The cell phone radiation SAR test has 23 different ways to screw up the result of the FCC-required compliance test.

Take a look at all the things that the FCC admits can go wrong during a SAR test!!  (What’s SAR?)

The text below (in italics labeled “Measurement Uncertainties”) is copied right out of the FCC’s own SAR compliance testing document, Evaluating Compliance with FCC Guidelines for Human Exposure to Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields: Supplement C (Edition 01-01) to OET Bulletin 65 (Edition 97-01).

This FCC document identifies 23 different ways the cell phone radiation (SAR) test results can be corrupted by a testing facility.  How disturbing to find out that this vital consumer safety testing procedure is likely to result in “measurement uncertainty!

Manufacturers (e.g.; RIM, maker of all BlackBerrys) are also allowed by the FCC to use the faulty procedure to test cell phone radiation in their own labs and report the results using an “honor system.”  Talk about allowing the fox to guard the hen house!  Also requiring a ridiculously complex compliance test that provides 0% confidence that the results are representative of the actual radiation effect on consumers…..what kind of regulatory oversight is that?!

The FCC is required by federal law to regulate a cell phone’s microwave radiation impact on a consumer’s body during a call.

The upper limit of absorption for heating parts of the brain and organs of a simulated human body during the test is 1.6 SAR.  The CTIA (powerful cell phone industry lobby) and FCC claim that as long as a cell phone’s SAR test result is under this 1.6 limit, it is deemed “safe”.  Well, given all the errors and uncertainties inherent in the SAR test, how can a consumer be guaranteed their cell phone’s max SAR test result IS actually below 1.6?

The actual text from the FCC’s testing document followed by all cell phone manufacturers seeking compliance appears below.  See for yourself:

_____________________________________________

MEASUREMENT UNCERTAINTIES

Measurement uncertainties are calculated using the tolerances of the instrumentation used in the measurement, the measurement setup variability, and the technique used to perform the SAR evaluation.

The overall uncertainty is calculated in part by identifying uncertainties in the instrumentation chain used in performing each of the procedures in the evaluation. Methods for evaluating and expressing measurement uncertainties can be found in the NIST Technical Note 1297 (TN1297)24, entitled ”Guidelines for Evaluating and Expressing the Uncertainty of NIST Measurement Results”. Another source of reference is the NIS 81 document, entitled “The Treatment of Uncertainty in EMC published by the National Physical Laboratory of the United Kingdom.

(NOTE:  later in the document)…..

DOCUMENTING THE MEASUREMENT UNCERTAINTY OF SAR EVALUATIONS

A. Assessment Error (measurement system)

I.   Probe Calibration Error

1. Axial Isotropy Error

2. Hemispherical Isotropy Error

3. Spatial Resolution Tolerance

4. Boundary-effects Error

5. Linearity Error

6. Sensitivity Error

7. Response Time Error

8. Integration Time Error

II.  Readout Electronics Error

III. Errors from RF Ambient Conditions

IV. Probe Positioner Calibration Error (absolute)

V.  Probe Positioning Error with respect to the Phantom Shell

VI. Errors from the Extrapolation, Interpolation and Integration Algorithms

B.  RF Source Error (test device)

I.  Test Sample Output Power Drift Error

II. SAR Variation due to Performance Tolerance of the Test Sample

III. SAR Variation due to Tolerance of Production Units

C. Test Device Positioning Error

I.   Test Sample Positioning Error

II.  Device Holder or Positioner Tolerance

D. Phantom and Setup Errors (See Reference[19])

I. Phantom Production Tolerance (shape and thickness)

II. Target Liquid Conductivity Tolerance

III. Measured Liquid Conductivity Error

IV. Target Liquid Permittivity Tolerance

V. Measured Liquid Permittivity Error

SAR is the test required by the FCC to measure heat absorption in the body from radiation exposure during a cell phone call.

 

The heat that builds up when our body parts are exposed to the microwave radiation of our cell phone is called SAR, an acronym for Specific Absorption Rate.  Before a new cell phone can be marketed to consumers, the manufacturer must submit to the FCC their own SAR testing results for the device .  (It’s basically like the honor system as there is little, if any, oversight of the SAR testing values reported.)  The FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) checks the manufacturer’s documents to make sure that the SAR levels didn’t exceed 1.6 watt/kg during the test.  So, that’s why all cell phones have a SAR rating less than 1.6.  The lower the SAR, the lower the radiation emission.  However, it’s a bit more complicated than that.

