Is radiation stronger, when a phone looks for a connection?

Just to mention the health issue here: it is not a good idea to keep your mobile phone (switched on / connected) close to your body for a long time, whether it is to the hip, heart or head. Radiation is esp. strong when the phone is looking for a connection, not only during phone calls.
So instead of a bendable cover (as seem to be developed for some phones) better look for an alternative place to carry your phone and use a cable headset for long conversations.


Current knowledge is summarised by the WHO here. If anybody wants to read the science on which the assessment “possibly carcinogenic” is based, the relevant IARC monograph is here (not sure whether open access; summary is linked towards the end of the page). The accompanying press release explains a bit what the classification means.
On a side note, the “possibly carcinogenic” IARC assessment has also been applied to some things that I was interested to see were under review, such as Ginkgo biloba extract, Aloe Vera extract, Coffee, Bracken Fern, Carpentry and joinery, and Pickled Vegetables (traditional Asian). In the case of the latter, I wonder whether other pickled vegetables were also investigated, and, if so, why the assessment was different (alas, no time now…).


This is simply not true. Where did you get this information? Searching for a cell tower is a listening process, it’s completely passive.

you’ll find it in publications by Stiftung Warentest D and Bundesamt für Gesundheit CH. And here is a quote (sorry for ppl that don’t understand German) from Dr. rer.nat. Sarah Drießen of Forschungszentrum für Elektro-Magnetische Umweltverträglichkeit Uniklinik Aachen:

Als vorsorgliche Maßnahme ist Abstand zum Handy zu halten immer ein geeigneter Weg. Die Leistung, mit der das Handy sendet, richtet sich nach der Qualität der Verbindung zur nächsten Basisstation. Wenn die nächste Basisstation nah ist, ist die ausgesendete elektromagnetische Strahlung gering. Bei schlechtem Empfang dagegen muss das Handy mehr Leistung aufbringen, um eine Verbindung herzustellen und zu halten - damit ist man als Telefonierender auch der Strahlung deutlich stärker ausgesetzt.


Yeah, that’s all correct (in the context where “Verbindung herstellen” means establishing a phone call), but I’m afraid it has nothing to do with your initial statement. Your phone will transmit something when it has a technical reason to do so, and that’s it. There’s no technical reason whatsoever to transmit anything when searching for cellular networks. Please stop unsettling people by spreading misinformation.

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the ,initial statement’ was:

There are many infos on that (I mentioned Stiftung Warentest and Bundesamt für Strahlenschutz CH). Here is another source:

Don’t carry your mobile or smartphone directly on the body, but rather in a bag or backpack. Especially when searching for a mobile networking the mobile radiates strongly, for this reason the phone should be as far away from the body during net search as possible. (my translation)

I find this quite offensive. If you want to discuss with others be respectful. tnx.


[quote=“Ruth_FP1, post:26, topic:11044”]
I find this quite offensive.[/quote]

This is not about you as a person, but about what you say and what effect it has on others. You have to take responsibility for that.

I won’t start to talk about that strange advertising web site, but concerning Stiftung Warentest: If I’ve learnt one thing from reading their publications over the years, it is that they are a good source for many things, but certainly not for technical details.
Which is a pity, but of course they still do important work on other areas.

I can only reiterate that this is wrong. If it worked that way, it would be a stupid waste of energy.
Every cell tower emits a unique pilot signal which contains all the information needed to decide whether you can connect to that tower or not. Your phone simply has to listen for these signals passively until it catches one from a tower it is allowed to connect to. If there are multiple possible cells, your phone can choose one for itself, simply by comparing the strengths of the different pilot signals.
How could emitting stuff at full power (what? to whom? remember, your phone’s not connected to any cell) be of any help in that process?

In order to receive signal from tower, the phone receptor is working at full power to amplify every signals in its range, that process use a lot of energy…,…this process is not passive :slight_smile:


Learn, y’all.

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Er… yeah… not sure if you’re joking, but I wasn’t trying to convince you that your phone didn’t need its battery to receive stuff. I was telling you that it does not transmit anything while searching for cell towers

Hum, i’m not joking, IMO as antenna une phones are packed, and relativlry short compared to the signal wavelength, and they can be modeled close to a whip antenna, wich mean they have no (or less than 1) gain in reception, if you want to actually have a good range, you’d better amplify the signal in order to reach every possible cellular antenna ?
Its not “transmitting” anything, but the antenna amplifier is still working at full power no ?
I don’t pretend to be an expert about cellular network , but from the “physics” point of view…

Yeah, but I don’t think anybody denied any of this :wink:

Woups, nevermind, i misread and tought you denied the excessive battery drain !
(but, for my defense, you actually said that the process was passive :slight_smile: )

it is, but in a more … zoomed-out sense of the word? Like when examining the phone purely from the outside (how it interacts with its surroundings), oblivious of its internals

Please keep the tone respectful here.

I would like to at two things:

  1. Recommendations to keep the phone away from the body of fully-grown adults are precautionary. It is very hard to get scientific data for the effect of cell radiation on human health. On issue is the large distribution of cell phones and towers. To really asses the effect of the radiation on our health, we would a large enough test and control group: A set of people with very similar habits, health, education, living in a similar environment, similar age etc would have to be devided into a group using cells and being exposed to cell towers regulary (and for a predefined amount to make thinks comparable and anthoer group living without this exposition and no phones. These would have to be observed for a very long time, to detect long time effects. Such a studie would be hard to do and actually etically problematic.

