Are cell phones safe? Opinions are varied. Why not err on the side of caution and minimize your risk when using your mobile phone.
Emerging scientific evidence suggests cell phones may trigger salivary tumors, brain cancer, attention deficit disorder and more. The U.S. government released a study in May 2016 linking cell phone radiation to cancer. (See NTP Study: Cell Phones and Cancer.)
The BioInitiative Report 2012, a joint effort by 29 authors from 10 countries, reveals startling effects on health. Click the image below to view the report.
Does this mean you have to give up your cell phone? Thankfully, small lifestyle adjustments can go a long way toward minimizing the risks associated with mobile phone technology.
10 Cell Phone Safety Tips
1. Disregard SAR
SAR stands for specific absorption rate, a measure of the amount of radio frequency energy absorbed by the body when using a mobile phone. The SAR rating of your cell phone can be found in your instruction manual or possibly online at this Federal Communications Commission website. In the United States, the SAR cannot exceed 1.6 watts per kilogram.
According to Dr. Joel M. Moskowitz, Ph.D., of the School of Public Health at University of California, Berkeley and founder of the website Electromagnetic Radiation Safety,
” The SAR is not a good indicator of one’s cumulative microwave exposure under natural conditions. The evidence suggests that how one uses the phone (e.g., hands-free) and one’s cell phone carrier actually matters a great deal more than the phone’s SAR level.”
2. Use speaker or a safe headset
Anything you can do to keep the phone away from your head will help. (Even cell phone manufacturers warn consumers about this. See the previous post Cell Phone Manual Warnings for examples of warnings from Samsung, Apple and more.) If you hold the phone 2 inches away, the signal is about one-fourth the original strength. At four inches away, it’s about 1/16th as strong. Even better is a hands-free kit with a wireless air tube nearest the earpiece. (A regular wired headset can act as an antenna and make matters worse.)
Sources of headsets include:
Vest Headset (my favorite)
Only have a wired headset? You can adapt it with an affordable ferrite bead clamp found at RF Safe. A ferrite bead is suggested even with an air tube.
3. Text when possible
Texting limits the duration of exposure and keeps the phone farther from your head and body. Hold the phone away from your body, rather than on your lap when texting as studies are linking sperm damage in men to cell phones kept in pockets.
4. Consider your cell phone case
Cell phone cases can make matters worse because they may block the phone’s antenna. The device must work harder to transmit signals which may lead to more radiation exposure for the user. (See safety tip #6 for more on the importance of a strong signal.) Certification testing done by phone manufacturers are done with bare phones with no accessories.
I used to have an iPhone (see Why I Got Rid of My Smartphone) and discovered that no case kept the radiation from emitting. I tried the Pong Case, the Otterbox, and an RF Safe Pouch. The pouch by far was the most effective. The Pong Case was better than the Otterbox, but still showed higher levels than I would like to see. You’ll see the various levels in the video below.
Where to find cell phone pouches:
The Cornet Meter shown in the demonstration above is available through Just So Natural Products.
5. Switch to flight or “off-line” mode when not in use
Flight mode turns off the wireless transmitter thereby reducing exposure to exposure to radiation fields. Make it a habit to either switch to flight mode or turn it off altogether when not in use.
6. Avoid weak signals
When your phone has to work hard to find a signal, more radiation is emitted. Some phones can ramp up their emissions 1000-fold when the signal is weak. Use the phone outside when possible and avoid use in basements, elevators or a closed area like a parked car.
7. Avoid use in a moving vehicle
In a moving vehicle, the cell phone antenna is constantly scanning for contact. Radiation emissions, therefore, are increased. While it’s tempting to use your phone in the car or while traveling on a train, you’ll minimize your risks by sticking to stationary locations where there is a strong signal.
8. Dial then stretch
Your phone is working the hardest when trying to connect. Dial or use your speed dial and then extend your arm until you hear the recipient’s voice. Same happens when you answer a call. Hold the phone away from you until a connection is completed.
9. Store it away from your body
If you must carry your cell phone with you, position the keypad toward your body and the back away from your body to help direct the electromagnetic fields away from you. Recent research suggests men who carry their cell in their pockets experience lower sperm counts and sperm DNA damage. (See Cell Phones: Modern Man’s Nemesis?)
Even cell phone manufacturers suggest the user keep the phone an inch away from the body. (See Cell Phone Manual Warnings.)
10. Do not sleep near your cell phone
Electromagnetic fields have been shown to disrupt melatonin production. In turn, sleep and overall health are disrupted. Charge your phone in another room. If you must be available to loved ones during the night, keep a corded phone next to your bed, or keep the cell phone on the other side of the room. (See more about safe sleeping in the post Sleep, Melatonin and Electronic Devices.)
What About Protective Devices?
