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Radiofrequency radiation and mobile phone towers


Radiofrequency radiation is used in the transmission of communication signals for many modern applications in throughout the world. Some of these applications include mobile phone communications, television transmissions, radio broadcasting and emergency communications systems.

For health effects associated with the use of radiofrequency radiation Western Australia is guided by the Radiation Protection Standard, Maximum Exposure Levels to Radiofrequency Fields - 3 kHz to 300 GHz published as RPS 3 by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency. This standard recommends maximum exposure levels for the general public as a measurement of field strength as opposed to recommending safe distances in metres.

Mobile telephone towers radiate small amounts of power during communications over wide areas resulting in low intensities at ground level. Current scientific opinion suggests that harmful effects have not been observed from these relatively small amounts of radiation, and the weight of current research has supported this viewpoint. The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency published a nationwide study in 2000 which found that; “the typical exposure level from mobile phone base stations is hundreds and sometimes thousands of times below the regulated limit”.

Many studies have used sensitive equipment for laboratory testing of radiofrequency radiation in order to explore interaction mechanisms at the cellular level and determine whether detrimental effects are evident in tissue. While concern from the community has looked upon radiofrequency radiation as potentially harmful to humans, current laboratory testing has not been able to provide replicated results related to health concerns. This lack of replication in international research doesn’t exclude the possibility for health detriment; however it does suggest to the research community that no strong health detriment is apparent within our populations. It is hoped that future laboratory studies may help to provide better clarity with regard to long term health concerns to our population from radiofrequency radiation.

Satellite dishes of the type used as television receiving devices in many residential areas are typically receiving-only devices and should not contribute additional radiofrequency radiation to the environment. The function of these dishes is to act as large collecting devices for gathering weak signals that already exist in the environment.

For further information on radiofrequency radiation and its associated health effects you can visit the ARPANSA website or the International Commission for Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) website.

If you have further questions about the health effects from radiofrequency radiation please contact the Radiation Health Branch on (08) 9388 4999.

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