels in the bathroom in order to pass the time. Nowadays, it’s much more convenient to bring our cell phones to check social media, watch videos on YouTube, or play games. Aside from the fact that you could drop your phone into the toilet or bathtub, using a cell phone while you’re doing your business also increases your risk of exposure to electromagnetic radiation. So, going back to some old-school pre-cell phone ways, like bringing in a book or magazine instead, can create a safer, better-all-around bathroom experience.
  1. Opt for a computer instead of a tablet or cell phone. Apps like Zoom, Seesaw, and Google Classroom are so easy to use on our phones. After all, that’s one of the reasons why they’re so popular -- it’s all about portable connect-ability. However, to get away from keeping your tablet or cell phone on or close to your body any longer than necessary, consider installing these apps (or any other games the family enjoys) on a larger-screen laptop or computer instead. While you won’t completely eliminate EMF exposure as laptops and some computers also rely on wireless technology to send and receive data, they can be placed further away from your body like on a table or desk! And sure, it might take a minute to learn the ins and outs of the desktop version, but you -- and your body -- will thank you.
  1. Turn off phones at night. If you’re a parent of older kids or teens -- or even a spouse that typically works third shift -- you’ve likely gotten used to keeping your phone close to you at night when your loved ones were out and about. However, it’s important to turn your cell phone off in the evenings, especially when you’re sleeping, since everyone (with the exception of essential personnel) is supposed to be at home right now anyway. Keep in mind when you’re charging your phone at night, you can reduce your exposure to cell phone radiation by putting it in another room entirely. If you absolutely need it nearby, place it as far as possible on a nightstand instead of by your head, under your pillow, or on your bed. Moving your phone even just a few inches away from your body can significantly lower your exposure.
    at-home cell phone risk nightime
  1. Avoid other wireless devices whenever possible. Looking beyond our cell phones, we also love to use our smart assistant devices like the Amazon Echo and Google Home when we’re cooking in the kitchen. However, while these devices are fantastic for making calls, playing music, looking up recipes, and creating shopping lists, their WiFi wireless connectivity causes them to require electromagnetic radiation to work whenever they are sending or receiving data. This has EMF coming in and going through those devices. Instead, consider plugging in a good old-fashioned stereo system for tunes or pick up a pencil to create your grocery lists.

During this time of uncertainty, many of us are doing our part to slow the spread of the Coronavirus by staying in our homes. While it is not feasible for us to just turn off our phones or throw them away, especially when so many of us rely on our devices to work, study or play (not to mention to maintain our sanity!), there are a handful of ways we can help to reduce the risk of exposure to electromagnetic radiation.

If you have any other questions about cell phone radiation and exposure, we have compiled a Knowledge Base area for FAQ and Cell Phone Health & Safety Information to help you navigate the confusion, worry, and concerns associated with EMF and cell phone use. Stay safe!

Quick Links & Helpful Resources:

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Health Updates: Cell Phone EMF & Dangers for Our Kids

If cell phone exposure is considered potentially dangerous for children, then what does that mean for the rest of us? An April 2017 article in Healio’s Pediatric Annals, Current Understanding of the Health Effects of Electromagnetic Fields, details the most up-to-date information and studies of the health effects of EMF in regards to children and cell phone use.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the article and what we should know about EMF radiation produced by cell phones and whether these devices cause an increase in health risks for our children:

What is EMF?

  • Electromagnetic fields, also referred to as EMF radiation, are invisible waves of energy that can be emitted from electronic devices at varying levels of strength.
  • The amount of EMF emitted differs depending on the source or electronic device.
  • EMF is typically categorized by two types: Non-Ionizing and Ionizing.
  • Non-Ionizing radiation, or low-energy radiation, is defined in the low to mid-frequency radiation level and thought to be less harmful. While Ionizing types, high-energy radiation waves, are defined to have mid to high-frequency radiation levels and more dangerous.
  • Studies continue to examine the potential health effects of non-ionizing EMF radiation that can come from various devices including cell phones.

How does EMF affect the body?

  • The human body absorbs energy from devices that emit EMFs.
  • When the body is exposed to EMFs, a cellular stress response is triggered.
  • A stress response can cause damage to our body cells, and even our DNA, which can increase our risk for developing or activating cancerous cells.

Recent EMF Study Findings

  • The most recent medical and health studies on EMF radiation and cell phones are dated to 2016 and prior, with more scheduled for 2017 and the future.
  • A peer-reviewed, multi-year study performed by the National Toxicology Program on the effects of extremely low frequency-electromagnetic frequency (ELF-EMF) radiation exposure on rats resulted in findings of the development of two types of malignant tumors in the study subjects.
  • 2500+ rats were exposed to two types of common ELF-EMF radiation for 10-minute on, 10-minute off increments, totaling just over 9 hours a day from before birth through 2 years of age.
  • The findings revealed that there appeared to be a cancer tumor association found in the brain and heart, specifically in male rats.

Cell Phone Use Recommendations for Children

  • The findings of these studies resulted in recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics to limit children’s use of cell phones by reducing their exposure to these potentially harmful radiation sources – and includes the following:
  • Encourage children to use text messaging instead of making extended phone calls.
  • Only make phone calls when necessary and for short periods of time.
  • Use hands-free kits and wired headsets when making calls.
  • Maintain a cell phone distance of an inch or more away from the head.
  • Try to limit to less than 2 hours of cell phone and television use per day.

Summary & Conclusions

  • The current findings indicate a necessity for more studies to further determine cell phone and EMF health risks.
  • With the need for more research, it may be best to err on the side of caution and not only limit our children’s cell phone use, but also our own, while also following the advice of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Updates: Additional Reading & Information: What is Too Close? Investigation Reveals People Don’t Know Cell Phone Safety Distances

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What is Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity & Is it a Real Thing?

