Many consumers compare SAR ratings (‘SAR’ stands for Specific Absorption Rate) when looking for a new mobile phone. Such a comparison is a sensible precaution, because the SAR rating is a useful indication of the relative safety of a phone. But the SAR is not the whole story. There are many factors beyond a phone’s SAR rating that affect how much radiation it emits. Understanding what these factors are is a good first step to reducing the amount of radiation you absorb.
For a start, the strength of reception in the place you are using your phone will affect the strength of signal your phone needs to generate. Making a call in an area of poor reception forces your phone to work harder – it has to send a stronger signal to ensure the radio tower receives your data. A stronger signal not only uses more battery power, but also generates more radiation. Which means that you absorb more radiation.
Making or taking calls in high reception areas whenever possible is therefore a good rule to adopt.
Where you carry your phone is another major factor in determining your radiation exposure. A bag is a better place than a pocket or even a clip. If you keep it in a backpack, it should be in the pocket furthest from your body. Pregnant women should never keep their phone near their abdomen. This includes letting it rest in your lap, or carrying it in your bra – a habit many women display today.
Keeping the phone away from your head when you speak is definitely a wise idea; texting, using a suitable headset (headsets can generate radiation too, so choose carefully) or speakerphone are all possible ways to reduce your radiation exposure.
Never sleep with your phone under your pillow! Aside from being a fire hazard, 8+ hours of snuggling close to a radiation emitting device is unlikely to be healthy. This applies especially to children, who have thinner skulls and more delicate brains whose development is particularly susceptible to radiation.
There are also various gadgets and accessories you can buy that claim to, and in some cases actually do, reduce the radiation you absorb. Some of these are pure shams; don’t buy anything that hasn’t been subjected to rigorous, independent scientific testing.
The best types of accessories are those which apply recognised scientific principles to shield the body from radiation. Be sceptical of any which make improbable sounding claims, or fail to explain how they work. Unless there is scientific data supporting their claims, take them with a pinch of salt.
Do your research before parting with cash.