Cellular Phone Facts
Cellular phones send signals in the radiofrequency range (see electromagnetic spectrum below), which is associated with AM/FM radio, television, pagers, and other wireless communication devices. Fields in this range are distinct from electric and magnetic fields (EMF) from electrical power (e.g., appliances, power lines) because they operate at significantly higher frequencies (up to 300 gigahertz).
Public concern about cellular phones and cellular base stations has been growing, as use of wireless communication devices has increased dramatically over the last decade. Certain radiofrequency fields cause thermal effects (i.e., heating) at high exposure levels. Federal standards have been established for cellular phones and base stations to ensure that public exposures to these fields are well below the levels that cause heating. For information about standards, see: FCC: Radio Frequency Safety - Background
Researchers are investigating the possibility that radiofrequency fields associated with cellular phones may cause other adverse effects (e.g., effects other than heating, such as cancer). Current scientific research does not provide evidence that radiofrequency fields cause cancer or other athermal effects; however research is ongoing to ensure that current standards are adequately protective.
Most researchers agree that more research is needed to evaluate potential long-term effects of radiofrequency fields from cellular phones.
The Minnesota Department of Health has concluded that exposures to radiofrequency fields have been shown to cause thermal effects at high exposure levels; however, public exposures near base stations and antennas are well below current federal safety guidelines. MDH also concludes that there is limited evidence to suggest that radiofrequency fields cause athermal effects (e.g., cancer); however, more research is needed to ensure that federal guidelines are protective of the public (in light of the increasing use of cellular phones and other wireless communication devices).
To determine the exposure level to radiofrequency emissions from your phone, see the Federal Communications Commission website. For more questions about health risks from cellular phones and cellular phone base stations, refer to the websites below or see our Contact Us Web page.
Federal Communications Commission:
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