Naked Science Forum

General Science => Question of the Week => Topic started by: katieHaylor on 09/10/2017 11:38:26

Title: QotW - 17.10.08 - Is it safe to live near a cell phone tower?
Post by: katieHaylor on 09/10/2017 11:38:26
Jason says:

Our new house is 140m from a cell phone tower. As a family, the three of us feel like we have been affected to different degrees in terms of sleep, motivation and anxiety, which are commonly reported symptoms of exposure to microwave radiation.

It's a controvercial topic, but are there any major health risks with living close to a phone tower?


What do you think?
Title: Re: QotW - 17.10.08 - Is it safe to live near a cell phone tower?
Post by: alancalverd on 09/10/2017 16:53:35
AFAIK there is no physical risk.

The Specific Absorption Rate at any distance greater than 10 - 15 m from  a 100W tower is generally less than 2% of the reference level for public exposure (0.08 W/kg at 900 MHz).

This should be compared with the SAR of a handheld mobile phone, which can be anything up to 1.6 W/kg. The hazard, if any, is to users of mobile phones, not the neighbors of phone masts.

The psychological hazard may be quite another thing. Having concerned relatives and latterday luddites tell you that you are living in the shadow of death is not conducive to a good night's sleep, but if they called you on their mobile phones to tell you, they are the ones at risk - especially if they aren't close to a mast, as the phone increases its output to compensate for the distance.
Title: Re: QotW - 17.10.08 - Is it safe to live near a cell phone tower?
Post by: Zer0 on 10/10/2017 05:21:14
General Question (excessive imagination required)

Let's Assume my Mother is a Beautiful Elegant Bird, 🐦 and considers the Mobile🗼Tower as a safe spot to build a cozy comfy Nest. 🏰
Now 3 months she's living peacefully init, n behold..a Humongous Arrogant Bird my Father arrives. 🐓
Another month passes while they romanticize ♥💐 get married 💍💒 n consumate 🎩👒👔👕👗👖👙👞👠 and finally motherbird kicks the fatherbird out of the nest n shoo's him away. 🐔🔫
Now Assume after another month mommybird goes into labor n lays 4 eggs n Suppose it takes 3 months for the eggs to incubate n hatch in normal conditions. 🐣🐣🐣🐣

NOW...considering momybirdie has been living in the nest built right on top of the mobile tower since 8 months will microwave radiation(MR) harm her in any way? 📶
Also I along with my siblings have been fertilized incubated n hatched over a period of 4 months in the nest, will we have any symptoms of (MR) or any birth defects due to (MR)? 🐈🐀🐖🐧
And finally will I get to celebrate my first hapy b'day ever 🍻🎂🐣🎈🎁 or I'd be transformed into a boiled egg within the 3 months incubation period? 🍴🍳🔪
Title: Re: QotW - 17.10.08 - Is it safe to live near a cell phone tower?
Post by: alancalverd on 10/10/2017 07:53:27
Inadvisable to wear high heels in a nest. Slightly oldfashioned to find patterned Y-fronts romantic. But possibly a suitable mother in all other respects bar one - snuggling up to a 100W microwave transmitter will induce excessive heat in the eggs and conceivably neural defects in the mother.

This should be a fairly easy experiment to carry out.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3741489 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3741489) describes a rat experiment and I'm sure google will find something under "radiofrequency bird egg defect" if you search deep enough, though the problem of keeping Mum happy in a laboratory suggests either a lucky observational study or one restricted to chickens.

That said, I think the designers of radio masts do whatever they can to prevent birds nesting around the aerials.
Title: Re: QotW - 17.10.08 - Is it safe to live near a cell phone tower?
Post by: evan_au on 10/10/2017 10:38:13
Quote from: Jason
are there any major health risks with living close to a phone tower?
Ironically, there are less risks for living close to the tower.

The antennas are mounted on a high point, and the directional antennas sendt the signal power almost horizontally.

So there is almost no exposure next to the tower.
But there is some exposure if you are perhaps 500m away. But even then, it still meets the health standards.

The next generation of 5G phones will start deploying around the year 2020. By using steerable antenna arrays, they should be able to direct most of the power just at the user of the phone, with relatively little power in other directions.
Title: Re: QotW - 17.10.08 - Is it safe to live near a cell phone tower?
Post by: Zer0 on 10/10/2017 19:38:29
After Reading n Understanding the Posts on this Topic its rightfully okay to conclude that Jason and the family are at a safe distance n can look forward to a healthy happy life. 👍
As far as Birds n birdwatchers are concerned, its good to know mobile tower owners/corporate entities/design engineers do play a part in keeping our friends with wings away from radio masts. ✌
Hopefully in the near future human beings would adopt n choose n switch over to environmentally friendly technology. 👌
As for now I shall refrain from keeping my cell phone in my pockets close to my body, and also adopt a handsfree device for long duration calls. 📵
Who knows, maybe the next generation of researchers & developers would incorporate building artificial nests on top of mobile towers to showcase how safe their new radical transmission technology is n surely folks n birds alike would love it! 👼
Wish there was a water/dust proof ankle belt mobile/cell phone pouch which I could buy from the market, would make a great tool to keep my mobile/cell phone safely close to my body at all times. 👦
Title: Re: QotW - 17.10.08 - Is it safe to live near a cell phone tower?
Post by: syhprum on 10/10/2017 19:51:16
The only danger warning I have seen on a mobile phone transmitter tower was in Germany which said don't stand too close in winter as large icicles fall off. I understand in the USA 6500 deaths a year result from people driving, walking etc. while using them that's where the danger lies
Title: Re: QotW - 17.10.08 - Is it safe to live near a cell phone tower?
Post by: evan_au on 10/10/2017 21:49:28
Quote from: zer0
my Mother is a Beautiful Elegant Bird, 🐦 and considers the Mobile🗼Tower as a safe spot to build a cozy comfy Nest. 🏰
Normally you have 3 groups of antennas facing outwards - so in theory, there is a safe space between the antennas, with only low levels of leakage power in the middle..

