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RF Exposure from Mobile Phones, Towers, WiFi, and other RF

In 2017 California officially issued guidelines advising of mobile phone dangers, warning of increased risk of brain cancer and other health problems, and that children’s developing brains could be at greater risk:  www.ewg.org/news-and-analysis/2017/12/it-s-official-california-issues-caution-cell-phone-use    
France and Israel have banned WiFi in kindergartens. The European Union recommends wired Internet rather than wireless in schools. France passed a law banning WiFi routers in nursery and daycare centers, and restricted elementary school WiFi to only when in use for education. 
The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) states in an open letter to school superintendents, “There is a consistent, emerging science that shows people, especially children who are more vulnerable due to developing brains and thinner skulls, are being affected by the increasing exposure to wireless radiation.” 
In May 2016 the NIH reported links between mobile phone RF exposure and cancer in male rats. According to Dr. Joel Moskowitz (UC/Berkeley), "The study's results reinforce the need for more stringent regulation of radiofrequency radiation and better disclosure of the health risks associated with wireless technologies."   The study was reported in Scientific American:   www.scientificamerican.com/article/major-cell-phone-radiation-study-reignites-cancer-questions/        http://microwavenews.com/  
In 2013 Dr. Martha Herbert, a Harvard Pediatrician, wrote in this letter that "thousands of papers...document adverse health and neurological impacts of EMF / RFR."  Also in 2013 the American Academy of Pediatrics requested a review of EMF radiation emissions from technology devices, citing impact on children.
In 2011 the World Health Organization classified cell phones (and other wireless devices) as a possible carcinogen due to RF emissions.  In 2013 Dr. Anthony Miller from University of Toronto School of Public Health recommended that based on new research, radio frequency (RF) exposure should be reclassified as a probable carcinogen. 
In 2015 the Ashland School District in Massachusetts reduced wireless radiation exposure to children:  http://issuu.com/localtownpages/docs/2015_8_ashland/15?e=2040944/14450006   and other schools have also reported problems:  https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/school-wifi-networks-could-put-12602188 
Dr. Lennart Hardell, oncology professor at University of Orebro in Sweden, found that people who begin using cell phones before age 20 have five times more brain cancer by the time they reach their late twenties. 
The biggest source of RF exposure for most people is using a mobile phone next to the head. The city council in Berkeley California recently passed a law that requires retailers to tell consumers how far their cell phone should be held away from their body.  You can reduce exposure a lot by using the phone's speaker, or headphones or earbud, so you can hold the phone farther away from your head.  news.cnet.com/cell-phone-radiation-self-defense-guide   TV News reports cell phone hazards (video)  
How much RF exposure is unhealthy for long periods of time?  There are varying opinions from experts.  A group of German doctors wrote an open letter to the President of Bavaria  recommending public exposure should be below 10 uW/m2 average (that is near the bottom of the "Average" scale on the right-hand side of our RF meter Acoustimeter).  10 uW/m2 is also the max power recommended by Baubiologie  For more info on EMFs and RF exposure see  www.powerwatch.org.uk  and  www.powerwatch.org.uk/science/intguidance.asp 
What are RF Electromagnetic Fields?  RF stands for "Radio Frequency", which includes electromagnetic fields (EMFs) from mobile phones, cell and mobile phone towers, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and microwaves.  Physically, these are electric and magnetic fields vibrating faster than 3 kHz and usually moving together as waves. For EMFs from home wiring and power lines see AC Fields in Homes
What does the RF meter measure?  The RF Meters measure Radio Frequency Electromagnetic Fields (RF-EMF). These RF meters measure the RF field strength in Volts per meter (V/m), and the Acoustimeter model also measures the time-average RF power in uW/m2. These show the RF that people are exposed to, at frequencies from 200 MHz to 8 GHz, but do not display the frequency. An RF meter does not measure static or low-frequency fields from magnets, the earth's magnetic field, power lines, nor home wiring, for those you would use a different meter: see Gaussmeters at top of page. 
What is frequency in Hz, kHz, MHz, or GHz?  Frequency in Hz is how many waves per second. kHz is a thousand waves per second, MHz is a million waves per second, and GHz is a billion waves per second. So  1000 Hz = 1 kHz,  1000 kHz = 1 MHz, 1000 MHz = 1 GHz. Higher frequency is not necessarily worse than lower frequency. Higher frequency is not the same as higher RF exposure. 
Explain the units of Average RF power.  Our RF meter Acoustimeter model displays the Average RF power in uW/m2 (microWatts per meter square). 
The "u" stands for  "micro" (1 millionth in standard scientific notation).  
Another widely used unit is  "Watts per meter square" (W/m2),  so 1 W/m2  = 1 million uW/m2
The Acoustimeter can measure from 1 to 100,000 uW/m2 (which is up to 0.1 W/m2).  
