Survey finds few Australians aware of maximum handset radiation values
Australians have a high level of knowledge about how they can reduce their exposure to mobile signals if they have health concerns, according to a new international study, which also found a low-level of awareness about maximum handset radiation values known as the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR).
According to the joint industry study across nine countries sponsored by the GSM Association, Mobile Manufacturers Forum, the German Information Centre for Mobile Communication (IZMF) and AMTA, Australian mobile phone buyers are more concerned about network coverage, battery life, the cost of making calls and the price of mobile devices than a phone’s SAR value.
“We found that in purchasing decisions, SAR rated lowest of 21 pre-defined factors with the most important being factors related to network quality, phone experience and cost,” the study said.
The survey found less than a quarter of Australians are worried about the possible health risks from mobile phone use and more than a third are aware of how to reduce their exposure to mobile signals.
“We conclude from this survey of consumers in nine countries that people are not very worried about possible health risks from the use of mobile phones and that consequently few people request SAR or other health related information when making purchase decisions,” the study said.
Almost five thousand mobile phone users from Australia, Brazil, Chile, France, Germany, India, Japan, Switzerland and the USA participated in the survey designed to gauge awareness of Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) information (the maximum amount of radiation emitted by individual mobile phone handsets during compliance tests), the importance of SAR in purchase decisions and knowledge of where to find SAR information.
The study found that 21 per cent of Australians were ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ worried about health risks from mobile phones, compared to Brazil who had the highest level of concern (51 per cent) and Germany who had the lowest (4 per cent).
When mobile phone users were asked ‘Have you heard of SAR, a technical measure for mobile phone/ handset compliance?’, the researchers found that only 25 per cent of respondents answered ‘yes’.
The study also found Australian’s (35 per cent) were above average in their knowledge of how they could reduce their exposure to mobile signals if they were concerned, such as using handsfree or favouring text messaging.
“For the small proportion of persons interested in SAR information almost half would seek this information from Internet searches, handset manufacturer websites or manuals and less than 20% would look for the information in retail outlets,”the study said.
“Almost three-quarters (73%) [of all respondents] did not know how to reduce personal exposure, however, there was greater knowledge among the concerned and in countries with active communication programs or significant media coverage.”
“The most commonly identified ways to reduce exposure were to use a personal hands-free kit (66%) and make fewer calls (57%).”
AMTA CEO Chris Althaus said it was positive to see that many Australians were aware of how they could reduce their exposure to mobile signals if they were concerned about potential health effects and said the industry was working to increase awareness about SAR information.
“The Mobile Manufacturers Forum recently launched a new global website – sartick.com - to increase consumer awareness about the amount of radiation emitted by mobile phones and where people can find SAR values,” Mr Althaus said.
“If consumers, despite the science that supports the safety of phones compliant with SAR standards, want to reduce their exposure to mobile phone signals then there are more effective ways to do this than buying a phone with a low SAR value.”
“AMTA agrees with leading health authorities who recommend if people are concerned they can easily reduce their exposure to mobile phone radio signals by limiting the length of calls, or using 'hands-free' devices”
To find more information on your handset’s SAR value then follow these links to manufacturers SAR information Apple, LG, Motorola, Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Samsung and ZTE.
What is SAR?
Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) is a measure of the amount of RF power deposited in the human head or body whenever a mobile phone or other wireless radio device transmits – which is shown in units of Watts/kilogram.
The SAR values reported for each model of mobile phone tend to significantly overstate real-life exposure levels, as models of phones are tested at maximum power levels under laboratory conditions to ensure that they comply with the exposure limits in safety standards.
In order to avoid network interference, improve battery life and available call time, mobile phones constantly adapt to the minimum power required to maintain a quality call.
Australians can check their mobile model’s SAR value, which can be found in their phones user manual, on manufacturers’ websites or by calling customer service numbers.
Australian mobile users can also check their mobile phones to see the “A-tick” stamped on the phone (usually under the battery). The A-tick on phones indicates they operate below the Australian safety limit when tested using internationally agreed compliance procedures.
For more information on sar visit EMF explained.