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Cell Phones: Don’t Let This Go To Your Head

San Francisco lawmakers say that just because you are wireless you shouldn’t be worry-less. There’s a new law in the city by the bay that requires cell phone sellers to show the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) of electromagnetic radiation for each cell phone model. This act has reignited public concern about radiation from cell phones and the possible affects of their prolonged use.

The cell phone industry has sued the city of San Francisco to stop the law saying there is no scientific evidence linking cell phone radiation to an increase in health problems. “Peer-reviewed scientific evidence has overwhelmingly indicated that wireless devices do not pose a public health risk,” the international wireless industry association CTIA told Time magazine last Fall.  “I am disappointed that the…wireless communication industry has decided to challenge our landmark consumer information law in court,” says San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom.

Technology Website CNET.com notes different studies on cell phone radiation have reached contradictory conclusions. “Though some tests have suggested a link between long-term (10 years or longer) cell phone use and cancer, there still is not conclusive or demonstrated evidence that cell phones cause or don’t cause adverse health effects in humans,” says CNET.

The FCC requires handset makers to restrict devices to a SAR of 1.6 watts per kilogram. CTIA defines SAR as “a way of measuring the quantity of radio frequency (RF) energy that is absorbed by the body.” Of the top ten highest emitting handsets, Motorola has five models followed by three Blackberry phones. All of the top ten have a SAR of 1.53 or higher.

Apple iPhones vary from .79 to 1.38 depending on the model. The Motorloa Droid is 1.49.

CNET suggests the best way to protect yourself from the ill defined danger is to text more and talk less. “Use a speakerphone whenever possible, and carry your phone at least one inch from your body.”  There may be increased risk of cell phone usage in areas with poor coverage because more radiation is emitted while searching for a signal. “Children, which have smaller and thinner skulls, should limit cell phone use, and all users, children and adults, should not sleep with an active phone next to their bedside or under their pillow,” CNET suggests.

And if you are feeling smug with your Blue Tooth earbud stuffed in your head, here’s a warning that will wipe that grin off your face. “Studies have shown that radio signals tend to follow up wired headsets to the ear, and even though Bluetooth headsets emit far weaker radiation than cell phones, there’s still a small amount being transmitted.”

Sources: CNET, Time, Ars Technica
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