Beware of Cell Phone Radiation Scams, Feds Warn Consumers

cell phone radiationNow that just about everyone is walking, shopping or driving with a mobile phone glued to their ear, the recent announcement from the World Health Organization declaring phone radiation a "possible" cause of brain cancer has billions of consumers understandably jittery.

Because fear sells -- and hucksters never miss an opportunity to make a quick buck -- the Federal Trade Commission is warning consumers to beware of products that supposedly "shield" users form mobile phone radiation.

The FTC says there's no scientific proof whatsoever that these "shields" significantly reduce microwave exposure from cell phone emissions. "In fact," the agency noted, "products that block only part of the phone, such as the earpiece, are totally ineffective because the entire phone emits electromagnetic waves."Health studies are ongoing about any link between radiation emissions from mobile phones and health problems such as cancer.

So for those who don't want to wait until a scientific consensus is reached and wish to limit their exposure to cell phone radiation immediately, the FTC offers the following tips:

  • Use an earpiece or the speakerphone feature.
  • Consider texting more, and keep calls brief.
  • Wait for a good signal. When you have a weak signal, your phone has to work harder and emits more radiation. And phones emit more radiation when transmitting than when receiving, so tilt the phone away from your head when you're talking.
  • Before you buy a phone, research its specific absorption rate (SAR), which tells how much radiation the body absorbs while using the phone. Different phones emit different amounts of radiation. In the U.S., a phone's SAR cannot legally exceed 1.6 watts per kilogram.

The Federal Communications Commission has SAR information for cell phones produced and marketed within the past two years. It's accessible using the phone's FCC ID number (usually found on the phone's case) and the FCC's ID search form.

Consumer Ally Partner GoodGuide also rates mobile phones, and the site allows users to filter their search to return only low-radiation phones, such as these 79 models.

For more information on cell phone use and health issues, see the National Cancer Institute's fact sheet, Cell Phones and Cancer Risk. To avoid scams, read the FTC's consumer alert, Listen Up: Tips to Help Avoid Cell Phone Radiation Scams.

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