EMF Radiation from Cellphones and Wireless Routers

EMF Radiation Cellphones, Wireless Routers

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Electromagnetic fields radiation (EMF) has been a hot topic for several years – especially since the growth in popularity of EMF emitting devices such as cell phones and wireless routers. So should we be concerned about EMF radiation from cell phones and wireless routers? We discuss the risks and precautions you can take in today’s guide.

Dangers of EMF Radiation
The dangers of electromagnetic radiation have been increasingly researched in recent years. There is no denying that numerous electronic devices that we use on a daily basis such as cell phones and wireless routers emit radiation – but what dangers does this pose?
There is highly contradicting evidence related to the dangers of EMF radiation. Some researchers claim that high levels of exposure to EMF radiation can increase your risk of leukemia, brain tumors, heart problems, cancer, chronic fatigue and more. Whereas others believe the threat is much less serious. One thing most researchers agree on however is that there is definite reason for concern.

It will take many more years until the true long-term effects of EMF radiation exposure are revealed.

EMF Radiation from Cell Phones and Wireless Routers
Cell phones and wireless routers are shown to release EMF radiation – and cell phones in particular are considered to be quite dangerous as we hold them so close to our body.

It has been found that just a two-minute phone call can alter the natural electrical activity of the brain for up to two hours after the call. Other side effects that have been linked to over-exposure to EMF radiation from your cell phone include: headaches, brain tumors, cancer and high blood pressure.

There have been studies that show that wireless routers can have an adverse affect on users due to EMF exposure. Even if we are not using a wireless network we are increasingly being surrounded by wireless hotspots in cafes, libraries and internet cafes – without even realizing. However, wireless routers release 10 times less EMF radiation than cell phones, so the dangers are much less significant.
Protection from EMF Radiation from Cell Phones
As no one is entirely sure what the dangers of EMF radiation from cell phones are – it is important that we take measures to protect ourselves.
There are several products on the market that can provide protection against EMF radiation as well as methods you can employ to protect yourself.

When using your cell phone you should try to keep call lengths to a minimum – use a land line for long calls. If you do need to make a long call while away from a land line, use a headset that keeps your phone as far away from your brain as possible. The best headsets to use are air tube headsets rather than standard wired headsets as they have been found to intensify radiation into the ear canal.

Avoid putting your cell phone into your pocket while it is switched on – always put it in a bag or away from your body. This is because your lower body absorbs radiation much more easily than other parts of your body. One study has shown that the sperm count in men who wear their mobile phone on their belt or in their pocket drops by 30 percent.
One of the best ways to protect yourself against EMF radiation from your cell phone is to purchase a scientifically validated EMF protection device. These absorb EMF radiation not only from your own cell phone but from others that are close by.

Protection from EMF Radiation from Wireless Routers
If you use a wireless router either in your own home or at work, there are ways that you can limit your exposure to EMF radiation.
There are several products on the market that limit EMF radiation from wireless routers. One of the most popular and reliable simply plugs into the USB port of your wireless router and transforms the dangerous EMF radiation waves into a field that grounds you into the Earth’s electromagnetic field. You can also plug the device directly into your laptop to protect you from EMF radiation that is up to five feet around you.

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How Dangerous Really is Cellphone Radiation

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The human body is exposed to various types of radiation which may be harmful or not to our body. In physics radiation is defined as an energy that is transmitted in the form of rays, waves or particles. We call the radiation emitted by cellphones, electromagnetic radiation. Studies show that while receiving or making calls our body is exposed to radiation.

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Many of us have been warned at one time or another that we should never leave a mobile phone is compartment especially when the vehicle is expose to direct sunlight for a long period of time. Another one from user guide, do not switch the device on when wireless phone use is prohibited or when it may cause danger. Furthermore, switching the device off in aircraft, fuel, chemicals, blasting area and near medical equipment is a must.

According to a research, one incident that happen in Saudi Arabia pertaining to mobile phone. It was reported that mobile phone units were left inside the car compartment of a vehicle parked in an open area of midday. One of the phones had a power “on” and after an hour in the hot park, one of the mobile phones exploded. The extremely hot temperatures in the closed unventilated vehicle cabin triggered the explosion caused the overheated battery triggered the explosion.