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In the hit television series Better Call Saul, Jimmy McGill’s brother suffers from something called “electromagnetic sensitivity.” Before Jimmy can enter Chuck’s home, he is not only required to “ground” himself by removing the static charge from his body, but he must also leave his car keys, phone, and other electronics in Chuck’s mailbox as the house has been stripped of anything that produces electromagnetic radiation – appliances, light bulbs, you name it. The presence of these appliances and gadgets causes Chuck to feel vertigo, generalized pain, and nausea, among other symptoms, leaving viewers to wonder – does electrical sensitivity actually happen to people in real life?

While there’s no doubt that some people experience a variety of health problems which they attribute to electromagnetic fields (EMF), is this condition, known as electromagnetic hypersensitivity, a true, verified, and accepted health condition in the medical community? Should we follow Chuck’s lead and start removing electronics from our home immediately?

Before we wrap ourselves in what Chuck calls a “space blanket” to shield against static electricity prior to leaving our homes, let’s dig a little deeper and take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions regarding electromagnetic hypersensitivity.

1. What is electromagnetic hypersensitivity?

Electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) is the term used for a specific set of health symptoms whose cause is electrically based. It is also known as electromagnetic sensitivity (EMS), electrical sensitivity (ES), EMF-injured, Radiation or Microwave Sickness, among other names. In medical literature, you may see references to “idiopathic environmental illness with attribution to electromagnetic fields,” also known as IEI-EMF. Some individuals have reported a wide range of nonspecific health problems that they attribute to low-level exposure of electromagnetic fields (EMF) from cell phones and other technology-based electrical gadgets.

2. Is electromagnetic hypersensitivity a real thing?

Although the scientific community is not convinced that “WiFi allergies” are legitimate, some international legal systems are far more credulous: in August 2015, a French court ruled in favor of a disability grant for a 39-year-old woman’s allergy to gadgets in what was described as “electromagnetic hypersensitivity”. It was one of the first times a court of law recognized EHS.

While there may be limited scientific evidence, other countries have recognized that WiFi signals have shown adverse health effects on some and have classified EHS as an occupational disease. The World Health Organization has also suggested that EHS has been a particularly contentious issue for a number of years, while also stating that there have been numerous studies looking to determine if EHS symptoms are related to EMF exposure.

While we haven’t come much closer to a “real” answer, the topic continues to be a hot one in the technological, scientific, and medical communities, with the WHO itself acknowledging a need for additional studies.

3. What are symptoms of EMF sensitivity?

Symptoms can vary with each person, depending on his or her basic health practices, each person’s body, exposure to other environmental toxins, and the length, type, and strength of reported EMF exposure. Symptoms range from mild to severe and can include:

– Headaches
– Sleep problems
– Skin symptoms such as burning, prickling, and rashes
– Muscle and limb aches
– Eye burning and blurriness
– Depression and inability to focus
– Swelling of the neck and face
– Joint pain
– Nausea
– Heart palpitations
– Chronic fatigue
– Tinnitus
– Immune system complications
– Digestive system issues
– Learning and memory problems
– Sexual changes and infertility
– Cancer

4. What are doctors and research saying about electrical sensitivity?

Chuck aside, there is a small but vocal minority of people worldwide who claim to be sensitive to electricity and non-ionizing radiation – the kind of low-energy radiation that microwaves, radio towers, and cell phones require. In response to this minority, EM-sensitives are moving to towns without WiFi, watchdog organizations are offering detailed resources for people claiming to have this condition, and councils are beginning to advocate for removing mobile phones and WiFi from schools. But is EHS a medical condition?

A National Institute of Health study on “electromagnetic hypersensitivity–an increasing challenge to the medical profession” concluded that; “It seems necessary to give an International Classification of Diseases to EHS to get it accepted as EMF-related health problems. The increasing exposure to RF-EMF in schools is of great concern and needs better attention. Longer-term health effects are unknown. Parents, teachers, and school boards have the responsibility to protect children from unnecessary exposure.”

What Doctor’s Are Saying:

Jeffrey Mogil, Ph.D., Head of Pain Genetics Lab at McGill University, E.P. Taylor Professor of Pain Studies, Canada Research Chair in the Genetics of Pain (Tier I), Director of the Alan Edwards Centre for Research on Pain stated, “I don’t think people can create pain in their minds. Real diseases produce real pain, and just because EHS has no current medical explanation doesn’t mean it’s not real.”

David O. Carpenter, MD, Director of Institute for Health and the Environment, a Collaborating Centre of the World Health Organization at the University at Albany states, “Electromagnetic hypersensitivity is a real disease. And it does matter if it is real or not. …The reason that it does matter is that if one is really sensitive to EMFs you can reduce your symptoms by avoiding excessive exposure.”

Dr. Robert Becker, MD, two-time Nobel nominee, and author of The Body Electric: Electromagnetism and the Foundation of Life says, “I have no doubt in my mind that at the present time, the greatest polluting element in the earth’s environment is the proliferation of electromagnetic fields. I consider that to be far greater on a global scale, than warming, and the increase in chemical elements in the environment.”

5. How do we not know what causes EHS?

We don’t know really the causes of EHS because its symptoms are so fantastically common. In medical terms, these “nonspecific symptoms” can indicate a whole host of different reasons for these different problems. For instance, a headache could be attributed to drinking too much coffee in the morning; it’s also a sign of carbon monoxide poisoning, meningitis, and the literal plague. In other words, nonspecific symptoms are basically the reason why the “average” person should be careful about self-diagnosing from online articles! Unfortunately, many things could cause the same symptoms as EHS, and each sufferer may not experience it in exactly the same way as someone else. Although these symptoms may be indicative of other underlying health conditions, there is no doubt that they are certainly real and can vary widely in their severity. Whatever its cause, an EMF allergy is a disabling problem for the affected individual, even though there is no clear diagnostic criteria and no scientific evidence to link EHS symptoms to EMF exposure as of yet.

