What can those worried about cell phone safety do?
The easiest way is to use land lines whenever possible or limit cell phones to emergency situations. Hands free mode is another alternative to ensure the phone isn't near the head, as are sending text messages instead of chatting.
Some experts worry about childhood exposures because long term usage might be a cancer risk. Given that the technology is here to stay, children will pile up many hours of usage over their lifetimes.
"For children, I would certainly advise" not using them, says Louis Slesin, editor of Microwave News, a publication that tracks the hazards of electromagnetic radiation.
Mr. Slesin has some other tips:
- Use cell phones outside because they emit less energy when they have easier connections to the towers that relay signals.
- For the same reason, use in trains or cars causes more radiation exposure because the phones are constantly switching signals to new towers, an activity that leads to temporary boosts in signal power.
Cell phone manufacturers could display prominently on packaging the amount of radiation their devices give off. However, the industry objects because it suggests there might be harm from high emitting models. The industry's position is that as long as a device meets government standards, it is completely safe.
The Environmental Working Group, a U.S. advocacy group, has tested cell phones and posted the results on the internet. Models differ markedly in radiation output, with some high emitting devices releasing three to six times more radiation as the lowest emitting phones, according to EWG data.