BAD WAVES: ANSES publishes on Monday its expertise on the dangers of exposure to mobile phones worn close to the body
- In a report published on Monday, the National Health Security Agency (ANSES) assesses the possible health effects of exposure to mobile phones.
- When worn very close to the body, smartphones can be a health hazard.
- This is why ANSES recommends in its opinion that standards be tightened to protect users.
Are the electromagnetic waves emitted by our smartphones dangerous for health? Yes, according to the findings of an ANSES report published on Monday on the effects of “exposure to mobile phones worn close to the body”. Some mobile phones that went on sale before 2016 must be removed from circulation, or at least updated because they emit too much airwaves and exceed the most recent standards when they are worn in the pocket of a jacket or trousers. The health agency did not reveal the number or name of the targeted models but recommended that steps be taken to ensure that users are no longer exposed to high levels when phones are worn close to the body.
Smartphones that do not conform to the standards in force
At the root of the problem, the DAS (Specific Absorption Rate) of these models. This indicator evaluates the amount of energy absorbed by the body exposed to waves. The regulations state that this SAR must not exceed the value of 2 watts per kilo (W / kg). This SAR is measured in the laboratory prior to the introduction of laptops. Before 2016, the distance of distance used to measure it could be up to 2.5 cm between the phone and the body.
But in April 2016, the standards were tightened, to take into account the evolution of the models and the uses. Since then, manufacturers are required to evaluate the exposure under realistic conditions of use: when the phone is placed very close to the body. Thus, for radiation on the trunk, that is to say when the smartphone is in a jacket pocket or bag, the wave emissions are now measured at 5 millimetres distance with the body to the maximum.
Consequences: some mobile phones that complied with the previous regulations are no longer available today, and their SAR exceeds 2 W / kg if measured within 5 mm of the body. However, “the average duration of use of a phone is a few years (3-5 years), a number of these phones are likely still used today,” said the Director-General of ANSES, Roger Broom. This is why, in its report, “ANSES recommends that measures be taken to ensure that users are no longer exposed to SARs greater than 2 W / kg, for example by means of phone software updates. (or) the phone call back.
Do not carry these mobile phones too close to the body
In the meantime, ANSES recommends not carrying these mobile phones too close to the body. To achieve these recommendations, ANSES took into account “potentially high exposures when phones are placed very close to the body” and “uncertainties that remain about the possible long-term health effects” of the waves emitted by the phones.
In addition to pre-2016 models, phones with high SAR values when placed close to the body are still on the market, says ANSES. This is why another agency, the National Frequency Agency (ANFR), conducts regular checks.
Between 2017 and 2019, the ANFR “detected 16 phones that did not comply with the new regulations”, with a SAR greater than 2W / kg at 5 mm distance. This culminated last year in the recall of some of them, such as Neffos X1 Chinese manufacturer TP-Link or Hapi 30 Orange, and software updates for others.
Harden regulations again
Even before the change of regulations in 2016, tests had been carried out closer to the body by the ANFR, to stick to conditions of use more realistic than the distance of removal than in force. “Tests on nearly 300 phones positioned near the trunk, in contact and at 5 mm distance, were made between 2012 and 2016,” according to ANSES. “The results revealed that a large proportion of phones tested had SAR values above 2 W / kg , with some exceeding 7 W / kg on contact,” the agency said.
Denim pocket, shirt or jacket: many people who keep their smartphone against them, within 5 mm of their body. That is why ANSES recommends tightening the regulation even more, “so that the measurements (…) of the” DAS trunk “of mobile phones are made in contact with the body”.