If you're a Telstra mobile subscriber, you might have received a message yesterday sharing some slightly mysterious information on "electromagnetic energy". But don't worry, it's nothing serious.
This story was originally posted July 04, 2014. Telstra is sending out a new batch of 'electromagnetic exposure' messages right now, but the premise is the same -- you're not going to fry your brain.
Image via Shutterstock
News.com.au is saying that Telstra sent out what looks like an absolutely routine message to some of its customers:
Telstra reminder msg. For information on mobile use, Electromagnetic Energy and tips to reduce exposure visit: http://telstra.com.au/mobiletips
The message may seem creepy, but it's just sharing a link to information on the energy that your phone produces when you're using it for a phone call or on Wi-Fi. This energy is electromagnetic radiation, and at the rate your phone or tablet is producing it, you are perfectly safe.
Here's the thing -- the handset and transmitter limits imposed in Australia are a long way from the level at which electromagnetic radiation from radio frequencies begins to have an adverse effect on human cells. According to the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA), the Australian RF exposure limit for the general public is 0.08W/kg, measured over the whole body, over a six minute period. This is 50 times less than the level at which the first known adverse effects have been registered. Direct contact with an EMR-producing phone is regulated to similarly low levels.
If you want a second source on the safety of EMR, the WHO is reasonably straightforward in its explanation:
"Over the past 15 years, studies examining a potential relationship between RF transmitters and cancer have been published. These studies have not provided evidence that RF exposure from the transmitters increases the risk of cancer. Likewise, long-term animal studies have not established an increased risk of cancer from exposure to RF fields, even at levels that are much higher than produced by base stations and wireless networks"
Some phones, like the Samsung Galaxy S5, skate close to the 1.6W/kg limit imposed by the FCC in the US on paper, but fall far short of the more complete EU measurement standards; this is a result of the EU's testing being averaged over a more realistic amount of human tissue in testing. And Australia's limits are even lower. Given that a high-powered handset like the S5 only produces a quarter of the limit imposed by the notoriously regulation-heavy EU, you shouldn't be too concerned.
Even if you switch off your phone's cellular radio transmitter, it's still producing electromagnetic radiation whenever you use Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. That's why the Galaxy NotePRO 12.2 tablet, for example, still produces 1.01W/kg of EMR. So it's not some dangerous hidden radiation secretly cooking your reproductive organs, don't worry. That doesn't mean you should walk in front of a microwave transmitter, of course.
GSMArena's charts are a good resource for checking the international specific absorption rate of any particular phone (like, say, the Google Nexus 5), but to be sold in Australia all handsets must pass a raft of safety checks and be given the A-Tick of approval by ACMA as well.
Simply put -- any phone that you've bought off a store shelf has been tested to conform with local and international limits on electromagnetic radiation emission, and shouldn't do any damage whether you're making a call, texting, browsing the 'net or carrying it in your pocket.
Read more: Mobile Telephones and Health Effects