Cell Phone Safety Tips for Limiting Radiation

by / Wednesday, 12 December 2012 / Published in Healthy Building Inspections & Testing
cell phone safety

Cell Phone Safety Tips for Limiting Radiation

There are many safety tips that focus on immediate life and safety.

Here are some examples of common cell phone safety tips:

  • Don’t drive while using a cell phone
  • Don’t cross the street while engaged in conversation on a cell phone
  • If a police officer tells you to lower your weapon – drop or slowly put down your cell phone!
These cell phone safety tips seem pretty obvious and boring to me… although the last one does conjure up an action scene.

Cell Phone Safety Tips for Limiting Radiation

cell phone safety

Man’s profile in thermal image on the left before cell phone use and on the right same thermal image profile after 15 minutes of cell phone use.

Our clients are more concerned about the longer-term health implications of prolonged exposure to radiation from cell phones. A group of prominent doctors and public health researchers issued a letter of caution on cell phone use in 2008. One of the leading signatories was Dr. Ronald Herberman, who was then the head of the University of Pittsburg Cancer Institute. Dr. Devra Lee Davis, founding director of the Center for Environmental Oncology at U of Pittsburg, also played a pivotal role in drafting the letter of warning about mobile phone use. Devra Lee Davis founded the Environmental Health Trust in 2007.

When the letter came out it caused quite a stir. I was fortunate to save a copy to my hard drive before it mysteriously disappeared from public view and vanished from the University of Pittsburg website. (Some speculate industry pressure from major cell phone donors.) Now it’s actually quite hard to find the letter. So I’ve decided to share a redlined copy of the letter here:


TO: UPCI Faculty and Staff

FROM: Ronald B. Herberman, MD

SUBJECT: Important Precautionary Advice Regarding Cell Phone Use

Recently I have become aware of the growing body of literature linking long-term cell phone use to possible adverse health effects including cancer. Although the evidence is still controversial, I am convinced that there are sufficient data to warrant issuing an advisory to share some precautionary advice on cell phone use.

An international expert panel of pathologists, oncologists and public health specialists, recently declared that electromagnetic fields emitted by cell phones should be considered a potential human health risk. To date, a number of countries including France, Germany and India have issued recommendations that exposure to electromagnetic fields should be limited. In addition, Toronto’s Department of Public Health is advising teenagers and young children to limit their use of cell phones, to avoid potential health risks.

More definitive data that cover the health effects from prolonged cell phone use have been compiled by the World Health Organization, International Agency for Research on Cancer. However, publication has been delayed for two years. In anticipation of release of the WHO report, the following prudent and simple precautions, intended to promote precautionary efforts to reduce exposures to cell phone electromagnetic radiation, have been reviewed by UPCI experts in neuro-oncology, epidemiology, neurosurgery and the Center for Environmental Oncology.

Practical Advice to Limit Exposure to Electromagnetic Radiation Emitted from Cell Phones

1. Do not allow children to use a cell phone, except for emergencies. The developing organs of a fetus or child are the most likely to be sensitive to any possible effects of exposure to electromagnetic fields.

Alex Stadtner note: children’s skulls are less dense and their brains are smaller resulting in higher penetration rates to a larger portion of the brain.

2. While communicating using your cell phone, try to keep the cell phone away from the body as much as possible. The amplitude of the electromagnetic field is one fourth the strength at a distance of two inches and fifty times lower at three feet. Whenever possible, use the speaker-phone mode or a wireless Bluetooth headset, which has less than 1/100th of the electromagnetic emission of a normal cell phone. Use of a hands-free ear piece attachment may also reduce exposures.

Alex Stadtner note: We’ve measured some “Bluetooth” handsfree devices that have pretty high readings, so personally I prefer a plugged-in headset. The “BlueTube” type seems to be the best for minimizing exposure.

3. Avoid using your cell phone in places, like a bus, where you can passively expose others to your phone’s electromagnetic fields.

Alex Stadtner note: I’m glad they thought to include this conscious concept of not polluting other’s environment!

4. Avoid carrying your cell phone on your body at all times. Do not keep it near your body at night such as under the pillow or on a bedside table, particularly if pregnant. You can also put it on “flight” or “off-line” mode, which stops electromagnetic emissions.

