France has asked Apple to stop selling the iPhone 12, claiming that the device emits electromagnetic radiation levels that are above European Union (EU) standards for exposure. France’s radiation watchdog, Agence Nationale des Frequences (ANFR), on Tuesday, said that the model’s Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) – a measure of the rate of radiofrequency energy absorbed by the body from a device– was higher than legally allowed.
ANFR has tested 141 cellphones and found that when the iPhone 12 is held in a hand or carried in a pocket, its level of electromagnetic energy absorption is 5.74 watts per kilogram, higher than the EU standard of 4 watts per kilogram. The agency, however, said that a software update would be enough to fix the issue as the apps, programs and other operating information running on a device affects how the hardware works.
Jean-Noel Barrot, France’s minister in charge of digital issues, said that while the iPhone 12’s radiations are higher than the EU’s standard, they are still significantly lower than levels that scientific studies consider dangerous.
What Is SAR?
SAR Or Standard Absorption Rate is the dose of energy that the body absorbs from any source of radiation. Expressed in watts per kilogram of body weight, the radiation from the devices are a result of how they work by transmitting radiofrequency waves, creating electromagnetic fields.
Unlike the radiation from X-rays or gamma rays – caused by radioactive decay – phones are not capable of breaking chemical bonds or causing changes to cells in the human body— a process which can ultimately cause harm like cancer.
Non-ionizing type of radiation from phones lead to heating up of the body tissue, which above the set limit and longer exposure can cause severe health effects including burns or heat stroke, according to the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), a body which sets guidelines for the limits globally.
Apple has refused ANFR’s claims stating that the iPhone 12 was certified by multiple international bodies as compliant with global radiation standards. The tech giant has said that it would contest ANFR’s claims and would continue to engage with the agency to show it is compliant.