Answer to Question #76 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"
Category: Cell Phones
The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:
Is it more dangerous stay for one hour at a ten-meter distance from a cellular antenna or to talk into a cellular phone for the same amount of time?
Cellular phones are designed to be safe for both the user and anyone standing nearby. Cellular phones are actually small radios that transmit signals to and from base-station antennas located on towers or buildings in the nearby neighborhood. Cellular phones use low-power radio signals, even weaker than CB, police, or fire radios.
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) sets safety standards for human exposure to radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic energy in the United States. Government agencies such as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and many states recognize and accept the ANSI RF safety standard. Also, the United States standard for RF energy is comparable to those set in other countries.
Cellular phones and cellular-phone base stations have been shown to meet these RF safety standards. Safety standards for RF energy are threshold standards. Threshold standards define the level of RF energy above which there may be health or safety hazards and below which there have been no reported harmful effects. Unlike ionizing radiation, which many people believe to act cumulatively even at small exposure levels, RF energy at low levels is not considered a cumulative hazard. Therefore the consensus of scientific experts in this area is that RF exposure from cellular phones, meeting the threshold levels set in safety standards, is safe for all.
The specific answer to the question is that cellular phone technology is safe for all. There is no danger posed by either handheld phone units or by base-station antennas. In both cases, the radio signals transmitted from the antennas are required to meet the ANSI safety standard for RF safety as embodied in FCC regulations governing this technology. For more information:
Gary Zeman, ScD, CHP Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
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