6. Are any future studies on electromagnetic hypersensitivity planned?

Yes! With emerging technology and growth of 5G networks along with better functioning cell phones, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration nominated cell phone radio frequency radiation (RFR) for study by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) because of widespread public use of cell phones and limited knowledge about potential health effects from long-term exposure. NTP will provide the results of these studies to the FDA and the Federal Communications Commission, who will review the information as they continue to monitor new research on the potential effects of RFR. Read more:

The World Health Organization (WHO), through its International EMF Project, is continuing to identify research needs and coordinate a worldwide program of EMF studies with the goal of allowing a better, more thorough understanding of any health risks associated with EMF exposure. The organization is placing a particular emphasis on the possible health consequences of low-level electromagnetic waves. Information about the EMF effects and EMF Project is offered via a series of fact sheets at the WHO’s website found under Electromagnetic Fields. Find more:


The problem for researchers is that not only is there little consistency in the symptoms themselves, there’s also no consistent pattern in the duration of symptoms or the source. Some people claim it’s due to mobile phones. For others, it’s WiFi. Some say it’s one device, while others argue that multiple sources trigger their symptoms. This makes EHS an extremely complex phenomenon, difficult to scientifically investigate, and virtually impossible to diagnose.

However vague and unclear the symptoms may be to medical professionals, the condition can certainly ruin lives as sufferers may begin to withdraw from society. They might be unable to perform simple, everyday tasks such as grocery shopping due to the installation of wireless routers in public places and the number of people with mobile phones. In extreme cases, EHS can cause such occupational and social dysfunction that sufferers are forced to leave their jobs and relocate to areas with lower EMF emissions, thus further isolating themselves.

While the debate continues, due to the possibility of developing health complications from EMF exposure, we must continue to be vigilant and devote more resources to future studies in order to paint the clearest clinical picture possible about electromagnetic hypersensitivity and the effect it may have on our bodies and overall health.

Additional References & Further Resources:

5G Cell Phone Networks & Continued Controversies For Our Health & Safety

Coming Soon Here Now: 5G Cell Phone Networks & Continued Controversies For Our Health & Safety

A new generation of cellular technology for the next generation of smartphones is upon us. With 5G already being implemented in select cities across the country, there’s concern about the health risks of this new -- and more powerful -- network. So, how worried should you be about the impending 5G “health-pocalypse?”

By now, you might have come across articles on social media or alternative health websites. The gist: 5G is a harmful escalation of traditional cellular technology, one packed with higher energy radiation than its 4G predecessor that causes life-threatening, disease-producing consequences.

Some 5G experts maintain that the new network produces radiofrequency radiation that can disrupt cell metabolism, cause oxidative damage that leads to premature aging, damage DNA and cause cancer, and potentially pave the way for other diseases through stress protein generation. Some articles even cite opinions and scientific research studies by entities such as the World Health Organization.

Quite frankly, it sounds really scary. But is there any truth based on actual science?

What is 5G?

5G stands for the Fifth Generation of wireless technology for cell phones and cellular networks. When you use your phone, it uses radio waves to interact with a nearby cellular service towers or stations (base stations may include small cell box units). The cell stations then uses radio waves to connect to a core network, which then receives the information and sends it back to your cell phone. 5G networks run on frequencies generally above 24 GHz and reaching up to 72 GHz. In comparison, if your phone is on a 4G network, it uses a frequency band of radio waves that ranges from 2 to 8 Ghz -- slightly higher than 3G’s 1.8 to 2.5 Ghz.

5G uses different kinds of radio wave antennas than 4G, operates on different radio spectrum frequencies, minimizes delays, connects more devices to the internet, and delivers ultra-fast speeds. Sounds great, right?

Pros & Cons of 5G

There are both pros and cons to using higher frequencies. Essentially, the higher the radio wave frequency, the shorter the wave, and the more devices that can connect to the cell station at the same time. However, the faster the shorter waves move, the quicker they lose energy, so they cover less distance. The base station, or the area covered by the phone tower, is known as a “cell” and can reach cell phones up to 45 miles away, depending on the technology of the cell phone network. They can also range in size depending on how many phones are in the area. At weaker frequencies (as is the case with 5G), more cell stations are needed to cover the shorter distances as the radio waves travel with the data that goes to and from your phone.

5G is expected to produce at least 10x improvement in network performance. We have not seen a major network upgrade since 2009, when 4G was introduced with a peak speed of around 10 Mbps. In comparison, 5G is projected to deliver peak speeds between 10 and 20 Gbps. Network latency is expected to decrease to 1ms from 30ms, ideal for online video and video game streaming. When looking at the peak speeds of both networks, 5G is reportedly 20 times faster than 4G and supports frequencies between 30 GHz and 300 GHz. In other words, during the time it takes you to download one piece of data such as a movie with 4G, you could’ve downloaded that same movie 20 times on a 5G network. Looking at it another way: You could download almost 10 full movies before 4G could download half of the first one. It’s no wonder why many are looking to 5G as an upgraded network to support the growing number of devices that demand internet access!

