“Can you hear me now?” You’ve probably heard the question before on a glitchy cell phone call. But there’s something else you need to hear. Cell phone use may increase your risk for health problems.
Smart phone technology is still relatively new. But some research suggests prolonged smart phone use and exposure to radio frequency (RF) energy may increase the risk for:1
- Brain cancer
- Acoustic nerve damage
- Damage to the salivary gland
- Reproductive issues in men
- Learning and memory deficiencies
- Hearing loss
- Poor sleep, and more
What is radio frequency energy?
It’s the energy that travels through the air from a device or tower to your smart phone. Your phone receives RF signals. It also emits RF energy when you’re using the Internet or Bluetooth connections.
Your body absorbs RF energy. Too much of it, may be a problem.
- It’s why the U.S. Food and Drug Administrations and other leading organizations have established guidelines for cell phone use, and recommendations for manufacturers on RF energy limits.2
- It’s also why Apple and Android devices warn users about RF energy exposure. In fact. Apple and Samsung were named in a class action lawsuit last year, after an independent study found that many devices emit more than the federal exposure limit of RF energy.3
How much time do you spend on a smart phone?
The average user spends about 5.4 hours per day making calls, sending text messages, using social media, listening to music, playing games, watching videos, and searching the Internet.
That’s pretty much everybody. An estimated 96 percent of all adults own a cell phone or smart phone.4 Younger smart phone users tend to spend even more time on phones.
And the more time you spend on a smart phone, the higher your exposure to RF energy.
Check your phone for RF exposure warnings
- Apple: General > Legal > RF Exposure
- Android: Settings > About phone > Legal information > Legal > Health & safety.
Let’s face it. If you’re a smart phone user, chances are pretty good it’s a lifeline for work, family, entertainment, shopping, directions, and more. And that probably isn’t going to change. But there are some things you can do to reduce your exposure to RF energy to protect your health.
6 Moves to Make for Smart Phone Users
- Use a wired headset or speaker phone instead of Bluetooth devices (which emit RF energy). This will also help you avoid holding the phone directly against your ear/head. If you do use a Bluetooth headset, take it off when you’re not on a call or disable Bluetooth connections on your phone.
- Send text messages instead of calling whenever possible. You’ll be exposed to less RF energy this way.
- Keep the phone away from your head and body when streaming or downloading data. Both produce RF energy to send and receive data.
- Store your phone a few feet away in a purse, briefcase, or backpack, instead of keeping it on you. It’s another way to reduce exposure to RF energy. Or put your phone in “airplane mode,” when you’re not using it to turn off all RF signals.
- Use your phone less or turn it off when you’re out or range or have poor reception, and while you’re traveling at high speeds. Both require more RF energy to keep your phone connected.
- Give your phone a rest when you go to sleep. Turn it off. Put it in “airplane mode.” Or keep it about 10 feet away from your bed to reduce RF energy exposure.
Research about health risks linked to smart phone use remain mixed. But there’s enough evidence to suggest reducing your exposure to RF energy is a smart move. “Can you hear me now?”
- Egel, C. (2017). CDPH issues guidance on how to reduce exposure to radiofrequency energy from cell phones. California Department of Health. From: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CCDPHP/DEODC/EHIB/CDPH%20Document%20Library/Cell-Phone-Guidance.pdf
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2020). Radio frequency radiation and cell phones. From: https://www.fda.gov/radiation-emitting-products/cell-phones/radio-frequency-radiation-and-cell-phones
- Mahr, J. (2019). Lawsuit filed against Apple, Samsung after Chicago Tribune tests cellphones for radiofrequency radiation. From: https://www.chicagotribune.com/investigations/ct-cell-phone-radiation-lawsuit-apple-samsung-met-20190829-ye5h7fw6yvauxpo367vqeg7pju-story.html
- Pew Research Center. (2019). Mobile fact sheet. From: https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/fact-sheet/mobile/
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