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Cell Phone Radiation: Best and Worst for 2010

New laws require disclosure of radiation levels, so which phones are the best and worst?

You realize that cell phones are just sophisticated two-way radios, right?

And that when you're talking on one, you're really talking and listening to a two-way radio that is constantly broadcasting a very, very high-frequency signal right next to your head?

Some cell phones release a small amount of radiation. Others, a much larger amount. And you can't tell how much - or just how dangerous it is - just by looking at the phone. How does your Android, Blackberry, iPhone,



or any other measure up?

Scientifically, we're only dealing with a very low-power signal being transmitted. But it still is producing near-microwave frequency radiation levels that might be absorbed into nearby soft tissue - your brain, for instance.

That's why some experts believe it's a good idea to keep your cell phones conversations short in duration -- and also keep the number of those conversations to a minimum. That's especially for adults who are always talking on their cell phones. And that goes double and triple for children. They don't know whether extended, close-range cellphone use could actually cause tumors in the long run.

This is especially topical right now because San Francisco's board of supervisors has just passed a law requiring retailers to post notices on how much dangerous radiation is reportedly being emitted by the cellphones they sell. They hope that by disseminating the hard facts, it will help consumers make a "safer" choice. That's if consumers think this is important enough to care about in a today's world of super-duper smartphones.

Which brings us to the research from people calling themselves the Environmental Working Group. They say they consist of a "team of scientists, engineers, policy experts, lawyers and computer programmers (who) pore over government data, legal documents, scientific studies and (their) own laboratory tests to expose threats to your health and the environment, and to find solutions."

On their EWG "Get A Safer Phone"

Web site

, the group has published lists containing the results of what they have found. There's a list for regular "feature phones" and another for smartphones. There's even a quick-and-easy look-up system to see how well your current handset fares.

Some of the best phones (those with the lowest radiation levels) include the


Katana II from

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, the


Rugby (AT&T), Samsung's Memoir (


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) and the Samsung Omnia II (


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's iPhone scored well, near the lower end of radiation in the smartphone class.

A few well-known phones with the highest radiation levels are the Blackberry 8820 (AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon), the Palm Pixi (


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Moto VE440 (MetroPCS), the Blackberry Bold 9700 (AT&T, T-Mobile) and the Blackberry Curve 8300 (Sprint, U.S. Cellular, Verizon, MetroPCS and CREDO).

The EWG is not telling you NOT to buy or use these phones. The group is providing these facts from its tests so that consumers can be informed buyers and users.

In their own words:

"Are cell phones safe? Many research groups around the world are working to find out. Your cell phone emits radiation to send voice and text messages from you to the other caller. Some (not all) studies of frequent cell-phone users suggest this radiation may increase risks for cancer or children's behavior problems."

More on Cell Phone Radiation WHO: Cancer Link is Inconclusive

The group wants you to use its facts to find "...safer, low-radiation choices."

All of this sounds very ominous and scary. I'm not sure it should be your first priority when you buy a phone, but being aware of the facts and your phone's potentially dangerous radiation numbers could make a difference.