Radiation and SAR

More conscious technology use

The purpose of this page is to educate anyone interested in learning more about SAR. We don’t want you to stop using electronic devices. Our aim is to encourage a more conscious use of them.

The sources of radiation are divided into two main categories: natural and man-made. Radiation has always been a natural part of the environment.[1][2][3][4]

Man-made radiation has been emitted for about 150 years since the inventions of the industrial revolution went into widespread use, now we’re part of the digital revolution. Artificial sources of radiation are claimed to be responsible for about 15% of the total exposure. An even higher level of exposure (50%) may affect industrialized countries due to the more widespread access to technology.[5]

Sources of radiation (2016)

Based on its frequency or wavelength, electromagnetic radiation is categorized using the electromagnetic spectrum

Radiation spectrum diagram (showing non-ionizing and ionizing radiations) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-ionizing_radiation

Non-ionizing radiation is located at the low end of the electromagnetic spectrum and is a form of low-energy radiation. This kind of radiation is also known as extremely low frequency (ELF) radiation. Non-ionizing radiation differs from ionizing radiation (IR) because non-ionizing radiation doesn’t carry enough energy to break molecular bonds and ionize atoms, ionizing radiation does. That is not to say that extended exposure to non-ionizing radiation isn’t harmful, we know that it is.

Most of us know that a little bit of UV radiation can be useful, as it helps our bodies produce vitamin D. However, too much exposure can cause problems, such as damage on a molecular level (i.e. sunburn). When light from the Sun reaches Earth, it is mainly comprised of non-ionizing radiation as the atmosphere filters out ionizing far-ultraviolet rays, via gases such as oxygen.

The Specific Absorption Rate value

Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) is defined as the amount of absorbed non-ionizing radiation power (or rate of absorbed energy) by unit mass of biological tissue. [6] Each phone has a specified SAR value. Information about its level can be found in a device user manual, in the mobile phone’s settings or in an online SAR database. In the same way that food should be labelled with nutritional facts, mobile phones should list their radiation output.

All phones contain information which warns against keeping your device in direct contact with your head or body.

SAR measurements and limits

SAR level standards appeared quite recently.

For a long time there were no established standards for SAR across the mobile phone industry because there wasn't any governmental action to require it. [6]However, in the US, the FCC, Federal Communications Commission, set the radio frequency safety guidelines that all phones must meet before being sold in the US (1992).

In Europe, "the European Council Recommendation 519/1999/EC for exposure guidelines has adopted the recommendations made by the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP Guidelines 1998).” You can see current reference standards and limits below.[7]

United States

SAR Limit: 1.6 W/Kg in 1 g of tissue

Guidelines: Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Guidelines. Limit reference: American Standard ANSI C95.1 (ANSI 1992)

Europe

SAR Limit: 2.0 W/Kg in 10g of tissue

Guidelines: European Specification ES 59005 (1998). Limit reference: ICNIRP Guidelines 1998 (ICNIRP 1998)

Australia

SAR Limit: 1.6 W/Kg in 1 g of tissue

Guidelines: Australian Communications Authority (ACA) Standard. Limit reference: Australian Standard AS/NZS 2772.1 (ACA RS 1999)

Knowing the SAR value of your phone is essential when it comes to reasonable mobile phone use.

Specialists use a phantom model of the human head and body to measure SAR values.

”The phantom liquid which simulates the electrical properties of the human head is filled in the SAM (Specific Anthropomorphic Mannequin). Then, electric field in the SAM irradiated from the mobile phone under test is scanned with a miniature probe, and the maximum SAR is obtained. In the test procedure one must measure at least in four phone positions, i.e., in the right and the left sides of the SAM head at tilt and cheek positions, to find the maximum SAR for all operating frequency bands of the phone.” [8]

Mobile phones are required to be tested for their specific absorption rate (SAR) before going on sale.

The phantom body parts are filled with liquids which simulate the radio frequency absorption characteristics of the human tissues. The fluids are frequency-dependent, so a standardized fluid for a measurement at 1800 MHz will be different to a measurement at 900 MHz. Variations of scales in the USA and the EU appear because of the slightly different ways of measuring SAR levels.

The measurement standards evolve to better reflect real life use of phones.

Previously, the tested mobile phone was placed at a distance of 15-25 mm to the phantom which does not resemble the actual manner of holding a mobile phone during use. [9] Recently, this changed in order to improve safety precautions. Testing the SAR value of a phone has been moved to 5mm, this shows that the industry safety standards regarding mobile phones has improved as this more closely mimics how most people hold a phone to their ear. [10]Each phone is designed to use the minimum power required to reach the network so the actual SAR level of the mobile phone should be below this value.