But because these waves have a harder time traveling through objects and over distance, the 5G network will be built on small cell site technology with antennas as close as 500 feet apart. This is where health concerns about 5G begin. While there have been plenty of worries and studies about cellular networks in the past, the cell towers and stations themselves were largely out of sight and out of mind. With 5G, we may see the antennas and station boxes more directly, which has made more people questioning the increased antenna density and higher-frequency electromagnetic radiation. According to the Environmental Health Trust, “5G will require the buildout of literally hundreds of thousands of new wireless antennas in neighborhoods, cities, and towns. A cellular small cell or another transmitter may be placed every two to 10 homes according to estimates.” So, the question is: Will the level (and risk) of EMF exposure be greater now that there will be more towers?

Should We Be Concerned About Our EMF Health & Safety?

Before we look at 5G specifically, it’s worth noting that health concerns pertaining to electromagnetic radiation exposure are not a recent trend. Over the past several decades, headlines about the dangers of electromagnetic radiation continue to pop up every day. We’ve seen controversies about everything from the health risks of smart meters to Wi-Fi. For instance, electromagnetic hypersensitivity is a hypothetical disease in which certain people who are in the presence of radiation like Wi-Fi and cell phones experience debilitating symptoms. So, yes, Charles McGill’s bizarre behavior on “Better Call Saul” is a real thing. People have been claiming these types of sensitivities for at least three decades, yet scientific reviews have found that in blind studies, victims who are allegedly afflicted with the condition can’t tell when they are near an electromagnetic field. Remember when Charles’ brother, Jimmy, turns on a cell phone and slips it into Charles’ pocket without his brother knowing? Charles shows no signs of affliction or distress. Does this mean EMF isn’t as dangerous as scientists say and that it’s all in our heads?

How Dangerous is Electromagnetic Radiation?

We don’t know for sure because the testing and science is lacking or outdated as relates to 5G. While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Federal Communication Commission (FCC) suggest there isn’t any “definite” or “real” science to support radiofrequency radiation or cell phone radiation as being harmful to humans, they are continuing to try to stay up-to-date on the technological changes and advances and will report public studies that show more information.

Of course, just because there’s no clear answer, that doesn’t mean that no effect exists or that it’s safe. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), there is clear evidence and some evidence that suggests exposure to cell phone radiation may cause malignant tumors in rats. Similarly, the National Toxicology Program, an agency run by the Department of Health and Human Services, released a cell phone radiofrequency study in which scientists found that exposure to 3G caused adrenal gland tumors, brain tumors, and cancerous heart tumors in male rats… back in 1999!

Seems that the European Union may have studies more up-to-date that have tested and researched the impacts of EMF on wildlife. You can see our article from two years ago entitled:  Cell Phone EMF Radiation Health Concerns for our Plants & Wildlife Too.

So will the science change because of upgraded and new 5G standards? Will these EMF effects worsen due to the higher-powered 5G networks? The answer remains unclear, the science lacking, and therein lies a possible problem for us all.

What Happens Now?

We don’t know for sure what happens now or next. 5G is coming here now -- there’s no doubt about that. Still, there are concerns about this new technology as well as the potentially damaging effects of more cell phone towers & stations. We have been hyping the idea of 5G for the past several years, but 2019 was the year when carriers began to roll out what is anticipated to be the new standard in wireless cellular technology.

In the U.S., T-Mobile is the first nationwide 5G network, covering more than 1 million square miles and more than 200 million people. It is also the first nationwide prepaid 5G network with Metro by T-Mobile and the first to offer 5G devices that work across the country. Verizon currently offers about 10 cities for 5G services and growing every day. The same goes for 5G from Sprint and AT&T -- all of which can be used in a handful of locations -- though widespread availability will take at least another year. Despite this, however, service providers and device manufacturers continue to jump onto the 5G bandwagon. For example, Samsung currently offers several 5G-ready devices -- the new Galaxy Fold, Galaxy Note 10 Plus, Galaxy S10, Galaxy A90 models -- along with models from manufacturers like Apple, OnePlus, Xiaomi, ZTE, Motorola, Huawei, LG, and more.

Here at SportPort, we continue to take a proactive approach by keeping the recommended safe distance between our bodies and our phones, using hands-free technology such as wired headsets whenever possible, reserving the amount of time used on our cell phones, and wearing our own protective clothing to help guard our bodies against potentially harmful EMF during those times when we need our phones close to our bodies at all times.

While we should be able to trust that scientists will continue to test new networks as technology evolves to make sure that we continue to be safe, the best thing we can do is remain proactive, diligent and protect ourselves whenever possible. Research into the risks of radiation is time-consuming, expensive, and often inconclusive, meaning that it might be a long time before we see real progress and clear-cut answers for our health and safety. For now, everything we know about 5G networks tells us there’s no reason to toss our cell phones away just yet… and we don’t want to! Until we know for sure of conclusive health risks, it’s best to stay as informed and safe as possible so as to reduce any potential risk of future health complications. Stay tuned!

In the News: Cell Phone Safety, Small Cells, Towers, Radiation & Big Impacts

You know that quote: “The more things change the more they stay the same.” It is said by many as a reference to situations where there appears to be a meaningful change, but may also be that the underlying fundamentals are still the same.

It’s April 2018 and with technological growth and advances, comes big impacts for everyone. The news about cell phone business and services is changing rapidly while personal cell phone safety information is staying the same. At the same time, the cell service business and government entities opinions on cell phone safety aren’t changing much, while science studies and individual thoughts are growing rapidly for concerns on personal health. What’s also growing is the number of cellular devices in use and the number of WiFi antennas and RF (radiofrequency) towers for the service providers.

So… what is a person supposed to do about cell phone use & safety concerns?

At SportPort™, while our company is locally owned and operated out of Charlotte, NC, many of the women on our team work remotely and across the US. We do NOT want to stop using our cell phones, we meet up regularly via our cellular devices, and we complain constantly about the poor or slow service too. And… because we are SportPort, and our womens’ sportswear line is best-known for our sports bra with the safety cell phone pocket built-in, we continually want to stay up on the news and information regarding our health and safety, along with news on cell phone safety?

