Put down that phone! A report from the Environmental Working Group finds handsets like RIM's BlackBerry Curve and phones from Motorola, T-Mobile and others lead the list of radioactive phones.
The Motorola Moto VU204 has the highest radiation of any cell phone,
according to Environmental Working Group research, followed by T-Mobile's
myTouch 3G. Two of Research In Motion's popular BlackBerry smartphones made the
top 10: the BlackBerry Curve 8330, at No. 4, and the BlackBerry Bold 9000, at
The EWG, a nonprofit research organization focused on protecting health and
the environment, published a comprehensive online consumer guide to cell phone
radiation, rating more than 1,000 cell phones marketed in the United
States. The free, user-friendly online tool allows consumers to make
informed decisions about which cell phones to buy, according to the EWG. The
guide uses graphics to illustrate each phone's radiofrequency emissions,
enabling consumers to make quick comparisons of radiation output of various
The nonprofit said it compiled the guide, based on technical data provided
by manufacturers, to fill the information gap left by the U.S. government's
failure to require cell phone makers and vendors to disclose emission levels on
labels or in-store advertising displays.
"We would like to be able to say that cell phones are safe," said Olga
Naidenko, Ph.D., EWG senior scientist and lead author of the study. "But we
can't. The most recent science, while not conclusive, raises serious issues
about the cancer risk of cell phone use that must be addressed through further
research. In the meantime, consumers can take steps to reduce exposure."
According to the guide, the lowest emission handsets are led by Samsung's
Impression, offered through AT&T. Samsung boasts five entries in the top 10
phones ranked by low emissions, while Motorola, LG, T-Mobile and Sanyo also
ranked among the lowest emission handsets.
The report also offers safety tips for reducing cell phone radiation
exposure. Among them, the EWG recommends using headsets and the speakerphone
option if available, send more text messages, talk less and stay off the phone
when few bars indicate a weak signal.
Public health officials' concerns about the possible dangers of
radiofrequency emissions are intensifying as wireless devices proliferate.
According to the CTIA Wireless Association, an international industry group,
U.S. wireless subscribers numbered 270.3 million-87 percent of Americans-as of
December 2008, a 30 percent jump in three years. Some 60 percent of the global
population-4 billion people-subscribes to wireless services.
The EWG points out that health agencies in six nations-Switzerland, Germany,
Israel, France, the United Kingdom and Finland-have issued warnings to limit
cell phone use, particularly by children, whose softer, thinner skulls are less
able to shield the brain from radiation. Scientists have found that children's
brains absorb twice as much cell phone radiation as those of adults.
The EWG's analysis of possible public health risks of cell phone radiation
culminates a 10-month investigation of more than 200 peer-reviewed studies,
government advisories and industry documents. The organization concluded that current
U.S. cell phone
radiation standards, set by the Federal Communications Commission and based
largely on 1992 cell phone industry recommendations, are outdated and allow 20
times more radiation to penetrate the head than the rest of the body. "The
first cell phones were marketed to adults," Naidenko said. "But today, children
are just as likely to own a cell phone as a video game, baseball or bicycle."
Nathan Eddy is Associate Editor, Midmarket, at eWEEK.com. Before joining eWEEK.com, Nate was a writer with ChannelWeb and he served as an editor at FierceMarkets. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.