Each phone must make public two separate SAR ratings: one when held at the ear, and the other when tested on the body.  NOTE: (“on the body” is misleading because the FCC allows the manufacturer to test their phone while positioned in a holster held .6 – 1 ” away from the body NOT when the phone is really ON our body like when we carry it in a pocket or wherever.)

Why make a big deal about 1″?  The radiation emitted from a phone in the pocket can be almost 16 times the radiation emitted with the phone held 1 inch away in a holster!!  This is why no one should ever carry, and especially not use, a phone in the pocket.

When you receive or make a call or receive a text message while the phone is in your pocket (next to your heart, breast or reproductive organs)…well, the manufacturer isn’t required to test for that.  And, it is a fact that a phone with a high SAR value “on the body when in a holster” will expose the user to much greater than the FCC-allowed safety limit when carried in the pocket against the body.

Everyone knows that the typical way to carry a cell phone is in the pocket.  Right?  Well, tell that to the entire cell phone industry which has convinced the FCC that this is not true.  The FCC’s documents state that the typical way of carrying a cell phone around is on a belt clip/holster.  Yeah, maybe 15 years ago!!  How many kids and young adults have you seen with their cell phone “mounted” in a holster?  What a joke!  So, hang on while you read this:  the FCC allows manufacturers to test their phone while in a holster and no one knows how dangerously high the radiation levels can be when carried or held closer than .6 – 1″ to the body because no one is required to test it in this manner.

As if that isn’t bizarre enough, check this out: all the charts, and even the SAR values reported by the manufacturers on their websites or in their user manuals (when you can find the data which is purposely hidden or obscured in fine print) call this “on the body in a holster test” simply “SAR value on the body” implying that the test was done “on the body”.

This is deceptive, and CTIA and the cell phone industry are doing nothing about it.

Few people are aware that radiation penetrates more deeply in the soft tissues of the body….the skull actually deflects a lot of the radiation.  There have been tests that clearly show that the reproductive organs are most vulnerable to the heating effects of cell phone radiation.  It is to the cell phone industry’s advantage for us to remain unaware that there is no testing done to ensure cell phones meet the safety standard when carried or used directly on the body as in a pocket or tucked in a waistband or bra.

Get informed.  Find out the SAR level of a phone before you purchase it.  There are a few websites that inform consumers about the SAR values of most cell phones.  CNET’s list may be the most popular, however, it is misleading because it only lists the SAR rating at the ear.   A phone can be listed as relatively low on CNET’s radiation chart, but actually have the highest SAR value on the market according to the SAR value when tested “on the body in a holster”.  This is the case with the LG Xenon which has a fairly low SAR value at the ear of .5, however, one of the highest SAR values allowed of 1.5 when it was tested “on the body in a holster”.  Also, many of CNET’s SAR values are just flat out wrong when fact-checked against the FCC’s website for accuracy.

The following website lists the highest SAR value (whether at the ear or on the body in a hoster) for each phone sold.  This is a more thorough method of reporting compared to CNET’s which is incomplete.  (Note:  I don’t endorse the SAR shield products as I don’t know for certain that radiation shields do anything other than make the user feel safer):

http://www.sarshield.com/english/radiationchart.htm

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BlackBerry users are told to carry their cell phones in their pockets!

RIM’s radiation testing engineers know that encouraging consumers to carry their cell phone in their pocket is in direct violation of federal compliance guidelines.  The FCC requires RIM to warn all users to never carry or use a phone closer than 1″ to the body when connected to a network or they will be exposed to radio frequency emissions that exceed the federal limit.  RIM currently includes this FCC required radiation warning in all user guides, although they continue to hide it in fine print technical jargon in a section of the user guide that no one will ever see.

Warning consumers about the 1 separation distance is a federal compliance requirement by the FCC…. to disregard this radiation testing compliance directive is a blatant violation of 47 CFR Part 15.

RIM is also ordered by the FCC Office of Engineering and Technology in its compliance testing grant documents that “End-users must be informed of the body-worn operating requirements for satisfying RF exposure compliance.”

Yet, RIM’s marketing department displays the following tagline on their website to entice BlackBerry Pearl users to tuck the phone in their pocket:

“BlackBerry Pearl – Carry Your Friends in Your Pocket”

(http://us.blackberry.com/smartphones/blackberrypearl.jsp)

So, RIM continues to tell us that it’s OK to carry your phone in your pocket, even if doing so exposes our bodies to radiation levels that exceed maximum federal safety limits.

How about RIM’s Pocket Pouch?  Nope, it’s in violation of federal compliance guidelines, too!

