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6 tips for minimizing cell phone radiation
June 8th, 2012
03:26 PM ET

6 tips for minimizing cell phone radiation

Editor's note: Last summer, this article was one of the most popular on the Chart. We're republishing to share these important tips again with you.

Scientists at the World Health Organization list mobile phone use in the same "carcinogenic hazard" category as lead, engine exhaust and chloroform.

There haven't been enough long-term studies to make a clear conclusion if radiation from cell phones is safe, but there was enough data to persuade the WHO of a possible connection to make them upgrade the category in May 2011.

Cell phones use non-ionizing radiation, which doesn’t damage DNA the way ionizing radiation does. The cell phone radiation operates more like very low power microwaves, but nobody really likes to think of leaning their face on a low-powered microwave.

If the WHO’s labeling of cell phone use as "possibly carcinogenic to humans" has you alarmed, here are some quick basic tips to limit your exposure.

Get wired

It’s no coincidence that most cell phones come with a wired ear piece.

A wired headset will automatically decrease your radiation exposure because the phone is away from the body. Every inch you can get away from the body reduces the amount of radiation you are absorbing.

A wired headset may still transmit radiation through the wire – but it is a very low level. If that is a concern, you can buy a ferrite bead for just a few bucks at most electronic stores. It attaches to the wire and it absorbs any radiation traveling through the wire, reducing how much enters your body.

And it’s not too inconvenient. CNN’s chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said he uses an earpiece because his neck doesn’t hurt as much after being on a long phone call. Gupta: Cell phones, brain tumors and a wired earpiece

Use the speakerphone

This could get quite annoying, if you’re in a public place. But experts say that using the speakerphone function is helpful because you’re keeping the phone away from your brain. Every inch you can get the phone away from your body reduces the radiation. For example, holding out the cell phone by two inches drops the radiation by a factor of four, Magda Havas, an associate professor with the Institute for Health Studies at Trent University in Ontario, Canada, had told CNN.

But try not to share your conversation with the whole world. Thanks.

Don’t wear Bluetooth all the time

Bluetooth wireless earpieces will expose you to some radiation. However, it would be much less radiation than a cell phone.

The problem is that most people wear their Bluetooth all the time. And this isn’t a good look on anyone.

If you use a Bluetooth device, switch it from ear to ear so you don't have too much exposure on one side. Just take it out of your ear when you aren't on the phone.

Avoid radiation hot spots

Cell phones don’t always emit the same level of radiation. For example, your phone will emit the most radiation when connecting to cellular towers.

But a moving phone (like if you are talking while driving) will continually connect to towers that come in and out of range - and this automatically increases power to a maximum as the phone repeatedly attempts to connect to a new antenna. A weak signal will also cause your phone to work harder, giving off more radiation. So avoid using your phone in elevators, buildings and rural areas. Research shows your device emits more radiation when transmitting than when receiving.

Read the fine print

Most of us ignore those manuals that come with our gadgetry. But most cell phone safety manuals tell consumers to not keep the phone next to their head, or even in your pocket. Apple iPhone 4 says 5/8 inch away from the body when transmitting. And the BlackBerry Bold says to keep it least 0.98 inch from your body when the BlackBerry device is in use.

If you keep it next to your body, the manufacturers can't guarantee that the amount of radiation you're absorbing will be a safe level.

Don’t talk, text

If you don’t want to hold the phone next to your face all the time, send text messages or use your email or messaging services if you have a smartphone. This way you avoid putting the phone to your head altogether.

And our friends at CNN Tech say the general rule of thumb is that the smarter the phone, the more radiation.

CNN's John Sutter contributed to this blog.


soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. Robin

    There now companies that work on reducing radiations emitted by cellular phones and which work too. Lifewave is a company improving health worldwide to all individuals. People should really check it out at http://www.lwottawa.com

    June 9, 2012 at 12:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Liz

    Not surprised that this is such a popular topic! Great suggestions here, and there are others. It's all about keeping the connection between the device and cell towers strong, and then distancing yourself from your phone when it's not.
    A simple and free way to know when your exposure to your cell phone's radiation is high is to use tawkon, an Android app that tracks the phone's radiation level and then alerts you with a quick tip for lowering it. The tips include a lot of what you guys mentioned here. Great post!

    June 10, 2012 at 08:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. amitlubovsky

    Its amazing to see how many publications are out there discussing this topic...

    tawkon is indeed a very convenient way to control your exposure to cellphone radiation as it runs in the background on your smartphone monitoring your exposure constantly (real-time dynamic SAR), whenever this exposure cross a predefined threshold you'll be alerted.

