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Visualizzazione post con etichetta Limiti di Esposizione. Mostra tutti i post
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sabato 6 giugno 2020

Consiglio Superiore della Sanità Belga - 2019 su esposizione ai campi elettromagnetici




www.health.belgium.be/sites/default/files/uploads/fields/fpshealth_theme_file/190617_css-9404_fys_chem_env_hygiene_vcabdem.pdf

IGIENE DELL'AMBIENTE FISICO-CHIMICO (LIMITAZIONE DELL'ESPOSIZIONE AGLI AGENTI MUTAGENICI O DISTURBI ENDOCRINARI) E IMPORTANZA DELLE ESPOSIZIONI 

Esposizione a radiazioni non ionizzanti da linee elettriche, comunicazione ed elettronica 

Una stretta esposizione alle linee elettriche è stata associata alla leucemia infantile (Tabrizi et al., 2015; Schuz, 2011). È stato dimostrato che le radiazioni non ionizzanti emesse dalle microonde agiscono attraverso l'attivazione di canali di calcio dipendenti dalla tensione, inducendo impatti biologici a livelli non termici (Anghileri et al., 2006; Pall et al., 2015). 
L'esposizione materna ai campi elettromagnetici dalle frequenze utilizzate dai telefoni cellulari è stata associata a disturbi comportamentali e del linguaggio nei bambini (Birks et al., 2017; Zarei et al., 2015). 
È stato osservato che l'uso di telefoni cellulari e cordless è associato ad un aumentato rischio di glioma e neuroma acustico (Hardell et al., 2013). 

Secondo Levis et al. (2011), protocolli ciechi, privi di errori, distorsioni e fattori di condizionamento finanziario, danno risultati positivi che rivelano una relazione di causa ed effetto tra l'uso o la latenza a lungo termine del cellulare e la aumento statisticamente significativo del rischio di tumore della testa omolaterale, con plausibilità biologica. Meta-analisi (compresa quella di Levis et al., 2011), che esamina solo i dati sui tumori omolaterali in soggetti che utilizzano un telefono cellulare da o per almeno 10
anni, mostrano aumenti significativi e statisticamente significativi del rischio di gliomi cerebrali e neuromi acustici omolaterali (Levis et al., 2011).


venerdì 5 giugno 2020

Timothy Schoechle, Ph.D a FCC: i limiti di esposizione sono sbagliati per gli effetti non-termici

Innanzitutto chi è questo Schoechle ?               

Dr. Schoechle è un consulente internazionale in ingegneria informatica e delle comunicazioni e in
sviluppo di standard tecnici. Attualmente ricopre il ruolo di segretario del gruppo di lavoro ISO / IEC SC25 1, il comitato internazionale per gli standard per il sistema elettronico domestico ed è co-editore tecnico di numerosi nuovi standard internazionali relativi alla smart grid, incluso un nuovo progetto sulla sicurezza informatica gateway, privacy e requisiti per l'elettronica di consumo e le applicazioni Internet-of-Things (IoT). 
Ha inoltre ha ricoperto il ruolo di segreteria di gestione e interscambio dati SC32 ISO / IEC, 2006-2015, e attualmente partecipa a una serie di organismi di normalizzazione nazionali e internazionali relativi alla smart grid e alla smart città tecnologia e questioni politiche.
...
Il Dr. Schoechle era un co-fondatore di BI Incorporated, attualmente una società da $ 1 miliardo a Boulder, in Colorado, uno sviluppatore pioniere della tecnologia RFID. Ha conseguito un M.S. in ingegneria delle telecomunicazioni (1995) e un dottorato in politica della comunicazione (2004) dell'Università del Colorado, Boulder.


Questo grande esperto di comunicazione dati, di smart-grid (che include anche gli ... smart meter), di RFID, IoT, etc etc ...  scrive al FCC

1. I limiti esistenti  [vedi quelli dell'ICNIRP ]  sono inadeguati perché non considerano in campo debole (non termici) effetti su sistemi e processi biologici. 
L'intera inchiesta FCC presenta un problema già ALLA PARTENZA:   si basa su un'ipotesi fallace e obsoleta che gli effetti termici siano l'unico rischio.

vedete il testo

2. Well below the threshold of thermal RFR effects, the inquiry needs to consider weak
field (non-thermal) effects, including the difference between long term and short term
exposures, and that because of the adaptive characteristics of biological systems, one can
switch from gain to loss by changing the modulation, the frequency, or the time delay
between pulses as well as the presence of reactive oxygen—all of which have not been
adequately taken into consideration by the FCC.

3. If existing limits are not adequate for weak field (non-thermal) effects, it makes little
sense to simply extend these limits to frequency ranges above 6 GHz.

4. It makes little sense to further weaken thermal limits by relying on effective power alone.
Dropping SAR-based limits excludes consideration of absorption into the body that
should be accounted for by SAR with the additional consideration of duration of
exposure as well as more sophisticated measures of impact on bodies and cells.

5. Averaging power over time is inadequate and deceptive because it does not deal with
peak power, is still based on the assumption that the only mode of potential harm is
heating (e.g., SAR or MPE), does not consider weak field (non-thermal) effects on
biological systems and processes, and does not deal with effects over time, or with long
term exposure effects.

