Is putting your smartphone in your pocket dangerous for your health?

The French National Health Security Agency recently reported on the effects your mobile phone can have when it’s placed in your pocket.

Phone in pocket
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Phone in pocket

Smartphones are just getting bigger and bigger as technology advances. However, no matter how huge they become, we end up finding a way to squeeze them into our pockets in order to keep them safe and within reach. But does this practice have a harmful effect on us?

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According to a report released by the French National Health Security Agency, or Anses, there are possible dangers of this habit. They said:

The Agency recommends that measures be taken so that users are no longer exposed to SARs exceeding 2W/kg.

Limited evidence


SARs, or Specific Absorption Rates, indicates the amount of energy that is emitted by the smartphone’s waves and absorbed by the body. They are expressed in watts per kilogram. In France, for example, the limit of energy that should be emitted and absorbed is currently 2 watts per kilogram.

Exposure above this figure can cause ‘biological effects on brain activity’ says Anses. At the same time, the organisation has said that there is ‘limited evidence’ that backs this claim.

This is because more than sixty experiments that were analysed were done on animal and human cells, and never directly on humans. Moreover, the animals that were experimented on were subjected to radiation of 2 W/kg over their entire body and not on a specific area.

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In order to combat the possible effects of SARs, newly released mobile phones seem to comply with the regulations as they emit fewer waves than their predecessors.

That being said, people who have phones marketed before July 2016 should be cautious as these devices may not adhere to the regulations. These phones were created at a time when the estimated normal distance between a device and the body was supposed to be 15 mm. With new technology and the phones we have today, this value has now changed to 5 mm.

So, if the safe distance between a phone and your body is 5 mm this could mean that your pocket is not the ideal place for your phone. Unless you're wearing a piece of clothing that is particularly thick, or if you have several layers underneath.

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