Technology? For sure.

Basics and current research results on mobile communications and other radio services.

For surfing online, receiving and sending messages and making phone calls, your cell phone needs good contact to a mobile network. For this purpose, it exchanges signals with a wireless base station nearby. The transmission capacity of mobile communications antennas at base stations normally lies between 10 and 100 watts. Wireless base stations support different radio standards ranging from GSM over UMTS (“3G”) to LTE (“4G”). They in turn are connected to other base stations and the central systems of the mobile network via fiberglass cables, copper cables, or radio relay systems.

However, each base station only has a limited capacity and coverage. Increasing numbers of users and a rising volume of transferred data therefore require a denser mobile network – which means a higher number of base stations is needed.

In addition to mobile communications, there are many other radio services. The distribution of TV and radio signals, for example, plays a large role. These wireless communications are provided by broadcast stations that transmit in all directions from one location. The higher the tower or mast and the transmission power is, the larger is the covered area. VHF broadcast has a transmission power from 10 watts to 10 kilowatts and the range of a VHF station covers up to 100 km.

 

Safety through limit values and safety ranges

To protect the population and the employees working on the facilities, there are legally established limit values that ensure the safe use of all wireless services. In practice, safety ranges are inferred from these limit values. It only takes a few meters distance from a stationary transmitting and receiving antenna for people to stay there permanently without worries. The required safety distance always depends on the base station’s transmission power, the used antennas, and the broadcast frequency and amounts to a few meters for the GSM, UMTS, and LTE mobile communications standards.


Intensive research is being conducted on the health effects of mobile networks and other wireless services

The effects of electromagnetic fields on human beings have been subject of scientific research over the last few decades – in Germany and internationally. The expert committees of the World Health Organization and the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) set recommended limit values and regularly monitor them. To do so, they evaluate the latest research findings on an ongoing basis.

For example, the fact that mobile communications are not posing a health risk if the applicable limit values are adhered to was again endorsed by the German Commission on Radiological Protection and the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection in 2011 as well as by the Federal Government and the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) in 2013.

The only proven impact of high-frequency electromagnetic fields on living creatures is a warming effect. If persons are in a high-frequency electromagnetic field, heat is created in their bodies as the strength of the field increases. In other words, in a human body the energy of high-frequency electromagnetic fields is converted into heat. These are also known as the thermal effects of electromagnetic fields.

The physical basis of this thermal effect is known and undisputed. The current exposure limits ensure that the electromagnetic fields occurring in mobile communications are so weak that the temperature of human tissue will not be raised until it represents a health risk.

Current research into mobile communications and health focuses on the biological effects of very weak, low-energy electromagnetic fields below the valid exposure limits. The existence of these non-thermal effects and their potential impact on people's health is controversially discussed. Based on the current state of research, various expert committees come to the conclusion that, despite extensive research, there is no reliable evidence for health-relevant non-thermal effects.