In all, 89 percent of Americans use cell phones and many use a cell phone case to protect their expensive devices from damage. But a new analysis from the Environmental Working Group found that your cell phone case may actually increase radiation on the head and body, while at the same time, weakening the phone’s signal. Phones are not tested for radiation limits with their cases.
The research, conducted by the Pong Research Corp. in Encinitas, Calif., found that many smartphone cases were so poorly engineered that they increased the radiation coming from smartphones because the smartphone antenna was partially blocked. The cases are often designed by a third party manufacturer and they are not regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). It should be noted that Pong is also marketing a cell phone case that directs radiation away from your head.
According to EWG:
EWG is calling on the FCC to update its testing guidelines to take account of the widespread use of smartphone cases. Such action is critical because mounting scientific studies have raised serious questions about the safety of cell phone radiation exposure over the short and long term. In the absence of meaningful action by the Commission, EWG offers consumers tips on how to reduce their exposure to cell phone radiation.
Researchers looked at three varieties of cases: the thick, rugged Otterbox cases that create a large barrier, a thinner case (Casemate Barely There), which leaves the phone partially exposed, and an in-between case (the Speck Candy Shell case). The purpose was to use a range of cases to see variations. All three case styles increased radiation: the thickest case by 70 percent, the middle case by 50 percent, and the thinnest case by 20 percent.
According to EWG, smartphone cases can have a major impact on your phone capabilities. “It can materially affect signal quality, potentially leading to more dropped calls; increase radiation exposure, raising the risk of adverse health effects; and shorten battery life, forcing a cell phone user to charge the battery more frequently.”
EWG wants the FCC to require that all cell phone case manufacturers test their cases to ensure that they comply with federal standards, even if cell phone cases come from a third party manufacturer. FCC’s standards need to be updated because its 1996 cell phone standards don’t take into account the changing use of cell phones and the widespread use of cell phone cases.
You can protect yourself by getting a headset, keeping the cell phone away from your body and texting rather than talking. Don’t store your cell phone right next to your body when you’re not using it. We all love to accessorize with a super cute case, not to mention the need to protect ultra pricey smartphones from an accidental drop, but who knew that these cases, meant to cushion phones, may dramatically increase the radiation that these phones put off?
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Image of a woman looking at her smartphone from Shuttershock