6. The 19-126 inquiry and the FCC exposure guidelines are largely based on assumptions
and theoretical models rather than on experimental evidence or testing. Exposure limits
should be based on empirical science (i.e., verifiable by observation or experience rather
than theory or pure logic). “Increased emphasis on long‐term exposures may require
refining the concept of dose to more flexibly combine exposure time and field intensity or
energy absorbed.” (Barnes and Greenebaum, 2020, p. 4). “What is missing in the current
guidelines or regulations are guidelines for long-term exposure to weak EMF” (p. 5).

7. The Commission should request the FDA and/or other agencies with appropriate health
science competence to pursue or undertake establishment of actual safety standards based
on actual animal or human safety testing, recommendations, or guidelines for both short
term and long term RFR exposures and emissions as proposed by Barnes & Greenebaum,
2020, p. 4-5). The FCC should recuse themselves from the process of setting human
RFR exposure guidelines due lack of expertise.

8. “Limits on the time for operations of base stations and exposures in adjacent living
spaces are not controlled by the user and must be set by competent authorities, based on
scientific evidence. It is likely to be difficult to specify times when exposures to RF
signals are zero or below some limit. What will be needed is being able to say with some
certainty that exposure below a given level has not been shown to cause changes in body
chemistry above some level” (p. 5).

9. “A starting point might be current levels from TV and radio stations that are large enough
to give signal‐to‐noise ratios around 20 dB (100‐fold) with typical receiving systems.
Currently, mean values for the population's exposure to these systems are estimated to be
around 0.1 V/m and peak exposures range up to 2 V/m, which exceed current exposure
limits for a small fraction of the population” (p. 5).

10. Consumers are entitled to informed consent to risk. The public should be educated about
the real risks involved in using cellphones and being near cell antennas big or small as
well as the risks of being exposed to RF radiation in general. It is the responsibility of the
FCC to inform the public openly and accurately. The FCC has not done so in this
proposed rulemaking.

giovedì 30 aprile 2020

baubiologie magazin un contributo su 5G e le ns case


Riporto alcuni passi che mi sembrano più interessanti:


Nuove antenne e dimensioni delle celle
Quando analizziamo e valutiamo i segnali 5G, è importante considerare il nuovo design dell'antenna. Sono chiamati "intelligenti", soprattutto perché sono in grado di formare raggi di radio e microonde (i cosiddetti beamforming). Di conseguenza, la radiazione wireless non si diffonde indiscriminatamente ovunque, ma è diretta, almeno nella parte principale, verso l'utente di uno smartphone o di un altro dispositivo mobile. Le emissioni nella direzione dell'utente saranno probabilmente più elevate e quindi devono essere calcolate distanze di sicurezza maggiori per i siti di antenne cellulari. In passato, le distanze di sicurezza attorno alle antenne cellulari variavano in genere da 3 a 9 metri e ora piuttosto da 15 a 20 metri, come documentato nei certificati del sito dell'Agenzia federale tedesca delle reti.

Nuovo è anche lo schieramento molto più frequente delle cosiddette piccole celle, la cui copertura si estende a soli 200 metri. Sono, ad esempio, montati a lampioni, semafori, parchimetri su strada, pali delle utenze, bidoni della spazzatura o facciate di case, ma anche all'interno di edifici. Sebbene la potenza di trasmissione delle piccole cellule sia inferiore, le persone sono anche molto più vicine a queste antenne (piccole e quasi invisibili); inoltre, i fornitori di reti cellulari non sono tenuti ad avere un certificato del sito (a causa della bassa potenza di uscita inferiore a 10 W) perché i limiti di esposizione della 26a ordinanza federale sul controllo dell'inquinamento non si applicano qui (tuttavia, i siti devono essere segnalati a l'agenzia della rete federale tedesca).

Per ridurre l'esposizione personale, è meglio scegliere materiali da costruzione ad alta massa; nel caso di costruzioni leggere - per l'intero edificio o solo per la struttura del tetto - dovrebbe essere integrato uno strato di materiale schermante. I materiali di schermatura (vernici, tessuti, schermi), che sono stati finora comunemente utilizzati, non mostrano molta differenza nella loro efficacia di schermatura nella gamma di frequenze da circa 1 a 3 GHz rispetto alle attuali fonti di radiazione wireless come 2G , 3G, 4G, Wi-Fi, DECT, ecc. A frequenze più alte sopra i 20 GHz, i materiali in mesh come tessuti e schermi sono meno efficaci, ma i materiali da costruzione ad alta massa e i trattamenti continui di superficie come le vernici sono più efficaci.
Sarà importante garantire che dispositivi e sistemi con antenne wireless 5G (o altre tecnologie wireless) non siano installati all'interno degli edifici a meno che non possano essere disabilitati - almeno di notte, dovrebbe esserci silenzio wireless. Ove possibile, le applicazioni per la casa intelligente dovrebbero utilizzare soluzioni cablate tramite cavi di rete o sistemi bus di cavo. (Nella nuova costruzione, è necessario utilizzare una grande quantità di cavi dati.
Si consiglia inoltre cautela con tutti gli apparecchi elettrici dotati di funzioni wireless: fare a meno delle funzioni wireless o assicurarsi che la modalità wireless utilizzata venga trasmessa solo di rado e per brevi periodi .

In futuro, la misurazione dei segnali 5G sarà molto probabilmente piuttosto difficile a causa delle grandi fluttuazioni dei livelli di potenza, a seconda di chi trasmette la quantità di dati . Ad esempio, le emissioni dalle antenne della stazione radio base ai dispositivi mobili formeranno almeno in parte raggi. Come si dovrebbero calcolare i livelli di potenza massima basati su misurazioni casuali? E quando non c'è traffico di dati, le emissioni di 5G potrebbero persino essere completamente chiuse !? Questi aspetti presenteranno nuove sfide alle misurazioni dell'esposizione del 5G.

