Chinese smartphone brands like Xiaomi and OnePlus are the most popular in India, so much so that today more than 50% of Indian smartphone market is captured by Chinese handset-makers. But what is startling is that some of these popular smartphones emit dangerous levels of electromagnetic radiation. A recent international report highlights how these popular mobile handsets are real threat to our health, writes Sandeep Joshi

MARCH 2, 2019: The persistent physical contact with smartphones is the most concerning thing as the harmful radiations can have adverse effect on the human brain and can even cause cancer. Recent reports by two international agencies — Bundesamt für Strahlenschutz which is the German Federal Office for Radiation Protection; and Statista, also a Germany-based online statistics, market research and business intelligence portal — reveals how some handsets from Xiaomi and OnePlus were causing havoc to health of Indians due to high SAR (specific absorption rate) value is way beyond prescribed limits.

The reports show that Xiaomi and OnePlus handsets emit the highest level of radiation.

Bundesamt für Strahlenschutz has compiled a report which has measured radiation or SAR value. It puts Xiaomi Mi A1 has worst performer in meeting emission standards. It is followed by One Plus 5T, Xiaomi Mi Max 3, OnePlus 6T, HTC U12 Life and Xiaomi Mi Mix 3. Also included in the list are two American brands — Google’s Pixel 3 and iPhone.

Interestingly, eight devices from the South Korean brand Samsung emits the lowest radiation.

A research conducted by the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute in 2018 says that radiation from smartphones could dismantle the adolescent memory performance. The study stressed upon the negative impact of mobile phone radiations on the human brain. The study, which is conducted on nearly 700 adolescents between the age of 12 and 17 in Switzerland, indicates that an increase in exposure of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields to brain can harm the memory performance.

The study revealed that adolescents who are using the mobile phone on their right side are more prone to the effects of RF-EMF. ‘This may suggest that indeed RF-EMF absorbed by the brain is responsible for the observed associations’, said Martin Röösli, Head of Environmental Exposures and Health at Swiss TPH.

Yet another research conducted by ‘The International Agency for Research on Cancer’, an arm of the World Health Organization, has described the cell phone use as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” i.e. using cell phone can cause cancer. The IARC in 2011 established an expert Working Group to analyze and evaluate all available evidence on the use of cell phones and their harmful effects.

“Various international think tank have studied the harmful effects of the radiations caused by the mobile phones,” says NK Mathur, Chairman of think tank Infocom. “We have taken up this matter in 2011 with the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. We have also recommended that the Electromagnetic Frequency exposure limit should be lowered to 1/100th of the existing ICNIRP exposure level, but in 2012 government lowered it to 1/10th of the existing ICNIRP”.

Mr. Mathur, who is also a former ITU expert and former advisor to Department of Telecom, said if mobile companies want to reduce the radiations, they should now adopt the greenhouse pattern standardized by the Telecom Engineering Centre (TEC).

According to him, the major sufferers of the radiations emit by the phones are the people living in urban areas as there are more number of cell phones used. Now-a-days people are carrying two smartphones and thus increases the vulnerability of the damage from the harmful radiations.

India is witnessing the increase in mobile phone users due to low tariffs and as a result of this, the country has added 250 million new subscribers, taking the India’s tele-density to 91%.

There were 775.5 millions mobile phone users in India in 2018 and it is expected to reach 813.2 millions by the end of 2019, according to data provided by Research firm Statista.

With this, the number of calls made by cell phone per day, the length of each call, and the amount of time people use cell phones have increased. The exposure to cell phone use has also increased causing more chances of health hazards.

Further, it is pertinent to mention that Xiaomi along with other Chinese handsets manufacturers are selling good number of phones in India, leaving behind the Indian companies. Almost every week, a Chinese smartphone is being launched in Indian market, which accounts for six out of every 10 devices sold in the country.

What is needed to minimise threat from radiation

•The mobile phone should be kept away from the body as the more the distance, the weaker will be the electromagnetic field.

•Headset should be used whenever possible as it will save your head and brain receiving radiations.

•It is advisable to use texts and messages whenever possible instead of phone calls. More the length of the call, more will be the radiations.

•Phones should not be kept in pocket for too long as it affect the fertility process in the human body. One can keep the phone in hand or in the backpack or purse.

•While buying the smartphone, customers should check the SAR value.

•While not in use, the additional transmissions like WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS or Data connections should be kept off for lower exposure to the radiations. 

•One should always avoid calls in the weak signal areas like basement, lifts etc. Lesser the connectivity will be, more will be the electromagnetic radiation.

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