Scientific Evidence for Cell Phone Safety (2024)


Scientific Evidence for Cell Phone Safety (1)

The state of scientific knowledge continues to demonstrate that:

  • The current limit on radio frequency (RF) energy set by the Federal Communications Commission remains acceptable for protecting the public health. The FDA recently provided an updated assessment of the current limits based on the currently available scientific evidence (see Letter from the FDA to the FCC on Radiofrequency Exposure - PDF 74KB).
  • To date, there is no consistent or credible scientific evidence of health problems caused by the exposure to radio frequency energy emitted by cell phones (see Review of Published Literature between 2008 and 2018 of Relevance to Radiofrequency Radiation and Cancer – PDF 1.3MB).

The FDA’s doctors, scientists and engineers continually monitor the scientific studies and public health data for evidence that radio frequency energy from cell phones could cause adverse health effects. If a credible risk is detected, the FDA will work closely with other federal partners to mitigate the risk.

The gold standard for the assessment of risk to public health remains the data and information that is available from studying effects on humans. The currently available epidemiological studies, public health surveillance data, and supportive laboratory studies on cell phone radiation provide abundant evidence to support the FDA’s determination.

On this page:

  • Epidemiological Studies and Public Health Surveillance Data
  • In Vivo Scientific Studies
  • The FDA’s Review of the National Toxicology Program’s Studies in High Dose Radio Frequency Radiation
  • International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Monograph
  • No New Implications for 5G
  • Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity: Idiopathic Environmental Intolerance to Electromagnetic Fields
  • Scientific Information about Radio Frequency Exposure

Epidemiological Studies and Public Health Surveillance Data

As part of ongoing monitoring activities, the FDA analyzes published epidemiological studies for specific outcomes including brain and other tumors as well as for any evidence of other adverse events. No clear and consistent pattern has emerged from epidemiological studies. Based on the evaluation of the currently available information, the FDA believes that the weight of the scientific evidence does not support an increase in health risks from radio frequency exposure from cell phone use at or below the radio frequency exposure limits set by the FCC.

The FDA also monitors the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database maintained by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) at the National Institutes for Health (NIH). The SEER data show that brain cancer rates are not increasing in the United States despite the significant increase in the number of cell phone users.

Ascribing changes in population-based health related outcomes to single causes is always challenging. Even so, the SEER data provide highly reliable statistics on the current rates of cancer in the U.S. population. As a highly relevant example, data from the SEER database for brain and other nervous system cancer incidence rates shows that, from 2000 to 2016, the rate of such cancers has gone down from a rate of 6.9 per 100,000 (confidence intervals 6.7 – 7.0) in 2000 to a rate of 5.9 cases per 100,000 (confidence interval 5.8 to 6.1) in 2016. NCI also estimates that from 1987 to 2016, the rate of such tumors has been dropping by approximately 0.2% per year.

The NCI data clearly demonstrate no widespread rise in brain and other nervous system cancers in the last (nearly) three decades despite the enormous increase in cell phone use during this period. The Pew Research Center estimates that from 2002 to 2019, the percentage of the population owning a cell phone or smartphone has risen from 62 percent to 96 percent, and yet there is a small decrease in brain and other nervous tissue cancer rates.

In Vivo Scientific Studies

Published in vivo studies have yielded no clear evidence that radio frequency energy exposure at levels experienced by the public from cell phone use leads to tumorigenesis.

Over the last decade or so, many scientific articles have been published on the effects of radio frequency energy on animals. None of these articles have produced convincing evidence that localized exposure of radio frequency radiation (RFR) at levels that would be encountered by cell phone users can lead to health problems. Although some researchers have reported adverse biological changes associated with RF energy, these studies have not been replicated. Most published studies have failed to show an association between exposure to RF energy from a cell phone and health problems.

