Answer to Question #8628 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:

My husband and I are thinking of getting a satellite dish (Direct TV) for a TV, Internet, long-distance phone package. We have a four-year-old daughter—hence my particular concern. I understand from your Web site that there is no problem with the dishes that simply receive a signal. Question 3103 states that there is some emission that occurs when using the Internet through a satellite dish, but that it is safe. Since the question was posted in 2003, I'm wondering if there is any new information that can be added to this answer or that complicates the issue.

I want to know if what we're thinking of buying will have any harmful effects, as we use the Internet every day as it is. Thank you very much for your reply.


First, let me assure you that there is no credible scientific data suggesting that these wireless electronic products or other types of radiofrequency (RF) radiation are harmful, either to adults or children.

Wi-fi emitters belong to a class of RF radiation that also includes television, radio, microwaves, and broadband. These are all regulated by the government. Studies have shown that environmental levels of RF energy routinely encountered by the general public are typically far below levels necessary to produce significant heating and increased body temperature. These emissions are extremely low.

However, there may be situations, particularly workplace environments near high-powered RF sources, where recommended limits for safe exposure of human beings to RF energy could be exceeded. In such cases, restrictive measures or actions may be necessary to ensure the safe use of RF energy. The workplace is regulated by the Department of Labor, radio transmitters and their emissions are regulated by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), and emissions may also be regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The military also regulates such environments and conducts its own safety surveys.

You are correct about the satellite dishes—they are simple antennas, they receive radiation, they do not emit any.

The emissions from many of these electronic products are extremely low and are not considered a biological risk. Do not worry! There is no credible, scientific data since 2003 to suggest otherwise. I use these electronic products all the time, I consider them safe.

Following are several URLs from several organizations, some of which provide additional links. As you can, see there is quite a lot of information on this subject.

The FCC Web site answers frequently asked questions.

The FDA Web site covers a broad range of such electromagnetic products.

The Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration Web site provides some excellent information.

The American Cancer Society also considers such radiation safe.

The EPA has an excellent and informative site.

And finally, I will refer you to our own Health Physics Society site. Simply search on "wireless" for additional answers to related questions.

I hope this is useful information.

Orhan H. Suleiman, MS, PhD

Answer posted on 4 November 2009. 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.