According to a study those who down play the risk of cellphone radiation to the brain should be acquainted with this experiment with an egg! In the experiment, researchers place one egg in a porcelain cup and put one cellphone on one side and another cellphone on the other. The researchers then called from one cellphone to another and kept the cellphones on after connecting. During the first fifteen minutes, nothing changed, after twenty minutes, the egg shell started to become hot and at forty minutes , the surface of the egg had become solid although the egg yolk was still in liquid form. The whole egg was cook after forty-five minutes.

The risk of developing a parotid gland tumor was higher in people who generally used their cellphones on the same ear most of the time. In another Israel study conducted on four-hundred two adults with benign parotid gland tumors and fifty others who had malignant tumors of the paratoid glands- it was found out that people who spent more than twenty two hours a month on their celphones were fifty percent more likely to develop cancer of the parotid gland than those who used the phones less often.

Furthermore, there a more studies coming out nowadays documenting the harmful effects of the excessive use of cellphones.
Regulate your use of cellphones for healthy living!

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Perennial Bill Would Require Health Warnings On Cell Phones

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AUGUSTA, Maine — A year after Maine lawmakers rejected a bill requiring warnings about mobile phone use, a legislative committee will hold a hearing on a new version of a cell phone safety bill.

Rep. Andrea Boland’s bill would require warnings on cell phones, and notices posted by cell phone retailers telling users of potential health hazards and how to use cell phones more safely. Retailers would not have to pay for the warnings.

“It is to sharpen people up, to alert them that they need to take precautions” in using cell phones, said Boland, D-Sanford, adding that she wants to give users a heads-up on how to use cell phones safely. The Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology will hold a hearing on Boland’s bill Wednesday afternoon.

A year ago, a similar measure was rejected. Supporters tried to keep it alive by weakening it so it only directed Maine’s health website to include links to existing federal cell phone advisories and encouraged more research on the issue. Boland wants to warn people to avoid long-term use, especially by children, and to avoid cell phones’ contact with the head and proximity to reproductive organs. Pregnant woman also would be warned to avoid using cell phones.

Last year’s bill was opposed by the mobile phone industry, which cited studies by impartial health organizations in saying wireless devices post no health hazards. Maine’s previous administration also saw no need for the warnings, saying there was no corresponding increase in cancers caused by the devices despite their widespread use.

It was not immediately clear whether Gov. Paul LePage would support Boland’s new bill.

The issue has come up elsewhere, notably San Francisco, whose supervisors last year voted in favor of an ordinance requiring cell phone retailers to disclose the phones’ specific absorption rate.

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Is Anxiety Over Cell Phone Towers Justified?

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By Jane Collingwood
From the beginning of mobile communications, concerns have been voiced over human exposure to electric and magnetic fields from the cell phone towers. Cancer and other health hazards have been suggested as possible risks, with children thought to be in particular danger. But is this anxiety justified?
A 2006 review found that “the strength of the available epidemiological and laboratory evidence falls short of what is normally required to establish a causal link.” But because of the remaining uncertainty, a cautious approach is often advocated.

Although cell phones and transmission masts are often linked together, they represent separate issues. Cell phone handset use is usually voluntary and controllable, whereas exposure from a mast, or base station, is involuntary. In terms of radio frequency energy, the delivery from a handset is typically around a thousand times more than that from a base station, but in terms of “outrage factor” the latter is more prominent.

Dr. Andrew W. Wood of Swinburne University of Technology, Victoria, Australia, says the greater concern among the public over proximity of cell phone transmission masts is understandable.

“The apparent unrestrained proliferation of masts and antennas, in some cases with minimal public consultation, has led to suspicion and organized protest, particularly where these facilities have been sited, or have been planned to be sited, near schools, child care centers, and the like. Although exposure levels, when measured, are very low (up to a few thousandths of the permitted levels), the continuous and whole‐body nature of the exposure gives the concern some justification.

“However, it must be remembered that cell phone transmissions are only part of the spectrum of electromagnetic field transmissions, along with radio, TV, and other communications networks. Radio transmitting towers have been operating for almost a century and in some cases at much higher levels of public exposure.”

Dr. Wood says there is ongoing debate regarding whether electromagnetic field exposure has sufficient evidence of harm to trigger a “precautionary principle.” Some countries have enacted policies on the location of masts, but the World Health Organization warns against “undermining the science base by incorporating arbitrary additional safety factors.” The scientific evidence of actual harm from phone towers is still not persuasive, Dr. Wood believes.

