PARIS (AP) — French regulators have ordered Apple to stop selling the iPhone 12, saying it emits levels of electromagnetic radiation above European Union exposure standards. The company disputed the findings and said the device complied with regulations.
The French government agency that manages wireless communications frequencies issued the order after the iPhone 12 recently failed one of two types of tests relating to electromagnetic waves capable of being absorbed by the body.
It’s unclear why the phone, released in late 2020, failed to pass the agency’s latest round of testing and why it was only this particular model.
France’s digital minister said radiation levels from the iPhone 12 are still well below levels that scientific studies show could harm users, and the agency itself acknowledges that its tests do not reflect a typical phone usage.
The National Frequency Agency on Tuesday called on Apple to “implement all available means to quickly remedy this malfunction” for phones already in use and indicated that it would monitor device updates. If they don’t work, “Apple will have to recall” phones already sold, he says.
The agency recently tested 141 cell phones and found that when the iPhone 12 is hand-held or carried in a pocket, its electromagnetic energy absorption level is 5.74 watts per kilogram, more than the European standard of 4 watts per kilogram.
The phone passed a separate test of radiation levels for devices kept in a jacket or bag, the agency said.
Radiation limits are set “well below the level at which harm can occur”, and therefore a slight increase above the threshold “is unlikely to have health consequences”, said Malcolm Sperrin, director of medical physics at the Royal Berkshire hospital group in the United Kingdom. .
iPhone 12 users should be able to download an update that prevents radiation exposure from exceeding the limit, Sperrin said.
It’s unclear why this particular model appears to emit higher radiation, but it “may be associated with the initial connection stage when the phone ‘searches’ for a transmit/receive signal,” he said.
Apple said the iPhone 12 has been certified by several international organizations and complies with all applicable radiation regulations and standards around the world.
The American technology company said it had provided the French agency with several laboratory results carried out both by the company and by third-party laboratories proving the conformity of the phone.
Jean-Noël Barrot, Minister responsible for Digital Affairs, declared on France Info that the National Frequency Agency “is responsible for controlling our phones which, as software updates progress, can emit a little more or a little fewer electromagnetic waves. »
He said the iPhone 12’s radiation levels are “slightly higher” than EU standards, but “significantly lower than the levels at which scientific studies estimate there could be consequences for users.” But the rule remains the rule. »
The agency’s tests are conducted in a diagnostic lab that uses a fluid-filled mold simulating a human head and body with brain and muscle tissue. The devices transmit at maximum power during the six-minute test, the agency says on its website, acknowledging that the tests “do not reflect the most common use of a phone.”
During calls, the phone only transmits half the time when the user is speaking, and calls rarely last six minutes, the agency said. Using mobile internet or video lasts longer, but the phone “rarely transmits more than 10% of the time”, we add.
Cell phones have been labeled a “possible” carcinogen by the World Health Organization’s cancer research division, putting them in the same category as coffee, diesel fumes and the pesticide DDT. The radiation produced by cell phones cannot directly damage DNA and is different from more powerful types of radiation like X-rays or ultraviolet light.
Although cell phones have been widely used for years, studies have not shown a clear link to adverse health effects like cancer, headaches and cognitive function, said Ian Scivill, a senior scientist. specializing in radiation at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in the United Kingdom. .
Experts have recommended that people concerned about exposure to cell phone radiation use headphones or send text messages.