your questions about radio waves and health


Do base stations have an impact on health?
Regarding the radiation from base stations, international expertise agrees that with the current state of scientific knowledge, and given the very low levels of exposure to electromagnetic fields around base stations, the assumption of a health risk for people living near these stations was rejected.

Does using a mobile phone constitute a health risk?
Mobile phones have been the subject of over 1,000 scientific studies over twenty years. The World Health Organization ( WHO (opens in a new window)) and health experts groups have analysed all these scientific studies. In May 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer ( IARC (opens in a new window)) classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as “possibly carcinogenic for humans”. In June 2011, recalling the IARC classification, WHO Fact Sheet No. 193 “Electromagnetic fields and public health: mobile phones” concluded: “To date, no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use”. This applies to all mobile and cordless phones, whether GSM (2G), UMTS (3G), LTE (4G), DECT and Wi-fi. Pending the results of other studies in progress, WHO and health expert groups support this conclusion with very simple-to-implement recommendations to limit exposure to radio waves, such as phoning with an earpiece or in areas where reception is good.

If there is no “adverse health effect”, why continue with research?
WHO and expert groups recommend further research on the mobile phone for three reasons. Firstly, because they consider that the hindsight available from fifteen years is insufficient. Secondly, because some studies have suggested a risk to health but they are too small in their numbers, and potential methodological bias does not permit establishing a definitive conclusion. Finally, because the mechanisms of action of electromagnetic waves on living organisms need further study.

Does the use of a mobile phone pose a risk to a pregnant woman?
The limits of exposure for the public from wireless equipment have been established by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection ( ICNIRP (opens in a new window) ), a body recognised by the World Health Organization and composed of scientists and physicians. Starting with all the existing literature, they took into account the adverse effects (e.g. an increase in body temperature of more than one degree Celsius). The threshold at which the first effects appear was divided by 50 to determine the exposure limit values a safety factor that takes into account any particular sensitivities of the population. Nevertheless, as a precaution for unborn children, some national health authorities recommend the distancing of mobiles from the stomach.

Does Wi-fi equipment represent a health risk?
The World Health Organization ( WHO (opens in a new window)), the UK Agency for Health Protection ( Health Protection Agency (opens in a new window)) and Health Canada (opens in a new window) indicate that, given the very low exposure levels and research results obtained to date, there is no convincing scientific evidence of possible adverse health effects of wireless networks, which include Wi-fi networks.

Do access points (“boxes”, public Wi-fi terminals, femtocell, etc.) represent a health risk?
These devices are designed to improve the use of mobile terminals in everyday life, they are very low power – around a few tens of milliwatts (mW). As indicated in WHO Fact Sheet No. 304 published in May 2006: “there is no convincing scientific evidence of possible adverse effects from base stationsand wireless networks for health”.

Furthermore, the proximity of a Femto box guarantees perfect indoor reception for a mobile (inside the home). In this way the power control in the mobile can play its role to the full and, in this case, it functions at much lower levels than its maximal power. Exposure due to the mobile is reduced by a similar ratio.

Are there any recommendations related to the use of equipment other than my mobile, such as 3G dongles, dominoes, etc. ?
Regarding the equipment which might be used close to the body, the recommendations for use and safety are the same as those applicable to mobile phones. In all cases, please consult the manufacturer’s instructions.