A very recent study found reassuring evidence that there is no link between cancer in young children and their mother’s exposure to cell phone masts during pregnancy.

Professor Paul Elliott of Imperial College, London, UK, and his team say this is the first study to look at phone masts in Britain as a whole. They looked at mother’s proximity to cell phone masts during pregnancy for 1,397 children who had cancer before the age of five years, compared with 5,588 similar children who did not. Types of childhood cancer included cancers of the brain and central nervous system, leukemia, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas.

Distance from a mast was no different between the groups, the researchers report on the website of the British Medical Journal. “Mean distance of registered address at birth from a macrocell base station, based on a national database of 76,890 base station antennas in 1996-2001, was similar for cases and controls,” they write.

Total power output of base stations within 700m of home address was also similar in the two groups. They conclude, “There is no association between risk of early childhood cancers and estimates of the mother’s exposure to cell phone base stations during pregnancy.”

Dr. John Bithell of the Childhood Cancer Research Group at the University of Oxford, UK, writes in an editorial that several studies have looked at the potential health effects of “ubiquitous” radiofrequency fields “with predominantly negative results.”
Despite levels of exposure from transmitters being much lower than those from cell phones, anxiety about an environmental risk persists. “Clinicians should reassure patients not to worry about proximity to cell phone masts,” Dr Bithell writes.

He adds that “the risks are dwarfed by the well-known dangers of distraction while using cell phones, especially when driving – even when using hands-free equipment. Clinicians should reassure patients not to worry about proximity to cell phone masts,” he urges.

The World Health Organization states that studies published over the past 15 years have not provided evidence that radiofrequency exposure from base stations increases the risk of cancer. “Likewise, long-term animal studies have not established an increased risk of cancer from exposure to radiofrequency fields, even at levels that are much higher than produced by base stations and wireless networks.”

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All told, more than 270 million people subscribed to cellular telephone service last year in the United States, an increase from 110 million in 2000, according to CTIA-The Wireless Association. The industry group contends the devices are safe.

“With respect to the matter of health effects associated with wireless base stations and the use of wireless devices, CTIA and the wireless industry have always been guided by science, and the views of impartial health organizations. The peer-reviewed scientific evidence has overwhelmingly indicated that wireless devices do not pose a public health risk,” said CTIA’s John Walls.

James Keller of Lewiston, whose cell phone serves as his only phone, seemed skeptical about warning labels. He said many things may cause cancer but lack scientific evidence to support that belief. Besides, he said, people can’t live without cell phones.

“It seems a little silly to me, but it’s not going to hurt anyone to have a warning on there. If they’re really concerned about it, go ahead and put a warning on it,” he said outside a sporting good store in Topsham. “It wouldn’t deter me from buying a phone.”

While there’s been no long-term studies on cell phones and cancer, some scientists suggest erring on the side of caution.

Last year, Dr. Ronald B. Herberman, director emeritus of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, sent a memo to about 3,000 faculty and staff members warning of risks based on early, unpublished data. He said that children should use the phones only for emergencies because their brains were still developing and that adults should keep the phone away from the head and use a speakerphone or a wireless headset.

Herberman, who says scientific conclusions often take too long, is one of numerous doctors and researchers who have endorsed an August report by retired electronics engineer L. Lloyd Morgan. The report highlights a study that found significantly increased risk of brain tumors from 10 or more years of cell phone or cordless phone use.

Also, the BioInitiative Working Group, an international group of scientists, notes that many countries have issued warnings and that the European Parliament has passed a resolution calling for governmental action to address concerns over health risks from mobile phone use.

But the National Cancer Institute said studies thus far have turned up mixed and inconsistent results, noting that cell phones did not come into widespread use in the United States until the 1990s.

“Although research has not consistently demonstrated a link between cellular telephone use and cancer, scientists still caution that further surveillance is needed before conclusions can be drawn,” according to the Cancer Institute’s Web site.

Motorola Inc., one of the nation’s major wireless phone makers, says on its Web site that all of its products comply with international safety guidelines for radiofrequency energy exposure.

A Motorola official referred questions to CTIA.

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Maine Weighs Cell Phone Cancer Warning Part 1

Maine Weighs Cell Phone Cancer Warning Part 1

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(AP) A Maine legislator wants to make the state the first to require cell phones to carry warnings that they can cause brain cancer, although there is no consensus among scientists that they do and industry leaders dispute the claim.

