SCIENCE: Cell phone radiation underestimated for children

March 2012, Vol. 31, No. 1 , Pages 34-51 (doi:10.3109/15368378.2011.622827)
Om P. Gandhi1, L. Lloyd Morgan2, Alvaro Augusto de Salles3, Yueh-Ying Han4, Ronald B. Herberman2,5, Devra Lee Davis2

1Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Utah,

Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
2Environmental Health Trust, Teton Village,Wyoming, USA
3Electrical Engineering Department, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Porto Alegre, Brazil
4Department of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Health Sciences and Practice, New York Medical College, Valhalla, New York, USA
5Intrexon Corp., Germantown, Maryland, USA

Address correspondence to L. Lloyd Morgan, Environmental Health Trust, P.O. Box 58, Teton Village, WY 83025 USA; E-mail:


    Exposure Limits: The underestimation of absorbed cell phone radiation, especially in children. The existing cell phone certification process uses a plastic model of the head called the Specific Anthropomorphic Mannequin (SAM), representing the top 10% of U.S. military recruits in 1989 and greatly underestimating the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) for typical mobile phone users, especially children. A superior computer simulation certification process has been approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) but is not employed to certify cell phones.
    In the United States, the FCC determines maximum allowed exposures. Many countries, especially European Union members, use the “guidelines” of International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), a non governmental agency. Radiofrequency (RF) exposure to a head smaller than SAM will absorb a relatively higher SAR. Also, SAM uses a fluid having the average electrical properties of the head that cannot indicate differential absorption of specific brain tissue, nor absorption in children or smaller adults. The SAR for a 10-year old is up to 153% higher than the SAR for the SAM model. When electrical properties are considered, a child’s head’s absorption can be over two times greater, and absorption of the skull’s bone marrow can be ten times greater than adults.

Therefore, a new certification process is needed that incorporates different modes of use, head sizes, and tissue properties. Anatomically based models should be employed in revising safety standards for these ubiquitous modern devices and standards should be set by accountable, independent groups.

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