At Vodafone, we are committed to ensuring the health and safety of all. Our mobile devices and the base stations that send and receive your communications operate well within the guidelines set by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Protection (ICNIRP).

ICNIRP is an independent advisory body working in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO). These guidelines incorporate substantial safety margins to deliver protection for everyone. There is no evidence to convince experts that mobiles or base stations carry any risk to human health when operating within these international safety guideline limits. ICNIRP has been conducting a routine review of its guidelines which will include a public consultation on the draft proposal. The draft revised guidelines are expected to be published in 2017.

On this page we share the scientific evidence around mobile technology.

 

Base stations and health

Base stations are designed to send and receive electrical signals from mobile devices and relay them to a core switching centre. Each base station consists of antennas and a cabinet with equipment to power it. The antennas are usually fixed to a support structure, which is known as a mast.

Your mobile phone only works if it can connect to a base station. The majority of experts and national advisory boards say there is no scientific reason to distance base stations from places where people live and work, as long as the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) guidelines are adhered to. These guidelines include a substantial safety margin.

The World Health Organization (WHO) fact sheet on base stations and wireless technologies states that:

“…There is no convincing scientific evidence that the weak RF [radio frequency] signals from base stations and wireless networks cause adverse health effects.”

Surveys have shown that the RF exposures from base stations range from 0.002% to 2% of the levels of international exposure guidelines, depending on a variety of factors such as the proximity to the antenna and the surrounding environment.

To offer further reassurance, some governments have introduced a national database that shares independent information about the location of base stations and the amount of radio waves they produce. Vodafone has provided information to assist these programmes in Greece, the UK, Egypt, India and the Netherlands.

 

Mobile devices and health

Your mobile device converts radio waves into electrical signals in order to send and receive your communications. At its peak (when the phone is turned on), power use ranges between 0.1 and 2 watts.

The radio waves that mobile devices rely on are at the non-ionising end of the electromagnetic spectrum. While a mobile device is used close to the human body, a small amount of energy from the radio waves is absorbed and this is converted into heat.

Scientific research has concluded that a temperature rise of no more than one degree Celsius is a safe level for the body. Our normal biological processes cool us down and prevent any significant temperature rise in our bodies.

The vast majority of experts, including the World Health Organization (WHO), agree that mobiles, operated in line with international guidelines, do not produce enough energy – and therefore heat – to cause long-term changes in the body.

WHO periodically reviews the science and is currently conducting another risk assessment of radio frequency electromagnetic fields. This is based on an extensive review of scientific studies published since their first review in 1993 and is due to be published in 2017–2018.

 

 

Children and mobiles

All our phones and devices conform to international guidelines, which ensure protection for everyone.

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Exposure limits and SAR testing

Public exposure to radio waves from mobiles is measured using the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR).

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Our commitment to addressing public concerns

Our vision is to lead within the industry in responding to public concerns about mobile masts and health, communicating openly and transparently. We provide information on our global and national websites, as well as in our stores and via our call centres.

 

Monitoring scientific research

From the launch of the UK’s first cellular telephone service in 1985 to the first text message in 1992 and the first smartphone in 2000, mobile technology has been rapidly adopted. The number of active mobile devices in circulation exceeds 7 billion worldwide.

There have already been thousands of scientific studies into the effects of electromagnetic fields on health. The vast majority of experts agree there is no evidence to convince experts that mobiles or base stations have adverse health effects, when operated within guideline safety limits.

There are still some gaps in scientific knowledge, and additional scientific research continues to take place, including studies prioritised by the World Health Organization (WHO), which Vodafone follows closely.

The primary role of WHO is to direct and coordinate international health within the United Nations’ system. Its position and guidance are respected and recognised by governments throughout the world. Current areas identified by WHO for ongoing research are:

  • population-based studies;
  • effects on the brain;
  • early life and children;
  • ageing and degenerative disease; and
  • RF exposure levels from new technologies.

 

Independent advice from the World Health Organization

The World Health Organization (WHO) directs and coordinates research and produces guidance and information about international health issues within the United Nations system. It has published various fact sheets providing information and guidance on electromagnetic fields and public health.

WHO fact sheet Published

Fact sheet No.193
Electromagnetic fields and public health: mobile phones

This WHO fact sheet provides an assessment of the exposure levels associated with mobile phone use and any potential public health impact. The fact sheet outlines exposure limit guidelines and also contains WHO’s response to public and governmental concern. 

October 2014