RF Health & Safety

A White Paper from NAS Wireless

Historical Development:
The health effect of cellular phone usage has been a concern for many years. This concern has crossed over into the radio communications industry. Radio frequency (RF) energy is a type of radiation, similar to commercial radio and television broadcasts. There are large differences between safe and potentially damaging forms of RF radiation.

As faster data transmission is required, more radio spectrum is being made available and higher radio frequencies are used. Higher frequencies produce shorter radio waves, which have the potential for more interaction with human body tissue. Most radio frequencies do pass through the human body without any interaction or harmful effects. Normally, when the body absorbs radio energy, the amount is typically so low as to have no effect. These low levels of radio energy are called non-ionizing. Radio frequency products commercially available on the market today are non-ionizing.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), among others, have studied the biological effects of RF energy for the past 50 years. A major area of interest for these organizations is developing a standard that assures safe usage of RF energy.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) has developed a guide to prevent harmful effects in humans exposed to electro magnetic fields produced at high frequencies. This guide is published by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) under publication #C95.1-1982, and revisions. These standards require handheld RF devices to operate at a total power level of less than 0.7 watts.

Bottom Line:
All commercial RF data communications systems operate at much lower power levels than CBs, police radios, and cellular phones. Most commercial RF systems also utilize a power management feature, or “sleep mode”; similar to that found on personal computers. This mode minimizes the time the radio actually transmits. Additionally, most RF antennas use a narrow, focused beam, which further limits RF energy exposure.

Source: Aironet Communications, RF Health and Safety.