Recently, the WHO, the World Health Organization came out with a statement that Cell Phones may be hazardous to your health. They made this conclusion after they had a conference in which world scientists, doctors etc., examined the data from one study done in Sweden and concluded that despite all of the other years where they could not make a determination, this year they could.
Was this politically motivated, where the WHO, the organization that created the scare of h1n1 virus, SARs, and Mad Cow, actually needed some more limelight to become relevant or is this real possibility, that is, Cell Phones used for long periods of time can cause tumors in the brain?
In looking at the study, several key facts come out of it. Some of them are based on their assumptions and some as well that are based on logic.
Where is that danged antenna located?
A short time ago, cell phones had a small telescopic antenna that you could raise or lower. This migrated to small stub fixed antennas located at the top of your cell phone, and then off to what is now used predominantly which is a “Patch” antenna, a small wafer about 1″ x 1/2 ” in size placed behind the back cover of your phone ( not the batter cover). These patch antennas work almost as well as the telescopic ones, but inherently are not as efficient. This means that “Not all cell phones are created equal“. That is to say different cell phones produce different power levels.
More importantly there are cell phone that have their antenna located behind the ear piece of the cell phone, and others that are located behind the microphone, or mouth piece. There was no distinction made between these two cases. There should be. Close proximity to the area behind the ear and above, energy transmitted by the cell phone has a higher intensity than that transmitted by the antenna behind the mouth piece. For the signal to travel into the brain area, the signal must pass through the jawbone, the moisture of the mouth, and on to the brain. The energy of the cell phone at 5″ from the antenna we can be measured with the spectrum analyzers we have and it was 10 dB or ten times less than that of the energy directly at the ear.
iPhones for example have the antenna located surrounding the cell phone from the right side over the top to the left side. The energy is distributed among a path of approximately 6″. No study was done to determine whether the distribution of the energy over the 6″ was different than coming from a patch antenna 1″ x ” in size. Blackberry and most Androids have the antenna located in the bottom of the phone at the back. Again, the signal would have to travel through the phone and then through the jawbone. Similar with Motorola razors, the flip phones where the antenna is located near the mouth piece.
Certainly not all cell phones are created equal.
Cell Phone Output Power Levels
What was the energy level of the cell phone to start off with? That is an important point. If this was a European study, a cell phone can put out a maximum power of 2 watts. Here in the United States, in order to conserve energy, and “talk time” cell phones are designed to operate at lower levels, close to 1 mill watt in most cases. US cell phones have a maximum energy level of of a watt… 25% that of the European maximums. This was not taken into consideration.
What Standard Protocol did they test?
CDMA GSM or iDen? The three standards used in the United States, are infinitely different. CDMA phones normally operate at even lower powers levels than their GSM counterparts. The equipment of the CDMA in the USA is the UMTS in Europe or WCDMA. GSM operates channelized m and CDMA is spread over a greater area. Iden phones, famous for push to talk operate at much higher levels than the other two systems, because their towers are father apart forcing the phone to operate at higher levels. Up to 2 watts in some cases!
Did they take into consideration other factors, like total amount of metal in the particular cell iPhone versus plastic? Several Nokia, Samsung and Sanyo phones have very little metal, but put out the same power as the Motorola counterparts. This is all very important in looking at the study.
Using Headsets versus the phone up against you ear.
Most news organizations are coming out indicting that the use of a Bluetooth headset is advisable compared to directly putting your cell phone up against your ear. They have no basis for this discussion. No test has ever been done on the effects of Bluetooth headsets on brain cancer!
Here is what they are not telling you: Bluetooth headsets operate a frequency of 2.4-2.5 GHz. Your microwave oven operates at a similar frequency. The headset puts out 2.5 mill watts of power, at a distance closer to your brain than the cell phone! Earpieces are inserted into the ear canal making them closer! The 2.5 mill watts of power is 2.5 times higher than the energy form the cell phone at normal conditions. How anyone can recommend going from a cell phone to a Bluetooth headset is beyond my understanding…unless of course you sell Bluetooth headsets.
The bars on the cell phone can be a good indicator of whether or not your phone is operating at full output power or at the levels that I describe, which are at 1 milliwatt…minimal power. First, the higher the energy that you receive from the tower, the closer the tower is to you and the less energy the cell phone has to put out to reach the tower. More bars on your phone = lower transmission levels of your phone. The power level of your phone transmitting to the tower is inversely proportional to the received signal from the tower. Da Bars! Can you trust the bars on your phone? 5 Bars is FULL? Only with some phones. Motorola we have always found to be truthful with their display of the bars. 3 bars means -75 dBm of downlink signal, and full bars, usually means -60 dB. Each bar on the Motorola phone represents 10 -20 times energy difference. Now, with Samsung, LG etc., they like to ‘juice’ those bars up. That means that 5 bars on their phone could still mean a lower signal coming form the tower and a high signal generated from your phone. In fact the carriers like giving those people that complain about signal levels on their phones the juiced up models…that way they can full you into thinking you got better signal! If you have 1 or two bars, you can be certain that your cell phone has to power up to full, most of the time. You also notice that the cell phones battery runs out quicker… because it is transmitting at full power!
So what can be done about lowering the energy level of the cell phone so that I minimize the risks, if any, associated with electromagnetic radiation exposure? What you need to do is get better downlink signals from the tower so that your phone does not have to power up as high. There are several ways to do this.