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Radiation Health Risks: Why France Suspended iPhone 12 Sales

France Halts iPhone 12 Sales Over Radiation Concerns

France’s radiation authority, the Agence Nationale des Frequences (ANFR), has halted the sales of Apple’s iPhone 12, citing concerns over radiation exposure levels.

Understanding SAR and Its Significance

The Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) gauges the rate at which the body absorbs radio frequency energy from devices. The iPhone 12’s SAR was found to surpass the permitted threshold in Europe.

For context, SAR represents the energy dose that the body receives from radiation sources, quantified in watts per kilogram of body weight. Mobile phones emit radiation due to their operational nature, which involves transmitting radio frequency waves, thereby generating electromagnetic fields. Notably, this radiation differs from the harmful kinds, like X-rays, which can potentially damage cellular structures and lead to diseases such as cancer.

ANFR’s Investigation and Findings

ANFR’s recent investigations involved 141 phones, including the iPhone 12, purchased directly from retailers. Their independent assessments revealed that two iPhone 12 units failed to meet the EU’s SAR standards. 

Remarkably, France has seen 42 instances where mobile phones were barred from sales due to similar radiation concerns.

How Serious Are These Radiation Levels?

Phones emit a “non-ionising” radiation variety, primarily causing body tissue to heat up. Exceeding the stipulated limits, especially over prolonged exposure, can induce health complications, including burns and heat strokes. 

During their assessment, ANFR-accredited laboratories noted an SAR of 5.74 watts per kilogram for the iPhone 12, surpassing the EU’s 4.0 watts per kilogram standard. 

Still, the debate over mobile radiation’s health implications persists. In 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer categorised mobile radiation as “potentially carcinogenic”, highlighting inconclusive evidence and urging further research.

Apple’s Counterclaim

While ANFR believes a software update might address the radiation concern, Apple challenges these findings. The tech giant provided evidence from both internal and independent laboratories to confirm their adherence to global SAR regulations. Apple remains in dialogue with ANFR, striving to validate its compliance.

Potential Implications for Apple

Given that iPhone 12 didn’t align with the European Union’s standards, it raises speculation about further sales restrictions in other EU nations. ANFR intends to share its discoveries with fellow EU regulators. Additionally, Germany’s radiation authority acknowledged ongoing discussions regarding potential changes, although further details remain undisclosed.

References

  1. Rigby, J., & Coulter, M. (2023, September 15). Why has France banned sales of Apple’s iPhone 12? Reuters. https://www.reuters.com/technology/why-has-france-banned-sales-apples-iphone-12-2023-09-13/

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