The now-ubiquitous devices carry such warnings in some countries, though no U.S. states require them, according to the National Conference of State Legislators. A similar effort is afoot in San Francisco, where Mayor Gavin Newsom wants his city to be the nation’s first to require the warnings.

Maine Rep. Andrea Boland, D-Sanford, said numerous studies point to the cancer risk, and she has persuaded legislative leaders to allow her proposal to come up for discussion during the 2010 session that begins in January, a session usually reserved for emergency and governors’ bills.

Boland herself uses a cell phone, but with a speaker to keep the phone away from her head. She also leaves the phone off unless she’s expecting a call. At issue is radiation emitted by all cell phones.

Under Boland’s bill, manufacturers would have to put labels on phones and packaging warning of the potential for brain cancer associated with electromagnetic radiation. The warnings would recommend that users, especially children and pregnant women, keep the devices away from their head and body.

The Federal Communications Commission, which maintains that all cell phones sold in the U.S. are safe, has set a standard for the “specific absorption rate” of radiofrequency energy, but it doesn’t require handset makers to divulge radiation levels.

The San Francisco proposal would require the display of the absorption rate level next to each phone in print at least as big as the price. Boland’s bill is not specific about absorption rate levels, but would require a permanent, nonremovable advisory of risk in black type, except for the word “warning,” which would be large and in red letters. It would also include a color graphic of a child’s brain next to the warning.

While there’s little agreement about the health hazards, Boland said Maine’s roughly 950,000 cell phone users among its 1.3 million residents “do not know what the risks are.”

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Church’s Plan For Cell Tower Stirs Protests

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Yellow signs are scattered throughout the streets surrounding the Trinitarian Congregational Church in North Andover, pleading for the parish to reconsider its plan to allow installation of cellular antennas in its steeple.

For many residents in the neighborhood near the church at 72 Elm St., cell towers are the last thing they want to worry about.
“There is too much contradicting information about how harmful this can be,” said Lauretta Wentworth, who lives on Pleasant Street, less than 100 yards from the church. “You have experts who say that it’s harmless to put cell towers in. And you have just as many experts who say that it is harmful. Though the jury is still out on this, we are the ones who will be exposed to it 24-seven.”

The church and MetroPCS Communications Inc. are applying for a special permit from the town to put six cellular antennas inside the church’s steeple. Another wireless company, T-Mobile, has also shown interest in installing antennas at the church. Residents voiced concerns at a hearing before the town’s Planning Board on Jan. 27. At the board’s next meeting on Feb. 24, a review of the application will begin.

“I don’t know if a decision will be made at the next meeting,” Judith M. Tymon, town planner, said in a recent interview. “There will be more information looked at from their application, more review will take place, and we will consider what the public said from the last meeting.”
Whatever the decision, Tymon said an appeal to the board may be made within 20 days. If the special permit is granted, the church must then apply for a building permit before the antennas could be installed.
Asked why it would allow the installation in the face of neighbors’ opposition, a church official said the antennas would benefit the community.

“The church’s membership is open to the addition of a stealth cell tower primarily because both MetroPCS and T-Mobile contacted us and indicated that our Elm Street location would fill a gap in wireless service,” David Deems, moderator for the church, said in an e-mail. “Given how many individuals and businesses including emergency services today use cellphones, smart phones, and mobile devices, we believed that considering a cell tower option in our steeple would benefit our community.”

But some residents say they worry about the potential for health risks from radio waves from the antennas. Another major concern, they say, is the impact the cellular equipment will have on property values.
Deems said an independent radio-frequency engineer was hired by the town to look into the safety issue, who found that any emissions from the installation would be well below Federal Communications Commission guidelines. He also said the engineer’s report concluded that the emissions would also be well below the emissions that exist in the neighborhood from other installed and operational sources.

Still, many remain opposed to the antennas; a large number of residents turned out for the Jan. 27 hearing to voice concerns, according to Wentworth, who says she has submitted a petition to the Planning Board signed by 193 people against the construction.
“It would be really unfair to do this,” she said of the installation. “According to the town’s own bylaws, there can be no cellular towers constructed within 600 feet of homes and schools.”

Wentworth is referring to a town bylaw stating that no cellular structure may be constructed within 600 feet of homes and schools – an ordinance against free-standing cellular towers, out of fear that the towers could fall. However, the bylaw also says that the 600-foot rule does not apply when a tower is constructed on an existing structure.
The church, meanwhile, says it has taken abuse as a result of its plans. Deems said some neighbors have obtained the church’s private mailing list of members and sent anonymous, harassing letters to members of its congregation.