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5G – what is it?

5G refers to the latest generation of wireless technologies for cellular networks. This fifth generation goes well beyond basic communication between cell phones or the mobile Internet. After the first generation (1G) of analog networks (A, B, and C) in the 1960s and 1980s and the digital standards of the second generation (2G) GSM (D, E networks since 1991), the third generation (3G) UMTS/HSPA (since 2000), as well as the fourth generation (4G) LTE (since about 2010), wireless communication is now even faster (latency or response times will be about 1 millisecond). 
It is not anymore just about communication from person to person, but also from person to machine as well as from machine to machine, including such applications as the Internet of Things (IoT), smart homes, autonomous driving, telemedicine, intelligent power supply, smart metering, smart farming, or smart cities. These applications have come to infiltrate our daily lives at an accelerated pace. The new model VW Golf 8, for example, is designed to be online at all times and stay connected with the cloud. This car can also talk to other cars and to the driver’s home. The goal of 5G developers and providers is the “totally connected society.”

New bandwidths, frequencies, and pulses

5G offers many new technical advancements. Besides the previously mentioned extremely fast transmission speed, data rates are also very high. With up to 10 gigabits per second – ten times more than LTE – the electromagnetic signals require a greater bandwidth. First measurements of active 5G cell antenna sites in Germany (e.g. in Düsseldorf, Cologne, or Darmstadt) showed “frequency hills” as wide as 50 or 100 MHz. 
The initial 5G carrier frequencies will be not much different from the ones currently in use with 4G: Previous networks (2G, 3G, and 4G) mostly operated at 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, and 2600 MHz and networks used inside homes such as Wi-Fi/WLAN (wireless local area network) and cordless phones (DECT) at 1900 MHz, 2.4 GHz, and 5.2–5.7 GHz. 5G networks will at first mainly use 3.4–3.7 GHz, from 2021 also 2.1 GHz. In Germany, four telecommunications providers secured those frequencies (for a total revenue of ca. 6.6 billion euro) during an auction in spring 2019. In addition to Telekom, Vodafone, and Telefonica, there is now also 1&1 Drillich.
The significantly higher frequency ranges of about 24–28 GHz and 32–33 GHz or even higher, which are often hotly debated, will most likely only become deployed in a few years.
So-called pulses – which constantly and strictly periodically switch the wireless signals on and off, several times per second – are expected to be similar to LTE because the modulations are similar (e.g. 100 Hz or 2000 Hz). There will be a new pulse of 50 Hz, at least in the frequency range about 3.5 GHz (due to the TDD modulation used). During our first measurements, these nonstop pulses could also be clearly shown, both in “zero span” mode of a spectrum analyzer and as an audio signal with broadband RF meters.
RF spectrum analysis of 5G cell antenna sites:
(1) Spectrum of a nearly 90 MHz wide channel of a Telekom site, center frequency ca. 3.65 GHz
(2) Time analysis of the cellular signal of a Vodafone site with a clear 50 Hz pulse, center frequency ca. 3.53 GHz

New antennas and cell sizes

When we analyze and evaluate 5G signals, it is important to consider the new antenna design. They are called “smart,” especially since they are able to form beams of radio and microwaves (so-called beamforming). As a result, wireless radiation is not spread indiscriminately everywhere, but it is directed, at least the main portion of it, toward the user of a smartphone or other mobile device. The emissions in the user’s direction will be possibly higher and thus greater safety distances must be calculated for cell antenna sites. In the past, safety distances around cell antennas ranged typically from 3 to 9 meters and now rather from 15 to 20 meters, as documented in the site certificates of the German Federal Network Agency.
New is also the much more frequent deployment of so-called small cells, whose coverage extends to just 200 meters. They are, for example, mounted at street lights, traffic lights, on-street parking meters, utility poles, garbage cans, or house facades, but also inside buildings. Though the transmit power of small cells is lower, people are also much closer to these (small and almost invisible) antennas; in addition, cellular network providers are not required to have a site certificate (due to the low output power below 10 W) because the exposure limits of the 26th Federal Pollution Control Ordinance do not apply here (however, the sites are to be reported to the German Federal Network Agency).

Audio sample

Audio sample of a 5G signal from a Telekom antenna site with a clear 50 Hz pulse 

Health risks

There are hardly any research results available about risks specifically associated with the use of 5G wireless radiation. Already in 2017, more than 180 scientists and physicians from 36 countries signed an appeal. In this appeal, they warn of severe health risks associated with 5G wireless technologies and recommend putting a moratorium on the deployment of the fifth generation of wireless communication technologies until possible risks to human health and the environment have been fully researched by industry-independent scientists. They also state that it has been proven that radio-frequency electromagnetic fields are harmful to human health and the environment. The use of 5G will significantly increase the exposure to electromagnetic fields in the radio-frequency range since this new layer of signals will be added to the already existing networks of GSM, UMTS, LTE, Wi-Fi, and so on.
Since mid-band frequencies of 800, 2000, and 3500 MHz feature similar modulations and/or pulses as are found in GSM and LTE, associated risks are also expected to be similar. Should the above-described 50 Hz pulse turn out to be present at all times, this could make for more serious effects.
Regarding high-band frequencies above 20 GHz, we know rather little and rather little research has been done so far. Due to their short wavelengths, these waves hardly penetrate the body, but are absorbed at the surface of the body. First studies suggest that adverse health effects predominantly occur in eyes, skin, and sweat glands, possibly also ECG effects.
It is the official position of the Federal Office for Radiation Protection in Germany that any developments shall be closely watched, but that the compliance with the exposure limits of the 26th German Federal Pollution Control Ordinance are sufficient for now.

