Health: the science and evidence
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 Radiation 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.
Base stations and health
Surveys have shown that the radio frequency exposures from base stations typically range from 0.0002% to 2% of the levels of ICNIRP guidelines, depending on a variety of factors such as the proximity to the antenna and the surrounding environment.
Many national governments and regulatory authorities conduct compliance assessments and some share this through public websites, for example the UK, the Netherlands, Greece (programme concluded in 2019), and India.
Vodafone’s base stations
Our base stations (including their masts and antennas) comply with national regulations or, where these do not exist, with the internationally recognised guidelines of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Your wireless device
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.
What do the experts say?
Scientific research has concluded that a temperature rise of no more than 1°C 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 conducting a health risk assessment from exposure to radio frequencies, covering the entire radio frequency range, including 5G, to be published by 2022. WHO will review scientific evidence related to potential health risks from 5G exposure as the new technology is deployed, and as more public health-related data become available.
Tips for using your mobile phone
The World Health Organization (WHO) agrees with other authorities that exposure to radio frequency fields from mobile devices, operating within international guidelines, does not cause harm to people.
WHO recognises that some people remain concerned and seek to limit their exposure to radio waves. Therefore, it recommends the following simple steps for using your mobile device:
1 – Find good reception
Use your mobile in areas of good reception, when the phone will transmit at reduced power.
2 – Limit calls
Limit the number and length of calls, reducing the time the phone is closest to the head and body.
3 – Use a headset
Use a headset that keeps the mobile phone away from the head and body during calls.
Children and mobiles
All our phones and devices conform to international guidelines, which ensure protection for everyone.
The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) guidelines are designed to protect the entire population, irrespective of a person’s age, and include a substantial safety margin.
Some parents are concerned that their children’s health may be affected by their regular use. To help parents make an informed decision about their children’s mobile use, we provide information and advice from the World Health Organization (WHO) and its linked organisations.
The majority of national and international scientific opinion, including from WHO, has concluded that the research undertaken to date shows no evidence of risks to human health.
As young people today are likely to use mobile phones over a much longer period in their lifetime, WHO has made it a priority to carry out further research into this area. Studies into the use of mobiles by children and usage of more than 10 years are currently underway. Vodafone closely monitors the results of such research and the views of international bodies such as WHO.
Exposure limits and SAR testing
Public exposure to radio waves from mobiles is measured using the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR).
SAR expresses the amount of energy absorbed by the human body from a mobile device in watts per kilogram (W/kg). ICNIRP guidelines recommend a maximum SAR limit of 2W/kg and all mobiles operating below this level are considered safe to use. Handsets sold by Vodafone comply with this limit.
Some countries, such as India, Canada, South Korea and the United States, have adopted a slightly lower SAR limit of 1.6W/kg. Mobiles sold by Vodafone in these countries are tested to ensure compliance with the relevant local SAR limit.
Specific Absorption Rate testing
SAR testing uses a standard test protocol carried out according to international standards where models of the human head and torso are filled with liquids to simulate the absorption characteristics of human tissue. Each mobile phone model supplied by Vodafone as well as other manufacturers are tested by the relevant phone manufacturer. Each is tested while operating at its highest power level, in all its operating frequency bands, and in specified positions against the head and body. A robotic probe takes measurements of the electric field in a precise grid pattern in the model of the head and torso. The results are submitted as part of the equipment approval test report for final authorisation.
The Mobile & Wireless Forum (MWF) helps consumers learn more about national and international exposure standards for their mobile phone or wireless devices. For SAR information about your phone, please see the manufacturer’s website.
Monitoring scientific research
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.
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