It probably comes as no surprise that most of us carry our phones on our bodies, but few people have actually seen the government-mandated warning message located inside each and every one of our cell phones! CBC’s special investigation with Wendy Mesley took a closer look at this seemingly hidden warning: it tells cell users to keep their device 5 to 15 mm away from their body at all times. And yet, 81% of Canadians have never set eyes on this message, and 67% of Canadians carry their phone on their body (CBC, 2017).
Why so distant?
Why do some cellphones recommend phones be kept a distance of 5 mm from the body, while others say 10, or 15? What do testing standards look like? Mesley found that tests are geared toward full-sized adult heads, that testing on children’s heads is not performed at all, that testing is not an industry requirement and is therefore rare to begin with, and that when tests are performed, they are performed at the 5-15mm distance—which is not reflective of how most people carry and operate their phones. If tested as people actually used them, say some experts, no phone would pass.
Old news is still new: cellphone dangers
Twenty years ago, suspicions about the health risks of cellphones already existed. Why are answers still unclear? Berkley, California recently passed a law requiring cellphone stores to display the hard-to-find warnings publicly, yet industry heads want them taken down, arguing they are alarmist. The fight is expected to reach the supreme court. A recent $25 million study on rats showed an increase of malignant brain and heart tumours even in rats exposed to an amount of RF energy below “safe” levels. Health Canada insists data is inconclusive, yet still offers safety tips: hands-free devices, texts over calls, and limited use for children.
Mesley, W. (2017). "The secret inside your phone: Cellphone safety and testing". CBC. Retrieved from: http://www.cbc.ca/marketplace/episodes/2016-2017/the-secret-inside-your-phone