US health officials are looking into reports that the iPhone 12 emits harmful levels of radiation — after sales were temporarily halted in Europe due to safety fears.
A spokesperson for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) — which is partly responsible for making sure cellphones are safe — told DailyMail.com the agency was ‘reviewing the available information’.
It comes after a regulator in France this week asked Apple to stop selling the 2020 iPhone 12, claiming tests found the handset emits radiation levels that exceed EU restrictions.
Germany, Belgium and Spain have all signaled they could follow suit. Apple has disputed the findings, but the news has reignited deep-rooted fears about health and cellphone usage.
More than 81million iPhones were sold in the United States in 2021, the year after the model’s release. It is unclear how many Americans still own a device that is now three years old.
In a statement to DailyMail.com, a spokesman said: ‘In general, the FDA does not comment on specific studies or test results, but evaluates them as part of the body of evidence to further our understanding about a particular issue and assist in our mission to protect public health.
‘The FDA is reviewing the available information.’
The agency is responsible for regulating the safety of phones along with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
The Agence Nationale des Fréquences (ANFR) initially raised the alarm on Tuesday, claiming that the iPhone 12 had failed its latest round of routine testing – with radiation levels 40 percent above what the regulator says is acceptable.
But most experts say even if the higher radiation levels are true, they are ‘not sufficient’ enough to harm people.
There are old fears about the effects of phones on health, having previously been linked to brain cancer and fertility issues, but these have never been proven conclusively.
Dr Devra Davis, an epidemiologist who has been studying the dangers of radiofrequency released from phones since the early 2000s, told DailyMail.com the FDA should ‘absolutely’ investigate the iPhone 12.
‘Why should French people be more protected than Americans?,’ she added.
Dr Joel Moskowitz, who researches the adverse effects of cellphone radiation at the University of California, Berkeley, said he hoped the reports from France prompted an investigation.
He told DailyMail.com: ‘I hope the French Apple 12 emissions debacle triggers an independent investigation in the US regarding SAR testing procedures for authorization for all wireless devices.
‘In 2012, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report at the request of the Congress which raised major concerns about the SAR testing protocol, but it was ignored by the FCC.’
In routine testing, French regulators found the iPhone 12 emitted radiation levels that were 40 percent above permissible levels when it was next to a human.
Radiation from cellphones is measured in Europe using the specific absorption rate (SAR), or the amount of power absorbed by the body from a particular source per kilogram of body-weight.
More than 100million iPhone 12’s have been sold worldwide, while in the US an estimated 135million people own an iPhone.
In 2021, a year after the iPhone 12’s release, the number of iPhone owners sat at around 116million users.
French digital minister Jean-Noel Barrot stressed the iPhone 12’s radiation levels were much lower than those that scientific studies say could cause harm.
He added that a software update would be able to solve the issue.
Dr Rodney Croft, a neurophysiologist in Australia and chair of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection, said: ‘From a health and safety point of view, it is not as if this is putting anyone at risk.’
The safety levels — based on the risks of burns or heatstroke from the phone’s radiation — are already set ten times below the level where scientists found evidence of harm.
Dr Croft added that France’s findings may differ from those of other regulators because measurement methods vary between different regulators.
France has previously stopped the sales of 42 smartphones in the country over radiation concerns. This is the first time Apple has been hit.
Apple currently has two weeks in which to respond but has already said it will issue a software update to fix the issue.
French regulators say they will need to test the software before they can put the phone back on the market.
The software update will only affect phones in France, and not those in other countries, they added.
Previous research has suggested exposure to radiation from phones can cause everything from cancer to fertility issues.