What are the possible consequences and health problems that a person staying very close to mobile signal towers could be subjected to.

I have heard that the people who stay very close these towers will be subjected to a huge amount of radiation.

What are the harmful effects or problems a person staying in such places will could have?

  • 1
    Last time I tried to answer a question like this on Biology, I caused a fire storm that I thought would never end! If no one else answers this, I'll try it again though :)
    – L.B.
    Apr 23, 2015 at 17:12
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    Considering the requested high standard for answers here, I post my little calculation based on googled possible starting values as a comment: First look at this wiki-article which explains a lot about the health considerations of cellular radiation: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_phone_radiation_and_health Then consider the energy absorbed for 10min daily cell phone (1W) usage with mean distance 10cm to brain: 1W\0.05m^2*dayinsecs =~ 240kJ The same at minimal possible distance from 5m high tower with vertical sending area of +-10deg 24h per day: 100W/(5m*tan(80deg))**2*dayinsecs=~11kJ
    – imsodin
    Apr 23, 2015 at 18:19
  • How close is "very close"?
    – Mark
    Apr 30, 2015 at 10:30

2 Answers 2


Many countries have done studies that seem to indicate short-term exposure to the radiation does not increase risk of cancer.

However, some countries are still uncertain about this, and have requested companies move their towers away from people by at least 100 meters.

An Italian court even acknowledged a "causal" link: http://www.prlog.org/12004383-italian-supreme-court-rules-cell-phones-can-cause-cancer.html but this has been deeply criticized by public health leaders in places like the US.

For the most part, there hasn't been substantial evidence to say that the towers cause harm to humans more than 100 meters away. Particularly in the case of short-distance exposure, there hasn't been much data because many times base stations are not turned off during maintenance, but the power being sent through to the antennas is cut off, so that the workers do not have to work near live antennas, but a study over around 50 years of people exposed to Radio Frequency (RF) waves indicates no significant negative consequences. In the conclusion the author notes a well-worded disclaimer:

The controversy about cell phones and cancer is likely to continue either until clear-cut evidence of a hazard is established or until the public (including politicians, businessmen, lawyers and journalists) concludes that there is little likelihood of a real and significant hazard. Perhaps the greatest contribution that scientists can make to this debate is to help educate the public (and other scientists) about the uncertain nature of risk assessment, and about the breadth of disciplines and rigor of analysis that must be brought to bear if high-quality risk assessment is to be accomplished.

Comes from the following article (same one, two different links): http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10319725?dopt=AbstractPlus http://www.jstor.org/stable/3580028?origin=crossref&seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

There have been studies done on animals with respect to RF exposure with possible consequences that you can read about on wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_phone_radiation_and_health#cite_note-95

but when we're talking about these levels of radiation, you would have to be extremely close for an extended period of time, which is why we haven't yet found results in humans. For the most part, we don't stay close enough to have measurable results and those who do take precautions and avoid long-term exposure.


First, what is radiation?

Oxford Dictionaries

the emission of energy as electromagnetic waves or as moving subatomic particles, especially high-energy particles which cause ionization.

okay, so do mobile phone towers use this?

American Cancer Society

Cell phones communicate with wave in the electromagnetic spectrum, with a slightly higher wavelength than, but less than microwaves.

So they do, but...

Like FM radio waves, they are forms of non-ionizing radiation. This means they cannot cause cancer by directly damaging DNA.

Hmm, so they don't cause cancer. What other health issues?

At ground level near typical cellular base stations, the amount of energy is thousands of times less than the limits for safe exposure set by the regulatory authorities. It is very unlikely that a person could be exposed to RF levels in excess of these limits just by being near a cell phone tower.

So not only is it not a huge amount (most goes over your head), the radiation is pretty safe.


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