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Environmental and Workplace Health

Cell Phone Towers

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Wireless telecommunications rely on a wide network of cell phone towers (base stations) to send and receive information. Cell phone towers consist of antennas and electronic equipment which serve as hubs for cell phones and local wireless networks. When you make a call with your cell phone, your phone and a nearby cell phone tower communicate back and forth using low-power radiofrequency (RF) energy.

RF energy (sometimes called RF emissions, RF waves, or RF fields) is a part of the electromagnetic spectrum, which includes microwave radiation, visible light and X-rays. Health concerns are sometimes expressed by people who live or work near cell phone tower antennas located on towers, poles, water tanks or rooftops. Yet, the consensus of the scientific community is that RF energy from cell phone towers is too low to cause adverse health effects in humans. In fact, RF exposures from cell phone towers are typically well below Health Canada's exposure standards.

Over the past decade, the use of wireless telecommunication technology has increased significantly: more than 24 million Canadians now have cell phones. To ensure that the public's RF exposure falls within acceptable guidelines, Industry Canada, the federal regulator responsible for the approval of RF equipment and performing compliance assessments, has chosen the human exposure limits established by Health Canada (outlined in Safety Code 6), as their regulatory exposure standard ( Radio Standards Specification 102).

Learn more about cell phones, cell phone towers, and RF fields by consulting the following resources:

  • Next link will take you to another Web site International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP)
    The ICNIRP reviews current scientific evidence about the health consequences of exposure to high frequency electromagnetic fields and publishes its advice on its web site.
  • Safety of Cell Phones and Cell Phone Towers
    With the growing popularity of cell phones, concerns have been raised about the safety of exposure to RF energy. This document addresses these concerns and outlines the respective responsibilities of Health Canada and Industry Canada for the safety of these devices.
  • Health Canada's RF exposure guidelines (Safety Code 6)
    These guidelines describe limits for safe human exposure to RF energy. Industry Canada has adopted these exposure limits and included them in their regulatory documents.
  • Research on RF Energy and Health
    A list of Health Canada-funded studies on RF energy and health.
  • Next link will take you to another Web site Industry Canada's Radio Standards Specification 102
    Radio Standards Specification 102, Radio Frequency Exposure Compliance of Radiocommunication Apparatus (All Frequency Bands) sets out the requirements and measurement techniques used to evaluate RF exposure compliance of radiocommunication apparatus designed to be used within the vicinity of the human body.
  • Next link will take you to another Web site Electromagnetic Fields and Public Health
    This World Health Organization (WHO) fact sheet reviews scientific evidence on the health effects from continuous low-level human exposure to cell phone towers and other local wireless networks.

This World Health Organization (WHO) fact sheet reviews scientific evidence on the health effects from continuous low-level human exposure to cell phone towers and other local wireless networks.