In vivo animal studies assessing possible adverse or other effects of radio frequency energy are extremely challenging studies to design and undertake due to numerous confounding factors. The methodological flaws and weaknesses in many radio frequency energy exposure studies include:

  • Failure to accurately determine the specific absorption rate (SAR) of exposures to radio frequency energy
  • Failure to use a reproducible source of radio frequency energy
  • Failure to verify the subject animal’s core temperature did not increase during exposure
  • The use of too few animals
  • Failure to include adequate controls (e.g., sham exposures that do not account for vibration or high frequency sound that accompany radio frequency exposure, lack of positive controls, etc.)
  • Incomplete reporting
  • Improper interpretation of results

In addition, the results from studies on whole-body exposures are not comparable to real world local exposures as occurs with cell phone use. In a whole-body exposure, the animal’s temperature will rise until exposure is stopped. By contrast, in a local exposure, blood flow cools the area of exposure.

The FDA’s Review of the National Toxicology Program’s Studies on High Dose Radio Frequency Radiation

In 2018, the National Toxicology Program (NTP) published the results of two hazard identification studies conducted at the request of the FDA. The studies were conducted with high power levels of RFR over the whole body of experimental rodents. The radio frequency energy was delivered in intervals of 10 minutes on and 10 minutes off for 18 hours and 20 minutes a day, every day for 2 years.

The conclusions relating to public health risks reached by the FDA’s scientists differ from those of the NTP, and the FDA determination is that the study did not demonstrate that cell phones cause cancer.

5 Facts About the Rat Study

  1. Rats received radiation over their entire bodies.
  2. Rats received this whole-body radiation for 9 hours per day for their entire lives.
  3. Rats received levels of radiation that were up to 75 times higher than the whole-body exposure limit for people.
  4. The study found no health effects on female rats or mice (both male and female) exposed to these extreme conditions that passed a test for statistical significance.
  5. Exposed rats lived longer than the control group rats.

The design did not reflect the partial-body radio frequency exposure people receive from cell phone use and as noted by the NTP in their February 2018 press release:

"The levels and duration of exposure to RFR were much greater than what people experience with even the highest level of cell phone use and exposed the rodents’ whole bodies. So, these findings should not be directly extrapolated to human cell phone usage."

International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Monograph

In 2013, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) published a monograph that classified radio frequency fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans (class 2B). This classification is an indication that more research is probably justified. The 2013 IARC classification was based on limited evidence in humans which were from a few case-control epidemiological studies.

The IARC committee acknowledged that those studies were susceptible to certain limitations such as recall errors by the participants and the selection criteria for participation. The classification was also based on a few animal studies which had only weak mechanistic evidence relevant to carcinogenic action. The determination that the IARC committee made was that the evidence in humans could not be dismissed as only due to bias for the group that received the highest exposures.

In the monograph, the IARC committee stated that, "Time trends in cancer of the brain have not shown evidence of a trend that would indicate a promptly acting and powerful carcinogenic effect of mobile-phone use."

There are several more time trend papers that have been published since the 2013 IARC monograph. These newer time trend studies further demonstrate that while use of cell phones has risen rapidly, the incidence of brain cancer has not risen.

No New implications for 5G

The FDA is responsible for, among other things, ensuring cell phones – and any radiation-emitting electronic product – are safe for the public to use. This includes, understanding the health risks (if any) of new electronic products that emit radiation as they become widely available to the U.S. public, such as 5G cell phones. While many of the specifics of 5G remain ill-defined, it is known that 5G cell phones will use frequencies covered by the current FCC exposure guidelines (300 kHz-100 GHz), and the conclusions reached based on the current body of scientific evidence covers these frequencies. The FDA will continue to monitor scientific information as it becomes available regarding the potential impacts of 5G.

Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity: Idiopathic Environmental Intolerance to Electromagnetic Fields

To date, the scientific evidence indicates symptoms experienced by people who self-identify as having electromagnetic hypersensitivity occur when the individual believes they are being exposed to radio frequency energy. Based on the available scientific evidence, their very real symptoms are not the result of radio frequency exposures. Many studies have been done to determine if participants can determine if they are being exposed to RF or a sham exposure. The results indicate people cannot sense when they are being exposed to RF. The World Health Organization has a fact sheet on this subject: Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity. The FDA continues to monitor all scientific publications in this area.

