Despite growing evidence supporting the theory of an increased Cancer risk from mobile phone usage (latest article on the BBC here) there seems little grass roots level debate and information on the potential dangers.

For example, what happened to S.A.R. ratings? The Specific Absorption Rate (crudely speaking the maximum amount of radiation the device emits) was supposed to be published on the specifications of every new mobile phone, so that consumers could make an informed choice. Did you see it on the tech specs for your handset? With all the hype of the iPhone 3G did you ever hear mention of its high (1.4) SAR rating? Didn’t think so. The industry seems to be taking an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ approach.

Or, are manufacturers and telecom companies merely omitting the figures because of the inherent problems with SAR ratings? Figures which by their nature are actually misleading. The SAR rating details the maximum radiation a device can emit at any given time. However, that doesn’t mean that for the most part the device actually emits it. Therefore, phone ‘A’ with a low SAR rating may actually be more dangerous (in radiation terms) than device ‘B’ with a high SAR rating (as phone ‘A’ may produce a higher, average emission). There is also the problem of specifications. The SAR rating measures emissions at ear level. So, typically, phone manufacturers have taken to moving the antenna further away from this point (illustrated in the aforementioned iPhone 3G – the antenna on this device is placed at the bottom rear).
So, whilst SAR figures may go down, the actual radiation absorbed by you, the user, from any given handset may not actually be changing. Whilst the radiation might not be entering your ear, it will be entering your jaw/mouth.

If all this seems a little like deja vu, it’s not surprising. The parallels with smoking and the tobacco industry are plain enough to see. Sadly, like smoking, it seems that until there is a vast and unquestionable weight of evidence (taking the form of people’s lives) it is unlikely much will change. Like smoking, the cumulative effects on most users will take years to build up. Ten, fifteen years from now, I really hope I can look back and say I was merely being alarmist…