Cell Phone Radiation

What is a Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) in relation to cell phones, and what difference does it actually make?

Did you know your cell phone gives off microwave radiation that could be damaging your health? Recent scientific studies have demonstrated that being in close proximity to a cell phone can cause tumours, decrease sperm count and heat up skin tissue. If it surprises you that the invisible and intangible radiation from your cell phone could be so harmful, the explanation that follows should make the picture clear.

The Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) is the amount of frequency coming from an object that emits radiation (in this case your cell phone) and absorbed by another object (in this case, your body). The SAR measurement allows regulatory authorities to establish safety limits for the amount of radiation cell phones produce. Many people believe that lower SAR ratings mean a safer phone, but although the measurement does try to reflect this, it doesn’t give the whole picture.

This is because SAR can only judge the maximum potential for exposure. It cannot accurately describe the amount of exposure received in every situation. Actual exposure depends on factors including your rate of cell phone usage, and how close you keep it to your body.

That said, the FCC in the United States does require manufactures to test their SAR levels to include “the most severe, worst-case (and highest power) operating conditions for all the frequency bands”. Therefore, while SAR ratings cannot tell you specifically how much radiation you will be exposed to when using a particular cell phone, it does tell you which devices have the potential to cause the most damage.

As an overall guide therefore, SAR gives you a good idea of the risk posed by the cell phone you are thinking of buying. But whichever phone you choose, you will not be free of risk, as they all produce significant radiation and can therefore be dangerous. The best way to protect yourself from cell phone radiation is to hold your phone away from your head, use hands-free accessories, turn it off when you can and keep your phone away from your body as much as possible.


Harry Gardiner
Harry Gardiner

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