“Through our ongoing discussions with other residents in the neighborhood, we’ve learned that these tactics are very familiar to the residents, and the majority tries their best to avoid association with the methods employed by the small outspoken group,” Deems said.
He said the church’s consideration to allow the antennas has been an exhaustive process that has taken much planning.

“We have taken very collaborative steps in considering this cell tower proposal. We’ve held open forums, discussions, and meetings, and our pastor has spoken with many neighbors in person,” said Deems. “No decision has yet been made, but when we do make a decision, it will be a decision made after a significant amount of research, time, effort, thought, and prayer.”

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RF Exposure: SAR Standards and Test Methods Part 1

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Alex Miller

New developments in SAR test methods are bringing stricter limits and requirements, but more-accurate results.

Concern about human exposure to radio frequencies (RF) is not new. Ensuring the safety of RF devices is the primary motivation for new standards and test methods. The concept of specific absorption rate (SAR) has been around for many years, but recent developments have improved test methods. This article provides an overview of the current limits and test methods for SAR. Standards, specifications, and requirements are also discussed.

Health Effects
The heating effect from RF devices causes the most concern from an RF safety point of view. The human body counters local heating by thermoregulation (blood flow through the affected organs). The eyes and male testes are particularly susceptible to RF heating because these organs have no direct blood supply and, hence, no way of dissipating heat. The heating effects in biological tissue escalate with the increase in frequency, although the heat’s penetration depth decreases.
With the proliferation of cellular phones, most RF safety concerns have focused on RF absorption by the head, particularly from mobile handsets. The dose of RF exposure is linked to exposure time: maximum SAR is normally averaged over a 6-minute period during the 24-hour day.

Some concerns have focused on other effects of RF exposure. Most communications systems are pulse-like in nature, and their effects on brain function have been discussed recently. For example, the global system for mobile communications (GSM) frame rate, at 8.33 Hz, is close to that characteristic of alpha waves in the brain. Although there is no conclusive proof of such effects, considerable research is currently examining the effects of RF. Much of the research in this area was sparked by a report published by the Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones, chaired by Sir William Stewart. The report, released in April 2000, is also known as the Stewart Report.

In the UK, nearly £7.4 million ($11.7 million) has been allocated from both government and industry sources to research the effects of RF. The LINK Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research (MTHR) Programme will be funded over a three-year period. The Programme Management Committee (PMC) was set up to advise on this research program. To date, PMC has published two calls for research proposals, and the first group of the projects is now under way. PMC has decided to issue a third call for research proposals. Much of this program’s research addresses the biological effects of RF on the human body. Currently, widely reproducible studies of RF effects on biological cells are not available.

The SAR Index
SAR is an index that quantifies the rate of energy absorption in biological tissue. SAR is expressed in watts per kilogram (W/kg¬1) of biological tissue. SAR is generally quoted as a figure averaged over a volume corresponding to either 1 g or 10 g of body tissue. The SAR of a wireless product can be measured in two ways. It can be measured directly using body phantoms, robot arms, and associated test equipment, or it can be mathematically modeled. Mathematical modeling of a product for SAR can be costly, and it can take as long as several months. Using conventional SAR test methods, a dual-band GSM 900 and GSM 1800 handset takes about one day to test to current standards.

SAR Limits
Several organizations have set exposure limits for acceptable RF safety via SAR levels. The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) was launched as an independent commission in May 1992. This group publishes guidelines and recommendations related to human RF exposure.

For the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the RF safety sections now operate as part of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE). IEEE recently wrote one of the most important publications for SAR test methods.1
In the UK, the National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) sets SAR limits. SAR limits are expressed for two different classes of people: workers (occupational/controlled exposure) and the general population (uncontrolled exposure). Because the general-population exposure is considered to be uncontrolled, the limit for this group is five times more stringent than the limit for the workers, whose environment and exposure can be monitored and controlled.

The limits are defined for exposure of the whole body, partial body (e.g., head and trunk), and hands, feet, wrists, and ankles. SAR limits are based on whole-body exposure levels of 0.4 W/kg¬1 for workers and 0.08 W/kg¬1 for the general population. Limits are less stringent for exposure to hands, wrists, feet, and ankles. There are also considerable problems with the practicalities of measuring SAR in such body areas, because they are not normally modeled. In practice, measurements are made against a flat phantom, providing a conservative result.

