Federal Office warns of radiation exposure from smartphones

Federal Office warns of radiation exposure from smartphones


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Precaution to limit radiation exposure from cell phones
Smartphones are now an integral part of everyday life. Like previous cell phones, they use high-frequency electromagnetic fields to transmit information. These fields can pose a health risk, which is why the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) explains that limit values ​​have been set for mobile radio transmitters and for end devices to protect the population from the proven health effects of high-frequency fields in mobile radio. However, "there are still uncertainties in the risk assessment that scientific research, for example in the German Mobile Communication Research Program, has not been able to completely eliminate," the BfS continues. According to the experts, the limit values ​​should therefore be supplemented by suitable precautionary measures.

According to the current state of science and technology, if the limit values ​​are adhered to by smartphones and cell phones, there is no health risk, but the technology is too young for a final assessment of the long-term effects, the BfR warns and strongly recommends that the precaution is not disregarded to let. The uncertainties are particularly present with regard to the possible health "risks of long-term exposure to high-frequency electromagnetic fields from telephone calls with the cell phone in adults (intensive cell phone use for more than 10 years)" and the health effects of using cell phones on children. However, the strength (intensity) of the high-frequency fields and the duration of the radiation exposure (exposure) can be significantly reduced by various simple tricks.

Cell phone radiation is absorbed by the tissue
As a precautionary measure, the lowest possible radiation should be selected when purchasing. The BfS has compiled an overview of the radiation exposure in a list with more than 2,500 mobile phones. The specific absorption rate (SAR), which indicates how much radiation energy is transferred to the tissue, serves as a key figure for the exposure. For example, some of the energy from the electromagnetic fields penetrates the head when making a call. The BfS explains that the energy is absorbed by the part of the body near which the cell phone is currently located.

Prefer low-radiation smartphones
To rule out the health effects of these high-frequency fields, the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) recommended a maximum of two watts per kilogram for the SAR as a limit. None of the mobile phones in the BfS list exceeds this limit. However, the Federal Office expressly points out that no own test was carried out here, but that the information provided by the manufacturers was trusted. Low-radiation mobile phones in particular are labeled with the “Blue Angel” environmental label. For this, you must not exceed a SAR value of 0.6 watts per kilogram. In the current BfS survey, these increased requirements met more than half of the devices.

Minimize radiation exposure with simple tricks
According to the Federal Office for Radiation Protection, the "electromagnetic fields that occur when you are using a cell phone on your cell phone are generally much stronger than the fields to which you are exposed, for example, from neighboring cell phone base stations." The BfS recommendations are therefore primarily for prevention geared towards the use of mobile phones. For example, the experts always recommend using the landline phone if there is a choice between landline and cell phone. According to the BfS, calls with a cell phone should be as short as possible and "in the event of poor reception, such as in a car without an external antenna", the BfS advises against making calls. Because the poorer the connection to the next base station, the higher the performance with which the cell phone sends. For example, if the car body intercepts part of the radiation, the strength (intensity) of the transmitted high-frequency field is increased. BfS reports that the use of headsets when making calls can be significantly reduced, since with increasing distance between the head and the antenna, the radiation absorption of the tissue decreases quickly.

Minimizing radiation exposure in children is particularly important, as they are still developing and could therefore be more sensitive to health, according to the BfS. According to the experts, cell phone calls to children should therefore be restricted as far as possible. (fp)

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