Have you ever read the manual that came with your cell phone or laptop, or dug deep into the settings to read the legal disclaimers? If you're like the vast majority of consumers, probably not. However, if you did take the time to read the fine print, you would find an unsettling warning.
Despite the obvious, most major manufacturers advise you NOT to use or store your cell phone directly on your body as to not exceed FCC regulated electromagnetic radiation levels. That especially includes talking with your phone up to your ear and storing it in your pocket.
Here are the official statements from some of the most popular phone manufacturers:
To reduce exposure to RF energy, use a hands-free option, such as the built-in speakerphone, the supplied headphones, or other similar accessories. Carry iPhone at least 10mm away from your body to ensure exposure levels remain at or below the as-tested levels. Cases with metal parts may change the RF performance of the device, including its compliance with RF exposure guidelines, in a manner that has not been tested or certified.
Use hands-free operation if it is available and keep the BlackBerry device at least 0.59 in (15mm) from your body (including the abdomen of pregnant women…
As of August 1, per the "Right to Know Ordinance" which was unanimously passed back in May, Cell Phone retailers in the city of Berkeley, CA are required to inform their customers of the potential risk and advise them to check the manual for more information. The newly required statement can be seen below:
The City of Berkeley requires that you be provided the following notice: To assure safety, the Federal Government requires that cell phones meet radio frequency (RF) exposure guidelines. If you carry or use your phone in a pants or shirt pocket or tucked into a bra when the phone is ON and connected to a wireless network, you may exceed the federal guidelines for exposure to RF radiation. This potential risk is greater for children. Refer to the instructions in your phone or user manual for information about how to use your phone safely.
While requiring the warning may seem like a fair and logical step to inform cell phone buyers of a risk that the manufacturers themselves have already acknowledged, the ordinance faced significant backlash from the CTIA (The Wireless Association) and cell phone manufacturers. Thankfully, the movement to pass the ordinance prevailed and Berkeley takes a small step in the right direction of protecting the public from wireless radiation. In the words of
While this is a good start, there is a long way to go. One city in the US now requires a warning that may or may not change the way we use our devices, but it is time the outdated standards were revisited. That is why 198 scientists from 39 countries who are responsible for over 2000 peer reviewed articles on the topic are petitioning for the UN to increase research efforts.Click here to find out how to protect yourself in the meantime.