Will the exposure to wireless radiation increase with 5G?

Based on the currently available scientific evidence, it is not possible to answer with a clear: yes or no. Due to the higher amount of data that can be transmitted, there will certainly also be an increase in total transmissions. And with many more antennas and smaller cell sizes, people will get much closer to them. (Consequently, personal exposure levels in the immediate vicinity of small cell antennas can be higher despite the antennas’ lower output power). Because of the characteristic beamforming, it could also be possible that in some – or even many? – locations where 5G is available, but not actively used by a user, exposure levels could even be much lower compared to LTE. 
Furthermore, the higher frequencies about 3.5 GHz are typically much more strongly attenuated than those at 2 GHz or even 1 GHz, which is why in the former case indoor exposure levels could be lower. 
The pending shutdown of the UMTS networks will result in some reduction of exposure levels. So this specific type of wireless radiation, also including its pulses and risks, will disappear; however, these very frequencies will be added to 5G networks and thus exposures in this frequency band will continue to occur after all. 
In the future, possibly many new devices will operate at 5G frequencies inside buildings, which may contribute to much higher indoor exposure levels. It will be important to review on a case-by-case basis how much, how often, when, and where a given network is actively transmitting.
Caution is advised with higher frequencies, which are expected to be deployed later. As discussed earlier, in this higher frequency range, there will probably be other or additional risks.
Whether smartphones in 5G mode will emit more radiation than handsets in 2G, 3G, or 4G mode remains to be seen; 5G emission levels are currently not known or have not yet been measured by us (though the levels of intensity will most likely be similar to previous ones). 

5G satellites

Currently, there are 2000 telecommunications satellites zipping around the Earth and about 10,000 new ones are planned to be added – with 5G capabilities. From a building biology perspective, it could be an advantage that the great distance to the Earth’s surface translates into very low exposure levels (lower than 0.1 µW/m²), though admittedly everywhere.

Building biology recommendations

Everybody is encouraged both to raise awareness in a factual and constructive way among family members, friends, and coworkers and to campaign against 5G antennas or for installations with the lowest emissions possible. (Unfortunately, many of the 5G antennas will not be subject to approval so that actions in this regard may be limited.) The consumer protection organizations “Diagnose Funk” and “Kompetenzinitiative,” which fight against wireless radiation pollution, are here to help you, but also need your support.
To reduce your personal exposure, it is best to choose high-mass building materials; in the case of lightweight construction – for the entire building or just the roof structure – a layer of shielding material should be integrated. Shielding materials (paints, fabrics, screens), which have been in common use to date, do not show much of a difference in their shielding effectiveness in the frequency range from around 1 to 3 GHz compared to current sources of wireless radiation such as 2G, 3G, 4G, Wi-Fi, DECT, etc. At higher frequencies above 20 GHz, mesh materials such as fabrics and screens are less effective, but high-mass building materials and continuous surface treatments such as paints are more effective.
If in doubt, have exposure levels verified by measurements; looking up the EMF Monitor at the German Federal Network Agency (or equivalent databases of cellular antennas in other countries) can already reveal important information.
It will be important to ensure that devices and systems with 5G wireless antennas (or other wireless technologies) are not installed inside buildings unless they can be disabled – at least at night, there should be wireless silence. Whenever possible, smart home applications should use hardwired solutions via network cables or cable bus systems. (In new construction, an abundance of data cables should be run.) Caution is also advised with all electrical appliances that come equipped with wireless functions: Either do without wireless functions or make sure that the wireless mode used only transmits infrequently and for short periods.
From a building biology perspective, it is generally recommended not only to focus on 5G, but also to consider other stress factors (e.g. ELF electric and magnetic fields, static electric and magnetic fields, formaldehyde, radioactivity, etc.) and to always take a holistic approach to problem solving, measurements, and mitigation. 

Summary

Many things regarding 5G are not yet known, but enough to use caution and to reduce one’s exposure to 5G radiation as much as possible. One thing is for sure, the introduction of 5G will lead to an increased personal exposure in various situations, at work, in public, or even at home. It is possible, as discussed above, that wireless radiation levels may drop compared to current levels. The how and where of exposure levels must be verified on a case-by-case basis, preferably with measurements.
The main goal of the building biology approach is to keep the sleep environment as free of wireless radiation exposure as possible, also including 5G. With regard to indoor wireless sources, main strategies include prudent avoidance, shutting off devices, or keeping a safe distance; with regard to outdoor wireless sources, shielding measures are in order.
How to measure 5G
Ideally, spectrum analyzers are used to measure 5G signals, which allow for the most detailed measurements. Depending on the situation, broadband RF meters can also be used. In the latter case, there will be certain measurement errors due to “crest factors” similar to LTE and even higher bandwidths, but they should all be manageable in the context of building biology assessments.
In any case, the measurement device must cover the frequencies used: Since many 5G applications will transmit around 3.4-3.7 GHz, spectrum analyzers or broadband RF meters must at least detect up to 4 GHz. For higher frequencies above 10 GHz, there are no broadband meters available as of yet and only very few building biology professionals own spectrum analyzers that can detect such high frequencies.
In the building biology community, experience with 5G measurements is still rare. Owing to the low traffic on 5G networks at this time, first measurements should be treated with caution. In the future, measuring 5G signals will be most likely rather difficult because of the great fluctuations in power levels, depending on who transmits how much data where. For example, emissions from base station antennas to mobile devices will at least partly form beams. How should one calculate maximum power levels based on random measurements? And when there is no data traffic, 5G emissions may even be shut off completely!? These aspects will present new challenges to 5G exposure measurements.
This is a translation of „5G aus baubiologischer Sicht

Author
Dr. Manfred Mierau is a biologist (Diplom-Biologe) and works as a Building Biology Professional in Aachen, Germany.