Scientific Information About Radio Frequency Exposure

Other sources of scientific information about RF exposure and safety is available from these U.S. and international organizations:

Scientific Evidence for Cell Phone Safety (2024)


What is some evidence that cell phones should be allowed in school? ›

Cell phones include calendar apps, clocks, alarms, and reminders that students can use to help them stay more organized. These tools can help them keep track of assignments, make sure they're not late to class, and plan out their study time.

Do scientists know exactly how cell phone use affects human health? ›

Cell phones emit low levels of radio frequency energy, a type of non-ionizing radiation. The available scientific data on exposure to radio frequency energy show no categorical proof of any adverse biological effects other than tissue heating.

What is the safeness level of cell phones? ›

The FCC limit for public exposure from cellular telephones is an SAR level of 1.6 watts per kilogram (1.6 W/kg).

Are cell phones safe or carcinogenic answers? ›

Cellphone radiation may be stimulating free radicals to destructive action or even initiate some form of inflammatory response within the brain. These could trigger a chain of actions that lead to tumor development. There is no credible evidence establishing a connection between cellphone use and cancer.

What are 5 reasons phones should not be allowed in school? ›

Here are five thought-provoking reasons schools should consider banning the devices from their classrooms:

What are 2 reasons phones should be banned in school? ›

The most often-cited reason is to improve engagement in class. “The research is clear,” Kolb says. “Cellphones are a major distraction. Even if the phone is not in use, students have difficulty recalling and retaining information because of the very idea that something can be happening on their phone.”

What is the science behind cell phone addiction? ›

“Dopamine motivates us to take action and each time we hear a notification, we check our device. The problem is this dopamine boost is temporary and leads to a letdown. Our brains want more dopamine, which triggers the habit of checking our phones constantly throughout the day.”

Are cell phones helpful or harmful? ›

Intensive international research has found no conclusive or convincing evidence that mobile phones are damaging to health in the short or long term.

Do cell phones affect our brains? ›

Smartphones Can Impair Social and Emotional Skills

Using screens to zone out or decompress is fine in moderation, but there can be a negative effect if excessive. “Anything that is done out of moderation is cause for concern,” says UNC Health pediatric and adult neurosurgeon Carolyn Quinsey, MD.

What is the biggest risk associated with cell phone use? ›

4 major cell phone health risks and how to avoid them
  • Strain on your neck.
  • Video: 4 moves to improve your posture.
  • Interruption of your sleep cycle.
  • Related: 3 signs you have insomnia.
  • Possible finger strain.
  • Addiction to notifications.
Sep 12, 2016

What is the most common cell phone damage? ›

A cracked screen is one of the most common issues with any phone. Whether you dropped it, banged it into something, or had something fall on it, your phone screen is very prone to cracking.

What is the safest phone radiation? ›

The Best Low Radiation Cellphones for 2023
  • The best low radiation cellphones: our top picks.
  • Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus.
  • Samsung Galaxy A20s (SM-A207F/DS)
  • LG V60 ThinQ 5G.
  • Makes and Models of the Best Low Radiation Phones.
  • The Apple iPhones with the lowest radiation (SAR) score.

Do cell phones give off radiation? ›

Do cell phones give off (emit) radiation? Yes – cell phones and cordless phones use radiofrequency radiation (RF) to send signals. RF is different from other types of radiation (like x-rays) that we know can be harmful. We don't know for sure if RF radiation from cell phones can cause health problems years later.

Is it bad to sleep next to your phone? ›

Is it bad to sleep with your phone beside you? Yes, usually speaking, it's not a good idea to sleep with your phone nearby. Sleep quality may suffer if you keep your phone close to your head while trying to slumber because it emits electromagnetic radiation.

