Did you know that smartphones produce cell phone radiation? Yes, mobiles have improved our lives in many ways, but they work by emitting radio frequency (RF) energy, a form of electromagnetic radiation. Generally, most models produce only small amounts of such radiation (i.e. less than the FCC’s safe limit of 1.6 watts per kilogram). However, RF energy is “possibly carcinogenic” according to the WHO, while certain models produce more RF energy than others.
As such, it’s a good idea to reduce your exposure to cell phone radiation wherever you can, even if the evidence of a link between smartphone use and cancer isn’t strong or clear. This article outlines six simple steps you can take to make your smartphone use safer.
How to reduce exposure to cell phone radiation
1. Use hands-free and text messages wherever possible
Assuming that cell phone radiation is something you want to avoid, holding your smartphone up to your ear and speaking to friends for hours at a time is a big no-no.
Instead, use speaker phone or earphones. That way, you’ll be able to place your phone on a table or surface while still continuing to have a conversation. Or better yet, use your landline to call, if you have a landline phone.
In addition, send text messages instead of calling. Obviously, certain things need to be discussed in a conversation. But if you have something to say to a friend or family member that can be communicated via a text message, send a text message. You’ll also most likely save time.
And if you have to speak without using speaker phone or earphones, try to reduce the amount of time you spend talking.
2. Carry and keep your smartphone away from your body
Keeping your smartphone against your body is not the best thing to do if you want to reduce your exposure to cell phone radiation. So instead of walking around with your smartphone in your pocket, put it in your handbag, bag, or backpack.
Basically, carry it somewhere away from your body. For example, if in a car, put it in the glove compartment. If at home or work, put it on a table or desk.
3. Avoid using your phone when it has a low signal
The more energy your smartphone uses, the more RF energy it emits. This is particularly the case when your smartphone has a low cell signal (i.e. when only one or two cell signal bars are displayed). That’s because in areas with poor reception, your smartphone emits more RF energy in order to stay connected with the nearest towers.
If you’re in an area with a poor signal, wait until you move to an area with better reception before calling someone, if you can. Alternatively, send a text rather than call.
Likewise, if you’re in a car, bus, or train, try to avoid using your smartphone. Again, this is because your phone emits more RF energy as it tries to maintain a connection with nearby cell towers.
Lastly, when waiting for your call to connect, avoid holding your smartphone to your ears. This is because your phone emits more RF energy when making the initial connection.
4. Don’t sleep with your phone
A good way of reducing your exposure to cell phone radiation is to keep your phone away from you when you sleep. This means either switching it off completely or keeping it on airplane mode.
Alternatively, if you need to keep your smartphone connected (perhaps because you’re expecting a possible call in the night), put it somewhere on the other side of your bedroom.
Either way, don’t fall asleep with your smartphone still connected and in your bed.
5. Be careful when streaming
According to the California Department of Public Health, you should avoid holding your smartphone when streaming or downloading media. Doing either of these things increases the RF energy produced by your phone, so you want to make sure that you’re not holding it against your head when streaming or downloading.
If you tend to stream movies or music on your smartphone regularly, it may be a better idea to download your media first, and then watch or listen once the download has finished. In addition, it’s safer to put your smartphone in airplane mode when watching a film or TV program or listening to music.
6. Don’t use “shielding” products
You may come across “radiation shield” and other “shielding” products claiming to block RF energy, electromagnetic fields, or cell phone radiation. It’s actually not a very good idea to buy any of these, since according to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, there is no evidence that these products and covers actually reduce your exposure to radiation emissions. In fact, the FTC says products that interfere with your smartphone’s signal may force it to emit more RF energy in order to stay connected to a signal tower.
As such, “radiation shield” covers may inadvertently increase your exposure to cell phone radiation and lull you into a false sense of security. Avoid them and follow the five steps above instead.