Cellular phone manufacturers have been accused of concealing warnings about their handsets
A warning that Apple’s popular iPhone should be kept at least 15mm (5/8 inches) away from the body is buried deep inside the manual.
BlackBerry goes even further, saying customers should use their devices hands-free or keep them an inch from the body “including the abdomen of pregnant women and the lower abdomen of teenagers.” Again, this advice is hidden in the instruction booklet.
All other manufacturers, including Nokia and HTC, carry similar small-print warnings despite insisting that holding cell phones against the ear and head is harmless.
The safety advice in manuals is designed to limit so-called Radio Frequency exposure. This is said to heat body tissue and some – inconclusive – research suggests it is linked to tumors in the brain.
Most RF exposure comes from the antenna and it can increase when a phone is kept in a pocket because phones increase their power output when a network signal weakens.
It is believed that men who carry handsets on their belt or in their pockets with the keypad facing outward will suffer higher exposure because the antenna, which is always at the back, is close to the body.
Alasdair Philips, of Powerwatch, an independent group which investigates the safety of mobile phones, said “When a phone has to power up, it sends high SAR power into the trunk and towards the kidneys and liver. It can be the testicles if in a trouser pocket.” He also added, “Some girls carry them in chest bags which hang just below their breasts.”
Ok, we hear you Mr Philips.
SAR – Specific Absorption Rate – is the standard industry measurement for the amount of RF energy the body absorbs.
Pregnant women are especially at risk. “Many later-life causes of ill health are increasingly being recognized as having their roots in fetal exposure to chemicals, hormones, radiation of various sorts.”
Philips also said most handsets also put out pulsed ELF (Extremely Low Frequency) magnetic fields which travel further into the body than RF signals. These are associated with childhood leukemia and some adult cancers.
Some accuse Philips and his ilk for crying wolf, saying that phones are designed to with the antenna far enough away from the head when making a call.
However people from the Philips camp retort that many new phones are so slim, antennas will be closer to the head than distances recommended by many manufacturers.
Damn if you do and damn if you don’t.
In the land of the cordless phone, the man with the phoneless cord is king.