Is it bad to talk on your cell phone while it's charging? What the studies say

An “urban legend” that has been repeated several times on social networks concerns the alleged danger of cell phones used while connected to the charger. This leads many people to wonder whether talking on a cell phone while it's charging is actually bad for you or not. The “dry” answer, essentially, is no: there is no scientific evidence that categorically proves this thesis. While it has been shown that a cell phone plugged in emits more radiation than a cell phone used when not charging, it is not released at concentrations high enough to warrant concern. This is supported by various experts and scientific studies.

How the myth that talking on a cell phone while it's charging is bad for you was born

In recent years, videos have appeared on various social platforms showing some users engaged in measure electromagnetic radiation emissions coming from your cell phone while it was charging. One of these videos in particular (which we propose again below) has spread virally on TikTok, thus significantly fueling the “theory” according to which cell phones, when charging, act as dangerous radiation propagators. In the video in question we see a man using an instrument which, when he detects a high level of electromagnetism, turns red. In the video the man takes the measurement first on the cable that connects the phone to the charger and then on the arm of the child who is holding it: in both cases the LED light on the tester turns red. When the phone in the child's hand stops being powered by electricity, the red light on the instrument resting on the child's forearm is no longer fixed, indicating that the level of electromagnetic emissions has lowered.


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♬ original sound – Murtaza Ahmed

Even though we have no valid reasons to question the authenticity of such videos, which do not appear to have been manipulated in any way, we can nevertheless affirm that these are highly misleading videos when compared with scientifically valid sources.

What the studies say about cell phone charging

Studies on electromagnetism in fact refute many of the assertions that the authors of the videos in question make. First of all, although it is true that the exposure prolonged to cell phones may involve some potential risks to human health, it is equally true that the radiation coming from our smartphones consists of radio waveswhich are non-ionizing radiations which, therefore, they do not cause direct damage to DNA present in the nucleus of our cells. According to FDA (Food and Drug Administration), in fact, “the weight of nearly 30 years of scientific evidence has not linked exposure to radiofrequency energy from cell phone use to health problems.” To date, the only certain effect of prolonged exposure to radio frequencies emitted by smartphones is the heating of tissues in direct contact with the devices.

Secondly, if it is true that smartphones connected to the power socket can actually emit more electromagnetic waves compared to those that are not charging, the same is actually true for any device connected to an electrical outlet.

In commenting on the video we showed you, in fact, Andrew Woodwho chairs the Department of Health and Medical Sciences at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, told the agency AFP that «The video is grossly misleading. Any cable connected to the mains would do the same.”

Eric Yeatmanhead of the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Imperial College London, is of the same opinion: «A phone charger has a unit at the end of the wall that converts dangerous mains voltage into a harmless low voltage direct current that travels along the cable and into the telephone”, also adding that a “small amount” of the mains frequency can be picked up by a voltmeter but is “generally harmless” and is practically comparable to the amount of electromagnetic energy to which one is exposed when use, for example, an immersion blender connected to the power outlet.


How to protect yourself from excess radiation

Since it is prolonged exposure to radiation emitted by cell phones that can create potential health problems, it is possible to sleep reasonably well by limiting your level of exposure to such radiation.

The simplest way you can do this is use speakerphone as much as possible instead of keeping the smartphone constantly attached to your ear. This small precaution can significantly lower the level of exposure to radiation from your cell phone.

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