    From statistics we have we see that, most of the people use their phones without external accessories (wired/wireless headsets) so they hold the phone close to their body... not 5/8" away....

    another important point is that 90-95% of the time exposure from your phone is very low since cellular networks are spread out pretty good... BUT in the remaining 5-10% the exposure to radiation is high and could reach 500-1000 times the normal level.

    for more information check out our website tawkon(dot)com

    Amit Lubovsky
    VP Marketing tawkon

    June 10, 2012 at 09:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. steve

    Cellphones emit non-ionizing radiation. This type of radiation is totally different than the radiation you traditionally know, which is called ionizing radiation. Exposure from the sun, x-rays, CT scans, or even going on a transcontinental flight will expose you to ionizing radiation. Ionizing radiation is the only type of radiation known to damage DNA, leading to the possibility of cancer. The WHO and CNN are completely and utterly wrong to assume that cell-phones even remotely raise the possibility for cancer formation. Brain cancer rates, for one, have remained stable (and have even decreased) since the advent of cellphones.Thirdly, the WHO and CNN are not basing their recommendations on any true science. In fact, no scientific paper has ever found a link between non-ionizing radiation and cancer. To make these suggestions are baseless and are almost as ridiculous as saying that vaccines cause autism.

    June 10, 2012 at 09:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • pentabulous

      The incidence of brain cancer from radiation from cell phones may take a few more years to show, and granted it may not, but I prefer the population not be the guinea pigs on that one.
      The incredible rise in autism and similar conditions correlates well with pharma's imposition of vaccines decades ago.

      September 25, 2012 at 16:44 | Report abuse |
  5. Rick Springfield

    You can order an old fashioned handset to plug into the speaker/mic connector. How cool is that? You can also get a nexus to connect POTS devices into the system. That means your grandma's pearl-white slim-line push-button digital telephone with automatic last-number redial can be plugged into your HTC or Iphone. How cool is that if you strap that to your belt? I had one of the earliest cell phones ever made. There was a big black box in my trunk and wires going to a console strapped to the dash. When the phone rang, it also honked the horn. I had a 20" whip on the trunk that allowed me to get service in the country. I then went to a phone that plugged into the cigarette lighter. Then they gave me a bag phone. Then came the brick. Then a model much like a cordless phone. Then I got my first flip phone in the late 80's. Now I have an Iphone 4.

    June 10, 2012 at 14:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Ramesh Pandey

    ************************************************************
    There should be one more thing on the list:-
    TURN OFF YOUR 3G IN YOUR CELL PHONE.. IF YOU ARE NOT USING IT.
    IIf you are at home and you are using WiFi connection for your cell phone.. then you don't need 3G network that time.. You can actually turn off 3G and get less radiation and more battery life..

    June 10, 2012 at 21:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. 1Comment

    How can you keep a phone away from you when it's IN YOUR HAND!? Hands can also get tumors and other radiation borne illnesses.

    June 10, 2012 at 22:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Lana in Memphis

      I noticed that no one ever responded to this comment. I wish they had. I wear my cell phone on my wrist, and keep it turned off.

      October 9, 2013 at 11:24 | Report abuse |
  8. Tj

    Good grief, you folks are worried about milli and micro watt doses of RF energy, what do you think the big blast of RF from "safe" MRI is doing to you? Or the kilowatt and megawatt radio stations? Then there's the good ole Sun blasting RF at our magnetosphere for a bazillion years while we evolved from algae...

    To many lab nerds with nothing to do out there but alarm folks because they're bored.

    They should concentrate instead on the people killed or maimed every year because people have their noses glued to their phones instead of paying attention to their everyday environment, and come up with safety devices to mitigate those issues.

    You know, the important, life saving ones.

    June 11, 2012 at 14:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sciguy73

      While I agree with the spirit of your post, your claims are a bit inaccurate. Modern digital cell phones have max output power levels around 2W. When the phone is pressed against your ear, the signal strength your brain is exposed to is much higher than any of the sources you listed due to the inverse square law (with the possible exception of the MRI). That said, after many studies looking for a link between rf exposure and illness, absolutely no link has been proven to exist. Could there still be one? Possibly, though it would have to be very weak for us not to have found it already. But to date, there is no evidence of one. But if it were to be the case, it would require high rf fields to be significant. That's why it is simply a good idea to avoid putting microwave transmitters next to your brain if you can help it.

      June 12, 2012 at 07:49 | Report abuse |
    • Flateka

      Beautiful and incredible ptohos with your iphone!!!The images look like if they were from the “National Geographic Magazine”Increedble son los resultados de sus ime1genes!!!!!Mis favoritas son las dos de arriba pero la que me deja con la boca abierta es la de las zebras, los colores y el paisaje son una hermosura, son una chulada!!!

