Iphone radiation and health, a discussion

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by blow45, Jan 31, 2012.

  1. blow45 macrumors 68000

    Jan 18, 2011
    In view of the WHO's claim that cell phone radiation is potentially carcinogenic I would like to open up a thread to have an honest and informed discussion on this topic. I would discourage either apologist or alarmist thinking.

    My rudimentary research on the web has sadly led me nowhere as there are so many conflicting sources and vested interests. There's an indicator of the radiation absorbed by the body known as S.A.R. which I am sure many are aware of iand the iphone complies of course with current upper limits for it. It is however among the higher smartphones on S.A.R. Some sources on the web, with questionable reliability imho, claim that S.A.R. is not a valid indicator of potential dangers as the placement of the antenna within the phone and the strength of the signal (due to the quality of the antenna) also play a part in cell phone radiation. I am not convinced with this view and I find it dubious, or a way to justify higher SAR in some manufacturers, including apple. Also if SAR is not a good indicator then why is it the only approved one by authorities worldwide?

    There's also the issue of bluetooth headsets and cabled headphones. Is having a lower power signal such as bluetooth better, but then again by virtue of the proximity of bluetooth in the ear and the constant wearing of it from some users, doesn't that negate the positives of using one? And a cabled headphone is also said to be a better, safer option, but then again some claim since the cable itself becomes an antenna it isn't, and might even potentially be a worse choice.

    We all need to form an opinion here especially so when many of us have children who are even more vulnerable to radiation dangers. So please let's not derail the discussion with comments such as "oh well the sun and rocks radiate too" or "go hide in a faraday cage to avoid radiation."

    One last thing, I believe in view of Steve's battle with cancer that apple should be on the forefront of safer technology, cell phone radiation included. Yet for some reason they aren't themselves apparently researching this issue. And it's no small deal when an esteemed and responsible body such as the World Health Organization claims a potentially carcinogenic effect.

    At the end of the day we need to know which cell phones are safer, what makes a cell phone safer and what ways of usage and accessories also make it safer. And we can only do that via an informed discussion.

    peace. blow.
  2. Stealthipad macrumors 68040


    Apr 30, 2010
    This has been discussed so many times there is just nothing left to say!
  3. blow45 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Jan 18, 2011
    Is there a point in coming here and telling us it's been discussed without saying if you have formed an informed opinion and what is your usage based on that so so you can enlighten the rest of us. I don't think you reply and your attitude is helpful so If you feel you have nothing to gain here you might choose not to post.
  4. scaredpoet macrumors 604


    Apr 6, 2007
    On the contrary: stealthipad expressed an opinion that you're beating a dead horse. And I would agree with that opinion.

    At the moment, the research is largely at a stalemate. For every peer reviewed research study that indicates there may be a risk, there seems to be an equal number of peer-reviewed studies that refute this conclusion. The WHO, playing it safe while not really contributing much to the matter, has basically said that they think that cell phones are maybe carcinogenic.. along with drinking coffee.

    Interestingly, the WHO based assertion on a study conducted by Interphone that had some pretty contradictory results. The assertions made by Interphone are that:

    - Using a cell phone for more than 30 minutes per day may increase your risk for cancer.

    - Using a cell phone at all, but for less than 30 minutes per day, might actually decrease your risk of cancer.

    They then go on to downplay the negative risk results by claiming possible participation bias. But if true, such things would serve to taint all of their results, not just the part of their research that told them what they didn't want to hear.

    Unfortunately, there's a lot at stake, both from people with agendas to try to prove a link, and those seeking to disprove it. Both sides are getting wildly divergent results and then work hard to discredit what they disagree with.
  5. eawmp1 macrumors 601


    Feb 19, 2008
    The data is conflicting, and as of yet does not meet statistical significance to prove or disprove. Clearly, if there is an increased risk, it is small.

    Many things increase risk of disease. Considering there will only be an estimated 22,910 new cases and 13,700 deaths from ALL CNS (brain and spinal cord) cancers in the U.S. in 2012 (National Cancer Institute of the NIH), you would have to have a SIGNIFICANT cause/effect to see an increase in morbidity and mortality.

    It is more likely your cell phone will kill you behind the wheel of a car.

    While we should study the issue, I'd worry about other, more significant negative impacts on your health.
  6. blow45 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Jan 18, 2011
    Thanks very much for the eloquent and informative response, much, much appreciated. :)

    So what is your personal usage? Would you opt for a low SAR phone, would you use bluetooth or cable?
  7. elistan, Jan 31, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2012

    elistan macrumors 6502a

    Jun 30, 2007
    Denver/Boulder, CO
    The World Health Organization says http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs193/en/
    (The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is a WHO specialized agency.)

