Nobody can deny the risks of using tobacco. This was hardly the case many years ago. Back then, advertisements even claimed that cigarettes were beneficial to your health.

Now, we face similar questions about whether cellphones cause brain tumors. While studies conflict, the clearest warning came in February. The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that cellphones could alter brain activity.

The group stopped short of saying that cellphones cause negative health effects. Still, you can’t ignore the findings and you should protect yourself from cellphone radiation.

Phones are not created equal

Different phones emit different amounts of radiation. When buying a phone, research the specific absorption rate, or SAR. This indicates how much radiation the body absorbs when the handset is at maximum power. In the United States, a phone’s SAR can’t exceed 1.6 watts per kilogram.

A phone’s SAR can be difficult to find. Fortunately, the Environmental Working Group, an independent agency, publishes this information. Visit for a link to its site. To give an example, the iPhone 4’s SAR is 1.17 W/kg.

Get some distance

You should also mitigate the risk of cellphone radiation. First, keep the phone away from your body. Even a few millimeters make a big difference in diminishing radiation risks.

Your best bet is to use the speakerphone feature or a wired headset. Choose one with a ferrite bead to absorb radiation

A hollow tube headset is another good choice. Bluetooth earpieces will expose you to some radiation. However, they emit much less radiation than phones.

A Bluetooth headset’s SAR will fall between 1 milliwatt per kilogram and 100 mW/kg. There are three classes of Bluetooth headsets. Class 3 has the lowest SAR; Class 1 has the highest. If you use a Bluetooth headset, remove it from your ear when not using it.

Wait for a good signal

Cellphones emit different amounts of radiation based on the situation. For example, they emit the most radiation when connecting to cellular towers. Don’t hold your phone to your ear until a call is connected. A moving phone will continually connect to towers that come in and out of range. This is another reason not to use your phone while driving.

Phones also emit more radiation when transmitting than when receiving. Tilt the phone away from your head when you are talking. Bring it back to your ear when you’re listening. Avoid using your phone if you must hold it tightly to your ear to hear.

Kids and phones don’t mix

Young children are drawn to cellphones. Don’t give your phone to a child, even as a distraction. Because children have thinner skulls and developing brains, they could be more vulnerable to the radiation.

You need to think about where you carry your phone, too. If possible, don’t carry it in a pocket next to your body. Men in particular should avoid carrying it in a front pocket. Instead, opt for a nonmetallic belt clip or even a fanny pack. You certainly won’t win style points, but that’s not the goal.

Devices on the market claim to protect you from cellphone radiation. Most are hoaxes or untested at best. Some may expose you to more radiation. Skip these products.

Finally, post a link to this article on Twitter and Facebook. Your loved ones need to know how to protect themselves from the risks of cellphone radiation. They’ll also understand why you’ll be phoning less and texting more.

Kim Kommando hosts the nation’s largest talk radio show about computers and the Internet. To get the podcast or find the station nearest you, visit: To subscribe to Kim’s free e-mail newsletters, sign up at: Contact her at

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