      September 14, 2012 at 01:10 | Report abuse |
    • RF Engineer

      Wrong Sciguy73. Cellphones emit a maximum of .6 watts or 600 miliwatts.
      .
      The average power output in an urbanized area is typicially 10 times less than that and sometimes even less than that.
      The cell towers, with the high gain receiver amplifers on the towers, are very efficient in receiving the low power end user phones and datacards.

      January 23, 2013 at 21:40 | Report abuse |
  9. medschoolkid

    If you are that concerned about the remote chance that cell phone use is linked to brain tumors then sure this is a great article. For everyone else who knows how to find factual information this is pointless and not news worthy. Non-ionizing radiation has never been linked to cancer, despite hundreds of studies.

    June 12, 2012 at 14:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Sridhar

    Greetings from Ohio! I'm bored to tears at work so I decided to browse your website on my iphone during lunch break. I love the info you provide here and can't wait to take a look when I get home. I'm surprised at how fast your blog loaded on my phone .. I'm not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyhow, good blog!

    July 2, 2012 at 03:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. easyusemobile

    Good to know about your blog i have visit and i am very inspired from your ideas It will be interesting to see what we learn about the use of mobile phones in the coming years.

    Easy To Use Mobile Phones

    August 27, 2012 at 04:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Sebastian

    Does anyone know which kind of video rdoerdscata are supported? I keep in mind the Instinct only might dl 3gp utilizing opera mini. I downloaded the twist ap, possibly that's the problem? How can I watch videos from sites apart from youtube? Which file varieties? Usually I am given the choice of 3gp or mpeg4. Cannot get both to work. Thank you in your time! Damn I wish I used to be eligible for the upgrade to EVO!

    September 11, 2012 at 09:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. lenaboch

    I've seen and try this new chip cal "bodywell" and among all the other stuff or suggestion that are out there I think Bodyweell is a keeper. In terms of cell phone's radiation this tiny black device can reduce the unknown risks of non-ionizing cellphone radiation.You simply stick the chip to the surface or battery case of a mobile device, and it will help balance the body's electromagnetic fields. It's great, really simple and cheap. I totally recommend see it for your self bodywellchip.com

    March 19, 2013 at 14:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Emmanuel Nartey

    I will suggest that our mobile manufactures will reduce the rate at which the smart phones radiate.i want to ask why if making call or browsing our phone cells runs down faster?.

    July 11, 2013 at 15:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Devra Davis PhD MPH

    Environmental health trust is also expanding our schools program. What started in Jackson Wyoming is now spreading around the world including to Samsun Turkey and Israel. Please help us stamp out digital dementia by promoting the practice of safe phone http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/3528946

    August 4, 2013 at 21:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. BigLen

    As a smart phone user, I no longer take this as a credible health risk. The reason: Simply not enough power is emitted from your phone! Modern smart phones, and even the remaining newer generation flips function well under the radiation levels of many TVs, and even most FM radios. Simply put, I think we're at more risk of the growing stupidity of non-thinking phone users who bumble around all day texting rather than talking! Look where you are going!!!

    September 17, 2013 at 10:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Lana in Memphis

    In researching the question "Do cell phones emit radiation AT ALL when they are turned off, I have found "experts" saying they don't, and a few who say there is still some amount of radiation. I would love for somebody to quote an authoritative resource to get a irrefutable answer. Anyone???

    October 9, 2013 at 11:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. To Lana Above

    "The Bio-Initiative Report" by 49 independent scientists, first released in 2007 & updated in 2012, says cellphones are dangerous. You can find links & articles about it at this no-nonsense site:

    http://ElectricSense.com

    That site owner has many articles & videos where he tests all types of devices with the appropriate equipment, EMF, RF, LF meters, so you can watch & see for yourself.

    October 9, 2013 at 12:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. bluetooth

    And to think that so many devices these days depend on the Bluetooth technology. Bluetooth speakers, earphones, keyboards, remote controls are gadgets that we all use on a daily basis. It's little wonder that the global cancer rates are rising every single day.