How much radiation does a phone give off? ›

Cell phones emit radiation in the radiofrequency region of the electromagnetic spectrum. Second-, third-, and fourth-generation cell phones (2G, 3G, 4G) emit radiofrequency in the frequency range of 0.7–2.7 GHz. Fifth-generation (5G) cell phones are anticipated to use the frequency spectrum up to 80 GHz.

Why phones should be banned? ›

Ringing cell phones can disrupt classes and distract students who should be paying attention to their lessons at hand. Text messages have been used for cheating. And new cell phones with cameras could be used to take photos of exams, take pictures of students changing clothes in gym locker areas, and so on.”

Why phones should not be banned? ›

Cell phones allow students to connect

Communication is very important in a student's life and if they are stopped from doing that, it can bring major mental health issues. When a student is suffering mentally, it can affect how they perform in college.

Why should kids not have phones? ›

Scientists have found out that overexposure to gadgets can lead to excessive functions, lack of attention, cognitive delays, enhanced impulsivity, learning impairment and reduction in ability for self-regulation. A recent study revealed that 60% of parents don't make strict observance to their kids using gadgets.

Why cell phones should not be allowed in school facts? ›

But the day-in and day-out component of school safety is how students use phones within school. This might include things like bullying, harassment, videotaping, and posting to social media. Those are reasons why having phones within schools could potentially be accelerators of negative student behavior.

Why phones are bad for high school students? ›

While some educators feel there's a place for smartphones in the classroom, others see them as a distraction and source of cyberbullying. And research indicates they can have a negative effect on learning and attention.

What are the negative effects of using phones in school? ›

Here is the list of 10 Harmful Effects of Mobile Phones on Students
  • Poor vision: Constant staring at mobile phones affects eyesight and eye health. ...
  • Lack of focus: The virtual world they view on their mobile phones is highly distracting. ...
  • Anxiety: ...
  • Isolation: ...
  • Poor academic performance: ...
  • Accidents: ...
  • Sleep loss: ...
  • Bad posture:

Do phones affect mental health? ›

From poor sleep quality to heightened levels of stress, anxiety, and depression, smartphone addiction can take a huge toll. Mental health providers need to be aware of the potential issues associated with the overuse of smartphones so that they can help their clients identify, manage, and overcome the addiction.

What are some shocking facts about cell phone addiction? ›

Over 50% of cell phone owners never switch off their smartphones. 71% of smartphone owners sleep with or next to their mobile phones on a typical night. 75% of cell phone users admit that they have texted while driving at least one time. 40% of adults check their phones while they're using the bathroom.

Do cell phones cause anxiety? ›

Smartphone use can cause anxiety in individuals in different ways. One, some individuals experience anxiety when they are away from their phones. For other individuals, stress is even exhibited as withdrawal-like symptoms.

Are we too dependent on our phones? ›

Phone dependency can interfere with social and occupational functioning. People need to find a healthy balance and learn how to use their devices responsibly. Strategies to reduce phone dependence include silencing the phone, getting distance from the phone, and meditating.

What would life be like without mobile phones? ›

Life Without Cell Phones

The time taken to communicate would also be significantly increased since cell phones allow people to talk instantaneously. Without the cell phone, long distant communications would be complicated making it difficult to keep in constant touch with friends or relatives who may live far away.

How do phones affect children? ›

Multiple studies link addictive relationships with mobile devices to mental health problems in teens, including depression, anxiety, and disrupted sleep. Neuroscience tells us that tweens' and teens' developing brains make them especially vulnerable to both addiction and mental health crises.

What are the diseases caused by using mobile phones? ›

Psychological Effects of Cell Phone Addiction
  • Sleep disturbances. Cell phone addiction has been linked to an increase in sleep disorders and fatigue in users. ...
  • Depression. ...
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. ...
  • Relationship problems. ...
  • Anxiety.