Alex Stadtner note: On the iPhone it’s called “airplane mode” and accessed from the primary “settings” icon that looks like gears. Putting it in airplane mode will stop RF (radio frequency) transmission, but there are still lower frequency magnetic fields emitted from the phone while it is on.

5. If you must carry your cell phone on you, make sure that the keypad is positioned toward your body and the back is positioned toward the outside so that the transmitted electromagnetic fields move away from your rather than through you.

Alex Stadtner note: On the phones we’ve tested this does appear to be true because of intentional shielding or the strategic location of the phone’s antenna in a location less likely to be obstructed (by your head).

6. Only use your cell phone to establish contact or for conversations lasting a few minutes, as the biological effects are directly related to the duration of exposure. For longer conversations, use a land line with a corded phone, not a cordless phone, which uses electromagnetic emitting technology similar to that of cell phones.

7. Switch sides regularly while communicating on your cell phone to spread out your exposure. Before putting your cell phone to the ear, wait until your correspondent has picked up. This limits the power of the electromagnetic field emitted near your ear and the duration of your exposure.

Alex Stadtner note: Some studies have shown a correlation between which side of the head a cell phone user holds the phone and where tumors develop.

cell phone safety

EMF Radiation Brain Images

8. Avoid using your cell phone when the signal is weak or when moving at high speed, such as in a car or train, as this automatically increases power to a maximum as the phone repeatedly attempts to connect to a new relay antenna.

Alex Stadtner note: Another great reason not to use your cell phone in the car is you’re inside a metal box! RF travels like a bullet – but is easily ricocheted whenever it hits metal. Transmitting RF in a metal cage leads to RF bouncing around several times before exiting the vehicle and increasing overall exposure levels. We did an interesting test using a plug-in cell phone cradle connected to an external car antenna and found reductions of RF inside the car above 50%.

9. When possible, communicate via text messaging rather than making a call, limiting the duration of exposure and the proximity to the body.

10. Choose a device with the lowest SAR possible (SAR = Specific Absorption Rate, which is a measure of the strength of the magnetic field absorbed by the body). SAR ratings of contemporary phones by different manufacturers are available by searching for “sar ratings cell phones” on the internet.

Alex Stadtner note: This final suggestion only really addresses heat (thermal) effects, and therefore is a very limited way of evaluating a phone’s overall EMF impact. However, if given the option, let the industry know we prefer low-SAR phones and hopefully they’ll start to listen to our other concerns.


Ultimately it’s a personal decision whether or not to own a mobile phone. Convenience verses the unknown health effects? Only in the past 10 years have they become so prevalent in our society, yet people cannot imagine life without a cell phone!

As a small business owner who is on the road a lot, I do have a cell phone. I currently use the (Verizon) iPhone 4s primarily as an answering and call-forwarding machine, but sometimes I do find myself making a call… and when I do… I follow the above cell phone safety guidelines as part of a precautionary approach to surviving my oh-so convenient life.

Cell Phone Safety

iPhone Airplane Mode – Cell Phone Safety Tips


24 Responses to “Cell Phone Safety Tips for Limiting Radiation”

  1. […] Cell Phone Safety Tips for Limiting Radiation […]

  2. alessia cara says :

    i loved your articles about How Know About Mobile Radiations, even I have posted one blog on the same: https://techgigi.com/know-mobile-radiations/ . hope you will also like my info too…
    you are my inspiration, keep about keep updating your blogs ….

  3. Alex Stadtner says :

    Yes. Having the blue-tooth function turned on results in additional RF emissions from your phone, computer, car, etc. If your goal is to reduce RF exposure it’s best to turn off the bluetooth function and go hard-wired. Same with the wi-fi option.

  4. Alex Stadtner says :

    In theory, switching your phone to airplane mode means it will not be transmitting (sending) any messages out using radio frequency (RF) radiation. The phone may still create low-frequency magnetic fields. We don’t comment on healthy risks, but everyone has a risk of cancer regardless of how you use your phone.

  5. nicolas khattar says :

    When you use a Bluetooth earpiece device you’re exposing yourself to an additional source of radiation. Your cell phone acts as a relay by emitting radiation between the cell phone tower and your correspondent. When you add Bluetooth into the equation your cell phone also emits another form of radiation, Bluetooth radiation, between your cell phone and your Bluetooth earpiece.
    is it true?

  6. nicolas khattar says :

    putting my phone on airplane mode is 100% free of RF ? so i dont have any risk of cancer ?

