How you hold your phone can hurt you: Death grip increases radiation exposure

As if dropped calls weren’t bad enough, the “death grip” actually increases the amount of radio frequency radiation being pumped from our cell phones into our skulls.  Tawkon, an Israeli mobile software company released a video showing its app measuring radiation output of an iPhone 4, BlackBerry Bold, and Google Nexus One.

 
The devices show significant increases in RF radiation when the phones are gripped firmly in the user’s palm.  This type of grasp blocks the phone’s antenna, so the device must up its RF output in order to remain connected.  The same thing happens when a user steps into an elevator or into any other low-signal area.  So, we’re obviously losing connection during these times, but are we losing anything else?

According to Tawkon co-founder Amit Lubovsky, “Tawkon doesn’t advocate that the “death grip” is necessarily unsafe, because final answers on the health ramifications of mobile phone usage won’t be known for decades, until researchers have had that time to track long-term usage and impact. However, recent studies do indicate a health impact of mobile phone radiation on mobile phone users, especially on people whose usage is termed excessive and cumulative. Until the long-term studies are concluded (decades from now), Tawkon believes consumers should have the right and ability to minimize their exposure to mobile phone radiation.”

Tawkon App on the iPhone showing radiation levels

Most current studies have not found a link between cell phones and health problems.  For example, the World Health Organizations’s Interphone study released in May found no causal link between glioma/meningioma and cell phone use.  However, the study noted that “There were suggestions of an increased risk of glioma, and much less so meningioma, in the highest decile of cumulative call time, in subjects who reported usual phone use on the same side of the head as their tumour and, for glioma, for tumours in the temporal lobe.”  In a 2009 study of more than 1,200 mobile phones, the Environmental Working Group was also unable to draw any conclusions between cell phones and health risks.  They were able to begin a database of mobile phones and their emissions, ranking Motorola Droid, iPhone 3GS, Google Nexus One, BlackBerry Bold 9700, and Samsung Instinct HD as the top five most radio-emissive phones.  However, all of these phones fall within the FCC’s acceptable SAR (specific absorption rate) limit of 1.6 watts per kilogram (1.6 W/kg).

Still, with acceptable emission levels or not, an increase of radiation near our brains, through something called the “death grip,” is enough to give me the chills.


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