Drugs, bike helmets, credit card agreements, cigarettes, air bags, and guns, all come with notices regarding safe uses and risks. Without laws to enforce them, such warnings are basically a form of product defense that allow manufacturers to say I told you so should any problems develop later. But, where warnings are accompanied by enforceable laws, they can fundamentally change behavior. In fact, fewer kids try smoking nowadays as a consequence of what's been a highly effective shock and awe campaign including escalating cigarette taxes, massive public educational programs (now slated for cuts), laws that make it illegal to sell tobacco products to those under age 18, and a warnings slapped directly on packaging.
But what are we to make of the fine print advisories that come with new cell phones today that are seldom seen and even less frequently heeded. Blackberry's Torch phone cautions teenagers and pregnant women not to hold the phone next to the lower abdomen. Apple's iPhone 5 features a Houdini-like warning--now you see it, now you don't. Printed warnings on thin paper package inserts that advised safe distances for using phones have disappeared. Those determined to find out about cellphone radiation enter a middle school programmers do-loop.
Advertisements in the blogosphere feature baby apps, with real live toddlers and infants who love their phones. Their parents do not know that that the 60,000 physicians and surgeons of the American Academy of Pediatrics have issued warnings that young brains and bodies need more lap time than app time and should avoid microwave radiating devices.
If you want information about radiation safety and the iPhone, you can read the online product safety notice which says:
Radio signals iPhone uses radio signals to connect to wireless networks. For information about the amount of power used to transmit these signals, and about steps you can take to minimize exposure, see Settings > General > About > Legal > RF Exposure.
Then, after going through the above 5 clicks on your phone, the text below pops up:
iPhone has been tested and
meets applicable limits for Radio Frequency (RF) exposure.
To reduce exposure to RF energy, use a hands-free option, such as the built-in speakerphone, the supplied headphones, or other similar accessories. Carry iPhone at least 10 mm away from your body to ensure exposure levels remain at or below the as-tested levels. Cases with metal parts may change the RF performance of the device, including its compliance with RF exposure guidelines, in a manner that has not been testified or certified.
SAR values for this device are available online:
Thus, ends the advice. But, wait there's a trick. If at this point, you have not given up and click on the above link purporting to be information on SAR values, you get right back to this text:
To reduce exposure to RF energy, use a hands-free option, such as the built-in speakerphone, the supplied headphones or other similar accessories. Carry iPhone at least 10mm away from your body to ensure exposure levels remain at or below the as-tested levels. Cases with metal parts may change the RF performance of the device, including its compliance with RF exposure guidelines, in a manner that has not been tested or certified.
What's missing altogether is this previous statement on the phone that explained that phones carried in the pocket can exceed the FCC exposure guidelines. Poor David Beckham has no idea that his convenient phone necklace exceeds FCC approved testing conditions.
In fact, commercials for cell phones that fill our airwaves, newspapers and magazines routinely feature young children happily chatting with their phones held smack up against their developing bodies and brains and iPads plopped directly over young gonads.
Child holding iPhone on body over reproductive organs by Toys R Us Advertisement
It may well be legal for companies to sell devices that cannot be used safely in ways they are advertised, but it is certainly not ethical to do so.