cell phone radiation

I just got a neat little cell phone, small enough to put into my chest pocket. Which makes me wonder, do cell phones transmit any signals when it’s in stand-by mode (i.e. turned on and ready to receive calls)? Or do they just have the receiver running? I’m not sure if I like the idea of keeping a microwave transmitter 1 inch from my heart 16 hours a day. And there are important organs near other pockets too…

No, they don’t transmit when they’re quiescent.

And I seriously hope you have more important things to worry about than bodily harm from your cell phone. Sheesh!

Cell phones do not transmit while in stand by. You can prove this by using a frequency counter (I recommend the excellent Optoelectronics Scout model). When the phone is transmitting (when you place a call) the frequency counter will display what frequency the phone is transmitting at(cell phones work between 824 and 899 megahertz). When the phone is in stand by, the frequency counter display window remains blank, proving the phone is not broadcasting any signal, only receiving. The frequency counter only works with analog phones, however, digital phones also do not transmit while on stand by. And by the way, I don’t blame you for not wanting microwaves next to your heart for 16 hours!

Well, the phones do send out the occasional signal to let the base station know where it is. Although this won’t harm your nearby organs when it’s in your chest pocket (or more importantly: pants pocket), it does have other malignant side effects. When I go to bed I leave the phone next to my TV and for some reason it always sends that signal just when I’m about to fall asleep, causing the TV to make beeping noises for a few seconds. Just long enough to make me completely alert again. But unless you consider sleep deprivation bodily harm it’s probably safe.

Also, a phone in stand by mode could be used by the government to track your every move. If you’re the paranoid type that could make you lose even more sleep.

Sure I do, which is why I come here - to forget about those and think about more interesting (and less stressful) questions.

Anyway thanks to all who replied. I think I’ll not worry about the occasional ping it sends. Come to think of it, I guess I can get one of those flashing lights on the antenna to find out how often it transmits - might be interesting.

Actually they do, they’re active recievers that send out a small signal and need to send when switching channels or cells. Click here for a nice document on how wireless tech works:


The signal the phone sends out while in stand by is extremely breif, not constant like when it is being used. I will stipulate, however, that I have tested only 4 different models of cell phones with my frequency counter, and cannot say if all phones remain passive during standby.

20/20 just did a report on these things & how much radiation they give. they said they give out microwaves, just like your microwave oven. weird.

Anyway, the scientists who said they were safe are now changing their minds. People who got brain tumors usually got them on the same side of the head that they put their phone. weird.

But they are designing them with an earplug feature now to keep them from that area. But they must still give those microwaves when you keep them in the pocket & youre using the ear plug thingy.

Also, the phones ARE tested by the factory but they got their safe readings because of the way they positioned them against the head during the tests. They were at an angle, you see, which few people would do anyway. Most just press them against their ear in a parl. to brain fashion & that was found to have almost 2 times the safe amount of radiation.

Don’t forget that even though they’re both called “microwave radiation” there’s a huge difference between cooking microwaves and cell phone microwaves. A microwave oven radiates at a specific frequency (2450 MHz) because that frequency resonance with water molecules, enabling it to cook food (there’s nothing about microwave energy in particular that heats stuff up especially well - it has to be THAT frequency for water to heat that well). Other materials besides water absorb microwave energy differently, depending on the exact frequency used.

Normal analog cell phones are somewhere between 800 and 900 MHz, which is a lot different than 2450 MHz. Of course the studies I’ve seen didn’t actually the cell phone frequencies, but use the 2450 MHz oven instead (such as
http://www.cnn.com/HEALTH/9911/05/cell.phone/index.html )

Incidently, a microwave oven is generally between 500 to 1000 Watts of power, while a cell phone is 0.6 Watts max (they actually vary their power so that it’s just enough to communicate, to save battery life).


Just before my cel rings, it will cause my PC speakers to begin to hum loudly. Must be some kind of emission.

'Incidently, a microwave oven is generally between 500 to 1000 Watts of power, while a cell phone is
0.6 Watts max (they actually vary their power so that it’s just enough to communicate, to save battery
life). "
Yeah, but you only use the microwave for a few minutes. People talk on the phone for hours, eventually, evens out almost.

Well, you probably get much more exposure to RF via cell-phone anyway, unless you have a habit of sticking your head into the microwave :). I don’t know how much RF power leaks out of a microwave, but I’d guess that it’s less than 0.6 Watts.


handy wrote:

Only quack scientists. Every study that’s been done has shown that there are no known health risks from the non-ionizing radiation emitted from cell phones.

This myth has been completely debunked.
According to a paper published by the Radiation Research Society:

For the entire paper check out the following PDF file:

Here’s a couple of other links:


There was a recent study done by George Carlo and Joshua Muscat, that is often cited as the defining correlation between cell phone usage and neurocytoma brain tumors. The only problem is that this correlation showed that greater exposure was associated with LOWER risk of the cancer developing. Rather than argue that cell phones prevent brain tumors, the good doctors are just focusing on the fact that there SEEMS to be some sort of a correlation… maybe…
Really, the closest thing to a rational argument that I’ve heard being made recently suggesting that cell phone usage is dangerous is that since it is impossible to prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they are harmless - they could be harmful. Unfortunately, you can apply that argument to anything.

Not that I’m defending cell phones and their safety. The single biggest health risk to cell phone usage is the threat of having an accident while trying to multiplex between the phone and the road… the second biggest is for those guys who insist on taking calls on their phones at the theater while I’m trying to watch the movie!!!

Joey, it’s really too early to tell. Brain tumors take 10, 15, 20 years to form. Cell phones are too new. But what they do know is that they do indeed produce microwaves.

Come to think of it, if manf. thought they were safe, they wouldn’t make new units that are kept farther away.

They don’t make them to work from farther away because they’re any safer, but because people want them (or will pay extra).



Exactly! We shouldn’t confuse hip-ness and convenience with safety. However, handy is right, there have been changes in cell phone design in the last few years to reduce the amount of radiation. This is partially to improve the efficiency of the phones (less waste - more battery life), but it’s also been in an effort to releive consumer’s concerns about safety. Note: Changing the design does not constitute admission that there was ever a problem in the first place - only that consumers perceived there was a problem. Think of it as a high tech placebo…

handy wrote:

Let’s recap:

YOU: Science has demonstrated that cell phones are dangerous.
ME: No it hasn’t.
YOU: Well, it too early to tell, but it could show they are dangerous in the future…

Ummm… do you know what that means? Some people hear the term microwave and think about what happens when you put kitties in a microwave oven… Just being a microwave doesn’t make it dangerous. The microwaves that come from X-rays and microwave ovens are called ionizing - meaning they can disrupt cellular structure. The microwaves that come from your cell phone are non ionizing (they don’t disrupt cells). There are many other sources of non ionizing radiation in your home: cordless telephones, 900MHz stereo equipment, televisions, and more…