Classroom Technology

Report: Cellphone Radiation Measurement Flawed

By Ian Quillen — October 17, 2011 1 min read

A new study to be published in the journal Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine suggests that the current method used to certify that cell phones emit safe levels of radiation is flawed and underestimates the amount of exposure to children and other slight-of-stature users.

The underestimation, says the report from the University of Utah, in Salt Lake City, is because the Federal Communications Commission currently uses a testing method to approve phones that was developed with the body type of 1989 military recruits in mind. As a result, a measure of exposure called the Specific Absorption Rate, or SAR, could be up to 153 percent higher than estimated through current methods.

A more contemporary computer simulation test of radiation exposure, the report says, has been approved by the FCC but is not used for cell phone approval.

Cell phones and other mobile devices are becoming increasingly polarizing within K-12 education, with some educators supporting their integration into the classroom and others leery of the potential setbacks related to classroom disruption, cyberbullying, and academic integrity. But further findings of potential health risks to children would be a new development in a debate that has generally not centered on student health.

In comments about the study, Electromagnetic Health, a nonprofit public advocate that advises about health hazards of radiation, argued the use of wired headsets with cell phones reduces battery drain and, therefore, health risks from radiation. But the educational use of cell phones—and especially the subset of smartphones—often centers on Internet search, photo, and video capabilities.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.