    Other items of note in Group 2B: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_IARC_Group_2B_carcinogens
    Coffee (urinary bladder)
    Diesel fuel, marine
    Engine exhaust, gasoline
    Pickled vegetables (traditional in Asia)

    So... I'm not worried at the moment.
  8. OceanView macrumors 65816

    Sep 16, 2005
    I would love to know a definitive answer to this but I am not sure if we would ever know the truth. It seems like there are way too many influential parties involved to suppress the truth or add conflicting studies to confuse us.
    Imagine the liability it would pose to the cell phone companies if a study found a link to cancer by way of cell phone use. It would be similar to the lawsuits to the cigarette industry. There are still smokers and I am sure there will still be cell phone users regardless of this happening.

    I do agree we need to reduce radiation as it can't be good for us.
  9. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6


    Aug 17, 2007
    Agreed. I think it is nothing but a scare tactic.
  10. blueroom macrumors 603


    Feb 15, 2009
    Toronto, Canada
    Living in a big city means you're going to be bombarded by all sorts of radiation. That's nothing compared to inhaling all those exhaust fumes plus avoiding the dangers of getting run over, mugged, shot...
  11. scaredpoet macrumors 604


    Apr 6, 2007
    the other problem here is that it's very easy to cross the line between being cautious, and being hysterical. In Canada, for instance, there's a movement afoot to ban WiFi in public schools, without any definitive research on the health effects of WiFi at all. Their basis is totally on the WHO classification of emitted RF energy as a "possible carcinogen."

    Are they also seeking to ban coffeepots and diesel/gasoline powered school buses? Are they encouraging their kids to ride bikes with gas masks on, to avoid inhaling fumes, as opposed to driving them there in automobiles? Probably not. But OMG THIS NEWFANGLED TECHNOLOGY MIGHT HURT MY BABIES. And so they fire off reactionary e-mails and set up online petitions to scare school administrators to rip out useful infrastructure from their schools... probably while connected to a home Wifi router.

    From the link:

    Got it folks? WiFi kills. Concerned Canadian parents say so!
  12. blow45 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Jan 18, 2011
    @scaredpoet fair point, but we are all tech savvy here, or most of us are, so let's not fall into their alarmism and hysteria.

    @ latnerxucha Exactly, thanks for reminding this and bringing the discussion back on track.

    Fair point, but the WHO is not the only one authority who has expressed serious concerns.

    In any case what concerns me more is whether I can make an informed decision via the SAR rating, and if bluetooth and/or plugged earphones are a good option. And I am very much taken aback by the fact that of all the dime a dozen tech gadgets blogs, all the "serious" computer and phone equipment websites, all the consumer testing groups, I can't find one report to compare radiation from these different set ups.
  13. reefoid macrumors regular

    Aug 5, 2011
    I agree it would be nice to have more info, but I wouldn't want Apple too involved in researching that, other than supplying any information requested. This kind of work should be totally independent. I don't trust Apple, or any other corporation for that matter, to be totally honest when it comes to something that could severely harm their bottom line.
  14. elistan, Jan 31, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2012

    elistan macrumors 6502a

    Jun 30, 2007
    Denver/Boulder, CO
    It's worth noting that the latnerxucha account was created today, has only four posts, and each post is restates part of a previous post verbatim but with the inclusion of a spam link to some tracking code. Its post is identical to one of the paragraphs in your opening post, for example.
    The tracking link is "http://www.************.com/track.php"
    I assume MacRumors is filtering out the actual site name.

    Well, you DID start the thread off by saying "In view of the WHO's claim..." ;)

    Anyway, here's some additional reading:
    (The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) is one of two organizations, according to the WHO - the other being the IEEE - to establish exposure guidelines for radio frequency EM fields.)
    The ICNIRP guideline has a Watt per kg SAR restriction of 2.0 for the general public.
    FCC requires all cellphones be 1.6 or lower.
    The iPhone 4S is 1.11.
  15. SR45, Jan 31, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2012

    SR45 macrumors 65832


    Aug 17, 2011
    Here, did a fast google search on the iPhone 4s. OP, you could have done the same.



