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Judge orders Apple to make public its FCC correspondence regarding iPhone radiation levels

U.S. District Judge William Alsup has ordered Apple to hand over its Federal Communications Commission correspondence to consumers who allege iPhones emit dangerous levels of radiation, after asking Apple during a hearing if it was “afraid” the public would be “horrified” at the information, reports Law360 (a subscription is required to read the entire article).

I’m a bit dubious, but in February an independent lab found the iPhone 11 Pro emits more than twice the FCC’s legal safety limit for radio frequency (RF) radiation from a cellphone. 

RF Exposure Lab, in San Marcos, California, says it tested the iPhone 11 Pro and discovered it exposes users to a Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) of 3.8 W/kg, even though the FCC sets the maximum exposure rate at 1.6 W/kg. The tests were performed using FCC guidelines with the phone 5mm away from a mannequin engineered to simulate human tissue. If a device is closer, for example in a pocket, the exposure could increase even more, according to the company.

“Cellphone users should be concerned about exposure to RF radiation,” said Ryan McCaughey, chief technical officer of Penumbra Brands, which, you should note, makes smartphone accessories such as radiation reducing smartphone cases. “The testing shows the iPhone 11 Pro potentially exposes people to more than double what the FCC has deemed safe. Cellphone testing is self-regulated—the manufacturer supplies a phone to an independent lab for testing, and if the phone passes, the FCC approves the device for release. However, when we bought an iPhone ‘off-the-shelf’ and tested it the same way, RF Exposure Lab found it fails the FCC’s safety limit.”

However, in December 2019, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) says recent tests of mobile devices like the iPhone and Galaxy didn’t violate agency rules on maximum radio frequency exposure levels, according to Bloomberg.

The prior August, the Chicago Tribune claimed that its own testing found excess levels of radio frequency levels in these devices. The article said radio frequency radiation exposure from the iPhone 7 — one of the most popular smartphones ever sold — measured over the legal safety limit and more than double what Apple reported to federal regulators from its own testing.

The FCC’s retest included smartphones from Apple and Samsung, as well as others purchased by the independent agency. All of the devices tested were under the maximum legal limit of 1.6 watts per kilogram or less, over 1 gram of tissue that is absorbing the most signal. 

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.