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expert reaction to France halting iPhone 12 sales over radiation levels

It has been reported that France has ordered a halt to sales of the iPhone 12 due to breaches of radiation exposure limits.


Prof Malcolm Sperrin, Fellow of the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine (IPEM), said:

“The SAR acceptable level is not as simple as it may seem since it depends upon the testing regime, but the recommendation by the European professional body is for it to be below 2W/kg for head and neck but for a 10g tissue mass.  Different territories have different SAR limits based upon their own legislative and guidance frameworks.

“The SAR limit is set at a level that places it well below the level at which harm will occur and hence a small increase in exposure above the SAR limit is unlikely to be of any health consequence.  However, limits are there to ensure that controls are in place to prevent ‘creep’ toward the onset of effects so it is reasonable to adhere strictly to those limits.  The limits have been well published and understood for some time.

“It should be possible for a patch or update to downloaded in order to prevent the exposure from the phone rising above the limiting value.  It is not clear why this particular phone appears to have a high SAR but it may be associated with the initial stage of connection when the phone is ‘looking’ for a transmit/receive signal.

“Although considerable research on the matter continues, at the exposures associated with mobile phone usage, there have been no conclusive findings to suggest that health detriment arises from the use of mobile phones other than that arising from electrical heating and possibly effects that arises from long periods of use that alter sleep patterns.”


Dr Ian Scivill, Consultant Clinical Scientist, Medical Imaging and Medical Physics, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, said:

“The guidance/exposure limits for radio frequency electromagnetic fields (RF EMF), covering those used by mobile phones can be obtained from ICNIRP, click here. For example, p491, Table 2 shows that the local head/torso SAR is 2W/Kg for the general public between frequency range 100kHz to 6GHz for averaging intervals ≥6min over 10g.

“After many years of large populations using mobile phones, epidemiology/research studies have reportedly not determined a clear link to adverse health effects like cancer, headaches, cognitive function etc.

“Noted is that there can be a heating effect from RF EMF that the body can normally tolerate well within guidance exposure levels. Therefore, mobile phone technology should comply within ICNIRP recommended exposure limits.

“I suspect general public opinion considers a mobile phone a benefit to modern life, given that there is no categorical evidence to suggest adverse health effects. This public confidence level is the benefit from the NRPB/ICNIRP exposure guidelines and numerous epidemiology/research study outcomes that have influenced mobile phone development and design. However, it is important that studies continue to review new technologies with the same level of scrutiny to reassure the public that newer generation mobile communications remain safe to human health.”



Declared interests

For all other experts, no reply to our request for DOIs was received.

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