Leave it to RIM’s marketing department to come up with another way to ignore federal regulatory radiation guidelines.  If positioning the cell phone in a pocket against the body, the pouch does NOT provide the 1″ separation distance as required by FCC law, so it is therefore not a compliant use.  To encourage their customers to use their products in a potentially unsafe manner is not an ethical marketing practice.

 

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FCC’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs website: “SAR for Cell Phones, What it Means for You” was deleted and completely re-written on September 20, 2010 to conform to CTIA’s (powerful cell phone industry’s lobby) party line that every cell phone is perfectly safe even if held directly against the body when transmitting (a situation the FCC requires that users be warned against due to it exposing consumers to unsafe SAR levels).   The previous, replaced version had only recently been updated 10 months earlier on November 5, 2009 to advise consumers to:

  • “Use an earpiece or headset.”
  • “Use the cell phone speaker.”
  • “Consider texting rather than talking.”
  • “Buy a wireless device with lower SAR.”
  • “If possible, keep wireless devices away from your body when they are on, mainly by not attaching them to belts or carrying them in pockets.”

Oh….the CTIA would NEVER go for publicizing all those safety precautions!!

[To read the FCC-required safety warning that the industry is hiding from consumers, read this previous post.]

That might imply cell phones are not the benign, safe consumer devices we’ve been led to believe they are.  Did the CTIA exert undue influence over the federal agency that is supposed to protect us?

The “sanitizing” of the consumer cautions occurred right about the time it became apparent that San Francisco’s new law (that manufacturers must make public the SAR level for each phone) was going to pass and possibly ignite a national outcry in other places.  Environmental Working Group (EWG), a leading consumer watchdog over cell phone safety issues, has recently written, “The FCC has essentially cut and pasted the wireless industry’s position into its revised websites.”

As you know, my focus is on exposing the industry-wide deception that consumers are not being informed about the FCC-required safety warning to never carry their phones directly on the body as in a pocket.  So, I was particularly alarmed when FCC deleted off its website the previous consumer warning to “keep wireless devices away from your body when they are on, mainly by not attaching them to belts or carrying them in pockets.”  This warning had only appeared on the FCC website for 10 months – I wonder why it was suddenly deleted?

The EWG is also wondering and they have initiated legal proceedings to force the FCC (via the Freedom of Information Act) to disclose all communication with CTIA representatives regarding these recent changes to the consumer website.  Very interesting!  I’ll keep you posted on these developments.

So, if the FCC is taking its marching orders from the CTIA, then this change makes perfect sense.  Why else would the warning that users should never carry their phones in their pockets have been deleted?  The FCC requires every cell phone manufacturer to warn users to never hold or carry the phone in their pockets – so why would they backpedal on making this knowledge public?!  It could only be to appease the CTIA whose job is to protect their manufacturers’ profits by making sure people don’t see the consumer safety warnings.

Just to repeat this undisputed fact because this is difficult for some people to believe:   the FCC requires every manufacturer to inform the consumer to never hold the phone closer than .6 – 1” from the body when on OR THE PHONE DOES NOT MEET THE SAFETY STANDARD AND CAN NOT BE SOLD LEGALLY IN THE US.  This is due to the fact that all cell phones are allowed to be tested while held up to 1” away from the testing body so the SAR level is manipulated to fall under the 1.6 safety limit.  (To understand why this 1” really is a big deal, read: “The FCC’s warning to maintain a 1” separation between a cell phone and your body really is a big deal!”)

 

“We’re all lab rats in the cell phone industry’s global experiment to prove that their products really DON’T have the negative health impacts that physicians and scientists throughout the world are warning us about.  Who do YOU believe?”  Cynthia Franklin,  Consumers for Safe Cell Phones

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Check YOUR cell phone — See if you can find the warning label…

If you receive texts or calls while the phone is on your body (in a pocket or tucked into the waistband of your pants, or wherever) you are exceeding radiation exposure guidelines established by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

So, how many of you have seen this warning???

It appears in the ‘fine print’ of the user manual packaged with most cell phones. Is it in yours? It’s important to take the time to look.

Unfortunately, there was no warning in the product literature that came with the BlackBerry Pearl that I bought from AT & T. None. Nada. I carried my BlackBerry Pearl around in my pocket for 8 months, being exposed to unknown levels of radiation before I became “enlightened.”

I decided to do a little research on my BlackBerry Pearl. And, what I found out is alarming.

