There may be no proof that non-ionizing radiation from cell phones is harmful. And the "Bodywell Chip" marketed by EZ Technologies for $29.99 that supposedly protects against the radiation has not been independently tested, nor any of the science behind it published in a peer-reviewed journal.
But tacking the chip, a postage-stamp size sticker, on a cell phone or other mobile device to counter the radiation is erring on the side of caution, the team behind the Bodywell Chip insisted at a Monday "Breakthrough Scientific Symposium" event in New York.
A panel convened by EZ Technologies, which makes the chip, warned that we may not know the full effects of cell phone waves, especially on more vulnerable children, for years. So why not take precautions?
"We don't want to look back years from now and say we should have done something," said EZ Technologies CEO Haim Einhorn, who prior to taking the helm of the company owned a real estate development firm in Florida. "We are providing peace of mind."
According to Bodywell, the Bodywell Chip contains an aluminum base coated with minerals and metals to counteract energy that might otherwise enter users' brains. Testing by Bodywell found that the specific absorption rate in "simulated brain fluids" containing salt, sugar and chemicals was lower when exposed to a device bearing the Bodywell Chip.
The Bodywell testing found a reduction in the specific absorption rate (SAR) from a Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone of 80 percent, and a reduction of 68.2 percent from Apple's iPhone 5 when used on the left side and 63.5 percent when used on the right side of the simulated brain fluids. Using a cellular-equipped iPad, the reduced SAR as measured by Bodywell testers was 34.8 percent.
The Federal Communications Commission has a maximum allowable SAR rate for phones approved in the U.S. -- 1.6 watts per kilogram -- and many phones come with a warning specifying how far from your face to hold them. But the FCC has not said that cell phones are dangerous.
"Any cell phone at or below these SAR levels (that is, any phone legally sold in the U.S.) is a "safe" phone, as measured by these standards," says the agency on its Web site.
Nachaat Mazeh of Beaumount Health System in Michigan, one of the Bodywell researchers, told us the chip does not absorb the radiation to keep it from humans but sends out its own frequency to counteract the possibly harmful waves.
"It enhances the simulated brain cells to reject some of the energy instead of absorbing," he said. Mazeh has a Ph.D in biomedical physics.
Formula from Widow of Austrian Scientist
EZ Technologies bought the formula from the widow of an Austrian scientist, the late Walter Zapf, who created chips to protect people from what he called "electromagnetic scattered radiation."
Bodywell said that because a patent was pending, the company would not go into specific detail on how the Bodywell Chip worked. But Mazeh said that even without its own power source, the chip, which sticks to a phone via adhesive, would not become outdated by increasingly complex phones and would not expire.
"We have done tests on chips that were 5 years old that still show reduction [in the SAR]," he said.
EZ Technologies' warranty, however, does not guarantee any reduction in SAR and is void if the chip is removed from the original device it is applied to. The warranty only covers "defects in materials or workmanship" found in the device. The Bodywell Chip and EZ Technologies Web sites both cite Swiss ownership, however no address or phone number for the company appears on either site, nor could one be found in Internet searches. Einhorn said he resides in Miami.
Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor James Lin of the University of Illinois at Chicago, who has written extensively on cell phone radiation, told us in a phone interview he was "intrigued" by the research on the SAR rate but was skeptical that the Bodywell Chip could perform as described in its promotional literature.
"It's too simplistic, he said. "From a technical perspective, from what I can read, it is not realistic."
After reviewing Bodywell's test data we provided to him, Lin told us in an e-mail that "I agree the reports showed some SAR reduction for the four devices, as measured [by Bodywell]. However, it is not obvious where the reduction originates. Was there any change in the quality of the signal, for example, used to enable phone conversation? If yes, the Bodywell Chip could be interfering with the wireless signal used for communication."
At the press conference, Einhorn, an Israeli native with a bachelor's degree in business administration from Tel Aviv University, said: "This topic has boggled the minds of some of the most impressive scientists out there. We are determined to establish our facts."
He likened cell phones to sugar substitutes and cigarettes, which for years were aggressively marketed as safe despite health concerns.
Panelist Moshe Einat, a Ph.D lecturer in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the University of Ariel, located on the Israel-controlled West Bank, said "the riddle is still on" about whether cell radiation interferes with "orders and commands from the head to body which goes by currents. They are very small currents and there are claims that such currents may interfere with these very delicate natural body currents."
But he said scientific due diligence demands the assumption that there is harm.
"It is much easier to say yes than no," he said. "There is clearly no immediate effect, but the long-term effects are unknown."
Jeff Kagan, a consultant and commentator on the wireless industry, said it was clear that this issue has been closely watched by manufacturers and carriers, "but there are two issues. One is safefy and two is market share.
"Every company is interested in both. After all, every executive in every company also uses these wireless devices. They would not use them if they believed that they are harmful. With that said, they also want to keep fear from boiling over. Fear can kill industries and companies, even wrong fear."
Kagan noted that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned the sugar substitute cyclamate in 1969, but later research showed cancer fears were unfounded and it is permitted in more than 100 countries, including in Canada, Australia and across Europe.
"These kind of ideas with chips that absorb radiation play into that fear, whether they work or not," Kagan said.