Wireless Health Facts

There’s a lot of confusion about radiofrequencies, wireless devices and health. Here are the facts.

FAQs

Here are the facts about radiofrequencies, wireless devices, and health.

01 Are cellphones, cell towers, small cells and antennas safe?

Radiofrequency energy from wireless devices and networks, including radiofrequencies used by 5G, have not been shown to cause health problems, according to the international scientific community. To cite one example, the Food and Drug Administration said, “Based on the FDA’s ongoing evaluation, the available epidemiological and cancer incidence data continues to support the Agency’s determination that there are no quantifiable adverse health effects in humans caused by exposures at or under the current cell phone exposure limits.”

02 Are children at risk?

RF energy at the low levels approved for everyday consumer use has not been shown to pose a health risk to children, teenagers or any demographic group, according to scientific consensus. To cite one example, the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) program of the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health found no correlation between cancer rates and cellphone use by U.S. children and teenagers between 1992 and 2006, despite a rapid rise in their use of cellphones.

03 Can RF energy from cellphones interfere with pacemakers?

Radiofrequency (RF) energy from cellphones can interact with some electronic devices, producing what is known as electromagnetic interference. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has established a testing standard for the manufacture of cardiac pacemakers to ensure they are safe from RF. The FDA advises that anyone looking for an extra precautionary step can hold their cellphone to the ear opposite the side of the body where the pacemaker is implanted, and avoid carrying a turned-on mobile phone in a pocket directly over the pacemaker.

04 Did a recent National Toxicology Program (NTP) study establish a link between RF energy and cancer in humans?

No, the NTP study did not establish a link between RF energy and cancer in humans. The authors of the study said that their findings did not apply to humans and that “the exposure levels and durations in our studies were greater than what people experience.” After reviewing the study, the Food and Drug Administration agreed, saying that “the existing safety limits for cell phones remain acceptable for protecting the public health.”

05 Do cellphones and wireless equipment have to meet safety standards?

Yes. Safety standards are set by the Federal Communications Commission in order to protect public health. In December 2019, the FCC reaffirmed—on a unanimous and bipartisan basis—these safety standards. The Food and Drug Administration has also said that “the existing safety limits for cell phones remain acceptable for protecting the public health.” Wireless devices go through a rigorous approval process to ensure they meet guidelines and they operate well under safety limits. These limits are based on recommendations from the scientific community and expert non-government organizations including the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements.

06 Have wireless devices and networks been shown to cause cancer in humans?

No, according to the international scientific consensus, wireless devices and networks have not been shown to cause cancer in humans. In fact, an analysis of government statistics shows that since the introduction of mobile phones in the 1980s, rates of brain cancer have remained unchanged while the exposure to RF energy from wireless networks has gone up. Many studies have explored whether cellphones cause cancer with the American Cancer Society concluding that “RF waves given off by cell phones do not have enough energy to damage DNA directly or to heat body tissues. Because of this, it’s not clear how cell phones might be able to cause cancer.”

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From the experts

What the expert community tells us.

“Current research indicates that there is no established evidence for health effects from radio waves used in mobile telecommunications. This includes the upcoming roll-out of the 5G network. ARPANSA’s assessment is that 5G is safe.”

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“Extensive research for more than a decade has not detected anything new regarding interaction mechanisms between radiofrequency fields and the human body and has found no evidence for health risks below current exposure guidelines.”

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“No consistent evidence for an association between any source of non-ionizing EMF and cancer has been found.”

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“… although many studies have examined the potential health effects of non-ionizing radiation from radar, microwave ovens, cell phones, and other sources, there is currently no consistent evidence that non-ionizing radiation increases cancer risk in humans.”

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“The incidence of brain tumors in human beings has been flat for the last 40 years… That is the absolute most important scientific fact.” – Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society.

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“…there is no convincing scientific evidence that the weak RF signals from base stations [cell towers] and wireless networks cause adverse health effects.”

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“…radiofrequency emissions from antennas used for cellular and PCS transmissions result in exposure levels on the ground that are typically thousands of times below safety limits. These safety limits were adopted by the FCC based on the recommendations of expert organizations and endorsed by agencies of the Federal Government responsible for health and safety. Therefore, […]

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“. . . From all evidence accumulated so far, no adverse short- or long-term health effects have been shown to occur from the RF signals produced by base stations.”

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“At ground level near typical cellular base stations, the amount of RF energy is thousands of times less than the limits for safe exposure set by the US Federal Communication Commission (FCC) and other regulatory authorities … Some people have expressed concern that living, working, or going to school near a cell phone tower might […]

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“Based on the FDA’s ongoing evaluation, the available epidemiological and cancer incidence data continues to support the Agency’s determination that there are no quantifiable adverse health effects in humans caused by exposures at or under the current cell phone exposure limits.”

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“ICNIRP has just released new guidelines for exposure to radio frequency electromagnetic fields, and we considered all possible adverse health effects. The only proven effect is that of heating of (parts of) the body, and the guidelines are set to such a low level that this will not occur if they are observed. Adverse health effects resulting […]

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“Any individual study might find something unusual,’ Dr. Dauer says. ‘But what’s most important to consider is the weight of evidence across all of them.’ And that, he says, does not show any clear link between cell phones and cancer… The argument that cell phones cause cancer lacks biological plausibility because the energy contained in […]

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