Here’s a quote from the website of BlackBerry’s manufacturer, Research in Motion (RIM):

If you do not use a body-worn accessory supplied or approved by RIM when you carry the BlackBerry device, keep the device at least 0.98 inches (25 mm) from your body when the BlackBerry device is turned on and connected to a wireless network.”

Translated this means: You’re NEVER supposed to hold the BlackBerry Pearl (and possibly other BlackBerry devices) closer than 1 inch from your body when it’s turned on!

Like I’m supposed to MEASURE the distance between my phone and my body?!

How about my 17-year-old daughter who gets 3,500 text messages a month with the phone in her pocket? Not held an inch away, but right next to her reproductive organs? The guys she hangs around with also carry their phones in their pockets….right next to their family jewels. What level of radiation are these kids exposed to in a month’s time?!

What the *&%+ is going on?!

A warning this important should have a neon label on the package where the user will see it:

Don’t carry this device in your pocket or you will be exposed to radiation that exceeds federal guidelines.

This would make sense if the manufacturer actually wanted to warn the user.

When I called the BlackBerry manufacturer and asked why there wasn’t a warning in the product literature that came with the phone, a RIM vice president told me to not worry because all RIM BlackBerry products meet FCC radiation emission guidelines.

Not quite true. Blackberry products only meet the FCC radiation guidelines IF you carry the phone in a “RIM approved” holster and NEVER in your pocket. (Oh, those pesky little details…)

My next step was to go find actual warnings from a sample of user manuals that were packaged with phones other than BlackBerrys. Here’s what I found:

  • Apple iPhone – “For body-worn operation, iPhone’s SAR measurement may exceed the FCC exposure guidelines if positioned less than 15 mm (5/8th inch) from the body….for body-worn operation, keep iPhone at least 15 mm (5/8th inch) away from the body.”
  • LG Shine (AT&T) – “To comply with FCC RF exposure requirements, a minimum separation distance of 0.6 inches (1.5 cm) must be maintained between the user’s body and the back of the phone.”
  • Samsung SGH-a737 (AT&T) – “For body-worn operation, this phone has been tested and meets FCC RF exposure guidelines when used with an accessory that contains no metal and that positions the handset a minimum of 1.5 cm from the body.”
  • Motorola E815 (Verizon) - “If you wear the mobile device on your body, always place the mobile device in a Motorola-supplied or approved clip, holder, holster, case or body harness. If you do not use a body-worn accessory supplied or approved by Motorola, keep the mobile device and its antenna at least 2.5 centimeters (1 inch) from your body when transmitting.”
  • LG VX8350 (Verizon) – “This device was tested for typical use with the back of the phone kept 0.6 inches (1.5 cm) from the body. To comply with FCC RF exposure requirements, a minimum separation distance of 0.6 inches (1.5 cm) must be maintained between the user’s body and the back of the phone, including the antenna, whether extended or retracted.”

Verizon happens to provide users with a separate, bright red, 2-page pamphlet called “Consumer Information about Radio Frequency Emissions.” That’s very cool, except it fails to warn the user not to carry the phone around in the pocket or directly on the body. In fact, it seems to say “no problem.” How bizarre is that?!

“Wireless phones marketed in the US are required to meet safety requirements regardless of whether they are used against the head or against the body. Either configuration should result in compliance with the safety limit.”

This quote that Verizon uses is from the FDA/FCC website. Oh, great! Our very own US federal agencies…you know, the ones that regulate cell phone radiation… are giving the manufacturers an excuse to avoid warning the consumer that “against the body” actually means using a holster – a holster that you have to buy even though it’s required when you wear the device on your body. To add insult to injury, the cell phone industry has figured out how to scam an additional $15 – $25 out of us when we buy a new phone. What a lucrative marketing strategy.

Go find your user manual that came with your phone. See for yourself. Or, if you don’t have the user guide any more, or there wasn’t a safety section in the package about “body-worn operation” or “radio frequency (RF) safety,” call Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile or whoever sold you the phone. Check it out.

BlackBerry users that purchased phones without the radio frequency safety warning to not carry the device directly on your body may need to contact RIM directly to verify this information:

RIM’s customer support line: 1-877-255-2377 (toll free)

Get a holster if you carry your phone around on your body…and don’t put the thing in your pants, pocket or wherever…unless you want to expose yourself to more microwave radiation than FCC allows. That’s right. Microwave radiation – the radio frequency that comes out of a cell phone when we make a call, send a text message or download something off the internet is the same frequency as the radiation that cooks food in a microwave oven.

To read more articles about the issues related to cell phone manufacturers hiding the safety warnings from consumers, goto:

www.labrat4sar.wordpress.com