Indian Journal of Public Health

: 2015  |  Volume : 59  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 323--324

Cell Phones and SAR Value

Ashish Kumar1, Rohan Bhoil2, Rohit Bhoil3,  
1 Resident, Department of Pharmacology, Dr. Rajendra Prasad Government Medical College, Tanda, Himachal Pradesh, India
2 Resident, Department of Prosthodontics, Armed Forces Medical College, Pune, Maharashtra, India
3 Resident, Department of Radio Diagnosis, Indira Gandhi Medical College, Shimla, India

Correspondence Address:
Rohit Bhoil
Resident, Department of Radiodiagnosis, IGMC, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh

How to cite this article:
Kumar A, Bhoil R, Bhoil R. Cell Phones and SAR Value.Indian J Public Health 2015;59:323-324

How to cite this URL:
Kumar A, Bhoil R, Bhoil R. Cell Phones and SAR Value. Indian J Public Health [serial online] 2015 [cited 2021 Mar 8 ];59:323-324
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Full Text


This is in reference to the article by Bobby Paul et al. [1] on the growing concerns about the safety of mobile phone usage. Slowly but steadily, thanks to the mounting evidence, the topic of cell phone radiation dangers is gaining publicity. While it may be convenient to overlook the mountain of research that shows the risk and harmful effects of radiation emitted from cell phones, it is far from prudent; even the World Health Organization (WHO) has classified cell phone radiation as a Class 2B Carcinogen [2] - the same class as the pesticide dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT), naphthalene, and lead!

We would like to elaborate a bit more on specific absorption rate (SAR) that is a measure of the rate of radiofrequency (RF) energy absorption by the body from the source being measured, i.e., cell phone in this case. [3] However, there is considerable confusion and misunderstanding among the general public about the meaning of the maximum reported SAR values for cell phones (and other wireless devices). Many people mistakenly assume that using a cell phone with a lower reported SAR value necessarily reduces the adverse effects of a user's exposure to RF emissions, or is safer than using a cell phone with a high SAR value. [4]

While SAR values serve as an important tool in judging the maximum possible exposure to RF energy, a single SAR value does not provide sufficient information concerning the amount of RF exposure under regular usage conditions to reliably compare different cell phone models. Rather, the SAR values recommended by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are intended only to ensure that the cell phone manufactures do not exceed the maximum permissible exposure levels even when operating in most severe, worst case (and highest power) operating conditions that result in the device's highest possible (not its typical) RF energy absorption for the user. [5]

The SAR value used for the FCC approval does not account for the multitude of measurements taken during the testing. Moreover, cell phones constantly vary their power to operate at the minimum power necessary for communications; operation at maximum power occurs infrequently. [4] Consequently, cell phones cannot be reliably compared for their overall exposure characteristics on the basis of a single SAR value for several reasons. An approval from the FCC means that the device will never exceed the maximum levels of consumer RF exposure permitted by federal guidelines, but it does not indicate the amount of RF exposure consumers experience during normal use of the device. [5]

For the people who are concerned with the reliability and adequacy of this standard or who otherwise wish to further reduce their exposure to RF energy, the most effective means is to hold the cell phone away from the head or body [4] and to use a speakerphone or hands-free accessory. These measures will have much more impact on RF energy absorption than the small difference in SAR between individual cell phones, which, in any event, is an unreliable comparison of RF exposure to consumers, given the variables of individual use.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


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2Fact Sheet No. 193. Electromagnetic Fields and Public Health: Mobile Phones. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2014. p. 1.
3Guidelines on limits of exposure to time-varying electric, magnetic and electromagnetic fields (up to 300 GHz). International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation. Health Phys 1998;74:494-522.
4Maier M, Blakemore C, Koivisto M. The health hazards of mobile phones. BMJ 2000;320:1288-9.
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