Research continues on possible biological effects
of exposure to RF/MW radiation from radios, cellular phones, smart meters,
radar/communication transmitters, microwave drying equipment, and other
sources. 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.
The 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.
Meanwhile the consensus is that there is no consistent and convincing
scientific evidence of adverse health effects caused by RF radiation.
classified RF as possibly carcinogenic
Scientific Evidence for Cell Phone Safety
Non-Ionizing Radiation, Part 2: Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields Vol
Impacts of Radio Frequency from Smart Meters. California Council
of Science and Technology. January 2011.
American Academy of Environmental Medicine
Recommendations Regarding Electromagnetic and Radiofrequency Exposure
Academy of Pediatrics Support Letter
Smart Meters are being deployed in many places
in an effort to create a new generation of utility services based on a
"smart grid" that is able to respond quickly, be more efficient,
and less costly. With any new technology, there are some
unknowns. Smart meters generally work by transmitting information
wirelessly. Some people have expressed concern over the health
effects of wireless signals, particularly as they become virtually
ubiquitous. The 2011 study by the California Council of Science
and Technology Health
Impacts of Radio Frequency from Smart Meters had
several key findings including:
1. Wireless smart meter, when installed and
properly maintained, result in much smaller levers of radio frequency (RF)
exposure than many existing common household electronic devices,
particularly cell phones and microwave ovens.
2. The current Federal Communications Commission (FCC) standard provides an
adequate factor of safety against known thermally induced health impacts of
existing common household electronic devices and smart meters.
3. To date, scientific studies have not identified or confirmed negative
health effects from potential non-thermal impacts of RF emissions such as
those produced by existing common household electronic devices an smart meters.
4. Not enough is currently known about potential non-thermal impacts of
radio frequency emissions to identify or recommend additional standards fro such impacts.
If exposure to smart meters is a concern,
opt to not use them in your home. Duke Energy has an Opt
Out Program for their utility meters.
Minimize Your Risk
If 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 on a cell phone 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 day.
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends limiting
cell phone use for children and teenagers. The AAP also reminds parents
that cell phones are not toys and are not recommended for infants and
toddlers to play with.
Cell Phone Safety Tips for Families:
Use text messaging when possible and use cell phones in speaker mode or
with the use of hands-free kits.
When talking on the cell phone, try holding it an inch or more away from
Make only short or essential calls on cell phones.
Avoid carrying your phone against the body like in a pocket, sock, or bra.
Cell phone manufacturers cannot guarantee that the amount of radiation you
are absorbing will be at a safe level.
Do not talk on the phone or text
while driving. This increases the risk of automobile crashes.
Exercise caution when using a phone or texting while walking or performing
other activities. “Distracted walking” injuries are on the rise.
• If you plan to watch a movie on your device, download
it first, then switch to airplane mode while you watch in order to avoid
unnecessary radiation exposure.
• Keep an eye on your signal strength (i.e. how many bars
you have). The weaker your cell signal, the harder your phone has to work
and the more radiation it gives off. It's better to wait until you have a
stronger signal before using your device.
• Avoid making calls in cars, elevators, buses. Cell
phone works harder to get a signal through metal, increasing its power.
• Remember that cell phones are not toys or teething
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)
The 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.
Radiofrequency Guidelines for Cellular and PCS Sites
Review of RF Exposure Policies
Phone Facts: Questions and Answers
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
Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields - An Assessment of Health Risks and
Evaluation of Regulatory Practice. Norwegian Institute of
Public Health, 2012.
Asked Questions about Wi-Fi Health Canada
Telephony and Health Protection Advice UK
Health Protection Agency
Aerospace and Flight Test Radio Coordinating
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,
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, smart meters,
televisions, FM and AM radios, shortwave radios, CB radios, cordless
phones, broadcasting, radar and other navigation systems, satellite
communication, computer networks and other applications.
Physics Society (HPS)
Medicine and Biology Society, Committee on Man and Radiation Institute
of Electronics and Electrical Engineers
State Position Statement