Cell Phone Antennas & Health FAQs

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John Moulder

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Jun 18, 2003, 11:02:40 AM6/18/03
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Archive-name: medicine/cell-phone-antennas-health-faq
Posting-Frequency: monthly
Last-modified: 7 June 2003
Version: 4.9.3
URL: http://www.mcw.edu/gcrc/cop/cell-phone-health-faq/toc.html
Copyright: (c) 1996-2003 John E. Moulder & The Medical College of
Wisconsin
Author: John E. Moulder <jmou...@mcw.edu>

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Mobile Phone Base Station
Antennas and Human Health
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** Summary

This FAQ addresses the issue of whether mobile phone (cellular phone)
base station antennas (towers, masts) are a risk to human health.
Issues surrounding the phones themselves are addressed indirectly, and
some aspects of the FAQ are also relevant to other types of broadcast
antennas. While discussion of general issues are international, some
of the technical and regulatory aspects of the FAQ are USA-specific.

Mobile phone base stations are low-power multi-channel two-way radios.
A mobile phone (cell phone) is a low-power, single-channel, two-way
radio. When you talk on a mobile phone, you (and perhaps dozens of other
people around you) are talking to a nearby base station. From that base
station your phone call goes into the regular land-line phone system.

Because mobile phones and their base stations are two-way radios, they
produce radio-frequency (RF) radiation (that's how they communicate),
and they expose people near them RF radiation. However, because both
the phones and the base stations are low power(short range), the RF
radiation exposure levels from them are generally very low.

The consensus of the scientific community, both in the US and
internationally, is that the power from these mobile phone base station
antennas is far too low to produce health hazards as long as people are
kept away from direct access to the antennas (see Q13 and Q14).

It is critical to be aware of the difference between antennas (the
objects that produce RF radiation), and the towers or masts or
structures that the antennas are placed on. It is the antennas that
people need to keep there distance from, not the structures that hold
the antennas.

There might be some reasons to be concerned about human health effects
from the hand-held mobile phones themselves (although it is not known
that any risks to human health actually exist). These concerns exist
because the antennas of hand-held phones deliver much of their RF energy
to very small volumes of the user's body. Base station antennas do not
create such localized exposures (unless you are standing directly in
front
of one), so the potential safety issues concerning the hand-held phones
have no real applicability to the base station antennas.

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The full version of this FAQ is now available on the web at:
http://www.mcw.edu/gcrc/cop/cell-phone-health-faq/toc.html

***NOTE THAT "faq" is lower-case. UPPER-CASE MAY OR MAY NOT WORK

This posted version contains only the table of contents and a list of
recent revisions.
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El documento "Preguntas y respuestas sobre antenas de telefonía móvil y
salud humana" está disponible en español:
http://www.mcw.edu/gcrc/cop/telefonos-moviles-salud/toc.html
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Queste FAQ riguardanti "le antenne per telefonia mobile e i loro effetti
sulla salute" sono disponibili in italiano all'indirizzo:
http://space.tin.it/clubnet/albpales/Telefonia_mobile/toc-it.htm"
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This document is available in Chinese at:
http://www.ym.edu.tw/rad/cbase/
This document is available in Japanese at:
http://www.iftech.or.jp/cellular/health.html
---------------------------------------------------------------------
There are two related FAQs:
Powerlines & Cancer FAQs:
http://www.mcw.edu/gcrc/cop/powerlines-cancer-faq/toc.html
Static Electromagnetic Fields and Cancer FAQs
http://www.mcw.edu/gcrc/cop/static-fields-cancer-faq/toc.html

***NOTE THAT "faq" is lower case. UPPER CASE MAY OR MAY NOT WORK

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What's New?

v4.9, May/June 2003
- A new Australian RF radiation standard [230] and a companion
Q and A document are discussed in International Note 12.
- A survey of RF radiation levels around GSM base stations in
Australia [231].
- Rats exposed to mobile phone RF radiation showed behavioral
changes, but only if the exposure was intense enough to raise
body temperature [229].
- Further studies on the claim that low level exposure to mobile
phone RF radiation caused physiological effects in humans [228].
- Scientists reported [226] that they could not replicate their
own earlier finding [117] of RF radiation effects on human
reaction time.
- A fourth letter to the editor, and author's response [216B],
concerning the '02 Utteridge et al report [197] that the '97 mouse
lymphoma study of Repacholi could not be replicated.
- Exposure of human white blood cells to 1900 MHz RF radiation did
not produce genotoxic injury [227].

