Cell phone masts radiation health effects - How to protect yourself

How much radiation do cell phone masts emit? Why are they frequently camouflaged? How can you detect the cell towers in your neighborhood? Are there are health effects? Who benefits from their installation?How to protect yourself?

cell phone mast

The cell phone masts, towers or base stations ensure communication between mobile phones.

The need for higher population coverage by telecommunication companies and the growing demand for data transfer (audio, image, video, Internet) by mobile phone users, is increasing the number of cell phone antennas, many of which operate illegally.

The radiation emission levels are also increasing because of the network's greater needs and the use of new more rapid emission technologies.

Previously there were only antennas that emitted radiation 2G (GSM900MHz, GSM1800MHz) and now we have additional antennas 3G (UMTS 2100MHz) and 4G (1800MHz or other frequencies) all different waveforms, with unknown effects on humans.

This trend will continue in the following years with new, faster, antennas added to the existing cell phone masts network, without stopping the emission of the existing antennas 2G, 3G, 4G, in order to serve subscribers with older devices.

Where are cell phone masts installed?

  • Mobile phone antennas are usually installed on roofs of houses and workplaces etc. Common installation locations: next to busy roads, buildings of telecommunication companies, in corporate buildings, factories, areas with many offices, shops etc.
  • In sparsely populated areas the antennas emit with more power and have a coverage area as much as 20km.
  • In urban areas antennas with less power are used (macrocells with coverage area up to 20 Km and microcells up to 1 km).
  • The more densely populated the area, the more antennas.
  • Particularly in urban areas, mobile phone antennas are often camouflaged as heaters, signs, chimneys etc. to avoid confrontation with neighbors.

mobile phone masts camouflaged 

See in video how to locate cell towers in your neighborhood and how to protect your home

Do cell phone masts affect human health?

Wireless radiation has now been  listed by the World Health Organization as a "possible carcinogen".

Cell phone mast radiation causes an increase in the permeability of the blood-brain barrier damage in a nerve cell [1] and an increase in oxidative stress [2].

"More meaningful is to ask whether there is an established potential risk to human health from exposure to GSM/TETRA radiation: the answer is undoubtedly ‘yes’. It is probably true to say that if a similar degree of risk and uncertainty as to subjective noxiousness obtained in the case of a new drug or foodstuff, it is unlikely that they would ever be licensed." Dr. Gerard Hyland, Biophysics, University of Warwick, 2 times Nobel Prize contender [3]

 Many epidemiological studies have linked the presence of cell phone masts with the significant deterioration of health of the neighboring population:

  • Israel: 300% increase in cancers (900% for women) at a distance of 350 m. (Wolf [4])
  • Germany: Most cancers and faster appearance (eight years earlier) for those living within 400 m. from mobile antennas for 10 years [5]
  • Spain: insomnia, headaches, inability to concentrate, memory loss, vision and hearing disorders, nausea, irritability, skin and cardiovascular disabilities at 300 m. (Santini [6], [7])
  • Netherlands: increase headaches, pain and nausea [8]
  • Spain: depression, fatigue, insomnia, poor concentration and cardiovascular problems (Oberfeld [9])
  • Brazil: 80% of cancer deaths in Belo Horizonte recorded at a distance of 500 meters from mobile phone masts [10]

"Every aspect of the ecosystem may be affected, including all living species from animals, humans, plants and even microorganisms in water and soil. We are already seeing problems in sentinel species like birds, bats, and bees. Wildlife is known to abandon areas when cell towers are placed. Radiofrequency radiation (RF)—the part of the electromagnetic spectrum used in all-things-wireless today—is a known immune system suppressor, among other things. RF is a form of energetic air pollution and we need to understand it as such. Humans are not the only species being affected. The health of our planet may be in jeopardy from this newest environmental concern—added to all the others. Citizens need to call upon government to fund appropriate research and to get industry influence out of the dialogue. We ignore this at our own peril now.” Blake Levit, author of "Electromagnetic Fields, A Consumer's Guide to the Issues and How to Protect Ourselves" [11]

Radiation from radio antennas exists for many years and we are fine. Why are the lower power cell phone masts etc dangerous?

1. Today we receive a much larger amount of radiation from cell phone masts

Broadcasting antennas are usually situated on hills in non-urban areas and therefore, although emit with more power, their signal reaches us faint.

Research in 2000 in Sweden showed that emissions from radio and tv broadcasting antennas were only 13% of wireless radiation in the suburbs and 1% in city centers [12] .

The largest proportion of our greatly increased exposure to wireless radiation comes from cell phone masts, mobile phones, cordless phones and wi-fi modems.

