Results Mixed for Tribune RF Radiation Exposure Tests in Cell Phones

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The Chicago Tribune says it paid for a lab to test RF radiation exposure on some popular cell phones and learned several of them measured over the safety limit. The newspaper turned over its research to the FCC, which is now conducting its own testing, according to the account.

Eleven phones from four manufacturers were tested. The iPhone 7 measured over the legal safety limit and more than double what Apple reported to federal regulators from its own testing, according to the Tribune

The Commission is reviewing the Tribune’s test results and will conduct its own testing. “We take seriously any claims on non-compliance with the RF (radiofrequency) exposure standards and will be obtaining and testing the subject phones for compliance with FCC rules,” said agency spokesman Neil Grace.  

Companies testing a new phone for compliance with the safety limit may position the phone up to 25 millimeters away from the body — nearly an inch — depending on how the device is used. That’s because the testing standards were adopted in the 1990s, when people frequently carried cell phones on belt clips. 

Now, people carry cell phones closer to the body. In the Tribune testing, the phones were positioned at the same distance from the simulated body tissue that the manufacturers chose for their own tests — from five to 15 millimeters, depending on the model. 

In a second slate of tests, the newspaper asked the lab to place the cell phones two millimeters closer to the simulated body tissue than manufacturers’ tests and less than the maximum distance allowed by the FCC. At two millimeters, the results from a Samsung Galaxy S8 were more than five times the standard, reported the Tribune

The Tribune’s tests were conducted by RF Exposure Lab in San Marcos, CA, an FCC-accredited facility. Apple disputed the results, saying the tests weren’t performed in a way that correctly assesses iPhones. In a statement, Apple said all iPhone models are “fully certified” by the Commission.

When three Samsung phones tested by the Tribune — the Galaxy S8, Galaxy S9 and Galaxy J3 — were positioned at 10 or 15 millimeters from the body, they measured under the safety limit. But when tested at two millimeters away from the simulated body, the RF exposures measured “well over the standard,” according to the account. Samsung, too, told the Tribune its devices sold in the U.S. comply with FCC limits.  

August 26, 2019   

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