The dangers of the mobile phone

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Recently, on August 21, 2019, the Chicago Tribune revealed that over the past year it has hired a reputable, FCC-recognized lab to test 11 popular cell phones for radio frequencies. They used the same tests that the cell phone companies themselves use to test their phones to get FCC approval. The results of these independent tests will raise eyebrows: several of the phones tested significantly exceed the government security limits they claim to comply with.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is responsible for ensuring that all new phones placed on the market are thoroughly tested to ensure that they will expose the user of a cellular phone to radiation below the federal safety limit. This safety limit is called the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) and measures the amount of radiation absorbed by the body at a certain distance (usually 5 to 15 millimetres), at the highest radiation emission that the phone would emit. The current safety limit, which was established more than 20 years ago, is 1.6 watts per kilogram, averaged over one gram of tissue. In order for a phone to be FCC approved for sale in the marketplace, the device must “never exceed” this safety limit.

The RF Exposure Lab in San Marcos, California, is an FCC-accredited and recognized testing laboratory. For the past 15 years, they have been conducting tests for mobile phone companies seeking FCC approval for their new products. The owner of the lab, Jay Moulton, says that all the tests they performed for the Chicago Tribune complied with FCC rules and guidelines. Mr. Moulton certainly didn’t expect the results he found.

In the initial tests, where the phone was placed at the same distance from simulated body fluids as the manufacturer’s tests, 4 of the 11 phones were tested well beyond safety limits. Of particular note is Apple’s iPhone 7, one of the most popular cell phones ever sold. It has been tested well beyond the safety limit, and at about twice the level announced by Apple. Even more revealing is the result of the second test carried out by the laboratory, at an even closer distance (2 millimetres) which mimics the distance of the phone from the body when carried in a pocket, which most people do nowadays. This proximity test increased the radiation exposure from most phones by 2 to 5 times above the safety limit!

How were the tests performed ?

The tests commissioned by the Chicago Tribune represent one of the most comprehensive independent investigations of its kind. Sam Roe, the investigative journalist involved in the project and the reporter of the results, won a Pulitzer Prize in 2008 for his superb investigative journalism, and has been a Pulitzer Prize finalist on four other occasions.

The phones tested included four Apple iPhone models, three Samsung Galaxy models, three Motorola Moto phones and one Vivo from BLU, all purchased new for the sole purpose of testing. Several iPhone 7s were tested because the initial results were so high that they wanted to double-check, just in case the first one was a faulty phone.

Prior to testing, Moulton reviewed the exact data and test variables that each company used in its initial compliance testing, which are publicly available on the FCC website, and reproduced the exact initial test conditions for each phone model. This means that the permitted band, frequency and channel have been tested for each phone. Then, each phone was placed under a tray of liquid specially formulated to replicate the tissues of the human body. A nearby base station simulator was used to make a call to the phone and then the settings were adjusted until the phone was operating at full power. A robotic arm then moved the phone to different positions in the liquid, all within 5 to 15 millimetres of the surface (or 2 millimetres for the second test), and a probe took 276 separate measurements of the liquid to determine the absorbed radiation, which in turn determined the SAR level for that phone.

This is exactly how all new phone models are tested for FCC approval. “We’re not doing anything extraordinary or different here,” Moulton said. Any qualified lab “should be able to take a phone off the shelf and test it to see if it meets the requirements.”


Cell phone companies don’t like the results

The 100-page lab report on the test results was sent to Apple, Samsung, Motorola, SSB and the FCC. Apple disputed the results, claiming that the tests were not conducted in a way that would allow it to properly evaluate iPhones, but when asked, Apple did not say exactly what was wrong with the methods, nor how it measured the RF radiation from its own phones. Nevertheless, in response to their findings, the laboratory decided to re-test the iPhones (including another) under slightly modified conditions, with the intention of ensuring that the phone’s built-in proximity sensors are activated, which is supposed to reduce power when in contact with human tissue. For some reason, for most iPhones (including the iPhone 7), the DAS came back with even higher results from this modified test!

