Specific absorption rate
Specific absorption rate (SAR) is a measure of the rate at which energy is absorbed by the human body when exposed to a radio frequency (RF) electromagnetic field; although, it can also refer to absorption of other forms of energy by tissue, including ultrasound. It is defined as the power absorbed per mass of tissue and has units of watts per kilogram (W/kg). SAR is usually averaged either over the whole body, or over a small sample volume (typically 1 g or 10 g of tissue). The value cited is then the maximum level measured in the body part studied over the stated volume or mass.
SAR for electromagnetic energy can be calculated from the electric field within the tissue as:
SAR measures exposure to fields between 100 kHz and 10 GHz (generally known as radio waves). It is commonly used to measure power absorbed from mobile phones and during MRI scans. The value will depend heavily on the geometry of the part of the body that is exposed to the RF energy, and on the exact location and geometry of the RF source. Thus tests must be made with each specific source, such as a mobile phone model, and at the intended position of use. For example, when measuring the SAR due to a mobile phone the phone is placed at the head in a talk position. The SAR value is then measured at the location that has the highest absorption rate in the entire head, which in the case of a mobile phone is often as close to the phone's antenna as possible. Various governments have defined safety limits for exposure to RF energy produced by mobile devices that mainly exposes the head or a limb for the RF energy:
- United States: the FCC requires that phones sold have a SAR level at or below 1.6 watts per kilogram (W/kg) taken over the volume containing a mass of 1 gram of tissue that is absorbing the most signal.
- European Union: CENELEC specify SAR limits within the EU, following IEC standards. For mobile phones, and other such hand-held devices, the SAR limit is 2 W/kg averaged over the 10 g of tissue absorbing the most signal (IEC 62209-1). For Magnetic Resonance Imaging the limits (described in IEC 60601-2-33) are slightly more complicated:
|Whole body SAR||Partial body SAR||Head SAR||Local SAR|
|Body Region||whole body||exposed body part||head||head||trunk||extremities|
|Operating Mode ↓||(W/kg)||(W/kg)||(W/kg)||(W/kg)||(W/kg)||(W/kg)|
|Normal||2||2 - 10 (b)||3.2||10 (c)||10||20|
|1st Level Controlled||4||4 - 10 (b)||3.2||10 (c)||10||20|
|2nd Level Controlled||>4||>(4 - 10) (b)||>3.2||>10 (c)||>10||>20|
|Short term SAR||The SAR limit over any 10 s period shall not exceed three times the stated values|
- Note: Averaging time of 6 minutes.
- India: switched from the EU limits to the US limits for mobile handsets in 2012. Unlike the US, India will not rely solely on SAR measurements paid for by manufacturers; random compliance tests are done by a government-run Telecom Engineering Centre (TEC) SAR Laboratory on handsets and 10% of towers. All handsets must have a hand free mode.
(a) Local SAR is determined over the mass of 10 g.
(b) The limit scales dynamically with the ratio "exposed patient mass / patient mass":
NORMAL OPERATING MODE: Partial body SAR = 10 W/kg – (8 W/kg * exposed patient mass / patient mass)
FIRST LEVEL CONTROLLED OPERATING MODE: Partial body SAR = 10 W/kg – (6 W/kg * exposed patient mass / patient mass)
(c) In cases where the orbit is in the field of a small local RF transmit coil, care should be taken to ensure that the temperature rise is limited to 1 °C.
In comparison to the short term, relatively intensive exposures described above, for long term environmental exposure of the general public there is a limit of 0.08 W/kg averaged over the whole body. A whole-body average SAR of 0.4 W/kg has therefore been chosen as the restriction that provides adequate protection for occupational exposure. An additional safety factor of 5 is introduced for exposure of the public, giving an average whole-body SAR limit of 0.08 W/kg.
- Hynynen (2013-08-12). "Focusing of therapeutic ultrasound through a human skull: a numerical study". J Acoust Soc Am 104 (3 Pt 1): 1705–15. Bibcode:1998ASAJ..104.1705S. doi:10.1121/1.424383. PMID 9745750. Retrieved 2013-12-12. More than one of
- Jianming Jin (1998). Electromagnetic Analysis and Design in Magnetic Resonance Imaging. CRC Press. pp. §5.3.3 pp. 226ff. ISBN 978-0-8493-9693-9.
- "ICNIRP Guidelines For Limiting Exposure To The Time-Varying Electric, Magnetic And Electromagnetic Fields (Up To 300 GHz)". International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection. 1998. Retrieved 2013-12-12.
- Radiation in Mobile Phones: An Analysis antenna-theory.com
- FCC: Cellular Telephone Specific Absorption Rate
- World Health Organization: Electromagnetic fields and public health
- Cell Phone Radiation Levels, CNET article and comprehensive listings
- An Update on SAR Standards and the Basic Requirements for SAR Assessment
- Motorola's SAR Website
- Nokia's SAR Website
- Samsung mobile's SAR website
- Sony Ericsson's SAR Website
- SAR of some mobile phones
- Karbonn Mobiles product page
- Karbonn A18
- Example of a detailed SAR report on the FCC web site (for an Apple iPod Touch 4G)