February 24, 2010, 5:34 PM — An environmental activist group has issued its latest list of popular cell phones that emit comparatively high levels of RF radiation, though all are within federal limits.
The press release and full report on new 2010 cell phones by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), based in Washington, D.C., are intended in part to highlight the fact that technology writers and product reviewers rarely evaluate radiation emissions when rating cell phones.
The press release singles out four recent, well-reviewed cell phones: Motorola Droid, Blackberry Bold 9700, LG Chocolate Touch and HTC Nexus One by Google. “EWG has found that all four phones’ emissions are pushing the edge of radiofrequency radiation safety limits set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC),” according to the group’s press release. A separate document, “Cell Phone Radiation Science Review,” charges, among other things, that “Current FCC standards fail to provide an adequate margin of safety for cell phone radiation exposure and lack a meaningful biological basis.”
EWG has prepared a list of low-emission cell phones, contrasting it with a list of the top-rated cell phones and their corresponding emission levels.
Some phone manufacturers have extensive, accessible online information about phone emissions, such as Nokia, while others have sparser or less accessible data. But emissions data on all cell phones in the U.S. are maintained in a public database by the Federal Communications Commission. It’s a cumbersome, two-part query and you need to have the “FCC ID” number that’s on the phone. Often, this means removing the battery cover or even the battery pack itself.
The FCC safety limits are based on what’s called the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR), which the agency defines as “the amount of radio frequency energy absorbed by the body when using a mobile phone.” It measures the energy in watts, per kilogram (of body weight). The FCC has a SAR Webpage, and a link there to the searchable database. EWG has created its own listing of currently available U.S. cell phones, and their SAR data.