What is SAR and What is all The Fuss About?

SAR (specific absorption rate) is an indication of the amount of radiation that is absorbed into a head whilst using a cellular phone, the higher the SAR rating the more radiation that is absorbed into the head.

Specific Absorption Rate (SAR)

A SAR value is a measure of the maximum energy absorbed by a unit of mass of exposed tissue of a person using a mobile phone, over a given time or more simply the power absorbed per unit mass. SAR values are usually expressed in units of watts per kilogram (W/kg) in either 1g or 10g of tissue.

Exposure Limits

In Europe, the European Council Recommendation 519/1999/EC for exposure guidelines has adopted the recommendations made by the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP Guidelines 1998). In the US, the FCC, Federal Communications Commission, sets the radio frequency safety guidelines that all phones must meet before being sold in the US. Current reference standards and limits (status January 2001).

Region / Country - Reference to -
SAR measuremant protocol
Reference to SAR limit Limit
Europe European Specification
ES 59005 (1998)
ICNIRP Guidelines 1998
(ICNIRP 1998)
2.0 W/Kg in 10g of tissue
Australia Australian Communications Authority (ACA) Standard
(ACA RS 1999)
Australian Standard AS/NZS 2772.1 1.6 W/Kg in 1g of tissue
US Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
Guidelines (FCC 1997)
American Standard ANSI C95.1 (ANSI 1992) 1.6 W/Kg in 1g of tissue

Timetable

SAR information for new models will begin to be reported after 10 th of October 2001. This is based upon the new harmonised CENELEC testing standard EN50360/1 which was adopted in August 2001 .

In relation to models currently in production on 1st Oct 2001 the following arrangements will apply:

For countries that have adopted the ICNIRP limits or have no national regulation, manufacturers expect to complete the provision of SAR information by 31st March 2002.

In the case of countries with unique standards or regulations, these will be treated on a cae-bycase basis.

So How Safe Are Cellular Phones?

There is concern at the moment over the use of cellular phones and their possible health implications. All the research is inconclusive so the bottom line is, cellular phones may be a potential health hazard. Because of this uncertainty major governments throughout the World are recommending that users adopt The Precautionary Approach:

Following an intense review of all the scientific data available the British Government supported the Stewart Group in their conclusion:

“We conclude therefore that it is not possible at present to say that exposure to RF radiation, even at levels below national guidelines, is totally without potential health risks, and that the gaps in knowledge are sufficient to justify a precautionary approach.”

The French Government following a similar intense review of research Recommended in January 2001 that users should adopt:

An approach based on the Precautionary Principle with the general overall objective of reducing average exposure of the public to the lowest possible level.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US announced in October 99 that:

“The cellular industry should design mobile phones in a way that minimises any RF exposure to the user that is not necessary for device to function”

So how can a concerned user adhere to the precautionary principle and reduce the threat from potentially harmful radiation ?

The SAR rating of each individual phone model is now being displayed on all mobile phone packaging in both the US and the UK, which will enable users to make informed choices when purchasing a handset. SarValues.Com brings this important information free of charge to all cellular users and also provides useful links to other Websites containing information.