Information regarding Cell Phone Antennas from Health Department

November 25, 2014

Information Regarding Cell Phone Antennas


J. Henry Hershey, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., Director

West Piedmont Health District

295 Commonwealth Boulevard, P.O. Box 1032, Martinsville, VA  24114

(276) 638-2311, ext. 111


In order to protect the population living around base stations and users of mobile handsets, governments and regulatory bodies adopt safety standards, which translate to limits on exposure levels below a certain value. There are many proposed national and international standards, but that of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) is the most respected one, and has been adopted so far by more than 80 countries. For radio stations, ICNIRP proposes two safety levels: one for occupational exposure, another one for the general population. Currently there are efforts underway to harmonize the different standards in existence. These safety levels can be found on the ICNIRP website at                                                                                                                   

Radio base licensing procedures have been established in the majority of urban spaces regulated either at municipal/county, provincial/state or national level. Mobile telephone service providers are, in many regions, required to obtain construction licenses, provide certification of antenna emission levels and assure compliance to ICNIRP standards and/or to other environmental legislation.

Many governmental bodies also require that competing telecommunication companies try to achieve sharing of towers so as to decrease environmental and cosmetic impact. This issue is an influential factor of rejection of installation of new antennas and towers in communities.

The safety standards in the U.S. are set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The FCC has based its standards primarily on those standards established by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), specifically Subcommittee 4 of the "International Committee on Electromagnetic Safety".  The RF Safety Program, Office of Engineering and Technology of the FCC can be accessed at