Translator
Katharina Gustavs is a Building Biology Professional in Victoria, Canada, who translated the Building Biology Online Course IBN.
info@katharinaconsulting.com
katharinaconsulting.com

giovedì 29 agosto 2019

Chicago Reporter: i telefoni hanno radiazioni ben oltre i limiti US

Ha avuto una certo eco nella stampa americana e così in diversi giornali nel mondo una sperimentazione eseguita da un giornalista investigativo di questo giornale con un gruppo di tecnici che hanno dimostrato come telefoni popolari come iPhone 7 determinano valori di emissione almeno doppi di quei limiti per i quali la FCC aveva dato l'autorizzazione alla vendita.

Ricordo che tutto parte dalla sperimentazione fatta in Francia che ha portato ad una presa di posizione delle autorità governative che stanno 'studiando' la problematica ...



E' stata qui contestata la metodologia di misurazione (che aggiungo parte da una visione MINIMALISTA secondo la quale gli unici problemi sono il riscaldamento del corpo, quindì attenzione  solo gli effetti termici) che ad es. prevede la misurazione a 25 mm dal corpo (cosa che normalmente è al 99% fittizia e non risponde alla realtà) e che il test è fatto su un manichino di dimensioni di un Marines americano (un bel bestione,  praticamente) ben diverso dalla corporatura di una fetta notevole degli utilizzatori attuali, continuativi degli smartphone !

Un commento successivo di Devra Davis mi è piaciuto molto: 
questo metodo di misurazione è datato 1996, quando un gallone di benzina costava 1,25 $ ed un telefono cellulare 2.000 $ pari agli ordierni 3200 $!   Quindi era utilizzato da business man, militari e per telefonate in media di 6 min, visti i costi di connessione telefonica ...     Situazione molto molto diversa dall'attuale !!! 

Vediamo cosa partorirà l'ente federale americano.




vedere news video https://www.msn.com/en-us/tv/video/chicago-tribune-fcc-investigating-phone-radiation-findings/vp-AAGeXBW



We tested popular cellphones for radiofrequency radiation. Now the FCC is investigating.
By SAM ROE
CHICAGO TRIBUNE |
AUG 21, 2019 | 12:27 PM
  
The Apple iPhone 7 was set to operate at full power and secured below a tub of clear liquid, specially formulated to simulate human tissue.
With the push of a button, a robotic arm swung into action, sending a pencil-thin probe dipping into the tub. For 18 minutes, it repeatedly measured the amount of radiofrequency radiation the liquid was absorbing from the cellphone.

This test, which was paid for by the Tribune and conducted according to federal guidelines at an accredited lab, produced a surprising result: Radiofrequency radiation exposure from the iPhone 7 — one of the most popular smartphones ever sold — measured over the legal safety limit and more than double what Apple reported to federal regulators from its own testing.

The Federal Communications Commission, which is responsible for regulating phones, states on its website that if a cellphone has been approved for sale, the device “will never exceed” the maximum allowable exposure limit. But this phone, in an independent lab inspection, had done exactly that.

The Tribune tested three more brand-new iPhone 7s at full power, and these phones also measured over the exposure limit. In all, 11 models from four companies were tested, with varying results.

The Tribune’s testing, though limited, represents one of the most comprehensive independent investigations of its kind, and the results raise questions about whether cellphones always meet safety standards set up to protect the public.

After reviewing the lab reports from the Tribune’s tests, the FCC said it would take the rare step of conducting its own testing over the next couple of months.

“We take seriously any claims on non-compliance with the RF (radiofrequency) exposure standards and will be obtaining and testing the subject phones for compliance with FCC rules,” agency spokesman Neil Grace said.

The Tribune set out a year ago to explore an important question: Are cellphones as safe as manufacturers and government regulators say?

Though it’s unclear whether radiofrequency radiation from cellphones can increase cancer risk or lead to other harm, that question is increasingly pressing given the widespread use of cellphones today. Many children and teenagers may face years of exposure.

The newspaper’s testing was not meant to rank phone models for safety – only 11 models were examined, and in most cases just one device was tested. Nor is it possible to know whether any of the cellphones that tested above limits could cause harm. Two of the phone manufacturers, including Apple, disputed the Tribune’s results, saying the lab used by the newspaper had not tested the phones the same way they do.

But the results of the Tribune’s investigation contribute to an ongoing debate about the possible risks posed by radiofrequency radiation from cellphones, and they offer evidence that existing federal standards may not be adequate to protect the public.

Industry officials and manufacturers emphasize that before a new model can be brought to market, a sample phone must be tested and comply with an exposure standard for radiofrequency radiation. But manufacturers are allowed to select the testing lab — and only a single phone needs to pass in order for millions of others to be sold.

Companies testing a new phone for compliance with the safety limit also are permitted to position the phone up to 25 millimeters away from the body — nearly an inch — depending on how the device is used. That’s because the testing standards were adopted in the 1990s, when people frequently carried cellphones on belt clips.

