Small Cells and Health - L1

Small cells are low-power wireless access points that combine mobile and Internet technologies within the home and operate similar to a cordless phone.

A small cell consists of a small box usually mounted inside the home on a wall, with a connection to the internet via a cable similar to a home computer, and a wireless connection to mobile phones and other mobile devices.

Extensive research has been conducted into possible health effects of radio frequency technology with independent health experts concluding there are no established health effects when compliant with safety guidelines.

In relation to radio frequency emissions and wireless technology and health, the general conclusion from the World Health Organization (WHO) is;

“Despite extensive research, to date there is no evidence to conclude that exposure to low level electromagnetic fields is harmful to human health”
WHO - About Electromagnetic Fields – Summary of Health Effects Key Point 6

In relation to wireless networks and health, the conclusion from the WHO is;

“Considering the very low exposure levels and research results collected to date, there is no convincing scientific evidence that the weak RF signals from base stations and wireless networks cause adverse health effects.”

WHO Fact sheet 304

Confirmed as current position in WHO RF and Health Presentation – ITU Workshop on EMF Turin May 2013

More information...

Small Cells and Health - L2

What are small cells?
What is the output power of a small cell?
What research has been undertaken?
Are there safety limits for radio waves - do small cells comply?
What about potential implications for children?
Aren't they really base stations in a house?

What are small cells?

Small cells are low-power access points that can combine mobile and Internet technologies within the home.

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What is the power output of a small cell?

Small cells, have a very low output power - less than 0.1 watts and in some access point applications less than 0.02 watts.  Further, the mobile phones connected to an access point will typically operate at levels similar to many other items we have at home, for example wireless computer routers, wireless DECT phones and baby alarms. 

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What research has been undertaken?

Access points emit very low levels of radio waves (also known as radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic fields) when being used.  The safety of radio waves has been extensively studied for more than 50 years.  Numerous independent scientific expert panels, health agencies and standard-setting organisations around the world regularly review this large and growing body of research.  These organisations have all reached the same general scientific conclusion: that there are no established health effects from exposure to radio waves below the limits applicable to wireless communications systems.

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Are there safety limits for exposure to radio waves and do small cells/access points comply with these?

Yes. small cells/access points must comply with the same safety limits that are applied to other wireless devices.  These safety limits have been established by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).  They have been endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and widely adopted by the EU and governments around the world.

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What about the potential implications for children?

The health and safety of children is important to all of us.  Substantial safety margins are incorporated in the standards with which femtocells/access points and other radio and wireless products must comply.  These safety margins provide protection for everyone, including children.

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You call them Access Points, but wouldn’t it be fairer to call them home base stations, since that’s what it is - a base station inside your house? 

Small cells are like wireless modems and connect to other networks like a broadband connection.  Access points have a very low output power - less than 0.1 watts and in some applications less than 0.02 watts - similar to many other items we have at home, for example wireless computer routers, wireless DECT phones and baby monitors. 

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Additional resources... 

Small Cells and Health - L3

Additional Information on Small Cells

Health Authority & Educational Resources

 

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