Radiofrequency (RF) Emitting Devices
There is a common misconception that mobile phones are the only devices at risk of causing harm. This is because mobile phones were the first common devices on the market using this kind of radiation and therefore, more research has been done on these than more modern technology. It should be noted that radiation from mobile phones has been shown to create biological effects while simply in standby mode and even when off, due to intermittent emissions that occur (if the battery is present and charged) whilst the phone is in these modes 1.
Common devices that emit radiation documented to be harmful include (but not exclusively):
There is now growing evidence to demonstrate harmful effects of Wi-Fi also and the Group 2b Carcinogenic classification applies to all RF sources 2. Additionally, it can be seen from the information below, that tablets, wireless computers and routers can produce higher power density emissions than mobile phones and even mobile phone base stations at 100m. France has now banned Wi-fi in nurseries and limited it’s use for those under 6yrs.
Despite the advice in The Stewart Report 3 (commissioned by the Government in 2000) to avoid the beam of greatest intensity from mobile phone masts in areas involving sensitive populations, we are now placing higher power density emissions inside buildings, sometimes close to or touching individuals (especially in the case of laptops or tablets). This is of concern to us all, and particularly in the case of children using these devices in schools as they are a vulnerable group who are also potentially non-consenting and non-benefitting.
The Department of Health states: “children and young people under 16 should be encouraged to use mobile phones for essential purposes only” 4 and a medical doctors appeal (signed by more than 1,000 physicians) states “Children below the age of 8 should not use cell phones and cordless phones; children and adolescents between the ages 8 and 16 should also not use cell phones or only use them in the case of an emergency.” 5 The same caution clearly exists for tablets given that the SARs are comparable and in many cases can even be higher. There is considerable evidence that all living systems are vulnerable. Therefore cautions should extend to all groups, and biologically based safety limits are emergently required to protect all living systems.
Smartphones v Tablets (Thank you to Alasdair Philips for this research and calculation)
SAR from 11 modern smart phones: 0.35-0.80 W/kg
SAR for iPad3 (Wi-fi on): 0.39-0.51 W/kg
Smartphones use Adaptive Power Control (APC), which allows a phone to decrease its power output when high power is not necessary. For example, 3G/UMTS mobile phones can lower their power output to around 1/1000th of their maximum power, so that average SAR exposure is a tiny fraction of their maximum SAR value. Tablets, including iPads, and most laptops do not have APC and could therefore be emitting considerably higher average power densities than mobile phones, as all data bursts take place at maximum power.
None of the devices above were adequately pre-market safety tested for use by children. Mobile phones were tested for safety on SAM (Specific Anthropomorphic Mannequin). SAM represents the 90th percentile of US military recruits. He has a body weight of 100kg and a head weighing 5kg which is composed of a non-living, uniform density substance. SAM’s head bears no resemblance to that of a child, a woman, or even an average man 6. Other RF emitting devices have undergone even less health safety testing than mobile phones.
Additionally, the safety limit used to test this (SAM) model was the ICNIRP obsolete threshold (see Safety Limits section). This only verifies that if you hold your phone more than the specified distance from your head (usually around 15mm) you are unlikely to ‘heat’ certain areas of the brain. It offers no protection against the numerous, copiously documented non-thermal harmful effects. Furthermore, the dosimetric quantity (measurement) used for assessment was Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) and SAR cannot be accurately estimated for an organ such as the brain.
Surprisingly, given the high intensity threshold deemed safe in this country, literature has demonstrated that even the unprotective ICNIRP limits can be exceeded during normal use of devices 7. Industry themselves admit their concerns regarding safety of their own RF emitting devices 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18.
1.Cammaerts et al, 2013, Electromagn Biol Med. 2013 Aug 26. Ants can be used as bio-indicators to reveal biological effects of electromagnetic waves from some wireless apparatus.
2. IARC Monographs on the evaluation of carcinogenic risks to humans, Vol 102 (2013). Non-Ionizing Radiation, Part 2: Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields.
3. Stewart Report 2000, Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones (IEGMP), Chairman Sir William Stewart. A Precautionary Approach, Paragraphs 6.63-6.68
4. NHS leaflet ‘Mobile phones and base stations’ (Health advice on using mobile phones) (2011)
5. German Doctors Freiburger Appeal in 2002 and 2012. Radio-frequency Radiation Poses a Health Risk. Physicians Demand Overdue Precaution.
6. Gandhi OP, Morgan LL, de Salles AA, Han YY, Herberman RB, Davis DL. Electromagn Biol Med. 2012 Mar;31(1):34-51. Exposure limits: the underestimation of absorbed cell phone radiation, especially in children. (full paper)
7. Bellieni et al, 2012, Arch Environ Occup Health. 2012;67(1):31-6. Exposure to electromagnetic fields from laptop use of “laptop” computers.
8. Frank Clegg, previously President of Microsoft Canada, now CEO of Canadians 4 Safe Technology
9. Dane Snowden, Vice President, CTIA (2005-2011), FCC Chief, Governmental Affairs (2001-2004)
Safety legislation hearing in California (item in City Council meeting at approximately 2 hour 13 minutes)
10. Motorola. Motorol RAZR Manual (2011)
12. Blackberry Smartphone Safety and Product Information, section ‘Exposure to radio frequency signals’
13. i-pad Important Product Information Guide (2012) http://manuals.info.apple.com/MANUALS/1000/MA1605/en_US/ipad_wifi_important_product_info.pdf
iPhone4 Important Product Information Guide (2010), Exposure to Radio Frequency Energy section.
iPhone 3G Important Product Information Guide (2011), Exposure to Radio Frequency Energy section.
15. Swisscom AG (Telecomms). Swisscom patent ‘Reduction of Electrosmog in Wireless Local’. International Application No: PCT/CH2003/000138, Publication Date: 02.09.2004
16. Lloyd’s of London (Insurance). Lloyd’s Risk Index 2011
17. Lloyds of London Underwriter, Policy document
18. Robert Kane (retired top executive of Motorola). ‘Cellular Telephone Russian Roulette’, Book 2001
Author of page Dr. Erica Mallery-Blythe, see credits for graphics owners. If you wish to use or discuss any content from this site, please contact the relevant author / owner either directly or via ‘contact’ above.