Forecast number of mobile users worldwide from 2019 to 2023 (in billions) – Statista 2019

Technology has moved forward at an alarming rate, especially when it comes to mobile phones.

SAR for cell phones was set in 1993 when less than 10% of the population used them. [11] It was established when there was nearly no data transmission. When testing devices for SAR compliance all data transmissions are turned off. The graph shows the number of mobile phone users worldwide (total) from 2015 to 2020. In 2019, the number of mobile phone users is forecast to reach 4.68 billion.

Unfortunately, most manufacturers are focused on building phones which are thinner and faster without taking into consideration SAR values and the impact this might have on their customers' health.

Check the SAR of your phone

Why should we care about minimising our exposure to EMF?

WHO classified EMF as a possible carcinogen.

In 2011, the World Health Organisation classified EMF as a possible carcinogen.[12]

Independent scientists from the WHO based their opinion on the results of studies on cancer in both humans and animals, as well as other relevant data. We often reference this data as it is verifiable evidence for the possible adverse health effects of mobile phone usage.

Another important argument is that an international appeal was created, whereby scientists called for ‘Protection from Non-ionizing Electromagnetic Field Exposure’.

The scientists concerned with the dangers of EMF radiation made the following requests:

Financial transparency

The media disclose experts’ financial relationships with the industry when citing their opinions regarding the health and safety aspects of EMF-emitting technologies.

Better regulations

Guidelines and regulatory standards should be strengthened. It is required to put warning labels on mobile phones for sale to keep customers informed about the possible side effects of using them.

Public awareness

The public should be fully informed about the potential health risks from electromagnetic energy and taught harm reduction strategies.

Research

Governments fund training and research on electromagnetic fields and health, which is independent of industry and mandate industry cooperation with researchers.

Medical training

Medical professionals should be educated about the biological effects of electromagnetic energy and require training on the treatment of patients with electromagnetic sensitivity.

Healthier electricity

Utilities responsible for the generation, transmission, distribution, and monitoring of electricity maintain adequate power quality and ensure proper electrical wiring to minimize harmful ground current.

Radiation-free areas

Radiation-free areas should be established. Electrohypersensitive people can’t live near any electronic devices which emit radiation. No WiFi routers (even from other houses in the neighbourhood), no smart meters and no cellphone towers.

Protection

Children and pregnant women should be protected. Protecting the youngest is of the utmost importance. As we know, it is scientifically proven that children are at a higher risk of suffering from adverse health effects relating to radiation.

Healthier products

Manufacturers should be encouraged to develop safer technology. In many countries it is considered crucial to protect schools and kindergartens from harmful WiFi radiation. It is becoming a cause for concern for governments.

Other research suggesting the harmful effects of EMF

Extensive scientific research has been carried out. Scientists indicate that the degree of risk depends on the length and strength of exposure. Some people may have developed bad habits which encourage radiation exposure, such as women who carry a mobile phone in their bras (which increases the risk of breast cancer).[13]

It is worth knowing what can happen due to inappropriate or extensive mobile phone usage. There is a lot of research available and although a lot of it is inconclusive, some studies already show correlations between electromagnetic fields (EMF) and health risks. We have chosen to cite them in order to encourage awareness and caution.

Extensive scientific research has been carried out.

The National Toxicology Program (NTP) published their preliminary findings on mice and rats exposed to radiation. [14] The study investigated the potential health hazards of mobile phone use. Surprisingly, it suggests that animals exposed to radiation are more likely to develop brain tumours in the future. The risk is slightly increased but due to the fact that these are rare tumours, their findings are alarming. A few years ago, a different study proved that radiation has an impact on semen, which could lead to infertility. [15]More scientific research was carried out to investigate fertility and each study confirmed that samples of sperm exposed to mobile phone radiation would die three to four times faster than those which weren’t exposed.

Scientists are now certain that the degree of risk depends on the length and strength of exposure.

A list of 1,670 peer-reviewed scientific papers on EMF that were published in scientific journals between 1979 and 2018 indicate that in the category ”Mobile and Cordless Phones” for 525 papers:

Mobile and Cordless Phones for 525 papers

GERoNIMO Project

One study that might be of interest is the Generalized EMF research using novel methods (GERoNIMO) project. Started in 2014 as an integrated approach from research to risk assessment and support to risk management. [16]The European Union (grant agreement 603794) provided the financial support for the study, as well as local and national funding sources. ISGlobal includes 19 partners from 13 countries and as they’re leading this project it shows that there is a real public concern for information regarding the subject of mobile radiation.