In one phase of the Tribune testing, all phones were positioned at the same distance from the simulated body tissue that the manufacturers chose for their own tests — from 5 to 15 millimeters, depending on the model. Apple, for instance, tests at 5 millimeters.

But people now often carry phones closer to the body, in their pockets, which increases their potential exposure to radiofrequency radiation.
To assess this kind of exposure, the Tribune asked its lab to conduct a second phase of testing, placing the phones 2 millimeters away from the simulated body — closer than any of the manufacturers’ own tests and far less than the maximum distance allowed by the FCC.

The 2-millimeter distance was chosen to estimate the potential exposure for an owner carrying the phone in a pants or shirt pocket. Under those conditions, most of the models tested yielded results that were over the exposure limit, sometimes far exceeding it.

At 2 millimeters, the results from a Samsung Galaxy S8 were more than five times the standard.

The Government Accountability Office, Congress’ research arm, recommended in 2012 that the FCC reassess the exposure limit and its testing requirements, saying that because phones weren’t measured while against the body, authorities could not ensure exposures were under the standard.

Seven years later — after a lengthy period of public comment — the FCC came to its conclusion. The agency announced this month that the existing standard sufficiently protects the public and should remain in place.

Few other government officials have acted in recent years to address the possible risks of radiofrequency radiation from cellphones. But in California, the state Public Health Department in 2017 issued rare guidance on how concerned consumers could reduce exposure.

Among the advice: Don’t carry cellphones in pockets.




Apple, Samsung respond
When informed of the Tribune’s test results and provided with the laboratory’s 100-page lab report, Apple disputed the findings, saying they were not performed in a way that properly assesses iPhones.

The Tribune’s tests were conducted by RF Exposure Lab, a facility in San Marcos, Calif., that is recognized by the FCC as accredited to test for radiofrequency radiation from electronic devices. For 15 years, the lab has done radiation testing for wireless companies seeking government approval for new products.

Lab owner Jay Moulton said all the Tribune’s tests were done in accordance with detailed FCC rules and guidelines.
“We’re not doing anything extraordinary or different here,” Moulton said. Any qualified lab "should be able to grab a phone off the shelf and test it to see if it meets requirements.”

Apple, one of the world’s most iconic brands, would not say specifically what it thought was wrong with the Tribune’s tests or reveal how the company measures its phones for potential radiofrequency radiation exposure.
Still, based on Apple’s feedback, the Tribune retested the iPhones in the investigation as well as an additional iPhone 7, making a change aimed at activating sensors that would reduce power.

Once again, the iPhone 7s produced results over the safety limit, while an iPhone 8 that previously measured over the standard came in under.
When informed of the new results, Apple officials declined to be interviewed and requested the Tribune put its questions in writing. The newspaper did, submitting three dozen, but Apple did not answer any of them.

Apple then issued a statement, repeating that the Tribune test results for the iPhone 7s “were inaccurate due to the test setup not being in accordance with procedures necessary to properly assess the iPhone models.”

“All iPhone models, including iPhone 7, are fully certified by the FCC and in every other country where iPhone is sold,” the statement said. “After careful review and subsequent validation of all iPhone models tested in the (Tribune) report, we confirmed we are in compliance and meet all applicable … exposure guidelines and limits.”

Apple did not explain what it meant by “careful review and subsequent validation.”

The three Samsung phones tested by the Tribune — the Galaxy S8, Galaxy S9 and Galaxy J3 — were positioned at 10 or 15 millimeters from the body, the distances chosen by the company in accordance with FCC guidelines. In these tests, the devices measured under the safety limit.
But when the phones were tested at 2 millimeters from the simulated body — to represent a device being used while in a pocket — the exposures measured well over the standard.

Samsung, based in South Korea and one of the world’s top smartphone makers, said in a statement: “Samsung devices sold in the United States comply with FCC regulations. Our devices are tested according to the same test protocols that are used across the industry.”

FCC officials would not comment on individual results from phones tested by the Tribune. They said that although the Tribune testing was not as comprehensive as what would be required for an official compliance report, they would examine some of the phone models in the newspaper’s investigation.

Assessing the risk
Around-the-clock cellphone use represents one of the most dramatic cultural shifts in decades. In 2009, an estimated 50 million smartphones were in active use in America, according to the wireless industry association CTIA. Today, there are 285 million. Twenty-nine percent of U.S. teens sleep with their cellphones in bed with them, according to a 2019 report by the nonprofit organization Common Sense Media.

Some researchers say safety efforts have not kept pace. “These days,” said Om Gandhi, an early researcher of cellphone radiation at the University of Utah, “exposure is from cradle to grave.”

Cellphones use radio waves to communicate with a vast network of fixed installations called base stations or cell towers. These radio waves are a form of electromagnetic radiation, in the same frequency range used by TVs and microwave ovens.

This kind of radiation, also known as radiofrequency energy, shouldn’t be confused with ionizing radiation, such as gamma rays and X-rays, which can strip electrons from atoms and cause serious biological harm, including cancer.

Radiofrequency energy from cellphones isn’t powerful enough to cause ionization, but at high levels it can heat biological tissue and cause harm. Eyes and testes are especially vulnerable because they do not dispel heat rapidly.
Less understood is whether people, especially children, are at risk for other health effects, including cancer, from exposure to low-level cellphone radiation over many years — potentially decades.

