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What is Radiowave?

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Mobile phones and the antennas mounted on base stations are two-way radios that produce radio-frequency (RF) emissions, similar to those emitted by TV and radios used by taxis, emergency services and broadcasters.

RF is part of the electromagnetic spectrum as are television emissions, light, X-rays and Gamma Rays, but they operate at much lower frequencies. At the higher frequencies X-rays and Gamma Rays can break chemical bonds, damaging the material of cells in the body (ionization). RF signals are non-ionizing, causing no known damage to the body's cell structures.

The RF beams emitted from mobile phone antennas are wide horizontally but narrow vertically. RF intensity at ground level directly below the antenna is low, it then increases slightly just beyond the antenna and then decreases again further away from the antenna. The areas with the highest RF signals are normally fenced off as a precautionary measure but the emissions are still below international health and safety exposure guidelines.

In many urban areas television and radio antennas operate at higher power levels when emitting RF than mobile phone antennas.


Public Exposure Guidelines

Scientific research has shown that RF radiation can heat the body. To date, the balance of evidence from research indicates mobile phone technology does not pose a health risk, but the perception by some people that it does may continue until further research is conducted.

International guidelines are in place to limit public exposure to radio waves from base stations and mobile phones. These guidelines ensure that RF emissions stay below a certain level, preventing excessive heating.

Set by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), they have been adopted by the UK Government and the country's four mobile phone operators. ICNIRP is an international independent scientific organisation that provides guidance and advice on the health hazards of non-ionizing radiation. The ICNIRP public guidelines were adopted in the UK in 2000 after the Stewart Report recommended a precautionary approach towards mobile phone technology.


No Established Adverse Health Effects

Mobile phones operate by using radio waves, a form of non-ionising radiation. There is a large body of scientific evidence on the effects of exposure to radio waves because they have been widely used for decades: for example, radio, TV and radar signals are radio waves. The scientific consensus is that, apart from the increased risk of a road accident due to mobile phone use when driving, there is no clear evidence of adverse health effects from the use of mobile phones or from phone masts. (Source: Health Protection Agency, Health Advice on Mobile Phones, May 2010).

A Wealth of Research

A large number of studies have been performed over the last two decades to assess whether mobile phones pose a potential health risk. To date, no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use. (Source: World Health Organisation Fact Sheet N°193, June 2011).