Other standard scientific prefixes are sometimes used, for example: 1 mW/sq.cm = 10 W/m2 = 10 million uW/m2, and 1 nW/cm2 = 10 uW/m2.
The Acoustimeter RF meter provides a much more accurate Average RF power reading than most RF meters.   The Acoustimeter was selected for its accuracy, ease of use, wide frequency range (150 MHz-10 GHz), and excellent sensitivity (it can measure weak RF signals). For best accuracy hold the RF meter at least 1 foot (12 inches or 30 cm) or more away from the antenna or device that you are measuring, and rotate the RF meter to maximize the measured RF signal. The average power displayed by this meter is the average of 6400 samples updated every 1/4 second. This is a much more accurate method to measure average RF power of modern digital RF signals than used by other RF meters in this price range; most other RF meters use a simple formula which assumes continuous wave (CW) RF power based off the peak of the field, which vastly overestimates the average RF power of most modern digital RF signals transmitted in digital bursts. The manufacturer's web site shows additional information about these meters https://emfields-solutions.com/ 
What are government safety standards for RF exposure?  Different countries have different standards and it also depends on the frequency and length of time of exposure. In the USA the limit for RF power exposure of the public (averaged over 30 minutes) is:
  2 W/m2           (=2 million uW/m2)                     at frequencies of 100 MHz to 400 MHz
  2 to 10 W/m2  (=2 million to 10 million uW/m2)  at frequencies of 400 MHz to 2000 MHz
  10 W/m2         (=10 million uW/m2)                    at frequencies of 2000 MHz to 5000 MHz. 
Some countries have lower limits, for example in Italy, Switzerland, Poland, and China it is  0.1 W/m2  (100,000 uW/m2)  at 1800 MHz. 
If our RF meter (Acoustimeter model) is showing below the top of the average power scale (below 100,000 uW/m2) then these government standards are being met (usually by a wide margin).  However, some studies have found adverse health effects at levels far below these government standards (see other questions on this page). The Acoustimeter can measure much lower exposure levels: from 1 to 100,000 uW/m2. 
You can view the full US government standard  https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/1626482  Table 9 shows the legal limit for RF exposure of the general public. Enforcement is an issue: microwavenews.com/news-center/cell-phone-carriers-fcc-cozy.   Different regulations apply to mobile phone use next to your head, but all the US standards are based on heating of human tissue by the RF. 
What is the RF exposure while using a mobile phone next to your head?  A mobile phone held against the ear is estimated to produce average power of about 10 W/m2 (=10 million uW/m2) on the area of your head near the phone antenna, and about 1 W/m2  (=1 million uW/m2) inside your cranium near the phone. The maximum V/m is estimated around 150 V/m on the outside and 50 V/m on the inside of the head. The RF meter measures less than this probably because it is designed to be accurate at a distance of about 1 foot or more from the transmitting antenna. 
For a child their head is smaller and their brain still developing, so this very high exposure is of even more concern. James McNamee with Health Canada in October of 2011 issued a cautionary warning stating "Children are more sensitive to a variety of agents than adults as their brains and immune systems are still developing, so you can't say the risk would be equal for a small adult as for a child." (Globe and Mail 2011).  Mobile phones are required to be tested for SAR which measures how much RF power is absorbed in the head as heat, but it does not consider other possible effects besides heating, and also the government assumes adult users will not use their phones for longer than 30 minutes per day, and children for even less time. 
Can the RF meters measure WiFi and Bluetooth?  Yes. Distance reduces RF exposure, so you could place the WiFi router away from bedrooms and other locations where people spend a lot of time, and turn off WiFi routers at night especially if they are close to a bedroom. Different WiFi devices emit differing amounts of RF power. WiFi routers that need to cover a wider area like schools often radiate at higher power, and should be placed farther away from where children sit. Bluetooth radiates lower power than WiFi but is sometimes worn very close to the head. This article is from Consumer Reports: https://www.consumerreports.org/radiation/do-i-need-to-worry-about-radiation-from-wifi-and-bluetooth-devices/   This video shows the RF Acoustimeter measuring a WiFI router or modem: www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICA19oKPi5I
How to reduce WiFi RF exposure in my home:  Here are some ideas: move the WiFi router to a more distant location in your house away from your desk or living areas. Use wired Ethernet from the router to some of your devices. Turn off the router at night. Put it on a timer to automatically shut off every night. Put a piece of aluminum foil about a foot or so from the router between the router and living areas since metal blocks RF which mostly travels in straight lines from the router.  Other metal objects can also block some RF.  To block RF from entering through a larger area like a wall you can use conductive paint, conductive shielding fabrics, aluminum foil, metal screen or mesh (with holes preferably 1/4" = 6 mm or smaller). Note some routers let you "turn off WiFi signal", but they may still keep radiating the carrier, so that doesn't reduce the RF. 