Here’s a brief recap of what’s currently in the news to-date:

  1. In the Public Health news from Scientific America: New Studies Link Cell Phone Radiation with Cancer
    Some info from the article includes:
    • Researchers call for greater caution, but skeptics say the evidence from rat studies is not convincing.
    • “When turned on, cell phones and other wireless devices emit EF radiation continually, even if they are not being actively used, because they are always communicating with cell towers. The dose intensity tails off with increasing distance from the body, and reaches a maximum when the devices are used next to the head during phone calls or in front of the body during texting or tweeting.”
  2. In US & Federal News: FCC Acts to Speed Deployment of Next-Gen Wireless Infrastructure
    Stating that the new rules and actions taken by the FCC, “will reduce regulatory impediments to deploying small cells needed for 5G and help to expand the reach of 5G for faster, more reliable wireless service and other advanced wireless technologies to more Americans.”
  3. In Local News: Small Cells Popping Up Across the US Causing Concerns for Increased RF Exposure
    With the FCC’s relaxed rules on small cell deployment, these “small” cell-boosting RF power boxes used to help boost the cellular equipment services will be seen atop utility poles and in various local US neighborhoods, in an effort to improve the cellular services and call capacity along with Internet speeds for users of mobile phones and tablet computers.
    - East Coast In California: Verizon to roll out ‘small cells’ to deepen Napa cellphone coverage
    -West Coast In Maryland: Montgomery Co. residents: 5G wireless cell antennas pose health risks

Are the “small cells” a “big cell” problem for your neighborhood?

  1. In Personal News: Small Cells, Big Cells, Cancer Cells… Will They Raise More Questions & Possible Concerning Issues Regarding Cell Phone Safety?
    In this YouTube video, The Verge interviewed Jon Samet from the World Health Organization in March to help and explain the question: Do Cellphones Cause Cancer?

During the interview, Samet states, “In the 21st century United States, we have more and more devices that are emitting radio frequency electromagnetic radiation. With that rationale, it’s very reasonable to say we should find out as much as we can about this. And, even if there were a small risk, perhaps a very small risk, associated with this kind of exposure, we still have an awful lot of people exposed.”

If you are worried…

We recommend: Be pro-active and continue to consider these steps for safe cell phone use for yourself:
• Carry your phone in an EMF protective way. The SportPort™ Zephyr Sports Tank Top and all of the SportPort™ Sports Bras with Pockets feature a cell phone pocket with patented design technology that helps form a barrier between your body and radiation from your device, lessening your body’s exposure.
• Wear wired headsets or use the speaker function to make calls.
• Don’t store the phone close to your head or body.
• If your children use your device for games or videos, it can be safer to put the device in airplane mode.
• Turn your phone off when you won’t be using it and keep it a safe distance away from you.

2020 National Toxicology Program Updates for Cellphone RF & Radiation Studies

  • SportPortTM is constantly on the lookout for updates and news pertaining to safe cell phone use.
  • Scientists at the National Toxicology Program (NTP) & the FDA1 continue to recommend that people reduce the time they spend on cellphones or use the speaker mode or a wired headset to reduce exposure to radio frequency radiation from wireless devices.
  • NTP is currently evaluating the existing literature on the higher frequencies intended for use in the 5G network.

As of January 2020, the US National Toxicology Program newly released its most current Fact Sheet about Cellphone Radio Frequency & Radiation Studies for consumer knowledge and safety. You can read or print it in its PDF format here:

National Toxicology Program: Cellphone Radio Frequency Radiation Studies
2020 NTP cellphone studies

Following is a transcription of the NTP Fact Sheet for you to read now:

National Toxicology Program - Headquartered at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences NIH-HHS

Cellphone Radio Frequency Radiation Studies

Cellphones are used by 95% of American adults.2 Given the large number of users, any harmful effects associated with cellphone use could be a significant public health concern.  

Cellphones use radio frequency radiation (RFR) to transmit signals. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) nominated RFR for study by the National Toxicology Program (NTP), due to widespread human exposure and limited information about the potential health effects of long-term cellphone use.

What did NTP study?

NTP conducted toxicology studies in rats and mice to help clarify potential health hazards, including cancer risk, from exposure to RFR used in 2G and 3G cellphones. 2G and 3G networks were standard when the studies were designed and are still used for phone calls and texting.

The $30 million NTP studies took more than 10 years to complete and are the most comprehensive assessment, to date, of health effects in animals exposed to RFR. The results will help guide other studies of newer technologies.

What did the studies find?

NTP studies found that exposure to high levels of RFR, like that used in 2G and 3G cellphones, was associated with:

  • Clear evidence of tumors in the hearts of male rats. The tumors were malignant schwannomas.
  • Some evidence of tumors in the brains of male rats. The tumors were malignant gliomas.
  • Some evidence of tumors in the adrenal glands of male rats. The tumors were pheochromocytomas.

For female rats, and male and female mice, it was unclear, also known as equivocal, whether cancers observed in the studies were associated with exposure to RFR.

The conclusions were based on NTP’s four categories of evidence that a substance may cause cancer:

  • Clear evidence (highest)
  • Some evidence
  • Equivocal evidence
  • No evidence (lowest)

Still, the effects observed in the animals were relatively rare. NTP scientists are not sure why male rats appear to be at greater risk for developing tumors compared to female rats.

Do the rat and mouse findings apply to humans?

The findings in animals cannot be directly applied to humans for two key reasons:

  • The exposure levels and durations were greater than what people may receive from cellphones.
  • The rats and mice received RFR across their whole bodies, which is different from the more localized exposures humans may receive, like from a cellphone in their pocket or next to their head.