    November 12, 2013 at 00:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Lee Duffield

    Dangers of Electrical Magnetic Emissions

    I am trying very hard from this side in the UK to bring the attention of EMI to as many people as possible and strongly agree that these effects do damage are children.
    I feel it is not just a sensitivity issue on my behalf, I feel I have the intelligence and the knowledge to warn everyone in the world.
    I have been sensitive to all E M I emissions and profoundly affected by them.
    I have experienced that my palm of hand burns and fingers get affected and goes numb when using a normal mouse. Whilst on my computer my hand will get burnt on my small finger middle finger first finger and thumb also the base of the palm of my hand, this has been the case over the 20 years, I've worked with numerous computers, and get affected by all of them. In fact it happens on my laptop. If I move the cursor with my fingertip the static burns the ends of. it and overtime it makes my fingertips slightly hardened and slightly less sensitive according to the amount of time I am on the computer,
    A computer I bought had a radio mouse and keyboard
    Again after finding problems with the EMI to my hands even my body absorbed them, I changed to wired mouse and key board it did lower emissions only duo to no wireless coverage, But the EMI was certainly still coming off from what was plugged in, In the instructions was a part that spoke about if you feel aching shoulder, cant think straight burning hand tingling sensation in hands do not use the device,
    One day back seven years ago I incorporated Wi-Fi systems
    Into my office this was to link two or three computers for the children, it was not long before I found out the effects of the Wi-Fi around the house ,
    I sat down in my office on the computer working on the my website, within ten minutes I received headaches aching shoulders, I left the office, making a cup of coffee, then when I felt a little better and my head felt clearer headed, then I re-entered back into the Office, to find out within ten to fifteen minutes my mind was again being Affected by these extra emissions which E M I, After realising, I was being seriously effected by these devises, within the week I had dismantled all Wi-Fi units from the office and the children’s computers
    Replacing it with hardware systems, I realized right away that the devices
    We were being affected by have greater consequences than one can imagine and mobile companies will play down the idea of any problem of health issues, mobile phones wireless networks,
    Our children at home weather or not you realise are now being cooked slowly most youngsters have mobile phones let’s look at the situation, we all
    Know that a mobile phone whilst in your hand you become the
    Aerial this effect on the body is well known,
    Because of the money losses that will be involved for companies if the public was aware of it,
    As an ex, appliance engineer myself I say to people a mobile phone is
    Practically like using a microwave, would you put your head in a microwave?
    And even put it on to defrost with your head in, the answer will be NO
    Because you know of its outcome, apart from that not closing the door
    Wouldn’t work the microwave in the first place, of course this is
    Hypothetical but still in the same league,
    I find that a mobile phone I cannot hold to my ear for more than about two
    or three minutes and then I have to swap ears, I suffer a burning, if I use a phone now I used a phone on loud speaker whilst not holding it, lay it’ on the side of where you are sat and talk whilst keeping a distance of at least 10in.
    This will help limit the indirect emission levels, headphones also can give
    You a low grade Emi from the speakers,
    Some of your will remember yuppie flu, well this is part of the scenario,
    Whereas electromagnetic forces working against us with health issues, back
    In the eighties and engineer I was training was from a tank core in the
    Army, he had to leave his post and I believe bought himself out of the army,
    But did tell me the problems he had in the tanks with the other electronic
    Equipment in it, at that time I was working as an appliance engineer, my
    Time on computers were limited then, but I did believe what my engineered
    Told me, In connection with his own experience, I think we need to think
    Seriously about what we’re projecting onto our children in the sense of
    Mobile phones Wi-Fi and electronics a like, you,
    I will put my name up against these devices, specially been used in our
    Schools colleges and the like, we are starting to get knowledge of these
    Things existing we must act now, five years ago I was devising a glove that
    Could protect your hand from these emissions through the hand, the idea was good but I believe the electromagnetic emissions coming from keyboard, and mouse, and screens in many have emissions too. We have to understand the consequences and act now, I can see in years to come many problems and I
    Believe that there will be damages awarded to people for using these
    Devices, The same way as the scare of asbestosis and its implications. how People perhaps disregarded it consequences at the time, but everyone is sitting up and listening now, I do hope that what I have written will make people sit up and do something about it within there homes and work places and protect our children and ourselves from any possible future mutation,
    I have read up a lot of letters from Doctors and professors, stating my conclusions are TRUE we must act now TO STOP THIS MINDLESS UNFORESEEN THINGS WE ARE LEASHING OUT ON OUR CHILDREN

    Lee Duffield uk

    December 28, 2013 at 17:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. CelCro

    Good to know your blog, thanks for sharing with us

    April 16, 2014 at 06:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. ニューバランス ブーツ

    ルフバッグをテーブルの上に置いた女を、見ない振りをしながら観察した。あの渡辺恒蔵の評判の後妻、先妻を追い出して妻の座に座った女は、想像していたより楚々としている。やつれて疲れきっているように見えたが、感じが良い女のようで意外だった。あのゴルフバッグに
    ニューバランス ブーツ http://www.sihra.org/images/icon/new-233.html

    November 23, 2014 at 04:46 | Report abuse | Reply

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.