What percentage of accidents are caused by cell phone use? ›

9% of distracted driving injury crashes, or about 29,999 accidents in total. 9% of all police-reported distraction-affected crashes, or about 50,098 accidents in total.

Does airplane mode stop radiation? ›

Get to Know Airplane Mode

“Airplane mode”, also known as “flight mode,” is a setting on your wireless device that stops the microwave radiation emissions. It turns antennas to OFF. Learning how to use airplane mode is one of our most important tips.

What is the most toxic part of a phone? ›

As mentioned above, mercury is found in cell phones and is used for LCD screens. Mercury is possibly one of the most toxic chemicals to dispose of as it can contaminate the earth, water, and air if it is not disposed of correctly. The battery in a phone also contains carbon, mercury, cadmium and lithium cobalt oxide.

Which cell phone has the highest radiation? ›

It turns out that the smartphone that emits the most radiation is actually the Motorola Edge. If you look at it in terms of Specific Absorption Rate (SAR), the Motorola Edge emits 1.79 watts of radiation per kilogram.

What is the most annoying thing about using the phone? ›

Here's how to fix the 5 most annoying things on your cellphones
  • Your screen brightness keeps changing.
  • The person you're talking to can't hear you.
  • You don't want the bloatware.
  • Your group text is too chatty.
  • You miss the home button.
Oct 9, 2022

Which phones give off the least radiation? ›

And these phones emit the least radiation:
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10+ 5G – 0.19 watts.
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10 – 0.21.
  • Samsung Galaxy A80 – 0.22.
  • LG G7 ThinQ – 0.24.
  • Motorola Razr 5G – 0.27.
May 19, 2023

Which phone has no radiation? ›

Lowest Radiation Cell Phones of 2023
1.ZTE Blade V10Unlocked
2.Samsung Galaxy Note 8Unlocked
2a.ZTE Axon EliteUnlocked
3.Verykool Vortex RS90Unlocked
19 more rows
Jan 6, 2023

How do I check my phone for radiation? ›

As per the rules, the SAR level of any device should not exceed 1.6 W per Kg. You can also check the SAR level by dialling a number. The number is *#07#.

Does turning off phone stop radiation? ›

4. Turn it off. Phones only emit radio-frequency radiation when they're searching for or receiving a signal, so a phone that's off or in “airplane mode” is safe.

How can I reduce the radiation from my cell phone? ›

Use speaker mode, head phones, or ear buds to place more distance between your head and the cell phone. Avoid making calls when the signal is weak as this causes cell phones to boost RF transmission power. Consider texting rather than talking - but don't text while you are driving.

Does Wi-Fi emit radiation? ›

Wi-Fi equipment emits radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (EMF). Other commonly used household products also emit radiofrequency EMF. These products include: cordless phones.

How far should you put your phone away from your sleep? ›

Keep your cell phone at least 3 feet away from your bed to limit radio frequency exposure. Turn your cell phone off before you go to bed (if you don't rely on your phone's alarm clock) Turn your phone on Airplane Mode.

Where should I put my phone when I sleep? ›

Your phone should be left outside the bedroom when you decide to sleep. However, if you rely on your phone as an alarm clock, place it somewhere as far as possible from the bed, and turn off any notifications unrelated to the alarm clock.

How far away should your phone be from your face? ›

Most people tend to hold their cell phones only about 8 inches from their faces. Not good. Try holding yours at least 16 to 18 inches away from your eyes to give your eyes a break. It might feel funny at first but shouldn't take long to get used to.

Do cell phones pose a health hazard? ›

Cell phones emit low levels of radio frequency energy, a type of non-ionizing radiation. The available scientific data on exposure to radio frequency energy show no categorical proof of any adverse biological effects other than tissue heating.

How can we reduce radiation in our body? ›

Removing clothing and shoes eliminates about 90 percent of external contamination. Gently washing with water and soap removes additional radiation particles from the skin. Decontamination prevents radioactive materials from spreading more.