When cellphones hit the market in the 1980s, authorities focused on setting an exposure limit to address only the heating risks of cellphones. Scientists found that animals showed adverse effects when exposed to enough radiofrequency radiation to raise their body temperature by 1 degree Celsius. Authorities used this finding to help calculate a safety limit for humans, building in a 50-fold safety factor.

The final rule, adopted by the FCC in 1996, stated that cellphone users cannot potentially absorb more than 1.6 watts per kilogram averaged over one gram of tissue. To demonstrate compliance, phone makers were told to conduct two tests: when the devices were held against the head and when held up to an inch from the body.
A woman uses a cellphone at Lollapalooza this summer. New phone models must be tested for radiofrequency radiation before coming to market.
These testing methods didn’t address the anatomy of children and that of other vulnerable populations, such as pregnant women, said Joel Moskowitz, a cellphone expert at the University of California at Berkeley.

“It was like one-size-fits-all.” Plus, he said, “I don’t think anyone anticipated the smartphone and how it would become so integral to our lives.”
The devices became ubiquitous and were increasingly slipped into pockets rather than carried on belt clips. The number of scientific studies related to cellphone radiofrequency radiation soared.

Last fall, in one of the largest studies to date, the National Toxicology Program, a research group within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, found that high exposure to the kind of radiofrequency radiation used by cellphones was associated with “clear evidence” of cancerous heart tumors in male rats.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which shares regulatory responsibilities for cellphones with the FCC, responded to the study by assuring the public there was no danger to humans at “exposures at or under” safety limits. But the Tribune’s testing, disputed by manufacturers, found results from some cellphones over the exposure standard, particularly when tested close to the body.
Despite the changing ways people use phones, both the FCC and FDA said the current exposure limit protects the public. The agencies cite the 50-fold safety margin incorporated into the standard, as does CTIA, the industry association.

Over the limit
A half-hour drive north of San Diego, in the city of San Marcos, is RF Exposure Lab, a low-slung beige and white building that has the look and layout of a dentist’s office. Down the main hallway, past several doors, is a room with dozens of large containers labeled “Head Tissue” and “Body Tissue.”

Moulton, the lab owner, recalled how an intern once spilled some “body tissue” on himself and “freaked out because he thought it was real human tissue.” But it was just a mixture of mostly water, sugar and salt that simulates the electrical properties of the body. The liquid is used frequently at the lab, one of the few facilities in the U.S. that is accredited to test phones and other devices for radiofrequency radiation.
Different liquid mixtures are used to simulate the electrical properties of human tissue in radiofrequency radiation testing at RF Exposure Lab.
Moulton founded the lab in 2004 after serving as engineering director for chip-making giant Qualcomm. There, he said, he often wrestled with the radiation issue while helping design phones for Verizon.

The Tribune hired Moulton to conduct tests on 11 different models of cellphones, all purchased new by the newspaper. The tests took place in a 10-foot-by-10-foot room outfitted with copper screen windows to reduce electrical interference. In the middle of the room was a “phantom body,” an oval-shaped tub the size of a kitchen sink. Inside the tub was a body tissue mixture.

Moulton carefully positioned the first phone to be tested — an Apple iPhone 8 — under the phantom body so that it was 5 millimeters from the outside of the tub. This separation distance was the same gap selected by Apple in its tests and was in accordance with federal guidelines.

Using a base station simulator outside the room, Moulton placed a call to the iPhone 8 and adjusted the settings so the device was operating in the same band, frequency and channel that yielded the highest radiofrequency radiation reading reported by Apple to the FCC during the regulatory approval process — data that is available on the agency website.

The phone was now operating at full power, creating what was essentially a worst-case scenario in terms of radiofrequency radiation exposure. Typically, Moulton said, consumers do not experience exposure like this. But it could happen, he said, in limited situations, such as someone talking continuously in an area with a weak connection.
Jay Moulton preps equipment for cellphone testing at RF Exposure Lab.
A probe attached to a robotic arm moved up and down, and back and forth, in the fluid, taking 276 measurements of the radiation absorbed. After a few minutes, the probe stopped, and the results appeared on a nearby computer screen: The radiofrequency radiation level for the iPhone 8 measured 2.64 W/kg — more than double the highest value Apple reported to the FCC and well over the 1.6 safety limit.

Moulton said he was surprised. “Maybe the phone’s power sensor isn’t working,” he said. “It’s supposed to be on."

Almost all smartphones, he said, have power sensors — also known as proximity sensors — designed to detect when the device is touching or extremely close to a person. When that occurs, the phone is supposed to reduce power, decreasing radiofrequency radiation.

“Let’s see how this iPhone 7 does,” he said, picking up the next phone to be tested. He secured it 5 millimeters under the phantom body, placed a call to the phone and activated the probe.
Minutes later, the results were in: 2.81 W/kg, again over the limit. He tested another iPhone 7, getting a similar result: 2.50 W/kg.
“Still high,” Moulton said.
A probe attached to a robotic arm measures how much radiofrequency radiation from a cellphone is being absorbed by the simulated body tissue.
As more phones were tested, some results came in low. For instance, Samsung’s Galaxy S9, S8 and J3 phones measured under the standard.
But the lab had tested the Samsung phones relatively far away from the simulated body, because that’s how the manufacturer had tested the devices when seeking FCC approval.

Two Samsung phones were tested at 10 millimeters away and one at 15 millimeters — still within federal guidelines but much greater than the 5-millimeter gap chosen by Apple for its tests.
So how would the Samsung devices and other models fare when tested at a consistent distance, one even closer to the body?

