With the growing popularity of hand-held cellular phones (or cell phones), questions have been raised about the safety of being exposed to the radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic energy they emit. Some members of the public have also expressed concern about the possible health effects caused by living near cellular base stations, which are often called cell phone towers.
Cell phones are portable devices that transmit and receive radio signals from a network of fixed, low-power, base stations. The base stations are usually located on rooftops, towers and utility poles. The transmitting power of a cell phone varies, depending on the type of network and its distance from the base station. The power generally increases the further you move away from the nearest base station.
The number of cell phone users in Canada rose from 100,000 in 1987 to more than 21 million by the end of 2008. To meet the demand for new wireless services, cellular base stations have been put up across the country. Along with the rapid increase in cell phone use, there have also been some alarming media reports and Web sites suggesting there may be a link between certain health problems and cell phone use and/or living near base stations. As a result, some members of the general public are concerned about potential health effects from long-term exposure to RF energy.
The RF electromagnetic energy given off by cell phones and base stations is a type of non-ionizing radiation. It is similar to the type of energy used in AM/FM radio and TV broadcast signals. Unlike ionizing radiation (as emitted by X-ray machines), RF energy from cell phones and other wireless devices cannot break chemical bonds. This means it is unlikely to damage your body’s genetic material.
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