As our cell phone use has gone up dramatically, so has our exposure to radiation. And that's particularly true when it comes to certain model handheld devices like the Blackberry and T-Mobile myTouch. Each cell phone has a Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) which has been limited to no more than 1.6 watts per kilogram (W/kg) as determined by the Federal Communications Commission. But it hasn't been easy for consumers to find out the SAR of a particular model phone—to rate its radiation, in other words. Now, the Environmental Working Group has released a report allowing cell phone users to do just that. The report breaks down models based on radiation emissions levels, with phone manufacturer Samsung clearly coming out on top. Of the top 10 low-emission cell phones, five were Samsung models. The Samsung Impression was rated the lowest at .15-.35 W/kg. The worst model, with the highest radiation, was the Motorola MOTO VU204, with 1.55 W/kg. Many popular models like the Apple iPhone (.97 W/kg) fell somewhere in the middle.
Scientists are just beginning to find real evidence of increased tumor risk among long-term cell phone users (prior studies were conflicting, since there were not enough people who had used cell phones over a long period). One joint study by European researchers found that those who had used cell phones for more than 10 years had a significantly increased risk of developing glioma, a usually malignant brain tumor, on the side of the head favored for cell phone conversations. Other diseases associated with long-term cell phone use include acoustic neuroma, a benign brain tumor on the cell-phone-side of the head (60% greater risk); benign parotid gland tumors and the highest risks for brain tumors among those who began using phones during adolescence.
Recommendations for limiting radiation exposure include using a hands-free headset, extending the antenna, limiting calls inside buildings and delaying or limiting use by young children.