2. The radiation emitted by cell phone masts, Wi-Fi etc have a more aggravating waveform

fm The electromagnetic waves from cell phone masts, cordless phones, wireless modems, etc. have a digital modulation (see photo below), while those of the older broadcasting antennas had analog modulation (see above photo).

GSMK The digital square waveform comprising of high intensity pulses is considered biologically more powerful than the older analog sinusoidal waveform.

The conclusion of the Panel BioInitiative Working Group [13], which took into account more than 2000 surveys on the subject of electromagnetic radiation was that:

"There is substantial scientific evidence that some modulated fields (pulsed or repeated signals) are bioactive, which increases the likelihood that they could have health impacts with chronic exposure even at very low exposure levels. Modulation signals may interfere with normal, non-linear biological processes. Modulation is a fundamental factor that should be taken into account in new public safety standards; at present it is not even a contributing factor. To properly evaluate the biological and health impacts of exposure to modulated RF (carrier waves), it is also essential to study the impact of the modulating signal (lower frequency fields or ELF-modulated RF). Current standards have ignored modulation as a factor in human health impacts, and thus are inadequate in the protection of the public in terms of chronic exposure to some forms of ELF-modulated RF signals. The current IEEE and ICNIRP standards are not sufficiently protective of public health with respect to chronic exposure to modulated fields (particularly new technologies that are pulse-modulated and heavily used in cellular telephony)."

3. TV and radio broadcasting antennas can also cause damage

Research has linked proximity to them with childhood leukemia, brain cancer and melanoma (Merzenich [14] , Ha [15] , Hallberg [16] , Hocking [17].

Adverse health effects in humans of the kinds already reported worldwide such as headaches, sleep disruption, impairment of short-term memory, etc. - whilst maybe not life-threatening in themselves, do nevertheless have a debilitating effect that undoubtedly affects general well-being, and which in the case of some children could well undermine their neurological and academic development, as is already evident from experience in the case of a number of infant/junior schools at which a GSM Base-station is located." Dr. Gerard Hyland, Biophysics, University of Warwick, 2 times Nobel Prize contender [3]

What is the difference of the networks 2G, 3G and 4G;

The main difference between the older and more widespread mobile networks 2G (GSM900MHz, GSM1800MHz) and most recent 3G networks (UMTS 2100MHz) and 4G (1800MHz) is that the latter provide much higher data rates (the transmission frequencies and names differ from country to country).

This means that when we have 3G or 4G signal, you can surf the Internet, download videos etc with much higher speeds.

Do we receive less radiation when ther are more cell phone masts everywhere?

Increasing the number of cell phone masts in an area, means that they will emit with lower power to satisfy the same demand.

Also, your mobile phone will have better signal and you will be receive less radiation when talk on the phone.

However, in that case, you will also have greater chances to be close to cell phone mast, which means that you might receive greater cumulative amount of radiation as mobile phone masts emit wireless signal 24 hours a day.

cell phone masts rental profit

Are the ones tha place a cell phone mast on their roof the only ones to blame for the high levels of radiation in a neighborhood?

The individual who installs an antenna on his roof:

  • receives a significant monthly fee from the telecommunication companies
  • receives a minimum amount of radiation, as most of the cell phone mast radiation is directed to the surrounding houses
  • limits the possibility to have a cell phone mast placed in a neighboring house, in which case he will more exposed to radiation and he will not be paid at all

In our opinion, all of us who use the mobile phones are also responsible for cell phone mast emissions and not only the neighbor who managed to put the antenna on his roof.

The mobile phone companies have no interest to maintain a cell phone mast in an area with no mobile phone users.

The more we use our mobile phone to talk, send photos, download videos, surf the Internet, etc. the more we increase the radiation emitted by mobile phone base stations and the need to install more antennas is created.

Are we not responsible for the greater cell phone mast radiation emissions when we demand to speak on our mobile phone without interruptions in the train, in the elevator, in our car etc?

Even not turning our mobile phone off during the sleeping hours (when there is usually a landline somewhere near) contributes to maintain the high levels of antenna radiation even at night.

Cell phone masts are like garbage dumps: we all use them but nobody wants them next to him!

It is true that the building under the cell phone mast does not receive radiation?

Most of the radiation of the cell phone mast is directed mainly to nearby buildings at a distance <250 meters, affecting more the spaces that are in line of sight.

However the buildings on which the antennas are located also receive a (usually smaller) part of their radiation.

Depending on the direction of the antennas the below floor might be significantly affected.

The other floors of the same building are usually also affected to a lesser extend due to the reflections of radiation to nearby buildings. Most burdened are the areas near windows.

