EXCLUSIVE: iPhone 12 radiation fears: FDA is ‘reviewing’ Apple handsets after reports they are radioactive – after France halted sales

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.

Apple says it will update the software in its iPhone 12 in France in order to resolve the issue. The device is shown here being held by Tim Cook, Apple CEO. Experts say that although the radiation may exceed French standards, it is not high enough to put people at risk

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 FCC declined to comment when contacted by DailyMail.com.

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.’

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it was reviewing available information over the iPhone 12

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it was reviewing available information over the iPhone 12

A chart of cell phone radiation exposure rates from the Germany's Federal Office for Radiation (Bundesamt für Strahlenschutz) compiled by the Digital Information World last year

A chart of cell phone radiation exposure rates from the Germany’s Federal Office for Radiation (Bundesamt für Strahlenschutz) compiled by the Digital Information World last year

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.

But many researchers seek to pour cold water on these results, saying the tests were done in animals and exposure levels were very high in order to cause the issue.

‘Currently there is no strong evidence that exposure to electromagnetic fields during mobile phone use is associated with adverse health effects,’ Maria Feychting, a professor of epidemiology at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, said.

‘However, there are still some uncertainties and further research is needed, especially regarding the higher frequencies that will be used by 5G.’

It is worth pointing out that the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is an offshoot of the WHO, has previously claimed that certain radio frequencies at extreme levels are ‘possibly carcinogenic to humans’.

However, this is thought to be unlikely.

Apple said in a statement that its phone complied with standards worldwide but that it would ‘issue a software update for users in France to accommodate the protocol used by French regulators’.

They added: ‘This is related to a specific testing protocol used by French regulators and not a safety concern.’ 

The iPhone 12 was first released in September 2020 and is still sold worldwide, although Apple is now seeking to phase it out following the release of the iPhone 15.

Apple tech support staff are being told not to volunteer any information about the phones.

DailyMail.com contacted Apple for comment. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk