Health effects of mobile communication services

Using mobile devices is safe

As a telecommunications operator, our duty is to offer important communication connections and maintain and develop the infrastructure that is critical for society. There is great demand for our solutions, such as mobile communications and broadband services, and their use has increased significantly in recent years in Finland. We wish to maintain and develop our networks so that all Finns can benefit from high-quality connections.

In Finland, the use of mobile devices, such as mobile phones and tablets, is among the greatest in the world in proportion to the size of the population. A mobile device also requires base stations and other related devices for its operations. Some may be concerned about the health effects of the radio frequency fields (RF fields) of mobile devices and their base stations.

There has been plenty of research on the health effects of electromagnetic radiation from mobile devices and base stations. In the research that has been carried out no harmful health effects due to radiation have been detected. Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, Finland (STUK) has issued specific safety limits on the electromagnetic fields of mobile devices and base stations that DNA will consider carefully when planning and implementing mobile networks.  Authorities (Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, Finland and the Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority) supervise the safety of networks carefully.

Frequently asked questions

How does radiation from a mobile device affect people?

There is no evidence of the ill effects of radiation from a mobile device on a person's health. So far, the only known mechanism by which radiation at radio frequency affects living tissue is warming. When a radio wave comes into contact with tissue, part of the wave is reflected and part of it infiltrates into the tissue so that the energy of the wave turns into heat. The basis for the limits set for radiation at radio frequency is that they are clearly below values that could cause health effects. Radiation from mobile devices only exposes tissue locally.

Nor is there evidence of health effects from base stations: the exposure from base stations on people is so minor that it does not have any effects on health. However, the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, Finland has set safety requirements for the construction of base stations that DNA follows closely when constructing a network.

Source: Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, Finland (STUK)

How is the radiation from mobile devices monitored?

As an authority, the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, Finland (STUK) oversees the radiation safety of mobile phones and other devices that use radiation at radio frequency and are currently available on the market by testing various phone models and devices in spot checks.

An SAR value (specific absorption rate) is used as the measure of the rate at which tissue in the head or body area absorbs energy when it is exposed to a device that radiates at radio frequency. The maximum permitted SAR value for mobile phones is 2 W/kg. Mobile phone manufacturers measure the SAR value of all of their mobile phone models and ensure that the limit will not be exceeded. SAR values for new phones are available on the manufacturer’s website or in the user instructions of mobile phones.

Source: Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, Finland (STUK)

Are base station antennas dangerous if they are located on top of blocks of flats, for example?

There is very little exposure caused by base stations; at most, the energy rates measured in flats located close to antennas have been at most one hundredth of the maximum values of exposure. Radiation at radio frequency does not accumulate in the body, so – based on currently available information – continuous radiation from a base station is not in any way more dangerous than short-term exposure to radiation of the same amount. In addition, a base station that is located nearby may even reduce exposure to people as mobile phones transmit with considerably less energy when the reception is good than when they are far away from a base station.

Source: Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, Finland (STUK)

If I am concerned about the radiation of a mobile device regardless of research data, how can I reduce exposure to it?

Based on current research, radiation from mobile devices and base stations has not been found to cause harmful effects on health. If you are still concerned about the radiation, you can reduce exposure to it with the following simple methods:

•Exposure of the head and body to radiation can be reduced by using a hands free device or by turning on the phone’s speaker and keeping the phone on the table.
•If the reception is poor – for example, the speaker is in an enclosed space like a car – the device emits more intense radiation compared with a situation where the reception is excellent.
•If the phone’s network connection is shared with another device such as a porta-ble computer (known as tethering), the phone should be kept on a table or similar location instead of in the user’s pocket.

Source: Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, Finland (STUK) 

Further information: Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, Finland