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Cell phone Radiation: things you should know

Cell phones emit a type of radiation. 

All cell phones are actually two-way microwave radios that send and receive a type of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation called radiofrequency radiation (RFR). This machine-made radiation is millions of times denser than the natural electromagnetic fields (EMFs) in the environment when our grandparents were young.

Although this type of radiation is described as “non-ionizing” and not the same as X-ray radiation, research has linked long-term cell phone use to brain cancer and other health issues. 


Our brains and bodies are penetrated by this radiation. 

When we hold a cell phone against our head to talk, the radiation from the phone moves into our brain, with the highest levels in parts of the body near the phone.

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, “the average radio frequency radiation energy deposition for children exposed to mobile phone RF is two times higher in the brain and 10 times higher in the bone marrow of the skull, compared with mobile phone use by adults.” 


Doctors worldwide recommend people reduce cell phone radiation exposure, especially children. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics, California Department of Public Health, Maryland Council on Children’s Environmental Health, Connecticut Department of Health, and several international medical organizations (such as the Vienna Medical Association, Athens Medical Association and the International Society of Doctors for the Environment) all recommend reducing exposure to cell phone radiation. In 2015, a large group of scientists and medical doctors signed onto a formal appeal to the United Nations, calling on the UN to take immediate action on this issue. 

Government regulations are outdated. 

Cell phones were not evaluated for safety before they were made available to the public began in 1983. Because RFR is non-ionizing radiation at a lower frequency than X-rays or UV rays, at first development it was assumed to be safe technology. In the United States government, the most recent review of radiofrequency limits was in 1996, and the reality is that these limits are based on research from the 1980s. Many countries use guidelines developed by the International Commission for Non Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) — industry-friendly guidelines that have remained unchanged for decades. 

Some countries are taking action to protect their citizens. 

Thankfully, more than 20 countries are enacting protections to reduce the public’s exposure to cell phone radiation. Some countries have banned Wi-Fi in classrooms; others have banned the sale of cell phones made for young children; and several countries cap cell tower emissions at maximum limits that are as low as 1% of the ICNIRP guidelines.  

As an example, Cyprus has a public information campaign with large advertisements on buses. 

Research finds that long-term cell phone users have risks for cancer. 

In 2011, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer first classified cell phone and other types of wireless radiation as a “Group 2B Possible Human Carcinogen” based on research studies that found long-term users of cell phones had higher rates of specific types of tumors (glioblastoma and acoustic neuroma) on the side of the head where they held the phone.  A Yale study funded by the American Cancer Society found an association between thyroid cancer and cell phone use in people with certain genetic susceptibilities.

National Institutes of Health (NIH) scientists minimize cell phone radiation after finding “clear evidence of cancer.” 


The NIH United States National Toxicology Program completed a $30M study that found “clear evidence” of cancer in male rats exposed to this type of radiation, and the types of tumors they found were the same type found in the human cell phone studies. Due to these findings in both humans and animals, several scientists have published that the weight of current peer-reviewed science supports the conclusion that radiofrequency radiation should be regarded as a human carcinogen.

Now the NIH scientists state on the page they review their findings that they too reduce cell phone radiation exposure. Read it in the FAQs section here.

Cell phone radiation is linked to a myriad of other health effects. 

Cancer is just one type of problem associated with cell phone radiation. Scientific research links RFR exposure to a broad range of effects, including memory problems, headaches, impacts on brain development, impacts on reproductive systems and more. For example, a 2018 study that evaluated  the radiation dose into the brain of teenagers found that teens who used cell phones up to their head had decreased memory after just one year of use. 

Cell phones emit radiation constantly, even when you are not talking or using the phone. 

A powered-on cell phone is always “checking in” and maintaining a connection to the nearest cell tower by sending intense bursts of radiation several times per second. Updates for apps happen regularly without us even knowing. Likewise, a wireless-enabled laptop, tablet or other device is always “checking in” with the nearby router or a network access base. These “check ins” are RFR emissions — happening several times per second and whether or not a connection is successfully established.

Published case reports detail how young women with no family history getting a diagnosis of breast cancer are developing unusual breast cancers directly on their chest, underneath the skin area where they placed their cell phones in their bra.