Many years ago, I saw the results of an experiment that showed that birds (chickens) can detect and tend to avoid microwave emissions. They showed a circle of chickens in cages, with a circle of square pyramids about half a meter above the chickens. Only one of which was the microwave transmitting antenna.

But I have no idea how the frequencies and power levels in that experiment compare to today's cellphone towers.

Or indeed, whether airport radars are in the right band - maybe they could use targeted radar signals to dissuade birds near airports?
Title: Re: QotW - 17.10.08 - Is it safe to live near a cell phone tower?
Post by: vent on 16/10/2017 10:09:35
I don't think that health risks have been proven. In some countries, it is forbidden/disencouraged because of precaution only. It's like the schroedinger's cat...
Title: Re: QotW - 17.10.08 - Is it safe to live near a cell phone tower?
Post by: tkadm30 on 19/10/2017 09:47:05
I don't think that health risks have been proven. In some countries, it is forbidden/disencouraged because of precaution only. It's like the schroedinger's cat...

The health risks of chronic exposure to electromagnetic waves is well established.

See: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25836770
Title: Re: QotW - 17.10.08 - Is it safe to live near a cell phone tower?
Post by: alancalverd on 19/10/2017 22:43:25
Interesting experiment but the abstract does not indicate the actual dose, though it implies that the levels were as from phone handsets, not masts. Other references on the same page show no effect on humans.
Title: Re: QotW - 17.10.08 - Is it safe to live near a cell phone tower?
Post by: tkadm30 on 19/10/2017 23:34:04
Interesting experiment but the abstract does not indicate the actual dose, though it implies that the levels were as from phone handsets, not masts. Other references on the same page show no effect on humans.

Independently of the dose, chronic exposure to electromagnetic waves emitted from cell towers or mobile phones has latent biological effects. http://www.nrcresearchpress.com/doi/pdf/10.1139/A10-018?src=recsys&
Title: Re: QotW - 17.10.08 - Is it safe to live near a cell phone tower?
Post by: alancalverd on 20/10/2017 12:42:34
Far too vague. But consider this: they refer to homes having one or more wireless devices. Now if you have a mobile phone, tablet, or wireless distribution of internet and entertainment at home, you will be stimulated more often by the content thereof than if you weren't connected. All the symptoms described are associated with stress, lack of sleep, disturbed life patterns....which can be attributed not to the carrier signal but its content. Silence is golden.
Title: Re: QotW - 17.10.08 - Is it safe to live near a cell phone tower?
Post by: chris on 20/10/2017 23:08:12
Far too vague. But consider this: they refer to homes having one or more wireless devices. Now if you have a mobile phone, tablet, or wireless distribution of internet and entertainment at home, you will be stimulated more often by the content thereof than if you weren't connected. All the symptoms described are associated with stress, lack of sleep, disturbed life patterns....which can be attributed not to the carrier signal but its content. Silence is golden.

This is a very good point, and we've looked at this from a range of perspectives in recent months, including impact on sleep; sleep disturbance is of course linked to all of the above-mentioned symptoms.

This interview looks at the impact of blue-light used in LED backlit screens on sleep and melatonin (https://www.thenakedscientists.com/articles/interviews/darkside-leds).

And this review of the impact of light pollution (https://www.thenakedscientists.com/forum/index.php?topic=71598.msg525731#new)
Title: Re: QotW - 17.10.08 - Is it safe to live near a cell phone tower?
Post by: alancalverd on 21/10/2017 00:37:48
Intriguing possibility. A few years ago I was involved in optimising the spectrum of lamps for resetting circadian rhythms after jet lag., and combatting Seasonal Affective Disorder. Now if we could just program a mobile phone to do that.....
Title: Re: QotW - 17.10.08 - Is it safe to live near a cell phone tower?
Post by: kazbert on 21/10/2017 04:15:10
Is it safe to live near a cell phone tower?

Not during a Cat 5 hurricane. 

But if your home is being hit by a Cat 5 hurricane then a toppled cell tower is probably not your largest concern.
Title: Re: QotW - 17.10.08 - Is it safe to live near a cell phone tower?
Post by: syhprum on 22/10/2017 16:04:54
"The health risks of chronic exposure to electromagnetic waves is well established."
Quite correct if the frequency is higher than 10^15 Hz but the frequency of the electromagnetic waves from a phone tower are in the region of 10^10 Hz and can have no harmful effect.
Title: Re: QotW - 17.10.08 - Is it safe to live near a cell phone tower?
Post by: katieHaylor on 30/10/2017 13:37:06
This question has now been answered in our show, and you can listen to it here: https://www.thenakedscientists.com/articles/questions/are-phone-towers-harmful (https://www.thenakedscientists.com/articles/questions/are-phone-towers-harmful)