    "All cell phones emit radio frequency (RF) energy and the SAR levels vary by model. For a phone to receive FCC certification and be sold in the United States, its maximum SAR level must be less than 1.6 W/kg. In Europe, the level is capped at 2 W/kg, while Canada allows a maximum of 1.6 W/kg."
  16. thelatinist macrumors 603


    Aug 15, 2009
    Connecticut, USA
    When someone can propose a plausible mutagenic mechanism cause by non-ionizing microwave radiation, then I'll be willing to talk. The fact is that just because something is "radiation" does not make it dangerous.
  17. old-wiz macrumors G3

    Mar 26, 2008
    West Suburban Boston Ma
  18. blow45, Jan 31, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2012

    blow45 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Jan 18, 2011
    Did you even read my post before patronizing me that I could have just googled the answer? I am well aware of the legislation and the iphones SAR ratings, I was enquiring about SAR validity with respect to... oh sod it, just read what I wrote instead and save me the moronic snarkyness...

    Ok so I guess we should all start smoking cigars too, practicing unsafe sex, drinking a gallon of vodka a day, and shooting up h cause oh well we live in a big city with so many environmental (in the broad sense) dangers...:rolleyes: I am a smoker, should I also not attempt to exercise and eat junk because anyway smoking is (and indeed it is) so bad for you?

    Why does a simple thread to get some decent info on such simple things as sar ratings and the relative merits of bluetooth and cable headphones come to this? Mobile phone radiation is a very real and important health risk, maybe in time we 'll find it wasn't so bad as some expected, maybe we will come to think of it as the tobacco of our times, but why derail threads seeking some simple pointers for safer usage to this?

    No people tend to want to make informed decisions about simple health risks they can avoid, and they seek out simple information about usage and other people tend to shoot them down because they want to vindicate their not wanting or not caring to know about said risks. And to top it up, they claim to know what the wrong or what the right things to worry about are. Oh, the audacity of this... I suppose you use your phone a lot and you don't want to be reminded of health risks and hence we get the knee jerk projection of lecturing others on what they should worry or not about. And to begin with who talked about worrying? Yet another projection. This thread is about to go to **** and still there's no info about some simple usage tips to avoid the potential impact of cell phone radiation.
  19. blueroom macrumors 603


    Feb 15, 2009
    Toronto, Canada
    Problem is very few folks will put their health above their convenience. We should but we don't. When's the last time you saw a pay-phone.

    I should eat salad, but I choose to eat Hamburger.
  20. blow45 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Jan 18, 2011
    fair enough, but I eat the occasional comfort food too, although I eat organic most of the time, I also exercise and recently started smoking again, we are all by and large mixed bags of healthy and unhealthy choices.

    I think there's more to this issue with cell phones and the constant apologist attitude you see on such forums and the intended confusion major corporations have created over radiation dangers, when there should have been a demand for more research and healthier safer phones. I think there's an attachment (bordering on fetishism) to our phones and the lifestyle they afford us and many are too scared to think they might be affecting their health so they immediately deny or shoot down any discussion on this with a constant line of non sequiturs such as "radiation is all around us anyway", "there are more important health risks in life", blah blah ad nausem... falling right into the trap of the massively wealthy cell phone operators and manufacturers who are staunchly resisting taking any responsibility of potential health dangers and constantly paying left right and centre for ANY opposing research to any claim to ill health effects just keep their big fat bottom lines. I 've made so many attempts in my op to pre-empt such attitude here but to no avail. I guess the fear, fetishism, attachment, and also as you say convenience is so entrenched that no matter how one pre-empts a discussion to avoid going that way and to only engage those who really do want to make a few better decisions wrt their health it almost always ends up this way, esp. so if we are talking about the arch fetish phone the iphone...:)

    Oh well, at least I tried to find out if I should get a low sar phone and if I should use my iphone with bluetooth or cabled earphones...
  21. elistan macrumors 6502a

    Jun 30, 2007
    Denver/Boulder, CO
    No. His point just happens to come a very different base assumption than yours. Your point of view is that cell phones bring a significant risk of cancer. His point of view is that there is a negligible risk of cancer from cell phones, and therefore the risks of exhaust fumes and getting mugged are of much more immediate concern. Only after he feels he has reasonably protected himself from those other dangers would he feel it necessary to be concerned with the possibility of cancer from cell phones.

    Because your thread has been taken to be a "do cell phones cause cancer?" sort of question, which is a hot-button topic for people. Especially when you include "save the children!" sort of commentary. I think your actual questions can be summed up below:
    - Is a specific absorption rate (SAR) of 2.0 watts per kg of body mass safe?
    - Are measurements of SARs in the 100 kHz to 300 gHz range from electronic devices valid?
    - What SAR results from wearing a bluetooth earpiece?

    Here's some info on how the FCC tests cell phone SARs:

    They put the phones right against their test dummies - so if we assume that SAR is proportional to signal strength (I have no idea, really,) moving the handset from, say, 1cm to 10cm means the SAR is reduced from 1.11 to 0.01.

