BBB National Programs Archive

NAD Determines Pong Research can Support Certain Claims for Cases That Redirect Cell-Phone Radiation

New York, NY – Dec. 3, 2012 – The National Advertising Division has determined that Pong Research Corporation can support certain claims for the company’s PONG cell phone cases, including claims that  “PONG’s micro-thin antennae module redirects cell-phone radiation away from your head.” NAD recommended, however, that the advertiser modify certain claims to avoid conveying a greater benefit than the product provides.
NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. It is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.
Pursuant to its ongoing monitoring program, NAD requested that Pong Research provide substantiation for claims made at the company’s website, in print advertising, and on YouTube.

NAD reviewed claims that included:

• “PONG protects you, your phone and your signal.”
• “PONG is the ONLY solution proven by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) certified laboratories to protect users from cell phone radiation while not compromising performance.”
• “The sleek and elegant design provides you with the only cool protective case for both your phone and you.”
• “PONG is proven to reduce SAR up to 95% below FCC limits.”
• “Protect your head and body from unnecessary radiation exposure.”
• “Reduce concerns about possible health risks.”
• “PONG’s micro-thin antennae module redirects cell-phone radiation away from your head.”
• “PONG may even enhance your phone’s signal strength.”

By way of background, cellular phones emit electromagnetic radiation (EMR) in two forms – nearfield intensity (NFI), and far field intensity (FFI). NFI radiation is intense radiation emitted less than one radio frequency wavelength from the source (typically the phone antenna) to the user. FFI radiation is emitted more than one RF wavelength away from the source.  In open space, NFI radiation will propagate to become FFI radiation – the form of energy required to transmit signals to and from a cellular tower. When a cell phone is held in close proximity to a user, however, much of the NFI radiation is absorbed by a user’s head and body instead of becoming FFI.

According to the advertiser, the findings of several recent studies have elevated concern about the potential health risks associated with the absorption of EMR. The World Health Organization has cautioned that “it is important to take pragmatic measures to reduce [radiation] exposure,” and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has limits for safe exposure to radio frequency (RF) energy. These limits are given in terms of a unit referred to as the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR), which is a measure of the amount of radio frequency energy absorbed by the body when using a mobile phone.  In addition, the advertiser noted that virtually all cell phones sold in the U.S. include warnings instructing users to hold the phone away from the head and body.

Following its review of the evidence, NAD determined that the advertiser established a reasonable basis for claims that PONG cases are “currently ‘the only solution proven’ by FCC certified laboratories to reduce” radio frequency electromagnetic radiation by redirecting EMR away from the user and diffusing it, “while increasing or maintaining signal strength.”

NAD found that most consumers will experience a greater than 95% below the FCC limit reduction in SAR during typical usage of devices covered by PONG cases and determined that the advertiser provided a reasonable basis for the claim that “PONG’s micro-thin antennae module redirects cell-phone radiation away from your head.”

In considering claims that incorporate the word “protect” and use of the phrase “unnecessary radiation exposure,” NAD determined that, taken together, such claims convey that message that the product “is in fact mitigating a recognized danger.”

NAD noted that because “adverse health effects from cell phone’s RF energy emissions have not been conclusively established by scientific evidence, and because all cell phones sold in the U.S. must be certified as below the FCC’s limits for safe exposure to RF energy, the advertiser has not provided reliable support for such a message.”

NAD recommended the advertiser discontinue or modify such claims to more accurately reflect the actual benefits of the product, such as a reduction in the amount of RF energy exposure.

Pong, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company believes that “scientific evidence sufficiently supports Pong’s ‘protect’ claims within the plain meaning of the word.”

However, the company said, it will take NAD findings into account in future advertising.