Apple went on to state that it had personally reviewed and validated all phone models in the Tribune’s test, but did not explain exactly what it meant by the term “scrutiny and subsequent validation”.

The problem with Samsung’s tests is that all compliance tests performed were 10-15 mm from the body, a measurement distance that is within the guidelines of the FCC test procedure, but further than the exposure distance from the head and in the pocket by actual users. When measured at a closer and more realistic distance for everyday use, their phone models far exceed the SAR safety level. Samsung did not want to comment on the results of individual phone tests, and simply stated that their devices sold in the United States “comply with FCC regulations”.

Motorola challenged the very high results of its Moto e5 Play, saying that the tests must not have triggered the proximity sensor. This raised the issue in Mr. Moulton’s mind that Motorola’s sensors may not operate uniformly, which could expose users to much higher levels of radiation due to the unpredictable operation of the sensors. Motorola says that since their energy management techniques are highly confidential, the Tribune’s independent lab did not have access to the right information to produce accurate results on their phones.

However, the rules established by the FCC require that radio frequency radiation testing be conducted “in a manner that allows for independent evaluation”. Retention of information that could affect the results of independent testing is not permitted.

Motorola followed up later, saying it had retested its phones at a lab of its choice and found them to be within appropriate limits. When asked, they refused to share how they tested their phones, and were unwilling to share their lab reports.

The FCC did not bother to comment on the test results, saying it would simply look at some of the phone models in the investigation.

What's wrong with current government radiation standards

The FCC’s current SAR rate regulation was established in 1996 and has not been changed since then, even in the face of new cell phone technology and new ways people use cell phones. The maximum distance a phone could be tested for compliance was 25 millimetres, which is much further from the body than the distance today’s users keep their phones. The 25 mm distance was set because in the 1990s people often wore their flip phones on belt clips, which were about one inch from their bodies. No one uses belt clips anymore, and most often the phone is carried in a regular pocket, which is usually only 2 mm away from the body tissue! The guidelines have not been updated to reflect new user habits, and users have not been adequately warned of the potential dangers of keeping their phones so close to them.

In 2012, the Government Accountability Office (the congressional research body) suggested that the FCC reassess exposure limits and testing requirements because phones have not been measured against the body. The FCC took seven years to reach its conclusion that the current safety limits are still adequate and that no changes are necessary.

Another concern about the current regulations is that they do not take into account vulnerable populations: children, adolescents and pregnant women. According to a 2019 report, 29 p. 100 of America’s teenagers sleep with their cell phones in their beds! The SAR safety limit was established based on the head and body of a very tall man (they used military personnel). Children have smaller heads and thinner skulls, and the developing brain is very vulnerable to non-ionizing radiation, which many studies have already shown.

Long-term exposure is also not considered. The regulations are based on immediate effects, without taking into account the many decades of constant exposure to cell phones and other non-ionizing radiation that most modern people, especially young people, will experience in their lifetime.

Last but not least, the SAR safety standards are based on the assumption (proven erroneous) that the thermal effect of phones, as measured by SAR tests, is the only way that cell phones can cause damage. There are several other proven mechanisms by which radio frequencies cause more damage than by thermal effect alone !


How can we protect ourselvers ?

Clearly, the cell phone companies and the FCC do not have our health and best interests in mind, so we are left to our own choices to protect ourselves. Most people are not going to give up their cell phones completely, but there are things you can do to greatly reduce your exposure.

First of all, never carry your cell phone in your pocket (unless it is set to airplane mode), never sleep with your cell phone near you (or turned on), and never hold your phone to your head when talking. It is best to use a speakerphone or AirTube headset to make calls. Limit your children’s exposure to cell phones and be careful during pregnancy and around babies.

The most effective protection remains our globally patented technology (the only one to date) which has proven its effectiveness. Buy a Body Guard bracelet that will protect you against all waves of all frequencies and get a free patch to stick on your phone as a gift. You will no longer be subjected to the aggressions of the waves on your body and your phone will no longer heat up when you use it. No more headaches after a conversation lasting more than 10 minutes.