The ‘pocket test'
To help answer this question, the Tribune cut out pieces of dress shirts, T-shirts, jeans, track pants and underwear and sent them to Moulton. His measurements indicated that phones carried in pants or shirt pockets typically would be no more than 2 millimeters from the body.

Moulton then conducted the same radiation tests, using the same methods and equipment. The only difference was that the phones were placed 2 millimeters from the phantom body — closer than any of the manufacturers’ own tests and much closer than the maximum distance allowed by the FCC.
Maybe, he said, the phones’ proximity sensors would kick in at this closer distance, and the radiofrequency radiation levels would drop accordingly.
But most phones still showed high levels. The four iPhone 7s tested at 2 millimeters produced results twice the safety standard. The iPhone 8 measured three times over; the Moto e5 Play from Motorola measured quadruple the standard.

And the Samsung Galaxy phones?

All three measured at more than twice the standard, with the Galaxy S8 registering 8.22 W/kg — five times the standard and the highest exposure level seen in any of the Tribune tests.

Only two phones came in under the standard in the 2-millimeter “pocket test": an iPhone 8 Plus and a BLU Vivo 5 Mini.

Moulton said he couldn’t be certain why any of the phones in the Tribune tests scored as they did.

Only the manufacturers, he said, could say for sure.
A visitor to Millennium Park in Chicago talks on a cellphone. “I don’t think anyone anticipated the smartphone and how it would become so integral to our lives,” said California cellphone expert Joel Moskowitz.
A visitor to Millennium Park in Chicago talks on a cellphone. “I don’t think anyone anticipated the smartphone and how it would become so integral to our lives,” said California cellphone expert Joel Moskowitz.

Seeking an explanation
Apple and Motorola disputed the Tribune’s testing protocol but declined to answer written questions.

Motorola officials did say one thing about the high exposure measurement for their Moto e5 Play, which came in nearly three times the safety limit in a 5-millimeter test at the Tribune lab: They speculated the test did not trigger the proximity sensors in that phone.

Though the Tribune’s lab had followed all FCC testing methods, the newspaper subsequently retested the Moto e5 Play, slightly altering the previous testing method to reflect Motorola’s input. The Tribune also retested a Moto g6 Play, which had scored right at the safety limit in the first test, as well as an additional model, a Moto e5.

When tested with these modified methods, the exposure results for all three phones were under the limit at the 5-millimeter distance.
Moulton said the two test results for the e5 Play indicate that its sensors may not work under certain conditions.

Motorola, which is based in Chicago, said in a statement that “all Motorola devices meet or exceed FCC requirements" but would not answer questions about its power sensors.

“Our power management techniques and expertise provide Motorola with a significant competitive advantage in the marketplace, and are therefore highly confidential,” the company’s statement said. “The Chicago Tribune’s third-party lab was not privy to the proprietary techniques from Motorola necessary to elicit accurate results.”

Rules set by the FCC require that radiofrequency radiation testing be done “in a manner that permits independent assessment.”

Motorola said that after receiving the Tribune’s test results, it had the models in question tested at its outside lab, which “found results were within the appropriate limits.” When the Tribune asked Motorola to explain how it tests its phones, the company declined. It also would not share its lab reports.
The Tribune also retested several iPhones based on Apple’s feedback. A reporter touched or grasped the phones for the duration of the tests, actions intended to activate sensors that are designed to reduce the devices’ power.
Tribune reporter Sam Roe grasps an iPhone during retesting at RF Exposure Lab in March. Apple had disputed the results of earlier tests, saying they were not conducted in a way that properly assesses iPhones.
In these tests, the iPhone 8 measured under the limit at 5 millimeters, but all four iPhone 7s did not.

In response to these results, Apple issued a statement saying the lab procedures in the Tribune testing still were improper. The company, based in Cupertino, Calif., wouldn’t say what methods were necessary.

FCC documents show that when Apple sought agency approval in 2016 to market the iPhone 7, the company promised to “take appropriate action” on any complaint “relating to the product’s compliance with requirements of the relevant standard.”

Apple, which said it validated the safety of its phones in response to the Tribune testing, would not provide any additional detail about the actions it took to evaluate the phones.

The company also wouldn’t comment on the information it provides the public on radiofrequency radiation. Consumers can find such information on their iPhones, but it’s difficult.

On the iPhone 7, for instance, a user would go to Settings > General > About > Legal > RF Exposure. There, the term “radiofrequency radiation” is not used but rather “RF energy,” a reference to radiofrequency exposure.
Around-the-clock cellphone use represents one of the most dramatic cultural changes in decades.
To reduce exposure, Apple suggests using “a hands-free option, such as the built-in speakerphone, the supplied headphones, or other similar accessories.”
For some past models, Apple gives additional advice. Apple’s website tells users of the iPhone 4 and 4s: “Carry iPhone at least 10mm away from your body to ensure exposure levels remain at or below the as-tested levels.” The site says those phones were tested at a distance of 10 millimeters.
When Apple submitted its application to the FCC to market the iPhone 7, the company included a similarly worded radiation statement, suggesting users carry the device at least 5 millimeters from the body, records show.
But iPhone 7s eventually sold to the public did not include that advice.
When the Tribune asked Apple in its written questions why that suggestion was not included, the company did not respond.

Sam Roe is an investigative reporter for the Chicago Tribune who writes about various topics. He was part of the reporting team that won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting, and he was a Pulitzer finalist four other times. He also teaches at Columbia College Chicago and coaches baseball in Oak Park.  Email the author: sroe@colum.edu.