With more than 6 billion subscribers globally, cell phone usage has become extremely widespread. Despite how common they are, there is little evidence that has proven the technology safe.

Cell phones change brain activity, according to a study published in the Journal of American Medical Association.  The study examined brain scans of people after cell phone conversations.  In addition, numerous studies link cell phone use to brain tumors.

Here are 5 simple steps to help protect against radiation from cell phone frequency.

1. Use a cell phone with a low radiation level

The specific absorption rate (SAR) is a measure of the quantity of radio frequency energy absorbed by the body when using the phone. Although all phones emit some, you will receive less radiation if you use a cell phone with a low SAR. The limit for public exposure from cell phones by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is 1.6 watts per kilogram. Yet, SAR varies widely among phones, and it is possible to find some as low as .3 watts per kilogram. Purchasing a cell phone with a low SAR rating does involve doing some homework. The FCC lists manufacturer websites to help consumers find SAR data, and websites like cnet.com and ewg.org rank phones by SAR levels.

2. Hold the phone away from your body

If the phone’s handset has a speakerphone feature, utilize it whenever possible. Using the speakerphone keeps the phone, and therefore the radiation away from your body. Although headsets seem like a logical solution, some sources, like Mercola.com and Aegis.com (both of which sell radiation-protective devices), are concerned that some headsets emit radiation, therefore boosting radiation levels.

3. Don’t allow young children to use cell phones

Because their brains are still forming and the skull around the brain is thinner, cell phone radiation is especially concerning for children. The bone marrow of a child absorbs 10 times more radiation from a cell phone than an adult does, according to Devra Davis, Ph.D., founder and president of Environmental Health Trust and author of Disconnect: The Truth about Cell Phone Radiation.

4. Make calls when the cell phone signal is strong

Cell phone radiation levels vary depending upon how hard the phone is working. When a cell phone has a low signal, it must work harder, emitting higher levels of radiation to enable a clear conversation. The cell phone signal will typically be strongest when the user is outside and near a cell phone tower. Before making long calls, check the phone’s signal strength and make adjustment accordingly.

5. Store the phone away from your body

Cell phones emit a signal even when no one is speaking, so they can receive incoming data. Many people are in the habit of carrying their phones in their pockets, very close to their bodies. To minimize radiation, keep your phone away from your body, or turn it off when it is not needed. Having it just a couple feet away reduces the exposure level.

Looking to learn more about cell phones and e-waste?

Feature image courtesy of John

By Sarah Lozanova

Sarah Lozanova is an environmental journalist and copywriter and has worked as a consultant to help large corporations become more sustainable. She is the author of Humane Home: Easy Steps for Sustainable & Green Living, and her renewable energy experience includes residential and commercial solar energy installations. She teaches green business classes to graduate students at Unity College and holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio Graduate School.