Reducing Exposure to Cell Phone Radiation

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has shown that cell phone radiation can alter brain activity. The study, conducted by researchers at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) showed that 50-minutes of cell phone use was associated with increased brain glucose metabolism (a marker of brain activity) in the region closest to the phone antenna.

The NIH study is one of the first, and the most prominent, to offer scientific evidence that cell phone radiation affects brain metabolism. What is not known yet is exactly how this could impact overall health. The scientists who conducted the research have called for more study of the issue.
Some other studies have suggested a link between cell phone use and cancer, including brain tumors, as well as lower bone density and infertility in men, though none have been conclusive. Cell phones are a relatively recent technology, so it could be decades before their true health risks are apparent.

    Despite this uncertainty, there are ways to reduce exposure to cell phone radiation right now:

  • Purchase cell phones with a low SAR (Specific Absorption Rate). SAR measures how much radiation is absorbed by the body when using the handset at maximum power. In the U.S., cell phones can’t be sold unless the SAR is below 1.6 watts per kilogram.
  • Keep your distance. Because cell phone radiation diminishes with distance, using a phone in speaker mode or with a Bluetooth-type headset can limit exposure. Also, keep you cell phone in a purse or brief case when it’s not in use, rather than in a pocket close to your body.
  • Wait until after a call is connected before putting your cell phone to your ear. Cell phones emit the most radiation when they first make contact with a cell phone tower.
  • Tilt the phone away from your ear when you are talking and only bring it in close to your ear when you are listening. Cell phones emit less radiation when they are receiving signals than when they are transmitting.
  • Fewer bars equal more radiation. If you are in a location where transmissions are weak, your cell phone has to work harder, which will cause it to emit more radiation. So confined spaces like elevators, for example, are not the best places to make a call when it comes to limiting radiation exposure.
  • Don’t let very small children use cell phones. Their growing brains and tissues are thought to be most vulnerable to cell phone radiation.