How much radiation is harmful to humans? ›

It takes a very high radiation exposure to cause acute radiation syndrome—more than 0.75 gray. The U.S. unit for absorbed dose is the rad. One gray is equal to 100 rads. (75 rad)

Why cell phones should be allowed in school facts? ›

Phones in school provide easy access to information.

If smartphones are allowed in school, students will have easy access to more information and therefore will be more participative during class discussion. Being able to search up facts in just a few clicks is one of the biggest advantages of using technology.

Why cell phones should be allowed in school essay? ›

While students being addicted to cell phones can be a problem, schools should allow students to carry cell phones with them because of their freedom to practice self-discipline with their phone usage, maximize school resources, and students' safe. Additionally, phones also maximize school resources.

What are the pros and cons of allowing cell phones in school? ›

It can create all-day exposure to bullying behavior, create feelings of inadequacy, and even inspire isolation. If social learning is properly focused, however, the presence of a cellphone in the classroom can help students engage with others when they may be uncomfortable with extroverted actions.

Are cell phones beneficial in school? ›

Studies show that cell phones can be beneficial to students when reviewing and studying for exams or tests. Most cell phones have a camera these days, so children can use these to take pictures in class.

Should kids have cell phones in school? ›

In July, California passed a law that gives public and charter schools the authority to prohibit cellphone use in the classroom, except during emergencies or other special circumstances, such as when a doctor determines that a student needs a phone for health reasons.

What is a fact about cell phones in school? ›

95% of students bring their phones to class every day, 92% use them to text in class, and 10% admitted to having texted during an exam. The majority of students are bringing their phones to school and using them in class, even during exams, which could be a distraction from learning.

Why cell phones should not be banned from school? ›

It is a device that can do more than just help us communicate and should not be looked at as a toy or plaything by old school tutors. These devices bring so much to the table when it comes to a student's education because they can record lectures, read and download books, use maps, listen to lessons and more.

Should cellphones be banned from schools? ›

Ringing cell phones can disrupt classes and distract students who should be paying attention to their lessons at hand. Text messages have been used for cheating. And new cell phones with cameras could be used to take photos of exams, take pictures of students changing clothes in gym locker areas, and so on.”

Why kids should have phones? ›

Keeping in touch

Giving your kid a mobile phone makes sure they can always contact you and makes sure that you can always contact them, whether that's to warn them that you're running late or to ask them to pick up milk on their way home.

What are the pros and cons of cell phones? ›

Cell Phones in the Workplace: Safety Pros and Cons
  • Pro: Emergency Services are easily and quickly contacted. ...
  • Pro: Quickly access safety information. ...
  • Pro: Communication. ...
  • Con: Cell phones are a primary cause of distracted driving. ...
  • Con: Equipment operations require focus. ...
  • Con: Productivity and focus may be adversely affected.

What are the three greatest benefits of cell phones? ›

Advantages of mobile phones
  • Easy Communication. The main benefit of using the mobile phone is that they make the mode of communication easier and cheap. ...
  • Education. ...
  • Social media. ...
  • Promoting business. ...
  • Good for people's safety. ...
  • Helpful in emergency situations. ...
  • Earn money via mobile. ...
  • Accessing the internet through mobile phones.

How do cell phones benefit students? ›

Through smartphones, students can explore new things in an enjoyable manner rather than going through whole books to find the desired information. Moreover, they can get access to any book or educational site within seconds and at any time of the day.

Should kids have cell phones pros and cons? ›

Even though a cell phone can provide the safe communication you want your child to have, it can also provide him the freedom to communicate with anyone. Increased independence could be a virtue, but it opens the door to the potential dangers of cyber-bullying, sexting, or even just excessive distractions.

How many kids have a phone? ›

Pressure on parents

By the time kids are in middle school, the pressure from kids can be intense, and parents worry that their child will feel isolated if other kids have phones and they don't. According to Common Sense Media, 42 percent of kids have a phone by age 10. By age 12, it's 71 percent.


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