Where are cell towers and other antennas located?  www.antennasearch.com shows locations and frequencies of many antennas in USA. 
A cell phone tower is near our house:  A study in France  "Study of the health of people living in the vicinity of mobile phone base stations" recommends that no-one live within 300 meters (1/5 mile) from a cell phone tower. Other studies have also report ill-health effects living close to phone towers:   www.powerwatch.org.uk,  and www.mast-victims.org/ 
RF exposure will depend on the distance from the tower, your height above ground compared to the tower antenna height (being closer to the antenna height is worse),  the number of carriers, operators, and antennas using that tower, the power transmitted by each antenna, antenna patterns, frequencies, type of walls and roof material in your building, metal objects in your vicinity, etc.  You can measure the RF exposure using the RF meter and compare it with other locations. 
Can the RF meters measure RF exposure from cell phone towers, TV and radio broadcast towers?  Our RF meters can measure cell phone towers, and TV towers for TV station 7 and up (that's VHF-Hi and UHF), but will not measure TV towers for stations 2-6 nor radio broadcast towers (AM or FM), since those use frequencies below the frequency range measured by these RF meters. Two-way radios and other RF antennas can be measured if they transmit between 200 MHz to 8000 MHz frequency. 
There is a TV or radio tower near my house, what is our RF exposure?  Exposure from a TV tower was about 10,000 uW/m2 at 1/2 mile (800 meters) from the tower.  Some studies have found health problems for residents near TV and radio towers:   http://dorontal.net/NIR_refs/TV_towers_Sydney.pdf  and  www.powerwatch.org.uk 
If I want to reduce RF exposure from a nearby tower or antenna, what can I do?  Aluminum siding will block most of the RF radiation from coming through walls. RF waves travel mainly in straight lines from the source and are blocked by metal, so you actually only need the aluminum siding on the sides of the house facing the tower.  If aluminum siding is not used, then for interior walls, conductive paint is available which will block RF, or conductive shielding fabrics can be used for curtains, drapes, or wall coverings (fabrics can be sewn).  Aluminum mosquito screens will block RF and can be used for windows facing a tower. Aluminum Venetian blinds (with vertical blinds) in front of windows will block some RF. In attic areas you could staple chicken-wire mesh to block rays from the tower entering through the roof or ceiling. Aluminum foil also blocks RF. These all work due to the high frequency of RF; the RF can still go around these shields but is much reduced in strength. (But these methods would not block 60 Hz magnetic fields from power lines, measured with an AC gaussmeter).  
There is an antenna on my building or nearby building:   First, find out what type of antenna and what its used for: some antennas are for receiving only (like TV antennas on houses, satellite TV, and some satellite internet antennas), those would not transmit anything so they would not cause any RF exposure nor show anything on the RF meter. See if the building address is found at www.antennasearch.com which gives some information about many transmitting antennas in the USA. Ask the owner of the building or antenna what type of antenna it is.  If it is a cell phone antenna then see the above FAQ about antenna towers near your house. Antenna beams usually direct more power horizontally than downwards, so its possible to have more exposure on an upper floor of a nearby building than on a lower floor in the same building as a rooftop antenna. 
Could there be a cell phone antenna on the wall of my building?  Sometimes a cell phone company has been allowed by the landlord to place an antenna on the outside wall of an apartment or office building, which exposes the occupants in the nearest rooms to high RF fields. These antennas may be as small as a shoe-box and painted the color of the exterior of the building to blend in. These antennas can be located using the RF meter, since the fields get stronger as you approach the antenna. 
Can the RF meter measure Smart Meters?  Yes.  Smart meters may transmit RF pulses every few seconds or some transmit much less often. Each pulse is generally at a very low level of RF, so to see them you may need to turn off other nearby RF sources like Wi-Fi and mobile phones.  
Can the RF meter measure Dirty Power or "Dirty Electricity" (DE)?  Only some of the DE frequencies, since the RF meter frequency bandwidth is 150 MHz to 10 GHz. 
Can the RF meter measure TV or radio sets in my home?  TV and radio sets used in homes are receive-only and do not transmit, so there should not be any RF coming from them or their antenna. Two-way radios can be measured if they transmit between 150 MHz to 10,000 MHz frequency.  
Can the RF meter measure Ham Radio antenna transmissions?  Not most ham radio transmissions, since they are usually below the 150 MHz frequency which is the lowest frequency measured by this meter. 
Is there an easy way to reduce RF exposure?  For mobile phone conversations you can use an earbud or speaker so the phone is not next to your head.  You can place the WiFi router away from where you spend a lot of time. You can use the RF Meter to measure RF exposure in areas you spend a lot of time, and if it is below 10 uW/m2 Average, and you don't live near any TV or radio towers, then you should have low RF exposure. 
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