However, the studies question the long-held assumption that radio frequency radiation is of no concern as long as the energy level is low and does not significantly heat the tissues.

How do the RFR levels used in the studies compare to typical human exposures?

The lowest exposure level used in the studies was equal to the maximum local tissue exposure currently allowed for cellphone users. This power level rarely occurs with typical cellphone use. The highest exposure level in the studies was four times higher than the maximum power level permitted for local tissues.

Did NTP find health effects other than cancer?

NTP found lower body weights among newborn rats and their mothers, especially when exposed to high levels of RFR during pregnancy and lactation, yet these animals grew to normal size. They also found that RFR exposure was associated with an increase in DNA damage. DNA damage, if not repaired, can potentially lead to tumors. Specifically, they found RFR exposure was linked with significant increases in DNA damage in the frontal cortex of the brain in male mice, the blood cells of female mice, and the hippocampus of male rats.

What factors contributed to the NTP conclusions?

In addition to seeing tumors in the male rats with higher exposures to RFR, NTP scientists also observed other changes in the hearts of exposed male and female rats that supported their conclusions.

The evidence for tumors in the brain and adrenal glands was not as strong as what NTP scientists saw in the heart. However, the type of brain cancer observed is similar to a type of brain tumor linked to heavy cellphone use in some human studies.3

Why did NTP expose the animals’ whole bodies to RFR?

Although many previous studies focused on exposure to the brain, NTP scientists wanted to make sure that they were considering health effects to the whole body, especially since many people do not hold their phones next to their head much of time.

What is the difference between electric and magnetic fields and RFR?

RFR is a subcategory of electric and magnetic fields (EMF), which are the invisible waves of force that surround any electrical device. The different types of EMF are distinguished by their frequencies. RFR is a form of low frequency, non-ionizing radiation that was thought to be relatively harmless.

How were the studies conducted?

Rats and mice were exposed to RFR in special chambers for up to two years, or most of their natural lives. NTP scientists looked for a range of cancers and non-cancer health effects.

Exposure to RFR began in the womb for rats and at 5-6 weeks old for mice. The RFR exposure was intermittent, 10 minutes on and 10 minutes off, totaling about nine hours each day. The RFR levels ranged from 1.5 to 6 watts per kilogram of body weight in rats, and 2.5 to 10 watts per kilogram in mice.

The chambers were shielded rooms with a transmitting antenna that radiated RFR fields, plus rotating stirrers that generated a uniform field.4,5 Pilot studies established field strengths that did not raise animal body temperatures excessively.6

The rats and mice were exposed to whole body RFR at frequencies of 900 and 1900 megahertz, respectively, from two technologies – Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) and Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM).

NTP and RFR experts from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the IT'IS Foundation designed and built the chambers specifically for these studies.

What is the difference between CDMA and GSM?

CDMA and GSM are two common ways of transmitting cellphone signals in the U.S. and Europe. There are substantial differences in signal structure that may result in different RFR exposures, so NTP wanted to expose the animals to both modulations.

How do the NTP studies relate to 4G, 5G, or Wi-Fi?

NTP studies of RFR used in 2G and 3G cellphones do not apply to 4G or 5G technologies. These newer technologies use different methods of signal modulation than NTP used in the studies. The NTP studies also did not investigate frequencies and modulations used for Wi-Fi.

What were the studies’ strengths?

NTP was able to control exactly how much RFR the animals received — something that is not possible when studying human cellphone use.

Were there any surprise findings?

NTP found longer lifespans among the exposed male rats. This may be explained by an observed decrease in chronic kidney problems that are often the cause of death in older rats.

What will NTP do with the results of the studies?

NTP will provide these studies to the FDA and Federal Communications Commission. The agencies will review the information as they continue to monitor new research on the potential health effects of RFR.

What are NTP’s future plans for studying cellphone RFR and 5G wireless technology?

5G is the emergent technology that will eventually overtake the existing technology. In the meantime, people will continue to be exposed to RFR in the 700–2700 MHz range. As the 5G network is implemented, some of the signals used by the 5G network will use the same lower frequencies used by the older technology, but the 5G network will also use higher frequencies—up to 60,000 MHz—thereby exposing people to a much broader spectrum of frequencies. The higher frequencies, known as millimeter waves, can rapidly transmit enormous amounts of data with increased network capacity compared with current technologies. Millimeter waves do not travel as far and do not penetrate the body as deeply as do the wavelengths from the lower frequencies. Millimeter waves are likely to penetrate no deeper than the skin, whereas the lower frequencies have been shown to penetrate at least 3 to 4 inches into the human body.

NTP is currently evaluating the existing literature on the higher frequencies intended for use in the 5G network, and is working to better understand the biological basis for the cancer findings reported in earlier studies on RFR with 2G and 3G technologies. Additionally, work is ongoing to develop smaller RFR exposure chambers for additional short-term studies that will take weeks and months to complete rather than years. The exposure system is also being designed to have the capability to conduct studies with various RFR frequencies and modulations to keep up with the changing technologies in the telecommunications industry.

Where can I go for more information?

For more information on what federal agencies are doing to determine whether RFR used in cellphones may affect human health, visit the following websites:

National Toxicology Program (which includes final reports & data tables):

National Cancer Institute:

U.S. Food and Drug Administration:

Federal Communications Commission:


References used, and as noted, by NTP:

1 FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration). 2017. Reducing Exposure: Hands-free Kits and Other Accessories. [accessed 30 October 2018].

2 Pew Research Center. 2018. Mobile Fact Sheet.  [accessed 24 October 2018].

3 IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer). 2013. Non-Ionizing Radiation, Part 2: Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields.IARC Monogr Eval Carcinog Risks Hum 102:1-481.

