We recently received the following question in the comment section of “Why I Chose to Ban Cell Phones From the Bedroom.” For some insight, I reached out to one of the foremost experts on (and critics of) electromagnetic radiation, Joel M. Moskowitz, Ph.D., who is the Director of the Center for Family and Community Health at the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley.
I was (once again) surprised and a bit dismayed by his response. However, I thought it was important to share it with you here.
Do you have any input or thoughts/reviews on the phone cases that are supposed to reduce radiation exposure – i.e. Pong, SafeSleeve, Defender, etc.? I’m case shopping now and looking for objective input! Thank you!
While they don’t specifically answer your question about whether cell phone cases reduce radiation exposure, these two posts on the EMR Safety web site pertain to EMF blocking cell devices and are a good place to start.
According to Dr. Moskowitz, although some cell phone cases have been subjected to SAR testing in independent labs, he suspects the SAR test does not provide a good simulation of how people use cell phones (or who uses them). Moreover, the SAR level may not even be a valid measure of the potential harm that a cell phone can do to you.
Moskowitz says that one of the companies mentioned in the question solicited his input several years ago. The case supposedly redirects radiation away from the user. However, Moskowitz says he sent the manufacturer a list of follow-up questions, but they refused to answer them unless he signed a nondisclosure agreement. For example, if the nearest cell tower is on the opposite side of your body from where the phone is located, will the phone boost its output to compensate?
Moskowitz then posed the NewsMom question to a science writer who has researched the biological effects of non-ionizing radiation for several decades. Here is her answer:
“I get questions like the one below all the time, especially this time of year. I usually answer that shielding products for phones usually force the phone to up its signal which can create a stronger exposure. Some cases shield only against the head but — and this is a BIG ‘but’ that few know about — cell phones work best when they enlist brain tissue and the entire body as part of the transmission. Even blocking it that way against the head can boost the signal, especially to hands, arms, neck, etc. And anyone who shields a phone and then texts can potentially direct stronger signals right into the eyes and brain via ocular nerves. Plus, the newer iPhones et al have multiple antennas now. Such shielding tactics are really ruses to make people feel like they are protecting themselves but in fact can make exposures worse, especially in those nearby in the path of a boosted signal.”
Basically, phones need clear access to infrastructure to work. Anything that impedes can just complicate that.
See the EMR Safety tip sheet for recommendations on how to reduce wireless radiation exposure.
Bottom line, limit exposure… which I realize is totally easier said than done for most of us!