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Question #: 259

Question: I'M SEARCHING FOR INFORMATION ABOUT THE HEALTH RISKS OF CELLULAR ANTENNAS' RADIATION. I NEED SCIENTIFIC (SCIENTIFIC PAPERS IN JOURNALS) THIS.

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Cellular telephone base stations are low-powered radiofrequency (RF) transmitters which operate at around 850-900 or 1800-1900 MHz (depending on the technology and region of the world). RF energy in a similar frequency range is used by many other technologies such as microwave ovens, UHF television, other communications systems, and radar. Health and safety issues related to RF energy have been studied for many years and there is an immense literature on the subject. Here are some sources that review health and safety issues related to RF energy from cellular base stations.

A fact sheet published by the World Health Organization. There is also a Spanish version available on the WHO EMF website.
Also see the IEEE EMBS Committee on Man and Radiation Report. Other reports are available through its website.
The International Commission on Nonionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) has published a lot on health and safety of RF energy. See its website. The ICNIRP published an article that describes the ICNIRP exposure limits for RF energy and their scientific rationale. See "Guidelines for Limiting Exposure to Time-Varying Electric, Magnetic, and Electromagnetic Fields (up to 300 GHz)," Health Physics Vol. 74, No 4, pp 494-522, 1998.
A very detailed assessment of the scientific evidence related to health and safety of mobile telephones and base stations is in the recent (May 2000) report by the Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones (IEGMP) titled "Mobile Phones and Health" This study concludes "the balance of evidence to date suggests that exposures to RF radiation at levels below [international exposure guidelines] do not cause adverse health effects to the general population" but that "there may be biological effects at exposures below those guidelines." Public exposure to RF energy from cellular base stations is invariably far below the ICNIRP exposure guidelines.

Kenneth R. Foster
Professor, Bioengineering
University of Pennsylvania

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