SAR For Cell Phones: What It Means - FCC Consumer Update

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued an updated consumer fact sheet on mobile phone SAR to provide public guidance on what SAR means, and to clarify a common misconception that lower SAR ratings mean that a phone is 'safer' and will provide consumers with overall lower exposures.

The FCC fact sheet says:

There is considerable confusion and misunderstanding about the meaning of the maximum reported “SAR” values for cell phones (and other wireless devices). 

SAR stands for “specific absorption rate,”which is a measure of the rate of RF (radiofrequency) energy absorption by the body from the source being measured – in this case, a cell phone. SAR provides a straightforward means for measuring the RF exposure characteristics of cell phones to ensure that they are within the safety guidelines set by the FCC.

Many people mistakenly assume that using a cell phone with a lower reported SAR value necessarily decreases a user’s exposure to RF emissions, or is somehow “safer” than using a cell phone with a high SAR value. While SAR values are an important tool in judging the maximum possible exposure to RF energy from a particular model of cell phone, a single SAR value does not provide sufficient information about the amount of RF exposure under typical usage conditions to reliably compare individual cell phone models.

Rather, the SAR values collected by the FCC are intended only to ensure that the cell phone does not exceed the FCC’s maximum permissible exposure levels even when operating in conditions which result in the device’s highest possible – but not its typical - RF energy absorption for a user.

Click here for the FCC SAR Consumer update

Wireless Devices & Health - FCC Fact Sheet