Standards for Mobile Phones

Standardization is a regulatory procedure designed to create uniformity in a certain field, and defines the actions required to do so. On the subject of non-ionizing radiation, standardization creates a mechanism to coordinate between relevant bodies through procedures, instructions, values, measurements, etc.  These means constitute reference norms for the adequate use of devices, for public health and safety, and for quality of the environment.


In order to protect the public against the harmful effects of radiofrequency radiation emitted by mobile phones, a number of international organizations involved in the field formulated recommendations for exposure standards.

The formulation of exposure standards is based on the established adverse effects (heating of tissues), to which are added safety factors aimed at protecting the general public (including sensitive populations).  Consequently, deviation from a standard does not necessarily constitute a risk.  There is considerable uncertainty regarding possible a-thermal effects arising from the use of these devices, so that it is difficult to transpose the standard to all aspects of long-term health consequences.

  Hand holding an Iphone


The standards for mobile phones are measured according to the specific absorption rate by the body and are aimed at preventing overheating of tissues.  The Specific Absorption Rate (SAR)  refers to the amount of energy absorbed by a biological tissue (such as in the human body).  It is measured in watts/Kg or milliwatts/g.


All manufacturers of mobile phones must perform SAR measurements for each model of mobile phone.  The given level applies to all models of the devices they manufacture, and is not necessarily measured on each and every specific device.  The SAR level for each model is measured under laboratory conditions, for maximal output power of the phone.


It should be noted that it is possible to control the output power for any phone, according to the quality of the connection between it and the nearest antenna.  Thus it may be that a phone with high SAR in the laboratory but near an antenna will emit less radiation than a phone with low SAR in the laboratory when located at a greater distance from the nearest antenna, and with poor communication with this antenna. Consequently, the SAR level for a specific phone in daily use will vary according to the location of the phone relative to the antennas in its vicinity.


In Israel, because the phones are imported from various countries, two main international standards are used to limit exposure from mobile phones:

  • The European standard formulated by the ICNIRP for devices licensed in Europe2.0 watt/Kg for 10 g of tissue on average
  • The American standard formulated by the FCC for devices licensed in the USA  - 1.6 watt/Kg for 1 g of tissue on average