A French watchdog agency says Apple’s iPhone 12 emits too much electromagnetic radiation and should be withdrawn from the market, a claim the tech giant disputes.
Tests conducted by France’s National Frequency Agency (ANFR) found the iPhone 12’s specific absorption rate (SAR) ‒ which measures radiofrequency energy absorbed by a body ‒ exceeds standards set by the European Union, prompting the agency to order Apple to halt iPhone 12 sales and update the iPhone 12 devices in use.
“Instruction has been given to the ANFR’s sworn officers to check that the iPhone 12 is no longer offered for sale in all distribution channels in France,” reads a Tuesday statement from the agency. If Apple fails to “deploy all available means” to comply with the SAR limit, the agency threatened to recall every iPhone 12 sold in France.
The news was announced the same day Apple unveiled the iPhone 15.
A potential ‘snowball effect’
European regulations say a phone that is handheld or in a pants pocket should have no more than 4 watts per kilogram of electromagnetic energy absorption, but testing by the ANFR found the iPhone 12 exceeded the limit by more than 40% at 5.74 watts per kilogram. The phone met the radiation threshold for devices kept in a jacket pocket or bag.
France’s digital minister Jean-Noel Barrot told the newspaper Le Parisien that the agency’s data would be shared with regulators in other EU member states, which could have a “snowball effect,” according to Reuters. He told the paper that Apple is expected to respond within two weeks.
Apple did not immediately respond to a comment request from USA TODAY but told Reuters that the iPhone 12 was certified by multiple international bodies and said it provided several internal and third-party lab results that showed the phone complied with the French agency’s standards.
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Should I be worried about cell phone radiation?
Testing found the iPhone 12 was emitting radiation levels “slightly above” the allowed threshold, with levels more than 10 times lower than the level at which there could be a health risk, according to a post that France’s digital minister Jean-Noel Barrot made on X, formerly Twitter. Even so, he said France wants Apple to comply with its rules.
The World Health Organization notes that “to date, no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use.” In 2011, the organization classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” ‒ a category for agents where there is limited or inadequate evidence of carcinogenicity in humans.
While the human body does absorb energy from devices that emit radiofrequency radiation, research so far suggests cellphone use does not cause brain or other kinds of cancer in humans and the radiofrequencies are too low to damage DNA, according to the National Cancer Institute, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
How do I check my iPhone radiation?
Smartphone users can find information about the SAR of cellphones produced and marketed within the previous one to two years on the Federal Communications Commission’s website by entering the phone’s FCC ID number, which can typically be found on the phone’s case, in the phone’s settings or by contacting the manufacturer.