v4.8, Jan-Apr 2003:
- A report on mobile phone base station RF radiation safety from the
U.S. NCRP [225].
- A computational method for evaluating RF radiation levels around
base station antennas [224].
- Rats exposed to 1600 MHz RF radiation for lifetime showed no evidence
of genotoxic injury [223].
- Clarified wording in Q12, Q13 and Q14C.
- A Swedish study on mobile phone use and brain cancer is published
for a third [221] and fourth time [222].
- Exposure of rats to RF radiation was reported to cause blood-
brain barrier leakage and nerve damage [219].
- Eight days of exposure of rats to RF radiation was reported to cause
genotoxic injury, but shorter or longer exposures did not [218].
- Exposure of human white blood cells to thermal levels of RF
radiation was reported to cause genotoxic injury [217].
- Three letters to the editor, and authors' response, concerning the
2002 Utteridge et al report that the 1997 mouse lymphoma study of
Repacholi could not be replicated [216A].
- A review of biophysical limits for nonthermal effects of RF
radiation [215].
- A review of the reports of effects of mobile phones on brain
function and behavior [214] concluded that: "Most of the reported
effects are small as long as the radiation intensity remains in the
nonthermal range."
- Mobile phone use was associated with a drop in melatonin excretion
[213].
- A report from the New Zealand Ministry for the Environment on
"Managing the effects of radiofrequency transmitters" [212].

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** Contents

1. What are mobile phone base stations; and are there health hazards
associated with living, working, playing, or going to school near
one?
2. Are scientists seriously concerned about possible health risks from
mobile phone base station antennas?
3. Do the differences between cell phones, PCS phones, and other types
of portable (mobile) phones matter when evaluating the potential
impacts of base station antennas on human health?
4. Do the differences between mobile phone base station antennas and
other types of radio and TV broadcast antennas matter when
evaluating their potential impacts on human health?
5. Do mobile phone base station antennas produce radiation?
6. Is the non-ionizing radiation (radio-frequency radiations) from
mobile phone base station antennas similar to ionizing radiations
such as X-rays?
7. Is the radio-frequency radiation from mobile phone base station
antennas similar to the "EMF" produced by power lines?
8. Are there safety guidelines for mobile phone base station antennas?
9. Is there a scientific basis for these radiofrequency radiation safety
guidelines?
10. Are all the safety guidelines the same?
11. Does the U. S. have safety guidelines for mobile phone base
stations?
12. Can mobile phone base station antennas meet the safety guidelines?
13. Are there circumstances where mobile phone base station antennas
could fail to meet the safety guidelines?
14. What siting criteria are required to ensure that a mobile phone base
station antenna will meet safety guidelines?
A. What are some general siting criteria?
B. What are the difference between a high-gain antenna and a
low-gain antenna?
C. What do the phrases "antenna gain", "transmitter power" and
"effective radiated power (ERP)" mean?
D. What is the difference between the RF patterns for high-gain and
low- gain antennas?
E. Is it safe to live on the top floor of a building that has a
mobile phone base station antenna on it?
F. Are use restrictions or "set-backs" required around mobile phone
base station antenna sites and what is the "minimum safe
distance"?
G. What precautions need to be taken when working around mobile
phone base station antennas?
H. How do you assess compliance with radio-frequency radiation
guidelines for mobile phone base stations?
15. Does everyone agree with the current RF safety guidelines?
A. Does the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency think that the
current safety guidelines for mobile (cellular) phones are
adequate?
B. Has an Australian group claimed that there is evidence that
living near TV broadcast towers causes an increase in childhood
leukemia?
C. Has an Israeli epidemiologist claimed that there is evidence
that low- level RF exposure causes a variety of health effects?
D. Has a British group reported excess leukemia and lymphoma around
a high-power FM/TV broadcast antenna?
E. Has a University of Washington (Seattle, U.S.A) researcher
claimed that there is evidence that RF exposure from base
stations is hazardous?
F. What about the claims on British, American and French TV that
there is new data suggesting that cell phones might cause
cancer?
G. What have various expert scientific panels (UK, US, Canada,
Netherlands, France) said about the safety of mobile phone base
stations?
H. Did microwave irradiation of the US Embassy in Moscow cause
cancer or other injuries to people working there?
16. Are there epidemiological studies showing that RF radiation exposure
from mobile phone base stations is safe?
17. Could modulated RF radiation produce different effects than the
continuous-wave (CW) RF radiation used in many laboratory studies?
18. Are there groups (such as children or the elderly) that are more
sensitive to the effects of RF radiations?
19. Will mobile phone base station antennas affect heart pacemakers,
cause headaches, etc?
A. Will mobile phone base station antennas affect medical devices
such as cardiac pacemakers?
B. Do cell phones or cell phone base stations cause headaches?
C. Does radio-frequency radiation from cell phones or cell phone
base stations cause physiological or behavioral changes?
20. Can radio-frequency radiation produce biological effects?
21. Is there any replicated evidence that RF radiation can cause
cancer?
22. Is there any evidence that RF radiation can cause miscarriages or
birth defects?
23. What do the most recent scientific laboratory studies of RF
radiation and cancer show?
A. What about the report that exposure of mice to cell phone
radiation causes lymphoma?
B. Has anyone else exposed rodents to cell phone radiation to see
if they got cancer?
C. What about the report that exposure of mice to cell phone
radiation causes damage to the DNA in their brain cells?
24. Where can I get more information?
25. Who wrote these Questions and Answers?

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