Research Confirms that 4G Small Cells Can Increase Our Radiation Exposure

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Research: LTE Cell Tower Densification Can Increase Ambient Levels of Radiation 7 to 46 Times

A 2019 study found increased RF-EMF exposure from small cell LTE networks in two urban cities in France and the Netherlands. Researchers measured the RF-EMF from LTE (Long-Term Evolution) MC (macro cells meaning large cell towers) and SC networks (low-powered small cell base stations)  and found that the small cell networks increased the radio emissions from base stations (called downlink) a factor of 7–46 while decreasing the radio emissions from user equipment exposure (called ) a factor of 5–17. So while the devices themselves could emit less radiation, the cell antennas will increase the levels from cell antennas (Mazloum 2019). This study shows the increased exposures would be involuntary. We can turn our phone off, but we cannot turn off the antennas in the neighborhood. 

The amount of antennas in the area- the densification- was linked to the variability in exposure. 

Companies state in white papers that these 4G and 5G antennas will increase the wireless radiation levels in the area so much that they are working to loosen several governments’ radiation limits in order to roll it out. 

Yes, Cell Towers Near Schools Increase RF Exposure

An Australian study also found that children in kindergartens with nearby antenna installations had nearly three-and-a-half times higher RF exposures than children with installations further away (more than 300 meters (Bhatt 2016).  

Yes, Cell Towers Contribute to Our Everyday RF Exposure 

A 2018 multi-country study that measured RF in several countries found that cell phone tower radiation is the dominant contributor to RF exposure in most outdoor areas exposure in urban areas was higher and that exposure has drastically increased. As an example, the measurements the researchers took in Los Angeles, USA were 70 times higher than the US EPA estimate 40 years ago (Sagar 2018). 

As an example of how rapidly RF is increasing from wireless antennas, a 2014 published study looked at RF in three European cities and found in just one year (between  April 2011 and March 2012) that the total RF-EMF exposure levels in all outdoor areas in combination increased by 57.1%  in Basel by 20.1% in Ghent and by 38.2% in Brussels (Urbinello 2014). “Exposure increase was most consistently observed in outdoor areas due to emissions from mobile phone base stations.”  

Another study, Birks 2018, looked at 529 children in Denmark, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Switzerland and Spain who wore meters around the waist or carried in a backpack during the day and placed close to the bed at night. Researchers  found “the largest contributors to total personal environmental RF-EMF exposure were downlink (meaning from cell tower base stations) and broadcast.” 

A study on Australian adults where participants carried a measuring device in a small hip bag for approximately 24 consecutive hours also found “downlink and broadcast are the main contributors to total RF-EMF personal exposure.” Downlink (RF from mobile phone base station) contributed 40.4% of the total RF-EMF exposure (Zeleke 2018).  Another published study (Choi 2018) that gave 50 Korean adult child pairs a special radiation measuring device for 48 hours evaluated the types of radiation the participants were exposed to and found that “the contribution of base-station exposure to total RF-EMF exposure was the highest both in parents and children.”  

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