The Wall Street Journal Examines How the U.S. Tests Cellphones for Radiation Safety

Over forty years ago an inspector at the Hartford, CT Police Department raised concern about the safety of the Motorola walkie-talkies they were using.  This concern about possible radiation absorption eventually led back to a Motorola lab in Florida where a newly hired engineer was asked to come up with a way to prove the devices were safe.  The concepts of the test they put together would eventually evolve and influence the current tests the FCC requires of cell phone manufacturers for radiation emissions.

Ryan Knutson at the Wall Street Journal takes an in-depth look at cell phone radiation exposure and the history of how the current radiation exposure testing standards came to be in his July 6, 2016, article “Belt Clip? How the U.S. Tests Cellphones for Safety”.

In the article he states that the original test that was created involved placing the walkie-talkie near a human skull filled with mostly sugar water, and then measuring the temperature of the liquid.  This would simulate the potential thermal effects of the radiation on an average human.

The FCC tests of today use similar approach with a human model that was based on data from a sample of a 1989 study on U.S. Army soldiers.  A major concern Pong has previously pointed out is that the current model uses a 6’2 adult weighing 220 lbs. and does not account for children or people smaller than the test size model – – and how their radiation absorption is different.  A 2010 study demonstrated that a child’s head RF absorption can be over 2 times greater, and absorption of the skull’s bone marrow can be 10 times greater than adults.

Cell Phone Head SAR Testing
Head SAR Testing. Image credit: Wall Street Journal

The WSJ article goes on to discuss how a recent U.S. government study by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) challenges the notion that heating is the only potential health effect, thus renewing a debate about whether the modern version of the original test adequately protects human health.

The partial results released from the NTP $25 million study on rodents that found an association between RF radiation and cancer and has re-ignighted the debate over cell phone radiation.

Read the full article at »


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