Most SAR testing concerns exposure to the head. For Europe, the current limit is 2 W/kg¬1 for 10-g volume-averaged SAR. For the United States and a number of other countries, the limit is 1.6 W/kg¬1 for 1-g volume-averaged SAR. The lower U.S. limit is more stringent because it is volume-averaged over a smaller amount of tissue. Australia, Canada, and New Zealand have adopted the more-stringent U.S. limits of 1.6 W/kg¬1 for 1-g volume-averaged SAR. Japan and Korea have adopted 2 W/kg¬1 for 10-g volume-averaged SAR, as used in Europe.

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(Includes RF from broadcast antennas, portable radio systems, microwave antennas, satellite, and radar)

Kelly Classic, Certified Medical Physicist
Electromagnetic radiation consists of waves of electric and magnetic energy moving together (that is, radiating) through space at the speed of light. Taken together, all forms of electromagnetic energy are referred to as the electromagnetic spectrum. Radio waves and microwaves emitted by transmitting antennas are one form of electromagnetic energy. Often the term electromagnetic field or radiofrequency (RF) field may be used to indicate the presence of electromagnetic or RF energy.

An RF field has both an electric and a magnetic component (electric field and magnetic field), and it is often convenient to express the intensity of the RF environment at a given location in terms of units specific for each component. For example, the unit “volts per meter” (V/m) is used to measure the strength of the electric field and the unit “amperes per meter” (A/m) is used to express the strength of the magnetic field.

RF waves can be characterized by a wavelength and a frequency. The wavelength is the distance covered by one complete cycle of the electromagnetic wave, while the frequency is the number of electromagnetic waves passing a given point in one second. The frequency of an RF signal is usually expressed in terms of a unit called the hertz (Hz). One Hz equals one cycle per second. One megahertz (MHz) equals one million cycles per second. Different forms of electromagnetic energy are categorized by their wavelengths and frequencies. The RF part of the electromagnetic spectrum is generally defined as that part of the spectrum where electromagnetic waves have frequencies in the range of about 3 kilohertz (3 kHz) to 300 gigahertz (300 GHz).

Probably the most important use for RF energy is in providing telecommunications services. Radio and television broadcasting, cellular telephones, radio communications for police and fire departments, amateur radio, microwave point-to-point links, and satellite communications are just a few of the many telecommunications applications. Microwave ovens are a good example of a noncommunication use of RF energy. Other important noncommunication uses of RF energy are radar and for industrial heating and sealing. Radar is a valuable tool used in many applications from traffic enforcement to air traffic control and military applications. Industrial heaters and sealers generate RF radiation that rapidly heats the material being processed in the same way that a microwave oven cooks food. These devices have many uses in industry, including molding plastic materials, gluing wood products, sealing items such as shoes and pocketbooks, and processing food products.

The quantity used to measure how much RF energy is actually absorbed in a body is called the specific absorption rate (SAR). It is usually expressed in units of watts per kilogram (W/kg) or milliwatts per gram (mW/g). In the case of whole-body exposure, a standing human adult can absorb RF energy at a maximum rate when the frequency of the RF radiation is in the range of about 80 and 100 MHz, meaning that the whole-body SAR is at a maximum under these conditions (resonance). Because of this resonance phenomenon, RF safety standards are generally most restrictive for these frequencies.
Biological effects that result from heating of tissue by RF energy are often referred to as “thermal” effects. It has been known for many years that exposure to very high levels of RF radiation can be harmful due to the ability of RF energy to rapidly heat biological tissue. This is the principle by which microwave ovens cook food.

Tissue damage in humans could occur during exposure to high RF levels because of the body’s inability to cope with or dissipate the excessive heat that could be generated. Two areas of the body, the eyes and the testes, are particularly vulnerable to RF heating because of the relative lack of available blood flow to dissipate the excessive heat load. At relatively low levels of exposure to RF radiation, that is, levels lower than those that would produce significant heating, the evidence for harmful biological effects is ambiguous and unproven. Such effects have sometimes been referred to as “nonthermal” effects. It is generally agreed that further research is needed to determine the effects and their possible relevance, if any, to human health.