Every cell phone has fine print user instructions that are about radiation limits. 

All cell phones have clear instructions in their manuals to distance the phone away from your body. This is because when a phone is placed in contact with your body, the radiation that will penetrate into your body could be at levels that exceed government recommended limits.

Phones are radiation tested with a space — a separation distance — between the phone and a body dummy, and that is why there are these fine print instructions. Most people assume phone radiation tests are conducted in the same ways that people use these devices in positions touching the body, however, phones are not tested touching the body. 

These fine print warnings do not protect you from health effects. 

The instructions buried in your user manual are not safe enough. Even if you follow these instructions, you risk your health because government limits only protect us from heating effects. Accumulating research now shows a myriad of health effects occur at levels far, far below (literally tens of thousands times lower than) government regulation limits. Wireless devices were not adequately tested for long-term safety before they became available to the public.

Research finds that radiation levels below heating can affect our body. 

Wireless radiation has been shown to change brain function even at levels hundreds of thousands of times below United States federal guidelines. In 2011, Dr. Volkow’s NIH research showed that the brain increased glucose metabolism when exposed to cell phone radiation. Dr. Suleyman Kaplan has published multiple research studies showing damaged brain development in the offspring of prenatally exposed test subjects. Significant research shows that wireless exposures decrease and damage sperm and that prenatal exposure can alter testis and ovarian development. These are just a few examples from a mountain of accumulated science that shows effects from cell phone and other types of wireless radiation.

Cell phone radiation can promote tumors.

A replication study out of Jacobs University showed that RF acted as a tumor promoter. The cell phone radiation levels were very very low. 

The study exposed animals to cell phone radiation plus a known carcinogen. It found significantly  increased incidence of lung and liver tumors and lymphomas. The tumors were significantly increased in those animals exposed to both cell phone radiation and the carcinogen. The study also found effects at very low levels.  

Doctors recommend pregnant women reduce exposure. 

Pregnant women rest cell phones and wireless devices on their abdomens, unaware that the radiation penetrates into their body as well as into their developing baby. In 2014, a group of U.S. physicians, including the Chief of Obstetrics at Yale Medicine, presented scientific studies at the launch of the BabySafe Project, issuing specific recommendations to pregnant women on how to decrease wireless exposures in order to decrease risks to babies’ brain development.

The BabySafe Project’s Joint Statement has been signed by more than 270 physicians.

We can easily reduce cell phone radiation exposure. 

There are solutions. We do not have to give up communication and information technology to make smarter choices about the way we use it. Every person can easily decrease exposure to wireless radiation by making simple changes and choices every day.

  • Minimize cell phone use and use speakerphone. 
  • Swap out Wi-Fi and Bluetooth with corded ethernet connections. 
  • Inspire your elected officials to enact protective policy. 

Yes. We can do this. 

Consider Professional Support

There are trained professionals in electromagnetic radiatoin who have specializd equipment for measuring and mitigating wireless and electromagnetic fields. They can guide you with sheilding and other steps needed when you are in an area of high exposure or have symtoms from exposure. The  Institute for Building Biology trains experts  and has a way to search for a Building Biologist near you. The Institute for Building Biology also has developed an 8 Part video series with education on how to reduce EMF at home.

Policy needs to change to protect people. 

Regulations are also antiquated because they do not consider long-term non-thermal effects. The way we test phones has not kept pace with the manner in which consumers use devices — usage has changed considerably since 1996. For example, the regulations only consider one radiating device at a time and do not account for a residence, classroom, workplace, or healthcare, retail, recreational and other venues filled with multiple devices. The regulations do not consider that people carry their cell phones tightly in a front pocket or bra. The regulations do not consider that laptops and cell phones would be placed on laps by schoolchildren in classrooms. 

Regulations did not consider research that looked at long-term exposures to vulnerable groups such as children, pregnant women or medically compromised individuals. It is time for a change and together we can fix this. 

Here are some things that emit wireless in a house.

Want to learn more about how to reduce exposure?

CLICK HERE  to go to EHT’s page on how to reduce exposure. 


Downloadable Resources to Reduce Exposure

Click HERE for more printable factsheets and flyers to post on your fridge and share with neighbors.