What is SAR?

As part of its mission to check the exposure of the general public to electromagnetic waves, the ANFR carries out checks on the mobile phones available on the French market and makes sure the devices are compliant with regulations. It takes random samples of devices from points of sale. Those phones are then subjected to control measurements by accredited laboratories, thereby allowing the ANFR to make sure that the SAR levels are compliant with European regulations.

To better inform consumers, the ANFR publishes the measurement results as open data on the data.anfr.fr website.

What is SAR?

Part of the energy transported by electromagnetic waves is absorbed by the human body. To quantify this effect, the reference measurement is the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR), for all waves frequencies between 100 kHz and up to 10 GHz included. The SAR is expressed in Watts per kilogramme kilogram(W/kg).

What are the limit values for SAR?

Radio equipment, especially mobile phones, must not exceed the SAR limit values. These limits are defined by European recommendation 1999/519/EC. They are transposed into French regulations by the order of 8 October 2003 fixing the technical specifications applicable to radio-electric terminal equipment. 

These limits values have been scientifically defined by the International Commission for Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). In 1998, the ICNIRP made a pronouncement considering current available scientific knowledge and only retained the proven effects of exposure to the waves, in particular tissue heating. Since then, ICNIRP  closely monitor scientific developments in this field and recently revised its recommendations in March 2020. The SAR limit values remain unchanged.

What are the effects of the different types of SAR?

For Europe, all testing laboratories that perform SAR measurement are following the same test procedures defined within European harmonised standards. There are three types of SAR measurement evaluate exposure to radio equipment used  close to human body.

the “head SAR” covers the use of the phone against the cheek and/or the ear, during voice calls. The NF EN 50360 standard describes a measurement method where the device is directly touching two reference phone positions, against the cheek and/or the ear, on for the left and  the right sides of the head. The limit value for the “head SAR” is 2 W/kg. Manufacturers must prove that they comply with this limit value.

the “trunk SAR” is used where the phone is carried near the body, for example in a jacket pocket or a bag. The NF EN 50566 standard requires to performe measurements on several sides of the device, at a distance which, up till April 2016, could be freely defined by manufacturers between 0 mm (phone in contact with the body) and 25 mm. This distance was restricted to a maximum of 5 mm considering the new uses of phones linked to head sets and data access. France has requested this value to be restricted to 0 mm. The trunk SAR limit value is 2 W/kg. Manufacturers must prove that they comply with this limit value.

the “limb SAR”, corresponds to the use of the phone against a limb, for example held in the hand, carried in an arm band or in trouser pockets. The NF EN 50566 standard also describes this requirement. The limit value for the “limb SAR” is 4 W/kg.