Cell Phone Radiation: How to Reduce the Risks

Last Updated Jun 2, 2011 1:34 PM EDT

This is an update from a post from 2009 -- which should tell you something about the seemingly endless nature of this controversy.
Should you be concerned about the radiation produced by your cell phone? It's a question that resurfaces in the mainstream media at least once every year, and with good reason: no one wants cancer.

Of course, the jury's still out on whether phones pose any kind of danger. Some studies (including, most recently, this one from the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer [PDF]) say yes, others say no.

But here's the thing: if there's even a possibility of danger, aren't we better safe than sorry? Heck, I wear a seatbelt in the car because of the possibility of a crash, even though not all crashes are fatal.

There are no seatbelts for cell phones, of course, but it's still pretty easy to virtually eliminate their radiation risks. Here are three effective solutions:

  1. Use a corded headset.
  2. Use a Bluetooth headset.
  3. Use your phone's speakerphone.
My preference continues to be number 1. Corded headsets are dirt-cheap (meaning you can buy one for your car, another for your office, a third for your coat pocket, and so on) but produce the best overall sound quality.

Bluetooth headsets are okay, but they're often expensive, almost always dorky-looking, and one more thing to keep charged. As for speakerphones, in my experience they sound pretty crummy, especially if there's a lot of ambient noise (like in the car).

CNET has more on the subject of cell-phone radiation, including lists of the highest- and lowest-level models. (One key spoiler: the iPhone didn't make either list.)

What do you think? Is phone radiation a concern? If so, are you doing anything about it? Let me know your thoughts.

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    Rick Broida, a technology writer for more than 20 years, is the author of more than a dozen books. In addition to writing CNET's The Cheapskate blog, he contributes to CNET's iPhone Atlas.