Do Cell Phone Radiation Shields Really Work? No.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Here's what the FTC has to say about cell phone radiation shields:

Listen Up: Tips to Help Avoid Cell Phone Radiation Scams

Whether you call them cell phones, smart phones or mobile devices, it seems like everyone has one. According to the wireless telecommunications industry, the U.S. now has an estimated 300 million mobile subscribers, compared to 110 million subscribers a decade ago. The increase in cell phone use has generated concern about possible health risks related to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields from this technology, and a market for shields as possible protection against the radio waves the phones emit. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation's consumer protection agency, has some practical tips to help you avoid scams and limit your exposure to electromagnetic emissions from your cell phone.



While health studies about any relationship between the emissions from cell phones and health problems are ongoing, recent reports from the World Health Organization will no doubt convince scam artists that there's a fast buck to be made. Scam artists follow the headlines to promote products that play off the news – and prey on concerned people.

If you're looking for ways to limit your exposure to the electromagnetic emissions from your cell phone, know that, according to the FTC, there is no scientific proof that so-called shields significantly reduce exposure from these electromagnetic emissions. In fact, products that block only the earpiece – or another small portion of the phone – are totally ineffective because the entire phone emits electromagnetic waves. What's more, these shields may interfere with the phone's signal, cause it to draw even more power to communicate with the base station, and possibly emit more radiation.

To limit your exposure to cell phone electromagnetic emissions, the FTC suggests that you:
  • Increase the distance between your phone and your head by using a hands-free device, like an earpiece that is wired to the phone, or using the speakerphone feature.
  • Consider texting more and limiting your cell phone use to short conversations.
  • Wait for a good signal. When you have a weak signal, your phone works harder, emitting more radiation. Phones also give off more radiation when transmitting than when receiving, so tilt the phone away from your head when you're talking, and bring it back to your ear when you're listening.
When you're in the market for a new phone, research a phone's specific absorption rate (SAR) before you buy. Measured in watts per kilogram of tissue, the SAR reveals how much radiation the body absorbs while using the mobile device. Different phones emit different amounts of radiation. In the U.S., a phone's SAR can't exceed 1.6 watts per kilogram. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has SAR information for cell phones produced and marketed within the last two years. You can access this information using the phone's FCC ID number, usually located on the case of the phone, and the FCC's ID search form at www.fcc.gov/oet/ea/fccid. The Environmental Working Group also maintains a listing at www.ewg.org/cellphone-radiation

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About Dr. Joseph Kim

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Dr. Joseph Kim is the founder of MedicalSmartphones.com, an independent website owned and operated by Dr. Kim. He is also the President of MCM Education, a professional medical education and publishing company that develops continuing medical education (CME) activities in joint sponsorship with medical universities, hospitals, and medical associations. Dr. Kim is a digital entrepreneur and technologist who has a passion for health information technology, mobile health, and social media. He frequently speaks at conferences about non-clinical careers for physicians, continuing medical education, mobile health technology, and social media in medicine. Dr. Kim holds a bachelor of science in engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a doctorate of medicine from the University of Arkansas College of Medicine, and a master of public health from the University of Massachusetts Amherst School of Public Health.
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