    One source I found says that a typical SAR from a bluetooth headset is 0.001 watts per kg. About the same as an iPhone 33cm away.

    Not according to my reading of news and studies, nor my understanding of radiation and DNA.
  22. blow45, Jan 31, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2012

    blow45 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Jan 18, 2011
    No, you are wrong, and it's silly of you to defend a rather inane argument. My request for a better informed decision is irrelevant to whether cell phones might or might not bring a risk of cancer, since if I can lower my exposure to radiation via any of the means I mentioned (lower SAR, bluetooth, cable) then I am better protected to any potential carcinogenic effect that might be uncovered in the future. I am well aware of the multitude of health risks around us, that doesn't mean I shouldn't care about a certain risk where if I were better informed I could very easily minimize that potential risk. And as I said to the op, just because car fumes exist doesn't mean I shouldn't care about other lesser potential risks to my health. All the more so when mugging and car fumes are not something I can easily control via simple choices. ;)

    It's exactly like I said, the fear of cancer and fetishistic attachment of people to their cell phones has people hijacking the thread and taking it there defensively. I never asked, debated or enquired on whether cell phones do or do not cause cancer, I asked on SAR, bluetooth, cable earphones and how one measures what extent radiation they are exactly getting. The point of mentioning WHO was there to say that there is at least SOME indication that they might so a discussion on lower radiation and how to go about getting a product with lower radiation values is pertinent.

    In terms of the "save the children" comment, it is a medical FACT that younger brains are more susceptible to radiation's effects? It's not an opinion, it is a FACT. And again it's not about if cell phones cause cancer but how to find a way to gauge a phone so you ll get a young brain to receive less radiation.

    I don't mean to be patronizing, but how old are you, cause you seem like some young friends I have who seem to constantly reply to what they think one is saying instead of what that person actually says, and they do it with particular fervour.

    I know how they calculate SAR this is all very rudimentary, the minor points on antenna placement, signal strength etc. as they relate to SAR and if it's a sufficient or indicative enough indicator is my issue.

    Do some of you guys actually read the op of the thread or are you replying to imaginary arguments by other people in other situations?

    (in terms of your reading and understanding... since I guess you are not an authority on neither dna nor non ionizing radiation, it's only your not so informed opinion as is of course mine a not so informed opinion, in any case this is not the point of the discussion here, it's an aside.)

    edit: thanks for the comparison of the SAR for bluetooth, much appreciated and finally to the point of my op, may I ask where you found this indication, which seems btw rather encouraging for bluetooth use.
  23. scaredpoet, Jan 31, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2012

    scaredpoet macrumors 604


    Apr 6, 2007
    No, but one thing that we do know for sure: even if you take the most pessimistic studies about cell phone radiation, your smoking habit is doing far more damage to you and and is magnitudes more likely to kill you than your iPhone is. And the risk associated with smoking doesn't change by doing a bunch of push-ups or eating healthier. Aside from the other, much more significant risk factors for cancer that apply to you out of merely living in an industrial society, you have chosen to push cell phone radiation even further down the list of things likely to kill you by willfully inhaling noxious compounds, and yet that is what you're choosing to harp over here. A little cognitive dissonance, anyone?

    So, really, you have little to worry about from your phone if you're not worried about your smoking.

    Why are you surprised? The first two posts by people other than you in this thread warned you about beating a dead horse. Of course this was going to happen.

    The data conflicts, and in the aggregate is inconclusive. This forum isn't going to solve that problem.

    Again, there is no conclusive evidence to support this. You have based your entire premise on presuming that cell phones being dangerous is a fact when quite frankly, no one can yet say that with even even moderate certainty.

    Free advice: quit smoking, then you can preach to the rest of us about health risks. :)
  24. DroidRules macrumors 65816

    Aug 10, 2010

    Sure there is...... he's basically telling you that your discussion is nothing new, you're not original and this has been covered time and time again. Seems pretty simple to me.
  25. pilot1226 macrumors 6502a


    Mar 18, 2010
    Blow, if you're concerned about using your phone, any brand, I'd suggest you keep it as far away from your head (volume turned higher as necessary) as possible.

    The very scientific nature of radiation decreases exponentially the farther from the source you get. Read the iPhone manual - keep it off your head, you're not supposed to touch your head with it at any time while talking.

    The best bet, I think, would be to hold the iPhone in your hand (or on a desk, etc) and use a Bluetooth headset. Bluetooth uses an enormously lesser amount of radiation in comparison, despite the fact they're both wirelessly driven.

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