U.S. FCC to assess mobile phone radiation safety
| by Anuradha Shetty |
The repercussions of mobile phone radiation have been a cause of worry, since a while now and the U.S. Federal Communications Commission now has a task ahead of them. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, the U.S. FCC now plans to ascertain if their standards protect humans from mobile phone radiation. Seeking answers to them is more crucial now for the U.S. FCC than ever, owing to an increase in smartphone usage.
Reportedly, it was back in 1996 that the FCC made changes last to its guidelines that set a limit to maximum radiation-exposure levels based on the amount of heat emitted by mobiles. The report adds that the agency's chairman, Julius Genachowski will "ask fellow commissioners today to approve a notice commencing a formal inquiry." Quoting Tammy Sun, a spokeswoman for the agency, the report added, "The notice won’t propose rules. Our action today is a routine review of our standards. We are confident that, as set, the emissions guidelines for devices pose no risks to consumers."
Taking steps to keep radiation at bay (Image credit: Getty Images)
The Indian government, too has been taking active steps towards tightening the noose around norms, which specify the levels of radiation in every handset. Hands-free, till now may have been just another accessory bundled up with a mobile phone, but they will have become mandatory with all mobile phones. Reason? Using hands-free, as opposed to answering calls the usual way is being seen as an effective method of steering clear of radiation emissions. That or, switching over to SMSes as your mode of communication, altogether is preferable, too, since this way one can evade radiation.
Reportedly, the SAR levels (Specific Absorption Rate), i.e. the rate at which a normal human body absorbs radio frequency (RF), is currently at 2 watts/kg in India. Now, the government aims to crunch this number down further to 1.6 watts/kg average over a six minute period. These levels are decided on in compliance with the norms of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection Association (ICNIRP).
Importantly, featuring SAR levels on every mobile handset will soon become mandatory. This calls in for an amendment to the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885. The Delhi government, too ordered manufacturers to ensure that all new handsets will be sold with a tag that displays the amount of radiation emitted by it. Also, as part of the new reform, a certain restraint will be put on mobile phone towers in and around the capital as a lot of complaints against cell phone towers have been registered in the recent past.
At an international conference organised by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM), Telecom minister, Kapil Sibal confirmed that the cell phone, tower radiation levels in the country are well within the prescribed limits, hence safe.
No one has forgotten the tragedy that befell Japan last year and the radiation leaks at the Fukushima plant. A year on, things seem to be getting back to normal and it is from Japan now that the world's first radiation sensing smartphone has been introduced, called Pantone 5(107SH). The highlight of this smartphone by Sharp is its ability to measure radiation in one's vicinity, be it a park or even within one's home, either automatically or manually. To enhance the use of this feature, the smartphone also sports a dedicated button for measuring radiation. On pressing and holding down the button on the smartphone, one can measure radiation (gamma rays) in the 0.05μSv/h to 9.99μSv/h range. As aforementioned, the user can either manually measure it constantly, or if he chooses to can view it automatically displayed on their map history.
Radiation from mobile phones has been a topic of debate, for a while now; with some even claiming that they may be carcinogenic. That, however remains debatable.
Tags: radiation levels , U.S. Federal Communications Commission , smartphones , International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection Association , U.S. FCC , Pantone 5 smartphones , SAR levels
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