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Consumer Information About Radio Frequency Emissions
Your wireless phone, which contains a radio transmitter and receiver, emits radio frequency energy during use. The following consumer information addresses commonly asked questions about the health effects of wireless phones.
Are Wireless Phones Safe?
Scientific research on the subject of wireless phones and radio frequency ("RF") energy has been conducted worldwide for many years, and continues. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration ("FDA") and the Federal Communications Commission ("FCC") set policies and procedures for wireless phones. The FDA and the FCC have created a joint website, "Cell Phone Facts - Consumer Information on Wireless Phones," which states that "[t]he available scientific evidence does not show that any health problems are associated with using wireless phones," while noting that "[t]here is no proof, however, that wireless phones are absolutely safe." You can access the joint FDA/FCC website at https://www.fda.gov/radiation-emittingproducts/radiationemittingproductsandprocedures/homebusinessandentertainment/cellphones/default.htm. You can also contact the FDA toll-free at (888) 463-6332 or (888) INFO-FDA. In June 2000, the FDA entered into a cooperative research and development agreement through which additional scientific research will be conducted. The FCC issued its own website publication stating that "[t]here is no scientific evidence that proves that wireless phone usage can lead to cancer or a variety of other problems, including headaches, dizziness or memory loss." This publication is available at http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/mobilephone.html or through the FCC at (888) 225-5322 or (888) CALL-FCC.
What Does "SAR" Mean?
In 1996, the FCC, working with the FDA, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and other agencies, established RF exposure safety guidelines for wireless phones in the United States. Before a wireless phone model is available for sale to the public, it must be tested by the manufacturer and certified to the FCC that it does not exceed limits established by the FCC. One of these limits is expressed as a Specific Absorption Rate, or "SAR". SAR is a measure of the rate of absorption of RF energy in the body. Tests for SAR are conducted with the phone transmitting at its highest power level in all tested frequency bands. Since 1996, the FCC has required that the SAR of handheld wireless phones not exceed 1.6 watts per kilogram, averaged over one gram of tissue. Although the SAR is determined at the highest power level, the actual SAR value of a wireless phone while operating can be less than the reported SAR value. This is because the SAR value may vary from call to call, depending on factors such as proximity to a cell site, the proximity of the phone to the body while in use, and the use of hands-free devices. For more information about SARs, see the FCC's OET Bulletins 56 and 65 at https://www.fcc.gov/general/oet-bulletins-line and http://www.fcc.gov/oet/ea/. You may also wish to contact the manufacturer of your phone.
Can I Minimize My RF Exposure?
If you are concerned about RF, there are several simple steps you can take to minimize your RF exposure. You can, of course, reduce your talk time. You can place more distance between your body and the source of the RF, as the exposure level drops off dramatically with distance. The FDA/FCC website states that "[h]ands-free kits can be used with wireless phones for convenience and comfort. These systems reduce the absorption of RF energy in the head because the phone, which is the source of the RF emissions, will not be placed against the head. On the other hand, if the phone is mounted against the waist or other part of the body during use, then that part of the body will absorb more RF energy. Wireless phones marketed in the U.S. are required to meet safety requirements regardless of whether they are used against the head or against the body. Either configuration should result in compliance with the safety limit." Also, if you use your wireless phone while in a car, you can use a phone with an antenna on the outside of the vehicle. You should also read and follow your wireless phone manufacturer’s instructions for the safe operation of your phone.
Do Wireless Phones Pose Any Special Risks to Children?
The FDA/FCC website states that "[t]he scientific evidence does not show a danger to users of wireless communication devices including children." The FDA/FCC website further states that "[s]ome groups sponsored by other national governments have advised that children be discouraged from using wireless phones at all. For example, the government in the United Kingdom ["UK"] distributed leaflets containing such a recommendation in December 2000. [The UK] noted that no evidence exists that using a wireless phone causes brain tumors or other ill effects. [The UK’s] recommendation to limit wireless phone use by children was strictly precautionary; it was not based on scientific evidence that any health hazard exists." A copy of the UK’s leaflet is available at http://www.dh.gov.uk (search "mobile"), or you can write to: NRPB, Chilton, Didcot, Oxon OX11 0RQ, United Kingdom. Copies of UK’s annual reports on mobile phones and RF are available online at http://www.iegmp.org.uk and http://www.hpa.org.uk/radiation/ (search "mobile"). Parents who wish to reduce their children’s RF exposure may choose to restrict their children’s wireless phone use.
Where Can I Obtain Further Information?
For further information, see the following additional resources:
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
FDA Consumer magazine
Telephone: (888) INFO-FDA
U.S. Federal Communications Commission
445 12th St. S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
Telephone: (888) 225-5322
Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones
Royal Society of Canada
Expert Panel on Potential Health Risks of Radiofrequency Fields from Wireless Telecommunications Devices
283 Sparks Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1R 7X9
Telephone: (613) 991-6990
World Health Organization
Avenue Appia 20
1211 Geneva 27
Telephone: 011 41 22 791 21 11
International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection
c/o Bundesamt fur Strahlenschutz
Telephone: 011 49 1888 333 2156
American National Standards Institute
1819 L Street, N.W., 6th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20036
National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements
7910 Woodmont Avenue, Suite 800
Bethesda, MD 20814-3095
Telephone: (301) 657-2652
Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, Committee on Man and Radiation (COMAR), of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers