IMPACT OF EXPOSURE TO ELECTROMAGNETIC FIELDS FROM MOBILE PHONES ON HUMAN HEALTH
The Communications Commission (ComCom) has studied exposure to electromagnetic fields produced by mobile phones. The goal of the study was to advise people about the potential health effects of exposure to mobile phone radiation and the permissible levels, and to inform the population about the measures designed to protect people from electromagnetic radiation.
As the mobile phone has become an integral part of our lives, we propose that we learn how to live with mobile phones without damaging our health. To this end, we must know the following:
- What is SAR (Specific Absorption Rate)?
- What is the international standard for SAR set by international organizations?
The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) developed the IEC 62209-1 standard for measuring the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) in 2005. The unit of measurement is W/kg – power absorbed per mass of tissue. The European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers of the United States (IEEE) were involved in developing the standard.
The new standard for measuring SAR applies to the frequency range between 300 MHz and 3 GHz. It only concerns the measurement methodology, rather than to the Specific Absorption Power itself.
The permissible levels of mobile phone radiation exposure are set by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) in Europe, and by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) in the United States. These standards have been approved by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The maximum permissible SAR levels are as follows:
European Union: 0.08 W/kg (for the whole body), and 2 W/kg (based on level of exposure per 10 grams of tissue). The Federal Communications Commission of the United States (FCC) has stricter SAR norms: 0.08 W/kg (for the whole body), and 1.6 W/kg (based on level of exposure per 1 gram of tissue). The EU allows for an increase in the maximum permissible SAR levels up to 4 W/kg for certain body parts, such as hands.
The European standards are used in Europe, Japan, Korea, Russia, etc. The American standards are used in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc.
Based on the aforementioned studies, the Communications Commission presents the following recommendations regarding the selection and use of mobile phones, designed to minimize electromagnetic radiation exposure:
The Communications Commission has gathered SAR data from 2 700 mobile phones and developed the online Mobile Informer that will be published on the Commission’s official website and Facebook page. Potential mobile phone buyers can get information about SAR data when they choose the phone. (Note: an SAR measurement test is carried out when the mobile phone is in the standard operation mode, operating at full radiating power and within all certified ranges).
We also offer rules for using mobile phones without damaging or endangering your health:
1. What does the mobile phone SAR level depend on?
SAR depends on the technical characteristics of the mobile phone, such as radiated power, screening, etc. At the same time, SAR depends on the distance between the human head and the main radiation antenna of the mobile phone. Therefore, when we use the phone, we ought to know the location of the mobile phone antenna within the body of the phone.
2. How to select a mobile phone with lower radiation
People who wish to purchase a mobile phone with low radiation should follow the following simple rules:
Check the SAR level of the mobile phone. This can be done online in advance. Choose a phone with low SAR and find out the precise location of the antenna (generally, it is located in the upper part of the mobile phone’s body). People who want to completely avoid exposure to high frequencies are recommended to use various wireless devices (wireless headphones) or Bluetooth.
3. Can the mobile phone cause damage in idle/standby mode? In which mode is radiation from the mobile phone the most dangerous?
When the mobile phone is in standby mode, the level of radiation is insignificant, as data exchange with the base station happens within tenths of a second. In this case, you may carry your mobile phone wherever it is most convenient for you. When using the phone, try to keep it at a certain distance from your head, even if you use a headset. It should also be noted that speaking on the mobile phone is divided into two parts: calling the other subscriber, and speaking. When you make a call, your mobile phone connects to the other subscriber through the base station. If the base station is located close to you, then the phone uses low power, as it adapts its power level to the base station. Then the connection is established and precisely during the connection, the mobile phone starts operating at its maximum electromagnetic power flow (18 MW/cm2 for GSM systems, while the maximum power flow in the talking mode is only 2 MW/cm2, or nine times less. Thus, the mobile phone emits maximum radiation at the moment of connection, rather than when the person is speaking.
4. Inside buildings with a reinforced concrete fittings (except for large shopping malls, stations and other buildings where mobile phone operators may have a local base station), you should try to stand near a window or between stairs to improve connectivity. When connectivity is poor, the phone’s electromagnetic radiation significantly increases. When you are located in an area with poor connectivity (with less than half of the signal bars showing on the phone display), you should shorten the length of the time talking on the phone, or instead of a voice message, try sending an SMS whenever possible.
5. How should we hold a mobile phone?
Do not cover the antenna with your hands when you are speaking on the phone. Do not cover more than a third of the phone’s body (especially the upper part, rarely the lower part) with your hand.
6. At the moment of establishing connection, the GSM phone usually works at high capacity (as mentioned above, nine times higher than in general speaking mode). When making a call, you must therefore put the phone to your ear several seconds after dialing the number (you can normally see the connection status on your phone display).
7. If you are having a long conversation, it is recommended that you take off metal-rimmed glasses, as they can act as a secondary radiation source and may increase the intensity of radiation. It is not recommended to speak on the mobile phone more than 4-5 minutes.
8. To decrease power, it is recommended that you use Bluetooth.
9. Which is the safest place to carry a mobile phone?
The safest place to carry a mobile phone is in a hip pocket, above the knee.
10. When is the mobile phone radiation stronger – during a voice conversation, or during data exchange (SMS)?
When you use GSM technologies in the SMS mode, the intensity of the phone radiation increases. However, since transmission of a text message requires a short period of time, the impact is small.
11. It is not recommended to use the mobile phone inside a car, as its body blocks the electromagnetic power from the base station, increasing the radiation intensity.
12. Mobile phone and children
It is not recommended for children under the age of 8 years to use mobile phones. The duration of their phone conversations must be limited as much as possible. They may speak for 1-2 minutes and only make a call in case of necessity. You must show children how to hold the mobile phone.