Radiation is omnipresent, from solar radiation to electromagnetic waves. Invisible to the human eye, radiation is the key enabler of many things, like sending apps, making calls and streaming videos. Still, the word radiation has a negative connotation. With good reason or not? To find out we discuss four statements about the radiation from telecom masts.
Electromagnetic waves are omnipresent in the Netherlands. They are emitted by thousands of antennas for mobile telephony and mobile data traffic. All kinds of assumptions circulate about radiation coming from those antennas and mobile phones. We present a handful of them to Rob Bongenaar. He is the director of Monet, the industry association that coordinates the location of antennas for mobile phone networks with the authorities on behalf of KPN, T-Mobile and Vodafone.
1. Radiation is unnatural
"Wireless networks and devices exchange information through radio frequency signals, also known as RF signals, a form of electromagnetic energy. RF signals are emitted by natural sources, like the sun and the earth itself. And also by artificial sources, like wireless networks, television sets and radios."
Conclusion: for the greater part untrue.
2. Radiation is not harmful to you
"Radiation can be harmful, but only in too large quantities. Like with damage by solar radiation, what counts is frequency, or wavelength, intensity and duration of the exposure. Because of extensive research we know how much radiation is still safe. This limit has been determined on an international level. The Radio Communications Agency regularly measures if radiation from mobile network antennas stays within this limit. Time after time, the measurements prove that antenna radiation in our country is lower than the limit by a factor of thirty. Therefore, in daily life you will never be exposed to the maximum level of radiation that is allowed, far from it.
Some people say they do have complaints caused by RF signals. Their experiences, however, cannot be supported by evidence and scientific research, which proves that the amount of radiation in our society stays well within the legal limits. The independent knowledge platform Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) monitors science and interprets the thousands of research reports that have been published so far about the effects of EMF. There is, for example, this cohort survey that started in 2007, in which several tens of thousands of people in many countries are being monitored. It looks at the long-term effects of exposure to radiation. So far, the platform has never come to the conclusion that the radiation present in our society is harmful."
Conclusion: true, as long as the amount of radiation stays within the limit.
3. Supervision of radiation is properly regulated
"The Radio Communications Agency regularly measures the amount of radiation across the country and publishes these results. For its measurements this watchdog takes the Health Council’s advice into account, which in turn follows the scientific advice of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection. This ICNIRP, an independent organisation recognised by the World Health Organisation, determines limits for radiation. It does so based on thousands of scientific studies."
4. With the arrival of 5G, the amount of radiation will increase exponentially
"Our use of mobile data is growing exponentially, and has done so for a number of years. This will continue with the arrival of 5G. The amount of radiation people are exposed to, however, will remain more or less the same. This is because we are deploying increasingly smarter systems. In addition, the RF signals are received by increasingly smarter phones and field transmitters. This has two advantages, radiation remains low ánd there is less interference of electromagnetic waves resulting in fewer noticeable disruptions. In short, a win-win situation."