In any case if there is mobile phone antenna on your building or on nearby ones we suggest you make a measurement of electromagnetic fields.

How to measure the radiation I receive from the mobile phone masts in my neighborhood?

You can measure the radiation levels from cell phone towers and usually locate them with a high frequency electromagnetic field meter.

High frequency meters measure the power density in microwatts / m2 (microwatts per square meter) from cell towers, cordless phones, wireless Internet modem (Wi-Fi), cellular phones, baby monitors, Bluetooth devices, games consoles with wireless remote controls, microwave ovens, cell phone signal boosters, etc.

If your phone has low signal in your house, it means that your telecommunication provider does not have a cell phone mast near you or its signal does not reach your area. However you might have near you a cell phone mast belonging to other telecommunication networks.

Is there a way to protect myself, if there is a cell phone mast near my house?

  • Measuring the radiation will help you move the bed, the sofa or office desk away from elevated radiation points (wireless hotspots).
  • Simple solutions for protection from wireless radiation offer the modern electromagnetic shielding materials that reflect the wireless radiation > 99%.
  • Since windows are the most vulnerable points of radiation penetration, usually the largest decrease in radiation from mobile phone towers can be achieved by placing reflective window films or curtain in windows, especially those facing the antennas.

shielded window film

  • The building walls obstruct a portion of the external wireless radiation (depending on the thickness and type of structural material). By painting the walls with electromagnetic shielding paint or by placing stainless steel mesh you can achieve even greater reduction in the radiation levels.

shielded emf paint

  • More practical solution, at least for the sleeping area are the shielded bed canopies which shield radiation coming from most directions, ensuring minimal disturbance of your sleep by current and future wireless radiation sources.

More about electromagnetic shielding materials..

Is there a cell phone communication method with low radiation?

First of all, mobile phone operators can immediately significantly reduce wireless radiation levels in the cities simply by placing the existing antennas at a greater height.

Also governments should oblige companies to share the same installation points (as the do is some countries, eg Panama).

However there are many alternative wireless telecommunication low-radiation models.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Prevention in Italy has already done a study on the implementation of a mobile antenna replacement model in Venice. It is proposed to use microcells networks linked to centers with fiber optics. Optical fibers offer greater data transfer speed, more security (the wireless transmission of information is easily intercepted) and minimal radiation.

[1] Eberhardt, Blood-Brain Barrier Permeability and Cell nerve damage in Rat Brain on the 14th and 28 days after Exposure to Microwaves from GSM Mobile phones, Electromagn Biol Med. 2008; 27 (3)

[2] Yurekli, GSM Base station Electromagnetic Radiation and oxidative stress in rats, the 25th Electromagn Biol Med (on the 3rd): one hundred seventy-seven to eighty-eight

[3] How Exposure to GSM & TETRA Base-station Radiation can Adversely Affect Humans by G J Hyland

[4] Wolf R, Wolf D, (April 2004) Increased incidence of Cancer near A Cell-phone transmitter station, International Journal of Cancer Prevention, one (2) April 2004

[6] Santini, Symptoms Experienced by People in Vicinity of Base stations: II / Incidences of Age, Duration of Exposure, Location of Subjects in Relation to The Antennas and Electromagnetic Other Factors, Pathol Biol (Paris). 2003 Sep; 51 (7): 412-5

[7] Santini, Investigation on The Health of People Living near Mobile telephone Relay stations: I / Incidence according to Distance and Sex, Pathol Biol (Paris) 2002 Jul? 50 (6): 369-73

[9] Oberfeld, The Microwave Syndrome - Further Aspects of A Spanish Study, Conference Proceedings

[10] Dode et al, Mortality by neoplasia and cellular telephone base stations in the Belo Horizonte municipality, Minas Gerais state, Brazil

[11] http://electromagnetichealth.org/quotes-from-experts/

[12] Hamnerius, Y. & Uddmar, T. (2000). Microwave exposure from mobile phones and base stations in Sweden

[14] Merzenich, Childhood Leukemia in Relation to Radio Frequency Electromagnetic Fields in The Vicinity of TV and Radio Broadcast Transmitters, Am J Epidemiol. 2008 Oct 3.

[15] Ha, Radio-frequency Radiation Exposure from AM Radio transmitters and CHILDHOOD leukemia and Brain Cancer, Am J Epidemiol. 2007 Aug 1; 166 (3): 270-9

[16] Hallberg, Johansson, (2005) FM Broadcasting Exposure Time and malignant melanoma incidence, Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine twenty-four? 1-8

[17] Hocking, Cancer incidence and Mortality and Proximity to TV Towers, Med J Aust. 1996 Dec 2-16; 165 (11-12): 601-5