Updated 1 August 2019
The mobile phone really has revolutionised our lives. And it’s happened in a relatively short space of time. I bought my first mobile phone around 17 years ago, even though I wasn’t sure that I’d ever use it.
Now, like just about everybody else, my mobile rarely leaves my side. And because phones have advanced so quickly, we’re using the technology without knowing much about the long term safety.
What we do know is that phones emit radiation. Although there is natural radiation on the earth and in our atmosphere, man made radiation is a different kettle of fish.
Intro: why you should try to reduce mobile phone radiation
What do we know about safer mobile phone use? The US Federal Communications Commission set legal limits on mobile phone (microwave) radiation exposure way back in 1996, when phones were extremely primitive compared to today’s smart phones. These regulations say that 20 cm is far enough away for safe use, and haven’t been updated since.
The main problem when it comes to research on mobile phone safety (aside from the billions of dollars at stake), is that it may take years, even decades, of use to show an effect on the body. Right now, there’s not enough research to say what the effects might be.
In general, it’s safe to say that children are at much higher risk than adults. They are more affected by the radiation because of their smaller heads, thinner skulls and more absorbent brain tissue. Children’s brains absorb twice as much microwave radiation as adults’, and unborn babies are even more susceptible.
Most children don’t, or can’t, hold mobile phones and tablets the required 20cms away from their bodies to help reduce mobile phone radiation. And most kids and teenagers will happily spend all day on their devices without firm guidelines from the adults in their lives.
Concerned scientists have appealed to the United Nations and the World Health Organisation for regulatory standards to be strengthened. Tech-forward countries such as France, Belgium and India have already passed updated laws and issued warnings about children’s mobile phone use.
It took decades before it was widely agreed that cigarettes were bad for your health. We could be waiting decades to be told that mobile phones are officially bad for us. So if want to know now how to reduce cell phone radiation that you and your family are constantly exposed to, read on.
Use a headset
You want to limit cell phone EMF (electromagnetic field) exposure to your head as much as possible. The ‘generally regarded as safe’ distance is 20 cm, which should be the minimum. Use a headset (either wired or wireless) whenever possible. Wireless headsets emit much less than mobile phone radiation, but there are concerns about in-ear wireless earbuds. They’re generally used for a lot longer than you’d talk on your mobile, and they’re stuck right next to your brain.
Airtube headsets seem to be the safest style to use. An airtube headset works by replacing the wire in a normal headset with flexible hollow tubes. The sound travels through the hollow tubes instead of wires, which gives you good quality sound, and doesn’t expose you to radiation. Otherwise, they work in the same way as wired headphones. They plug into the same jack, and even come with microphones so you can talk hands free.
By using an air tube headset (sometimes called a blue tube headset), you can keep your phone 20cms away from your body, and reduce your exposure to EMF radiation through the headset by up to 98%. I think that’s an investment worth making.
Defendershield are a well known US brand with good EMF protection airtube headphones. I can’t find them in Australia, but they’re available on Amazon and will ship here.
If you don’t have a headset handy, keep your phone on speaker and away from your body while talking.
Hold the phone away from your body
The most basic way to get some EMF reduction is to be aware of your phone’s distance from your body (it’s still emitting radiation even when not in use). Using a headset while talking won’t do much to keep you safe if your phone is in your pocket all the time. If you’re pregnant, always remember to keep the phone away from your belly – there is some evidence that foetal development can be affected by mobile phone use.
The good news is that even holding the phone 15 cm away “provides a 10,000-fold reduction in risk”. (This goes for baby monitors too. Don’t place them in your child’s cot.)
The best place for your mobile phone is inside a handbag or backpack, or on your desk or bedside table. Don’t keep it in your pocket or under your pillow at night – a pillow does nothing for EMF shielding. This is especially important for children and teenagers to remember.
Talk less and text more
Another basic way to get some EMF protection is to send a text instead of calling. Texting tends to keep your phone away from vulnerable areas, such as your brain. The radiation from iphone and other phones is lower when texting as compared to talking.
Call when the signal is strong
Mobile phones have to work much harder to connect when the signal is weak. Calling when you’ve got lots of bars helps reduce cell phone radiation, as there’s less exposure when the signal is strong.
Keep your phone away from your head while the call is connecting, too, as that’s when your phone sends out the strongest signal, and therefore strong radiation.
Set firm limits with your children
Mobile phone radiation protection is most important to the most vulnerable members of our family. Even if mobile phone use is eventually proven to be absolutely safe, children weren’t meant to grow up staring at a screen for hours every day. You can get anti radiation cases for their devices, but kids need to get out in the fresh air and socialise with real people instead of watching videos and playing games all the time.
If your kids are accustomed to unlimited use of their mobile devices, they won’t like the limits at first. The best way to teach safer mobile phone use is to model it for them. As we all know, children do what you do, not what you say.
Have a frank talk and explain your concerns in an age appropriate way.
Put your phone away and your kids will follow suit.
Play outside with them. Read to them, or play a board game together.
Above all, show your leadership by accepting the limits on yourself first.
Get EMF protection for your mobile phone and other devices
An easy way to get cell phone EMF protection is to use a radiation blocking phone case. Not just any case, but one that has been tested in an independent lab and is a proven EMF blocker.
Through my research, I’ve found a few that I’d recommend. It seems that the best anti radiation phone case design is the flip case, which you close while you’re talking.
Defendershield is independently tested in an FCC certified lab, and blocks up to 99.9% of Radio Frequency (RF) radiation, plus 98.25% of Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) radiation.
That’s some of the best EMF protection you can get.
The Defendershield cases look good, too, and they’re really functional with the magnetic backing so you can easily pop your phone out when you need.
It’s important to note that you need to use your phone case properly. With the Defendershield case, you make the call, then close the phone case and talk with the case closed.
SafeSleeve is another brand that has been independently tested by an FCC accredited lab. It blocks up to 99% of RF radiation, up to 92% of ELF radiation, as well as thermal (heat) radiation.
Like Defendershield, they have the results of their lab testing on their website for anyone to see. The SafeSleeve cases also have slots for credit cards, too, so you can just grab your phone case and head out the door.
This is the case that I bought about 18 months ago, and I’ve been really happy with it. Like the other phone cases that block radiation that I’ve recommended here, VEST show their independent lab test results on their website. A VEST phone case reduces radiation by up to 99%.
Flip cases seem to be the safest, but there is also the Pong case. The company has had a name change, so the Pong phone case is now the Alara phone case, but it’s the same thing. Alara is an acronym for ‘as low as reasonably achievable’. In this case, it’s Alara radiation.
It’s not a wallet style case with a flap that closes and protects you while you’re talking. The Pong cell phone case looks just like a normal phone case, with the screen uncovered. It reduces radiation levels by up to 67%. Not as good as the other cases, but if you really want a standard looking case, this is probably your best option. It seems to be pretty rugged, and offers good protection if you drop your phone, too.
These are reasonably easy to get hold of in Australian through Amazon AU, or of course you can get a large range through Amazon US.
It’s not realistic to expect that we’ll all stop using our mobile phones because of radiation concerns. However, it’s not hard to reduce the radiation that you’re exposed to when you’re using your phone by following some basic safety guidelines.
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