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12 July 2017

Your Questions Answered: The French Cell Phone Data Release “Phonegate”

Your Questions Answered: The French Cell Phone Data Release “Phonegate”
Environmental Health Trust, ehtrust.org, 12 July 2017

Your Questions Answered On “PhoneGate” - The French Cell Phone Data Release
What Information Did The Government Of France Release?

France released radiation measurements for hundreds of cell phones tested independently by the government of France. When cell phones were tested in positions mimicking an individual holding the phone directly against the body, the radiation levels were so high that most tested phones exceeded European limits, showing radiation levels up to three times higher than the limits!

The vast majority of cell phones tested in body contact positions had radiation measurements that far exceeded European allowable limits. In 2015, testing showed that 64 out of 72 cell phone models tested in direct body contact positions had radiation levels higher than allowable radiation limits. Since 2012, 208 of the 273 phone models tested in direct body contact positions had radiation levels higherthan allowable radiation limits. However, when these same phones were tested with a separation distance of 15 mm to 25mm, they were within regulatory limits. In other words, the cell phones only passed radiation tests when they were laboratory tested with a separation distance between the phone and test dummy.

Despite violating the safety limit for radiation exposure to users, all of these phones still pass tests as “compliant” because outdated regulations do not require testing in body contact positions.

The cell phone data released by France is in the form of a spreadsheet with the make, model, and radiation measurements of almost 400 cell phones tested at 0 distance, 5 mm distance, and the distance used by the industry. Read Press Release.

Why Wasn’t This Information Released Earlier?

France has been testing cell phones for radiation levels since 2012 but did not publicly release the findings. In 2016, an analysis of their test results was presented in a scientific report of the national French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES) called “Radiofrequency Exposure and the Health of Children.” The 2016 report stated, “In 2015, 89 percent of tested cell phones had a SAR greater than the maximum limit value of 2 W/kg and 25 percent had a SAR greater than 4 W/kg.” However, the make and model of the cell phones were not in the report. (Read english translation here.)

Dr. Marc Arazi, a French physician, made an inquiry to see the actual data. He was first denied the information by France’s National Frequencies Agency (ANFR). After a court challenge and months of pressure ANFR posted the information on their website in June 2017. Arazi maintains a blog about the issue.

Note: The 2016 ANSES report stated that current cell phone radiation testing methods need to be re-evaluated and that compliance with the regulatory limits needs to be ensured in all conditions of use, such as when the phone is in contact with the body. The report concluded that children are more vulnerable to radio frequency wireless exposures and recommended children’s exposures to wireless radiation be immediately reduced.

Why Is This Information Important For People Who Use Cell Phones?

This data is documented proof that cell phone laboratory test methods in place since 1999 are inadequate. This data provides solid evidence that cell phones are capable of exposing people to radiation at levels that exceed government standards when people use their phones in common ways.

The majority of cell phone owners carry and use their devices in direct contact with their bodies. This includes carrying phones in a bra, tucked next to skin in stretchy pants, and placed in shirt and pants pockets. Teenagers often sleep with phones on their chests or beneath their pillow. Many pregnant women rest phones on their abdomens. All of these common positions result in the phone being in direct contact with the body. However radiation compliance tests are not conducted with the phones in direct contact with the body.

The closer a cell phone is to the body, the higher the user’s radiation dose is. Most of the general public is unaware that the phone is always emitting radiation, when they are not talking or using the cell phone, during all the time the phone is waiting to receive the next call, message, or other notification. France’s data clearly shows that the way people use phones in real life could result in radiation exposures that exceed government radiation limits. For some phones the radiation exceeds by over 3 times.

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