Mobile Phones

Electromagnetic or radio frequency surveys are often required around mobile phone Base Station masts.  Almost all the public concern about this technology is about the location of the masts and any possible effects of non-thermal levels of electromagnetic radiation.

The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) set their guidelines to avoid the thermal (heating) effects of radio and microwave non-ionising electromagnetic radiation.  They use the same reasoning to set their guidelines as do the majority of other authoritative bodies throughout the world.

There are a few advocates of non-thermal effects.  These effects can be described as subtle biological effects that could cause or promote disease.  Newspaper stories usually associate Radio, TV and mobile telephone frequencies with a higher incidence of cancer.  The advocates for non-thermal effects are quick to dismiss the work of ICNIRP and other authorative organisations, claiming they do not take non-thermal effects seriously.

ICNIRP have set their guidelines on all the known effects of non-ionising electromagnetic radiation.  They do not have any good reason to set guidelines using some reported non-thermal effects, because the balance of evidence shows there is no compelling evidence that such effects exist.

They have set their levels to values that limit the thermal effect to a fraction of 1oC.  Many medical researchers who have studied the effects of heat exhaustion and heat stroke would agree that this is a very low value.  This value is not expected to cause anyone any problems with regulating their own body temperatures.  It is a value that is less than would occur with physical exercise.   

This approach is also acceptable to the vast majority of physicists, as the 'laws of physics' do not support the possibility of there being a non-thermal effect.  At radio and microwave frequencies there is insufficient energy in an electromagnetic wave to cause changes in biological tissue.  Why?  Because our bodies have already adapted to the thermal energy we naturally produce. 

We are constructed of material particles that are constantly agitated by our thermal energy and these particles constantly collide with each other.  Therefore, before any significant interaction can take place between an electromagnetic wave and these particles, the electromagnetic wave would need to have more energy than we already deal with.  The electromagnetic wave energy of the radio and microwave frequencies produce less than 1% of our body's natural thermal kinetic energy.

Another claim is that the chemical bonds that exist between the elements that make up molecules of matter can be disrupted.  However, the 'bond energy' that holds the chemical elements together is still greater than the electromagnetic wave energy at radio and microwave frequencies.

Again, this is why the physicists will argue that there is no reasonable or plausible way for non-ionising electromagnetic radiation to be considered biologically active at non-thermal levels. 

Another claim may be that biological material can be altered by the translation of a charged particle within it.  For this process to be plausible, it would require an electric field greater than that we can ever expect to be normally exposed to.

Before there is any prospect of non-thermal effects becoming accepted by the scientific community there will have to be research that is both peer reviewed and replicated.  Researchers who do not publish their work in peer reviewed journals are not given the same recognition for quality work as those who do.

The 'laws of physics' strongly suggest that non-thermal effects can not happen.  Therefore, there would have to be a series of replicated experiments to verify any claimed effect.  One isolated piece of research will never be strong enough to sway the thinking of the serious minded scientist.

Please see our 'Research' page for information about the non-thermal biological research that has been carried out.


© 2005 Electromagnetic Surveys Limited