Cell phones: how to protect yourself from dangerous cell phone radiation

ILLUSTRATION - Regarding the theme service report 'Talking on the phone more often with a headset: Lowering cell phone radiation exposure' by Sven-Hendrik Hahn from November 1, 2018: radiation exposure can be reduced if the smartphone's antenna is as far away from the head as possible - for example, by using a headset. Photo: Christin Klose/dpa-tmn - Free of charge only for subscribers of dpa-Themendienst +++ dpa-Themendienst +++

E ine tumor disease as a result of mobile phone radiation? A controversial scenario with which the World Health Organization (WHO) caused a stir in 2011. After evaluating various studies, this was the conclusion of the WHO cancer research agency.

The Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) emphasizes that health hazards have not yet been clearly proven, but: "Risks as a result of long-term use of mobile phone terminals cannot be ruled out at this point in time," says spokesman Jan Henrik Lauer. BfS recommends minimizing radiation in the immediate vicinity of the body in any case.

SAR values of smartphones and tablets

What kind of radiation is actually involved? Smartphones use high-frequency electromagnetic fields to transmit and receive voice and data. The smartphone user does not feel anything immediately, but he absorbs energy, the so-called specific absorption rate (SAR).

This value must be given for all smartphones and tablets. The recommended maximum level is two watts per kilogram of body weight, according to BfS. For every available smartphone, the SAR value from two measurements must be given – when making a phone call at the ear and when wearing the device on the body.

ILLUSTRATION - To the topic service report 'More often phone with headset: Lowering cell phone radiation exposure' by Sven-Hendrik Hahn from November 1, 2018: the Federal Office for Radiation Protection advises protecting children from smartphone radiation - to this end, mobile data reception should be switched off as often as possible. Photo: Bodo Marks/dpa-tmn - Free of charge only for subscribers of dpa-Themendienst +++ dpa-Themendienst +++

The values can be found in the operating instructions and on a database of the Federal Office, which is updated regularly and is available online. According to the report, the value for the Samsung Galaxy S9+ model is 0.29 W/kg at the ear and 1.35 at the body at a distance of 0.5 cm. Apple’s iPhone X is 0.92 at the ear, 0.95 on the body. According to the list, Huawei’s P20Pro is 0.73 at the ear and 1.22 on the body. According to BfS spokesman Lauer, all values are inconspicuous.

Modern devices with LTE or UMTS have lower radiation levels than older devices that transmit in the GSM standard. "This is also due to the device design," explains Lauer. "The larger screens increase the distance between the antenna, which is often installed in the lower part of the housing, and the measuring probe, which reduces the measured SAR value."

Reducing mobile phone radiation

But how can mobile phone radiation be reduced? Manufacturers of special covers or jackets advertise to protect people from radiation. "Such accessories cause the smartphone to increase its transmission power in order to maintain the connection," counters Bernd Theiss, head of testing for "Connect" magazine.

"Then it sends all the more radiation in the direction of the user."On the other hand, simple rules of conduct can significantly reduce radiation.

The smartphone in a dead zone should soon be a thing of the past. But cell phone owners will have to help out first

The basic requirement is a smartphone with the lowest possible SAR value. With a value of less than 0.6, the experts speak of a low radiation device. According to the BfS, about 55 percent of current smartphones fall below this value.

However, according to expert Lauer, smartphones are used longer and more intensively today than in the past. Radiation exposure can also be reduced by using a landline phone instead of a smartphone as often as possible.

Rules of conduct reduce radiation exposure

In operation, the antenna should be as far away from the head as possible. A headset is recommended for this. When the smartphone is not in use, it should not be worn on the body.

Here, the "Connect" expert agrees: "Every doubling of the distance reduces the remaining radiation to a quarter."Therefore, the nightstand next to the pillow is not a good place if the device remains ready to receive. If the cell phone serves as an alarm clock, the flight mode should be activated, according to the BfS.

ILLUSTRATION - To the topic service report 'More often phone with headset: Reduce cell phone radiation exposure' by Sven-Hendrik Hahn from November 1, 2018: If the smartphone serves as an alarm clock, one should activate the flight mode to reduce radiation. Photo: Christin Klose/dpa-tmn - Free of charge only for subscribers of dpa-Themendienst +++ dpa-Themendienst +++

Since cell phones reach the maximum radiation power in poor reception, you should avoid making phone calls or surfing in poorly developed areas, in the car or during a train ride with tunnels. According to the BfS, the power of the electromagnetic waves is also significantly lower with a radio connection via WLAN or Bluetooth than with a normal mobile phone connection.

The smartphone boom does not bypass children either. The Federal Office advises to protect the little ones from the high-frequency electromagnetic radiation.

If possible, the WLAN network should be used and mobile data should be switched off as often as possible. Radiation, about the consequences of which hardly any institution makes conclusive statements, is reduced in this way. Safe is safe.

Smartphones and tablets damage children’s eyes

Children severely damage their eyes by using smartphones and tablets. More than 50% of young people are short-sighted. Doctors advise not to let children use such devices too often.

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