  7. Alex Stadtner says :

    Most devices can be turned into hard-wired, even if you think they’re wifi-only. There are many you-tube videos about common hacks.

    Disabling or turning off the wi-fi on each device will reduce exposure. Right. Turn off your devices or disable their wifi transmission and your RF exposure will be reduced.

    Not sure if simply pulling the SIM card would disable the wifi or not. Good luck. Sounds like you’re on the right track.

  8. David Long says :

    Thanks Alex, but was thinking that at least my WI-FI only device wouldn’t be struggling to make contact with the telephone tower, and actually the signal is weak in our condo so it would increase the transmission power as the article said, so whilst all the different factors you mentioned in your reply would still be there, at least one would be eliminated, being my device transmitting to the tower. (that’s how it works)

  9. Alex Stadtner says :

    When it comes to electronics in the bedroom there are many issues to consider including low-frequency electric and magnetic fields, radio frequency (RF) radiation, and the light (“screen time”). To my knowledge, whether or not your device has a SIM card wouldn’t impact any of the above variables.

  10. David Long says :

    At night I use smart phone for brousing etc so have next to bed. Would I be better off using a devise with no SIM card, like my IPad, using WI-FI?

  11. Alex Stadtner says :

    My understanding is that pagers are “receivers,” like a radio, so they do not transmit data or “emit” RF radiation.
    Though, I admit, I’ve never tested one or looked into the research. A land-line is the most obvious solution for when you’re at home… but a pager may be best for when you’re out and about.

  12. A says :

    Alex, are pagers/beepers any safer in terms of RF emission? I’m looking for something I can keep on my body when traveling, or in my bedroom, to forward the most important calls to so that I can turn my cellphone off, and I’ve been wondering if a pager would be a feasible solution. That way if my child’s school, etc, needs to get in touch in an emergency, I will be reachable. Thanks!

  13. Alex Stadtner says :

    Yes. A cell phone can emit low-frequency electric and magnetic fields when in airplane mode.

    In theory, it’s not supposed to emit radio frequency (RF) radiation while in airplane mode. In my experience they do not emit RF in airplane mode.

  14. Can cell phone emit radiation while on offline mode?

  15. […] Cell Phone Safety Tips for Limiting … – Cell Phone Safety Tips for Limiting Radiation. There are many safety tips that focus on immediate life and safety. Here are some examples of common mobile … […]

  16. Car in a Millers says :

    Good advice, thanks. I will pass this letter on 🙂
    I’m sure you have already, but if not Google Dr Barrie Trower on youtube and have a look at his website where he has posted document’s that microwave’s are indeed to 100 % health damaging. There is enough proof for that, but if the industry would admit this, they would have to admit that they have lied to the public for years and could lose Trillions per year the industry makes with mobile phones and wifi.
    All the best to you

  17. Amanda says :

    Thanks for the balanced information and discussion.

  18. Lisa says :

    Thank you so much for publishing this information.

  19. Alex Stadtner says :

    Thanks for the note. Cell phone safety is easy, and why not practice an ounce of precaution.
    We’ll try to publish some other best practices for minimizing EMF exposure soon.
    Working on some interesting case studies, including several on EMF/EMR mitigation, that should go live this month.
    Be well,

  20. Manoj Kumar HK says :

    Sir,thank you for the information! I am trying my best to follow all the safety measures.Hope i could share this info to many.

  21. Alex Stadtner says :

    As a rule, Healthy Building Science advocates reducing exposure as a priority and we only recommend actions that can have a measurable impact on exposure levels. Many people swear by the little sticky thingies on their phone, but from a practical standpoint we cannot measure (using scientific instruments) their impact. Therefore we do not recommend these thingies – and instead focus on distance, shielding, limited use, etc.

    There are many, many things that we do not understand and cannot yet measure. But for now, as a professional business service, we only standby what we can document and measure. This is not to discredit the thingy’s efficacy, only to say that we cannot measure its efficacy and therefore will not promote or recommend them.

  22. john burks says :

    very informative and easy to understand . I always thought we were playing Russian roulette when using our cell phones.i recently purchased a hologram disc to put on my battery in cell phone. although disc will not block emfs coming in it will go a long way towards neutralizing the harmful effects. check my website for more info. thanks, john burks

  23. How to unlock the iphone says :

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