SAR stands for Specific Absorption Rate. It is the measure of the rate at which energy (in Watts) is absorbed by the human body when exposed to radio frequency (RF) electromagnetic field, per unit kg of the human body weight. It can also be referred to as the absorption of other forms of energy by tissue, including ultrasound. In the case of smartphones, the SAR is measured by keeping the phone in the talking position and then calculating the amount of radiation absorbed by the part of your head which is closest to the antennas of the smartphone.
Primarily, while buying a smartphone, users are usually concerned about the camera, display, processor or battery but it is also equally essential to keep note of the SAR value of the smartphone before considering it as an option. The Federation Communications Commission (FCC) and EU have stringent safety standards regarding cellphone radiation levels. And according to it, every country has a regulatory threshold value of SAR. In the US, the regulatory unit is 1.6W/kg; in Europe, it is 2W/kg and in India, it is 1.6 W/kg. The SAR rating of each individual phone model has been displayed on all mobile phone packaging done in both the US and the UK. This makes the users make informed choices while purchasing a smartphone. Generally, the SAR values of smartphones are mentioned at the bottom of the packaging.
Several types of research conducted over the effects of smartphone use and their potential health hazards have concluded that the exposure to RF radiation, even at levels below national guidelines, are not completely without potential health risks. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US has announced- “The cellular industry should design mobile phones in a way that minimizes any RF exposure to the user that is not necessary for the device to function.” This indeed is an essential precautionary step towards reducing the potential health hazards. Not only on human beings, these radiations also effect wildlife and vegetation. Unlike smoke, these radiations are not visible to the naked eye and long time exposures to them have been linked to prolonged complications.
However, it is necessary that the users understand that the SAR values mentioned, have been calculated when the phone is in its finest condition. And this value may vary as per the usage of the device. The older a device gets its SAR value keeps on surging. We can say that the SAR Value largely depends upon the circumstances under which the smartphone is being used and how frequently it is being used. It is imperative that the users keep in mind that a smartphone with a lower SAR Value can emit more radiations than a smartphone with higher SAR value if the smartphone with higher SAR is being used under normal conditions and the one with lower SAR is being under poor signal strength areas.
Precaution is obligatory in order to prevent the possible health hazards due to RF. The following steps have been suggested by researchers to minimize the effects –
- Try to use headsets all the time, avoid putting your phone in your ears. This is the best way to stay away from radiations of your smartphones.
- Try to use texts more instead of calling every now and then, Call only when it is really important. Tests are usually short and to the point, so it saves lots of your time too.
- Switch off your phone when you go to bed or put your phone on the airplane mode and then turn ON the WiFi if you want anyone to reach out to you via the internet (incase it’s a matter of emergency).
- You can use various cases available out in the market which claims to shield this radiation, but we are not sure whether those cases are reliable or not.
- Avoid using your phone in those areas where the signal strength is poor because while searching for the network your antennas keep on producing the radiations to their maximum limit.
- Lastly, after following all these measures if you still feel threatened due to some symptoms mentioned above, then you should go ahead and replace your smartphone.
Irrespective of the low SAR value of your smartphone mentioned in the manufacturing box, it is highly advised that you follow the aforementioned steps to keep yourself safe from the potential hazards.