In general, however, studies have shown that environmental levels of RF energy routinely encountered by the general public are typically far below levels necessary to produce significant heating and increased body temperature. However, there may be situations, particularly workplace environments near high-powered RF sources, where recommended limits for safe exposure of human beings to RF energy could be exceeded. In such cases, restrictive measures or actions may be necessary to ensure the safe use of RF energy.

Some studies have also examined the possibility of a link between RF and microwave exposure and cancer. Results to date have been inconclusive. While some experimental data have suggested a possible link between exposure and tumor formation in animals exposed under certain specific conditions, the results have not been independently replicated. In fact, other studies have failed to find evidence for a causal link to cancer or any related condition. Further research is underway in several laboratories to help resolve this question.

In 1996, the World Health Organization (WHO) established a program called the International EMF Project that is designed to review the scientific literature concerning biological effects of electromagnetic fields, identify gaps in knowledge about such effects, recommend research needs, and work towards international resolution of health concerns over the use of RF technology. The WHO maintains a Web site that provides extensive information on this project and about RF biological effects and research.

Various organizations and countries have developed exposure standards for RF energy. These standards recommend safe levels of exposure for both the general public and for workers. In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has adopted and used recognized safety guidelines for evaluating RF environmental exposure since 1985. Federal health and safety agencies-such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)-have also been involved in monitoring and investigating issues related to RF exposure.

The FCC guidelines for human exposure to RF fields were derived from the recommendations of two expert organizations, the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Expert scientists and engineers developed both the NCRP exposure criteria and the IEEE standard after extensive reviews of the scientific literature related to RF biological effects. The exposure guidelines are based on thresholds for known adverse effects, and they incorporate appropriate margins of safety. Many countries in Europe and elsewhere use exposure guidelines developed by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). The ICNIRP safety limits are generally similar to those of the NCRP and IEEE, with a few exceptions.

The NCRP, IEEE, and ICNIRP exposure guidelines state the threshold level at which harmful biological effects may occur, and the values for maximum permissible exposure (MPE) recommended for electric and magnetic field strength and power density in both documents are based on this threshold level. The threshold level is a SAR value for the whole body of 4 watts per kilogram (4 W/kg). The most restrictive limits on whole-body exposure are in the frequency range of 30-300 MHz where the RF energy is absorbed most efficiently when the whole body is exposed. For devices that only expose part of the body, such as mobile phones, different exposure limits are specified.

Major RF transmitting facilities under the jurisdiction of the FCC-such as radio and television broadcast stations, satellite-earth stations, experimental radio stations, and certain cellular, PCS, and paging facilities-are required to undergo routine evaluation for RF compliance whenever an application is submitted to the FCC for construction or modification of a transmitting facility or renewal of a license. Failure to comply with the FCC’s RF exposure guidelines could lead to the preparation of a formal Environmental Assessment, possible Environmental Impact Statement, and eventual rejection of an application.

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Devices generating electromagnetic fields in the radio frequency (RF) range (from 100 kHz to 300 GHz) are in widespread use in our society. Key sources of RF fields include mobile phones, cordless phones, local wireless networks and radio transmission towers. They are also used by medical scanners, radar systems and microwave ovens.

Information about the strength of radio frequency fields generated by a given source is readily available and useful in determining compliance with safety limits. But little is known about the exposure of individuals to radio frequency fields, data that are crucial for studies of health effects. Knowledge could be increased through better use of methods such as exposimeters, devices carried by individuals to measure their exposure to electromagnetic energy over time. It is furthermore important to consider multi-source exposure and not to focus on single sources, e.g. mobile phone base stations.

The fact that there is a continuous change of technologies, e.g. from analogue to digital TV, and an emergence of new technologies like ultra-wide band (UWB) on the market, leads to changing exposure patterns of the population on a long term scale.

Sources of radio waves operate in different frequency bands, and the strength of the electromagnetic field falls rapidly with distance. Over time, a person may absorb more RF energy from a device that emits radio signals near the body than from a powerful source that is farther away. Mobile phones, cordless phones, local wireless networks and anti-theft devices are all sources used in close quarters. Long-range sources include radio transmission towers and mobile phone base stations.

More than 2.5 billion people use mobile phones worldwide. Most mobile communication in Europe uses either GSM or UMTS technology. The European Union has set safety limits on the energy absorbed by the body from exposure to a mobile phone. Mobile phones sold in Europe must undergo standardised tests to demonstrate compliance in accordance with the specifications of the European Committee for Electrical Standardization (CENELEC).

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