The Importance of Cell Phone Separation Distance

While the risks of cell phone radiation are well documented, it is nearly impossible to avoid using a cell phone in this day and age. In order to mitigate some of the RF exposure, the FCC began requiring that all cell phones sold in the United States have a maximum SAR (Specific Absorption Rate) of 1.6 watts per kilogram as averaged over one gram of tissue. A little-known fact about this recommendation, however, is that the exposure testing for cell phones is performed with a minimum separation distance of at least 1.0 cm between the cell phone and human tissue. This may sound like such a small distance that it does not mean anything, but it can actually make a significant difference in exposure levels.

How Can One Centimeter Be So Important?

According to the Inverse Square Law of Physics, intensity is inversely proportional to the square of the distance of the source. This means that if you hold a cell phone .25 inches away from your body, the intensity of RF energy is 16 times higher than it would be at one inch away. Because SAR testing is done at a certain distance, the values are only accurate if a phone is consistently held that distance from the body. If you hold a cell phone closer to your head than the SAR testing distance, the exposure you receive can actually be much, much higher than SAR testing values indicate. Cell phone user manuals contain these warnings; for example, a Galaxy S5 user manual indicates that the device must be held at least one centimeter away from the body to meet RF exposure guidelines. The Apple iPhone 6 manual states that the phone must be carried at least 5mm away from the body to ensure that exposure levels do not exceed tested levels.

Safety Warnings Are Often Hidden

The problem with this information is that most consumers are not aware of the minimum separation distance. SAR and minimum distance information can be extremely difficult to find. For an iPhone 5, for example, information on SAR is buried and requires going to another link to find more specific information. BlackBerry’s manual requires five steps to find a safety warning instructing users to keep the device at least 0.98 inches from the body. Consumers have indicated that they do want to see this information, but so far, most cell phone companies have not responded with more transparency. The information is available, but users must both know what they are looking for and work to find it.

Protect Yourself

To reduce your risk of RF overexposure, avoid holding your phone close to your body or keeping it in your pocket. You can find the specific distance requirements for your mobile device here. Finally, consult with an attorney if you believe you have suffered ill effects from cell phone RF exposure. Call the experienced attorneys Frasier, Frasier & Hickman, LLP at 918-548-4724 or contact us online today for answers to all of your questions.

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