Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Cell phones and radiation: 10 best and 10 worst

How much radiation does your cell phone emit? It's easy to find out the answer thanks to the Environmental Working Group's new online guide to cell phone emissions.

The non-profit research and advocacy group ranked over 1,000 different cell phones according to radiation levels. It looked at the publicly available, but difficult to find, specific absorption rate (SAR) for each phone. SAR is a measure of how much radiation is absorbed by the body when the phone is sending a signal to the network. (Your phone only emits radiation when you talk or text.)

The jury is still out on whether cell phone radiation is harmful to human health, but it certainly won't hurt to limit your exposure to cell phone radiation when you can. "The data is still conflicting and the science isn't settled," says Jane Houlihan, research director at EWG. "But there is enough evidence now that it makes sense for people to take personal action while the teams of scientists and health agencies sort through the data."

Houlihan also points out that health agencies in six different countries are warning people to cut their exposure to cell phone radiation, particularly when it comes to children.

Taking personal action can be as simple as adding radiation emissions to the list of criteria you use when purchasing a new cell phone, especially when it's for your child.

How much of a difference can choosing a low-radiation phone make? High-radiation cell phones on EWG's list emit eight times more radiation than those on the low end of the spectrum.

cell phones

10 best phones (lowest radiation)

  1. Samsung Impression (SGH-a877)
  2. Motorola RAZR V8
  3. Samsung SGH-t229
  4. Samsung Rugby (SGH-a837)
  5. Samsung Propel Pro (SGH-i627)
  6. Samsung Gravity (SGH-t459)
  7. T-Mobile Sidekick
  8. LG Xenon (GR500)
  9. Motorola Karma QA1
  10. Sanyo Katana II

10 worst phones (highest radiation)

  1. Motorola MOTO VU204
  2. T-Mobile myTouch 3G
  3. Kyocera Jax S1300
  4. Blackberry Curve 8330
  5. Motorola W385
  6. T-Mobile Shadow
  7. Motorola C290
  8. Motorola i335
  9. Motorola MOTO VE240
  10. Blackberry Bold 9000

Can't find your phone? Check the entire list of 1,000 phones or search for your model. If your cell phone isn't on EWG's list, then search the Federal Communications Commission website to get your phone's SAR value. You can then compare it to the models in EWG's guide to see how it stacks up against the competition.

Buying a new cell phone isn't your only option for limiting your exposure to cell phone radiation. Keeping your phone away from your head and body is the best thing you can do.

Here are some tips adapted from EWG's guide to reducing cell phone radiation exposure:

  • Use speakerphone or a headset. There's no consensus on whether it's safer to go with a wired or wireless headset, but headsets emit less radiation than cell phones.

  • Send text messages instead of talking. Phones use less power and therefore emit less radiation to send text than voice. It also keeps radiation away from your head.

  • Stay off the phone when you have a poor signal. Your phone will emit more radiation to get the signal to the tower when there are fewer signal bars on your phone.

Environmental journalist Lori Bongiorno shares green-living tips and product reviews with Yahoo! Green's users. Send Lori a question or suggestion for potential use in a future column. Her book, Green Greener Greenest: A Practical Guide to Making Eco-smart Choices a Part of Your Life is available on Yahoo! Shopping and

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