But: Because we are using cellphones since two decades now, side effects should be visible in statistics by now, and as far as i know, they are not. Can we say smarpthones are 100% safe? Propably not. But as far as i know, there is no indication that they are a health issue either, at least for adults, that is.

  1. The point of haffenloher is important thougt: A passive smartphone, ie. only recieving, should not increase the amount of radiation your are exposed to anyways, because of electricity, the space, all kinds of wireless technologies… but keep in mind: We are talking about smartphones here. These are sending and recieving data at very short time intervals to achieve push messages that are percieved as instant and download data in the background like mails, messages, latest weather data etc.

Edit: Lets look at publication of the WHO:
On key fact is:

The electromagnetic fields produced by mobile phones are classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as possibly carcinogenic to humans.

Electormagnetic fields are said to be classified a possible cacinogenic, they might be involved in causing cancer. Sounds scary! But…

A large number of studies have been performed over the last two decades to assess whether mobile phones pose a potential health risk. To date, no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use.

While the risks mobile phones possible pose for the human health have been studied, the WHO states that mobiles have not been found to cause adverse (harmful) health effects.

That said, there is no reason to panic, i will continue to carry my phone in my pocket whenever i want to and i do not fear any health issues caused by that. I would not let a a three year old run around and especially talk on a mobile for longer periods. If anyone feels uncomfortable with the phone radiation and seeks advice on how to minize the exposure, we as a community should be able to offer helpful advice. But we also should not spread FUD (fear, doubt and uncertainty).


I don’t doubt what you are saying, but I want to understand one thing, a non-techie: the phone does contact the station regularly, even if dormant - right?

Otherwise, why would you get those ticking noise when it’s lying next to any audio amp?


The precautionary principle is very sensible - and whilst I agree that there are confounding factors when designing an epidemiological study to look at mobile phones, it’s not impossible. However I would like to point out that all of the study alluded to above(Interphone) was funded by the mobile phone industry through a front organisation so that they could make it look like the study was independent - no vested interests there then…

if you want some serious science from independent doctors and scientists concerned with social responsibility then look here:

Given the serious nature of carcinogenicity taking the precaustion of keeping your mobile phone away from your body is a) not difficult to do and b) may afford a significant degree of protection if concerns turn out to be founded.

On the subject of carrying cell fones in bras “Those concerned doctors though say it’s because not enough studies have been completed.
“There’s no evidence, but that’s because we haven’t studied it,” Bailey said.”

The information that Ed provided from Snopoes cites data that is 6yrs old, in the last 2 yrs more recent studies have blown such claims out of the water there is a definete link between long-term mobile phone use and Glioma -
from the article:
" The new study shows that the risk for glioma was tripled among those using a wireless phone for more than 25 years and that the risk was also greater for those who had started using mobile or cordless phones before age 20 years.

“Doctors should be very concerned by this and discuss precautions with their patients,” study author Lennart Hardell, MD, PhD, professor, Department of Oncology, University Hospital, Örebro, Sweden, told Medscape Medical News.

Such precautions, he said, include using hands-free phones with the “loud speaker” feature and text messaging instead of phoning.

The study was published online October 28 in Pathophysiology."

@Ben the WHO have lost all credibility when looking at issues of radiation and public health - look up independent WHO and Keith Baverstock for a background on why the WHO lack credibility in this area…or check out this podcast
Abscence of Evidence is not Evidence of Abscence (of an effect) hence the precautionary principle. It is the Precautionary principle that secured global agreement on CFC’s - don’t hear ANYONE saying that was a bad idea, in fact turns out that they were right on the money to do that. But it is worth noting that the WHO later changed it’s position…

Many of us who are using and interested in using fairphones would extend that concept of fariness to the impacts on our own health as users and not just that of the people involved in the supply chain. I use a fairphone but I limit my call time plumping for sms mostly and there is no way i’d let my kids have a phone while they are small, I held out with my son till he was 12 and I gave in after a lot of pressure from him and his father - shortly after the glioma research came out… there is no way I will let my daughter have one! she will ahve to wait for adulthood!

I don’t think anyone here was panicing except for maybe @Haffenloher because he didn’t like what @Ruth was saying! I don’t think advising people to take precaustions in how they carry and use their phone is panicing and it certainly isn’t misinformation. I’m also not sure what you’re on about talking about spreading fear doubt and uncertainty! uncertainty is a part of life - nothing is certain and how can there be anything but doubt when it comes to the health effects of our modern complicated technologies! Accusing people of spreading FUD is a way of silencing proper debate. I think it is fine for people to put forward their point of view and if they can back it up with links (aka evidence) the more is the better…

Have a a great weekend and use your fairphone carefully!

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Just two things: First, not all your links working (medline!), and from a scientific perspective, they seem not neutral, to say the least.

Second, I think the Fairphone community forum is not the place to discuss this in detail. I don’t wan’t to silence the debate, but I think we can safely assume that everybody here is interested having low specific absorbtion rates of his/her phone, and can take care of this as he/she sees fit.

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I think this is a nice summary of the whole discussion concerning the effects of cellphones on the human body and studies/papers written about that:

I think his summary is off when he talks about ‘no effect’ - it rather assumes when he talks about signal that all of the ‘right’ research is being done. As I pointed out before the vast majority of interest is being conducted by vested interests, his comments do not take account of research funding or other objectives that are known to control or constrain research…

I think when he said the jury is out that was more appropriate, it’s a shame he didn’t elucidate why he would hold space for the other position also.