Radio Frequency (RF)
Radiation: 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. Radiofrequency
falls between 300 gigahertz (GHz) and 3 kilohertz (kHz). Within this
frequency range, there are:
Microwaves in the 300 GHz to 300 MHz frequency range. Sources of microwaves are
some mobile/cell phones, microwave ovens, cordless phones, motion detectors,
long-distance telecommunications, radar, and Wi-Fi. Microwaves can
cause damage through heating of body tissue.;
Radio Waves in the 300 MHz to 3 kHz frequency range. Naturally occurring radio waves are made by lightning or by astronomical
objects. Human produced radio waves are used for mobile/cell phones,
televisions, FM and AM radios, shortwave radios, CB radios, cordless phones, broadcasting, radar and
other navigation systems, satellite communication, computer networks and
While there is no federally developed national standard for safe levels of
exposure to radiofrequency (RF) energy, many federal agencies have addressed
this important issue.
The Federal Communications Commission
(FCC) is required by the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 to evaluate the effect of emissions from FCC-regulated
transmitters on the quality of the human environment. Several
organizations, such as the American National Standards Institute (ANSI),
the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE), and
the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP)
have issued recommendations for human exposure to RF electromagnetic
fields. On August 1, 1996, the Commission adopted the NCRP's
recommended Maximum Permissible Exposure limits for field strength and
power density for the transmitters operating at frequencies of 300 kHz
to 100 GHz. In addition, the Commission adopted the specific absorption
rate (SAR) limits for devices operating within close proximity to the
body as specified within the ANSI/IEEE C95.1-1992 guidelines. (See
Report and Order, FCC96-326)
FCC requires that all wireless
communication devices sold in the United States follow safety guidelines
that limit radiation exposure. The FCC also authorizes and licenses
transmitters and facilities that generate RF and microwave radiation.
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,
modification of a transmitting facility, or renewal of a license. FCC has
authority to take action if a wireless phone produces hazardous levels
of RF energy.
On March 27, 2013, the FCC voted to
advance its review of its various rules pertaining to the implementation
of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements related to
radiofrequency (RF) emissions from radio transmitters.
FCC Radiofrequency Guidelines for Cellular and PCS Sites
Review of RF Exposure Policies
Phone Facts: Questions and Answers
National Radiation Protection Board in Great
Britain: A Summary of Recent Reports on Mobile
Phones and Health (2000–2004) Report reviews studies of brain
cancer and neurological effects from the use of
cell phones health and highlights any
commonality or differences in opinion.
Electromagnetic fields and public health: mobile telephones and their base
Low-level Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields - An Assessment of Health
Risks and Evaluation of Regulatory Practice. Norwegian Institute of Public Health, 2012.
Frequently Asked Questions about Wi-Fi Health
Mobile Telephony and Health Protection Advice
UK Health Protection Agency
continues on possible biological effects of exposure to RF/MW radiation from
radios, cellular phones, the processing and cooking of foods, heat sealers,
vinyl welders, high frequency welders, induction heaters, flow solder
machines, communications transmitters, radar transmitters, ion implant
equipment, microwave drying equipment, sputtering equipment and glue curing.
Some experiments suggest that there may be biological effects at non-thermal
exposure levels, but the evidence for health hazard is contradictory and
unproven. The scientific community and international bodies acknowledge that
further research is needed to improve our understanding in some areas.
It is also possible that only a small
percentage of the population is actually sensitive to RF and that is why it
is taking so long to come to conclusions.
International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies radiofrequency
electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans based on a
malignant brain cancers associated with wireless phone use.
Some, but not all, studies suggest that long-term exposure to microwaves may
have a carcinogenic effect.
consensus is that there is no consistent and convincing scientific evidence
of adverse health effects caused by RF radiation.
classified RF as possibly carcinogenic
Monographs Non-Ionizing Radiation, Part 2: Radiofrequency Electromagnetic
Fields Vol 102
Impacts of Radio Frequency from Smart Meters. California Council of
Science and Technology. January 2011.
Academy of Environmental Medicine Recommendations Regarding Electromagnetic
and Radiofrequency Exposure
Academy of Pediatrics Support Letter
Minimize Your Risk:
exposures to electromagnetic fields in the RF
and ELF frequency ranges are of concern, conservative ways to deal with
this concern are to (1) reduce the amount of exposure time, for example talk
for shorter periods of time and fewer times per day and (2) keep the phone
away from the head or other part of the body by using the speaker phone mode
or an ear bud & microphone while holding the phone away. In the case of
Wi-Fi in people’s homes, it can be turned off while people are sleeping. This
turning it off when going to bed and back on in the morning can reduce
exposure time, and if an automatic electronic switch is used, such as with a
plant light timer, one does not need to remember to do that operation twice a
Refer to the links above in the
Scientific/Medical section for more information on minimizing your risk.
Aerospace and Flight Test Radio Coordinating
Physics Society (HPS)
Engineering in Medicine and
Biology Society, Committee on Man and Radiation
Institute of Electronics and
Buffalo State Position Statement