There are numerous protective stickers, plates, shields etc on the market. While they may help, it may be better to alter your usage rather than rely on a protective mechanism. I liken it to taking a supplement while smoking. The nutritional support may help, but far better to alter your lifestyle. See Do Cell Phone Gadgets Work?
The research is clear. Cell phones are a potential health hazard. Why not minimize your risk by taking these precautionary measures?
- 47Do you feel like you can't live without your cell phone? Are you wondering if mobile phones are actually safe? These five facts about cell phones may help you sort through the conflicting information and our culture's ever-increasing reliance on wireless technology. 5 Surprising Facts About Cell Phones 1. Cell…
- 47Is your mobile phone harming your dental health and perhaps your overall health? Is there a connection between cell phones, tooth decay, and salivary tumors? Cell Phones and Dental Health Cell phones may not be as innocent as initially hoped. Emerging scientific evidence suggests cell phones may trigger salivary tumors,…
- 43The City of Berkeley has adopted landmark legislation requiring cell phone retailers to include a city-prepared cell phone health warning with each phone purchase. On Monday, March 21, 2016, the nation's first cell phone "right to know" ordinance took effect. Mobile phone vendors in the city will now be required…
- 35Do cell phones cause cancer? The question is highly debated, especially since the release of a government report. Do Cell Phones Cause Cancer? The report from the The National Toxicology Program (NTP), released on May 26, 2016 (draft reports released February 1, 2018) shows statistically significant increases in cancer among…
Thanks for the helpful information! Good to know!
Thank you so much for this easy to follow list of things to move towards a healthier personal environment.
Andrea Fabry says
Thanks, Lo. Thanks for taking the time to comment.
Hello! I noticed that in your cell phone case section, you recommend RF Safe and then the patches and products from Less EMF.com. Have you ever used the patches? I am also considering the Pong case….do you know anything about this one? I’m trying to also find a product that my husband would use, and I’m not sure he’d bother with a pouch, so I am considering either the patches to put on a phone or an actual phone case. It’s just hard to know if these things really work….
Andrea Fabry says
The Pong case reduced it slightly according to my meter. The pouch is the only thing I’ve found that brings it way down. Patches can help. I like Less EMF. You can call them and speak with them. They’re quite helpful.
Thank you for your succinct and reader friendly post. It is very informative and encourages one to take this cellphone safety seriously.
I God bless you.
I wish to ask if the anti radiation bracelets or ionbalance bracelets really works in terms of reducing or preventing these radiations from our body when we warn
Andrea Fabry says
This post addresses the question, Eyina.
My son likes to listen to music when he sleeps. He subscribes to Spotify, and has his playlists downloaded to his phone. He now uses airplane mode at night & uses Spotify this way–but of course he sleeps w/ his phone. (He also sleeps in a basement.) Is this still dangerous? If so, what do you suggest he do to be able to listen to continuous music safely at night? He is 21 and resistant to put down the phone… but he does listen, esp. if others (esp non-Mom others!), particularly “professionals” give solid researched reasons. I am going to print this article and share it with him. (My other 3 teenagers don’t have an issue and several don’t even have a phone… but he’s my firstborn, and more into the phone…)
Finally, if my phone is NOT in airplane mode… and I turn it off, are the RF signals still going?? I was thinking that turning the phone off is not enough.. you must have it in airplane mode (when phone is off or on) for the RF signals to stop. But #5 says “Make it a habit to either switch to flight mode or turn it off altogether when not in use.” Thanks for clarifying this; I am not a techie, so I just don’t know…
Thanks so much for the info. Just found your site yesterday, and I am going to be reading through it!
Andrea Fabry says
Downloaded music on a device in airplane mode is the optimal choice. I listen to audiobooks on my iPad in airplane mode and while that’s not completely free of radiation, it’s far better than when in full power. When you turn the phone off it is not emitting power and is safe. No need to switch to airplane first.
Ashley Jordan says
Do you know the difference in EMF exposure when using an iphone on wifi versus on cellular. I am in the process of hard wiring our computers and other devices in the home to remove wifi from the house but will then be relying on cellular connection for most of our phone use (will have a hard line for the cell phones too but likely my family won’t use it). Am I just worsening the problem by eliminating wifi? I have not be able to find any comparison with the iphone use on cellular connection versus wifi. Thank you!
Andrea Fabry says
If you are keeping your phone away from your body most of the time while at home then Wi Fi off is better. The phone emits all the time when on cellular, but drops off quickly. When you are on your phone of course there is the typical amount of radiation, but assuming you are not sleeping with your phone next to you or something like that Wi Fi off is better.
Dear all i am used to mobile under my pillow but when it was under my pillow during night sleep i switched it to airplane mode is it safe to me or i change this habit for taking mobile under pillow
Andrea Fabry says
Airplane mode is much better, but I would consider not sleeping with it under your pillow.