The 'In Brief' report headlined 'Mobile phones to get radiation labels' (South China Morning Post, January 3), requires clarification.
The Hong Kong Telecommunications Authority is not 'forcing' manufacturers to label mobile phones with the level of radio frequency (RF) emissions.
What it announced was the introduction of a compliance label that certifies that a mobile phone sold in Hong Kong complies with the limits set in the standard. This initiative is supported by mobile phone manufacturers. In fact, manufacturers provide the maximum specific absorption rate (SAR), the amount of RF energy absorbed by the body when using a mobile phone, to governments to certify that each model of phone operates below international safety limits. While no country requires manufacturers to label mobile phones with emission levels, the industry voluntarily provides this information to consumers globally, including in Hong Kong.
Mobile Manufacturers Forum (MMF) members voluntarily report SAR values on company Web sites and in user manuals, or in a leaflet inside the box. As a result of this voluntary initiative, around 300 million consumers now have access to SAR information. Several governments have now sought to regulate this voluntary programme to ensure that those manufacturers outside of the MMF also adopt the same programme. The SAR level reported by manufacturers is the maximum achieved in laboratory test conditions and the actual SAR level of the phone while operating can be well below this value.
The variation in SAR occurs because mobile phones power up and down depending on reception and the distance to the nearest base station. A recently-published study looked at the output of phones in everyday use and found that for a person walking around a major city (in this case Paris) their phone operated predominately around 1 per cent of full power and only operated at full power for less than 5 per cent of the time.
The World Health Organisation and other national and international health agencies have consistently arrived at the same conclusion, that there is no evidence of any adverse health effects from the RF energy emitted by mobile phones.
Mobile Manufacturers Forum