Electromagnetic fields: Anses warns about mobile phones worn close to the body

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The Anses has issued a warning about the use of certain mobile phones, placed on the market before June 2017, which have high levels of exposure to electromagnetic fields when placed close to the body, such as in a jacket pocket.

In a report published on 21 October, the French National Health and Safety Agency (Anses) analysed the tests carried out by the French National Frequencies Agency (ANFR) on almost 300 mobile phones between 2012 and 2016. The aim was to check whether these devices complied with the limits set for the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) index when worn close to the trunk, such as in a jacket pocket or bag.

SAR is the indicator used to assess the amount of energy absorbed by the body when exposed to radio frequency electromagnetic fields. The regulatory limit for SAR in France is set at 2 W/kg (watts per kilogram), whether the phone is placed on the trunk or the head.

Reinforcement of DAS measures since June 2016

Manufacturers “are required to assess exposure under realistic conditions of use, i.e. when the phone is placed very close to the body, at a maximum distance of 5 mm”, emphasises the Anses. However, the health agency warns that “a significant number” of the phones tested, which “complied with the previous regulations“, no longer do so and “are still being marketed“. Their SAR exceeds 2 W/kg, if measured at less than 5 mm from the body.

Until 2016, the previous regulations allowed manufacturers to choose the distance between the device and the body, between 0 and 25 mm, when measuring SAR. “The majority of phones placed on the market were compliant for use at a distance of 15 mm“, says the Anses.

However, the European directive known as “RED”, applied since 13 June 2016 in Europe, requires SAR to be measured by positioning the mobile phone no more than 5 mm from the trunk, corresponding to “foreseeable” conditions of use. This directive provided for a one-year transitional application period until 12 June 2017.


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