4 Capstick MH, Kuehn S, Berdinas-Torres V, Gong Y, Wilson PF, Ladbury JM, Koepke G, McCormick DL, Gauger J, Melnick RL, Kuster N. 2017. A radio frequency radiation exposure system for rodents based on reverberation chambers. IEEE T Electromagn C 59(4):1041-1052.

5 Gong Y, Capstick MH, Kuehn S, Wilson PF, Ladbury JM, Koepke G, McCormick DL, Melnick RL, Kuster N. 2017. Life-time dosimetric assessment for mice and rats exposed in reverberation chambers for the two-year NTP cancer bioassay study on cell phone radiation. IEEE T Electromagn C 59(6):1798-1808.

6 Wyde ME, Horn TL, Capstick MH, Ladbury JM, Koepke G, Wilson PF, Kissling GE, Stout MD, Kuster N, Melnick RL, Gauger J, Bucher JR, McCormick DL. 2018. Effect of cell phone radiofrequency radiation on body temperature in rodents: Pilot studies of the National Toxicology Program’s reverberation chamber exposure system. Bioelectromagnetics 39(3):190-199

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And There’s More: Cell Phone EMF Radiation Health Concerns for our Plants & Wildlife Too

Did you ever think that your cell phone might be more destructive than initially thought? Not only are there continued questions focused on cell phone technology disrupting human life, but, now, reports that the EMF needed for our cellular devices is possibly working to destroy Mother Nature too!

The demand for better functioning cellular devices seems to be having a worsening functioning effect on our plants and wildlife!

New reports are confirming that electromagnetic radiation (EMR) from broadcast transmitters, power lines, and cell towers used for our phones, computers and other WiFi or cellular devices, pose a potential risk to plant health as well as bird, fish and insect orientation and radar systems.

Experts blame a lack of policy and research, dubbing the situation a classic case of “out of sight, out of mind.” However, just because humans can’t see EMR inundating the airwaves doesn’t mean that animals can’t feel this pollution or be significantly impacted at a cellular or neural level.

Can EMF radiation threaten our plants & animals too?

If you use any device that needs Bluetooth, WiFi, radio reception, cell phone reception, or any other type of wireless communication technology, then you need a flood of EMF for them to all function. But what many people don’t realize is that there are EMF safe-distance warnings, as noted in the fine-print of our cell phones. Yet despite the possible link between EMF and health complications, we continue to expose ourselves to EMF radiation day in and day out. In fact, many cities are in the process of adopting WiFi and 5G saturation plans that will further increase our level of EMF exposure. For example, AT&T plans to be the first provider in the U.S. to offer 5G cell service nationwide. And T-Mobile with Sprint, in a possible merger to grow business, are putting an emphasis on building out a 5G cellular network too.

Definition: EMF and EMR – An electromagnetic field, also called electromagnetic radiation, is a region in space through which energy passes that has been created by electrically charged particles.

It’s not good according to scientific studies and research on EMR.

A European Union funded review body EKLIPSE, analyzed the current studies on how electromagnetic radiation may or may not affect the environment. The research focused on biological and ecological aspects associated with invertebrates (commonly known to include many insects and some sea animals), vertebrates (commonly known to include birds, fish, reptiles and other mammals) and plants.

Researchers found that electromagnetic radiation does, in fact, pose a “credible threat” to wildlife.

Scientists are asking the United Nations to take these risks more seriously, warning that as countries switch to 5G or stronger technology influenced devices, this threat could increase even more. As current global communication systems such as 3G and 4G networks, wireless, and wired systems grow, so does the amount of radiation they produce. As a result, the EMR may disrupt the magnetic “compass” used by many migrating and navigating birds, fish and insects while negatively affecting plant growth and metabolism as well.

Experts Acknowledge More Research is Needed

More worrying than the results of the study are the massive gaps in knowledge. There haven’t been too many other studies done on EMF’s effect on wildlife, and researchers admit that’s concerning, particularly because studies that have been done point to a significant environmental risk if we continue to saturate the earth with wireless signals without knowing the full ramifications. The EKLIPSE review indicates that there is an urgent need to strengthen our scientific understanding of EMR and its potential impacts on wildlife. Specifically, scientists need to base future research on replicable, high-quality, sound experiments so that easily accessible, transparent, and credible evidence can show our society what is happening and allow our policy-makers to make better policies and decisions regarding our environment and health. Moreover, this information, including findings from the studies conducted, needs to be made available to the public.

We Can Help Make Change with Pro-Active Measures

We hope:

  • Everyone will work together to create a platform to promote more EMF research;
  • We can work to create standardize measurements for health & safety;
  • For improved methods in progress for all living things;
  • To provide more — and better — education regarding what we do know about EMF/EMR.

With all of news, is this just an overreaction by technophobes and environmentalists, or will we look back at this blind-eye approach to EMF and find that we are the unhealthy cause, in the same way we used to look at car pollution’s effect on the climate in the United States?

The only way we’ll ever truly know is by taking a deeper scientific, impartial, and intense look at the possible consequences of one of humanity’s favorite toys.

More reading & resources:

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Pregnancy & Cell Phone Use: Is There Cause for Concern?

November 08, 2017 — Researchers have only recently begun to study the possible effects of radio waves and electromagnetic frequency from cell phones on fetuses. Kim Highfield, CEO of SportPort™ and activist for the health and safety of cell phone use, was asked to contribute her thoughts on the recent news and media suggesting that women have nothing to worry about when it comes to using their cell phone while pregnant.

