Answer to Question #7307 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"

Category: Micro/Radio Waves, Radar & Powerlines — Satellite Dishes

The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:

We plan to order a satellite TV service. For a better signal, the serviceman suggested installing two satellite dishes just under a window that is less than one foot away from the desk where my two children do their homework every day. For some health concerns, should it be farther away from the desk?

Please don't worry. Most satellite dishes receive weak signals; they do not generate high-intensity electromagnetic waves. This type of radiation is everywhere and placement of the dishes is intended to pick up as strong a signal as possible. There are also government standards to protect the public from these specific types of radiation.

Microwave radiation, the type received and emitted from radar, is also similar to the type used by cell phones. Its primary mode of biological interaction is heating, unlike ionizing radiation (x rays and radioactivity). Although microwave ovens use high amounts of microwave radiation, these ovens must have two safety interlocks to operate safely and protect the public, and the external emissions, like cell phones and radar emissions, are extremely low and very safe.

For additional information on radiofrequency (RF) radiation, I refer you to the Health Physics Society's Q and A section that addresses microwave radiation along with other electromagnetic radiations. Embedded in some of these answers are additional links to other Web sites with useful information.

In addition to these regulatory safety standards, there continues to be a lack of credible scientific evidence to show that such emissions pose a safety issue for the public. I personally don't consider them dangerous.

Orhan H Suleiman, MS, PhD

Answer posted on 7 April 2008. The information posted on this web page is intended as general reference information only. Specific facts and circumstances may affect the applicability of concepts, materials, and information described herein. The information provided is not a substitute for professional advice and should not be relied upon in the absence of such professional advice. To the best of our knowledge, answers are correct at the time they are posted. Be advised that over time, requirements could change, new data could be made available, and Internet links could change, affecting the correctness of the answers. Answers are the professional opinions of the expert responding to each question; they do not necessarily represent the position of the Health Physics Society.