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Smartphones can leak unsafe radiation levels, report claims

Apple and Samsung smartphones can leak unsafe radiation levels, research claims

  • The Chicago Tribune tested 11 popular phone models
  • The iPhone 7 and the Samsung Galaxy S8 have twice the radiation emitted according to the FCC regulations
  • Devices also leaked more radiation than the tests from their manufacturers claimed
  • Radiofrequency radiation from mobile phones is a ‘possible carcinogenic substance’
  • The FCC starts its own follow-up investigation

Popular smartphones, including the popular iPhone 7 and Samsung Galaxy S8, radiate more radiation than American regulators have considered safe, a Chicago Tribune investigation reveals.

Mobile phones use radio frequency (RF) radiation to send signals.

It is a much lower frequency than known carcinogenic forms of radiation, such as x-rays, but whether these radiation waves can be harmful to humans has been widely discussed.

As a precaution, US regulators have set limits for the amount of radiation that the devices can emit, but the Chicago Tribune tests have shown that the iPhone 7, Samsung Galaxy S8, and various other models from the two companies can exceed those limits.

Radiation went even further than what Apple told regulators that it was possible for the iPhone 7 – according to its own tests – and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is now investigating this.

Popular smartphones, including the iPhone 7, emit far more 'potentially carcinogenic' radio frequency radiation than US regulations allow, a Chicago Tribune investigation revealed

Popular smartphones, including the iPhone 7, emit far more ‘potentially carcinogenic’ radio frequency radiation than US regulations allow, a Chicago Tribune investigation revealed

The FCC’s limit on cell phone radiation says that the devices cannot emit more than 1.6 watts per kilogram per gram of tissue.

Radiation – even relatively low frequency emissions such as the radio waves used in cell phone technology – can invade the skin and damage the DNA.

This genetic corruption can cause cancer and other health problems.

But only if levels and duration of exposure are significant enough.

Studies in people who work near higher RF levels suggest that they may be at higher risk for certain cancers.

Rat studies have shown that radiation can increase the risk of cardiovascular and reproductive tumors, but strangely, men exposed to RF also lived longer than those who were not exposed (the same was not true for women).

It is a much-discussed research area, but so far RF radiation has only reached the threshold of being considered a ‘possible’ human carcinogen.

Nevertheless, the FCC requires all mobile phone manufacturers to prove that their devices do not emit more radiation than was considered safe before they entered the market.

California is suspicious of these limits and the safety of mobile phones, as well as expert groups such as the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

To investigate each side, the Chicago Tribune conducted its own tests, placing each of the 11 models of Apple, Motorola, and Blu and Samsung smartphones at two different distances – five millimeters and two millimeters – of material that mimics human tissues .

According to the FCC, manufacturers must test telephones at a distance of five to 15 millimeters from the test housing.

The Chicago Tribune also tested the phones at two millimeters to simulate the distance that the devices would have if they were in a pocket.

From a pocket, the iPhone 7 emitted between two and four times more radiation than FCC guidelines allow.

In the worst case, the Galaxy S8 reached five times the legal limit.

“This strongly suggests that the [FCC] test protocol is not sufficient, “says Dr. Joel Moskowitz, professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

For its part, the FCC has said that it will now examine the testing methods of the smartphone companies, and the FDA has shown an interest in joining in the past, but Dr. Moskowitz is skeptical.

“I don’t trust the FDA or the FCC,” he said.