During your pregnancy, your baby isn’t quite attached to your hip just yet (that will start very, very soon), but something else may be — your cell phone. You use it to text, talk, get directions to birth classes, make doctor’s appointments, jot down must-haves for your hospital bag, track mom & baby changes, research baby products and more. But, does all of this cell phone usage affect your growing baby?

Researchers have only recently begun to study the possible effects of radio waves from cell phones on fetuses, and for the most part, the work has been largely inconclusive. However, a recent study conducted by the Norwegian Institute of Technology has the media stating that mothers don’t have anything to worry about. But is this really the case? To some, it sounds too good to be true.

RF/EMF: Why the Worrying Over Wireless?

Today, cell phones are used for more than just to stay in touch with family and friends. In this technology-driven world, cell phones become a daily part of our lives as we use them for research, to do our work, and keep track of what is happening in our lives and communities. Add in tablets, laptops, and other portable, wireless and bluetooth devices that are used to communicate with one another, and your body is bombarded with electromagnetic radio waves (RF/EMF) day in and day out while helping to make these devices work – with a fraction of which actually passes into your body. These radio waves, in high enough quantities, may cause heat increases, alter the arrangement of molecules that are found in living cells and damage DNA. But whether exposure to EMF has any long-term effects on a mother’s or child’s health has yet to be determined.

Children’s Health: What Does the Research Say?

Since the energy passing through cell phones seems to be somewhere between the two extremes of granite and X-rays, some scientists have questioned whether EMF waves could affect a growing baby whose fast-replicating cells are especially vulnerable to outside disturbances. Until recently, the few studies conducted in this area hadn’t found anything of concern in terms of everyday cell phone use during pregnancy.

In September 2017, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health released findings from an observational questionnaire study, referred to as “MoBa”, in which researchers looked at the cell phone use of pregnant mothers and followed up by checking self-reported questionnaires from the mothers to determine the neurodevelopment, language and motor skill development, of their children at ages 3 and 5. The questionnaire study findings claim that mothers-to-be are “good to go” and have no reason to worry about harming their unborn children by using cell phones.

Researchers stated, “Even though this is an observational study, our findings do not support the hypothesis of adverse effects on child’s language, communication and motor skills due to the use of mobile phone during pregnancy.” To clarify, the study was an observational, questionnaire only, external look at what might be happening to the brain or central nervous system of children, and not an internal, medical study, testing or analysis of cell growth in the brain or body or possible existence of cell mutations that might be associated with excessive EMF or cell phone use and possible future cancer-related issues or other health complexities.

In other words, the study was too vague and not focused enough on science/medicine to be able to determine, definitively, that pregnant moms are “good to go” when it comes to using cell phones. The study, however beneficial, is only one tiny look into the effects that cell phone use might or might not have on a child. There is still a lot in question, along with uncertainty, surrounding EMF, cell phone use and pregnancy. A lot more studying and research is believed to be necessary before telling mothers that using their cell phones won’t hurt their babies.

Cell Phone Safety: What Can You Do?

Most healthcare providers are in agreement that the limited amount of research done on cell phone use during pregnancy has not yielded any definite conclusions one way or another. Therefore, they simply cannot recommend either way that mothers-to-be make any significant lifestyle changes when it comes to browsing the web, texting, and talking on cell phones, and many providers — and pregnant women — just assume all is well. According to the World Health Organization, “To date, no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use.” But just because one or two studies haven’t found a link yet doesn’t mean one doesn’t exist, right?

Expectant mothers may wish to take extra precautions to ease their worries. After all, we can’t say for sure whether EMF from phones is truly harmful… yet. Some suggestions for limiting exposure include keeping your cell phone at a distance away from you when it’s not in use or using a landline, if possible, to make phone calls. Also, rather than carrying your cell phone in a pocket that’s close to your growing belly or soft tissue, keep it on the coffee table while you move around the house and turn it off or put it on a nightstand at night rather than under your pillow.

Pregnant women may also want to rethink carrying their cell phones in their breast pockets or bras during outings or workouts.

One unique active & sportswear company, SportPort™, is the first to implement the use of an extra safety pocket to help protect against potentially dangerous EMF waves to allow the wearer to carry their cell phone close to the body and soft tissue of the breast area. Kim Highfield, CEO of SportPort, mom, fitness and safety advocate tells us, “I don’t want to worry about when or where I use my cell phone. I purposely created SportPort for myself and other women who might have any concerns about carrying their phones close to their bodies or, in this case, close to their baby’s bodies during daily activities or workouts. That’s what inspired me to create the extra safety pocket in our sportswear line that includes an EMF barrier to protect against potentially dangerous radiofrequency waves.” She continued to tell us, “We are not doctors. We are not scientists. Studies are still inconclusive about whether EMF from phones is truly harmful. But we are firm believers in the old adage, ‘It’s better to be safe than sorry,’ and we sure don’t want to find out years down the road that we were inadvertently hurting our children.”

The bottom line is that the potential risks of cell phone radiation on pregnancy are still unknown, and until we know for sure, many expectant mothers are taking precautions to protect themselves and their unborn babies. There aren’t any specific guidelines on cell phone use during pregnancy from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, but that’s because the providers haven’t seen any studies or evidence yet that makes them worry about patients using cell phones. More research and studies need to be conducted that look at the entire picture to determine possible risks — not just one or two aspects of mobile use during pregnancy.

After all, can expectant mothers really afford to take that chance?

Further Reading: See the SportPort Knowledge Base for more information on cell phones, EMF, health and safety related issues.

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Should I Be Scared About Cell Phone Radiation? And Other Questions Everyone is Asking

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.

are you scared of cell phone radiation

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:
b) FCC info on Wireless Devices and Health Concerns:
c) National Toxicology Program of the NIH: March 2018 report Cell Phone Radio Frequency Radiation:

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:
● 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:

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