Studies on radiation health effects

A study from Canada found that one has to use a phone for only about 550 lifetime hours to slightly increase the risk of developing glioma. [17]A few years ago, a different study showed a correlation between radiation DNA–fragmentation, and semen motility, which could lead to infertility. [18][19][20]Health effects on humans requires further research but may include brain tumours,[21][22][23][24] Alzheimer's disease, [25][26]speech problems,[27] and reduced melatonin production. [28]Other effects on humans appear to include leukemia[29] and increased brain-blood barrier permeability.[29][30]

RF-EMF brain exposure risks

A study published study that was conducted by Swiss TPH[31] in collaboration with the European Union project GERoNiMO says that cumulative RF-EMF brain exposure from mobile phone use over one year may have a negative effect on the development of figural memory performance in adolescents. Research found preliminary evidence suggesting that RF-EMF may affect brain functions such as figural memory in regions that are most exposed during mobile phone use. The findings do not provide conclusive evidence of causal effects and should be interpreted with caution until confirmed in other populations. Associations with media use parameters with low RF-EMF exposures did not provide clear or consistent support of effects of media use unrelated to RF-EMF (with the possible exception of consistent positive associations between verbal memory and data traffic duration). It is not yet clear which brain processes could be potentially affected and what biophysical mechanism may play a role.

Who should be extra careful when it comes to SAR values?

Evidence presented on this page indicates that we should all care about the SAR value of our electronic devices. However, certain individuals might need to be more concerned about limiting their exposure to electromagnetic radiation than others.

Children are more vulnerable than adults when it comes to EMF exposure.[32][33][34]

The bodies of children are immature and their nervous and immune systems are still developing. Electromagnetic radiation is known to penetrate the brains of children much deeper than it does the brains of adults. These differences are due to the higher water content in children's tissues and the fact that their skulls are thinner.

In Belgium,[35] and France[36] it is forbidden to sell mobile phones designed for children. Phone advertisements cannot be targeted at children. The most restrictive law was passed in Taiwan,[37] where parents may be fined for letting children under the age of two use electronic devices.In many countries it is considered important to protect schools and kindergartens from harmful WiFi radiation (e.g. France,[38] Cyprus,[39] Israel[40]). It is decided to turn off wireless connection to the Internet and use a hardwired one. In some countries it is also forbidden to place phone masts in the vicinity of playgrounds and nursery schools (i.e. India,[41] Chile [42]).

Children are more vulnerable to radiation.

Pregnant women.

Pregnant women should be aware of the fact that there may be a risk associated with radiation exposure and child development issues. Research found that maternal mobile phone use during pregnancy may be associated with an increased risk of speech problems as well as emotional and behavioural problems, particularly hyperactivity.

There may be a risk associated with radiation exposure and child development issues.

People suffering from chronic illnesses might be more sensitive to environmental factors.

Although it has not yet been proven, the stress felt by those sensitive to EMF exposure may cause cortisol levels to rise, making the body less likely to effectively managing inflammation.[43]

It is important to remember, regardless of personal skepticism, that listing SAR values on products really does help people who need them the most. It helps to put their minds at ease, they feel safer. Our place is not to pass judgement on those afflicted but rather to be mindful of their plight and provide awareness of their struggles.

Some people might be more sensitive to EMF exposure.

Why did we choose to develop a phone with an ultralow SAR value?

We believe that it makes perfect sense to limit our exposure to EMF as much as possible.

It doesn’t require much effort and there are lots of indications that it may be beneficial. We all prefer to be on the safe side, even those of us for whom EMF exposure is not as noticeable.

If you ask a doctor what the root cause of an illness such as cancer could be, there’s never a clear answer. It’s usually a culmination of factors, both genetic and environmental. It is good to be aware and to maintain a certain level of humility by understanding that we probably don't know as much as we think we know. It is good to be overcautious. It seems that we, as human beings, have a tendency to do the opposite.

Mudita designs consumer electronics that put physical and mental health first.

We try to address problems of those who might need extra care.

We design products which help to deal with several issues, from nomophobia to a sensitivity to EMF. Michal, our founder, became concerned about EMF exposure quite early on and decided to develop the appropriate products to address it. Initially, his primary intention was to develop product for himself and for people like him. However, he soon realized that these products could help even more people.

As much as we care about developing the best products, we concentrate on gathering valuable resources.

Enjoying well-being of other people

Mudita is a Buddhist term for joy which has its source in the well-being of other people. It is a term which best reflects our mission.

Human physical and mental health

The ambition of Mudita is to design consumer electronics that put physical and mental health first, with a human factor at the core of everything we do.

Better education and awareness

We want to improve education with regards to technology and we also want to help people feel fulfilled and content with what they have.

In order to make a real change, we need more than a tool. We need education.

Resources

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