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RF Radiation: Health Effects
RF Radiation: Health Effects

Wireless technologies are proliferating rapidly in every aspect of our lives, and while they may be convenient, scientific research shows that they are also impacting our health, even at levels far below the Federal Communications Commission’s obsolete guidelines which have not been updated since 1996. Thousands of published, peer-reviewed studies document the ability of RF radiation to cause biological harm.  Recognition of those health impacts is following the similarly slow trajectory of the awareness of the hazards of tobacco, lead and asbestos that spanned decades of harm before stricter regulations were finally enacted. 


Small but powerful transmitters in personal devices (cell phones, cordless phones, computers, iPads, and wearables) baby monitors, routers, smart meters, cell towers, small cell antennas and other localized wireless components that facilitate two-way communication all combine to increase our exposure to wireless radiation, also known as “microwave radiation” or “radiofrequency (RF) radiation.”


Long considered to be harmless, low-level exposures to this type of radiation are now known to have harmful biological effects including cancer, reproductive and neurological harm and DNA damage. Many people also report acute symptoms from exposure, including dizziness, headaches, nausea, fatigue, insomnia, heart palpitations and difficulty concentrating. 

Fast Facts

  • FCC guidelines for human exposure to RF radiation were developed in the 1980s and have not been updated since  they were adopted in 1996. 


  • Recent studies by the National Toxicology Program showed an increased risk of cancer, neurological harm and DNA damage among animals exposed to normal levels of RF radiation. 


  • Experts from around the world are calling for a moratorium on further expansion of wireless networks until health safety can be assured.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), an agency with no health experience or capability, is the agency charged with setting and enforcing human exposure standards to RF radiation. In 2013, the FCC opened an official inquiry seeking public input regarding the guidelines and received thousands of responses from medical professionals from around the world, urging the FCC to adopt more stringent standards. In 2018, the FCC suddenly announced that it was closing the inquiry, and that it would keep the guidelines as they were. Environmental Health Trust, Children's Health Defense and a group of individuals sued the FCC, arguing that the agency had failed to address the thousands of studies that had been submitted. In 2019, the federal appeals court in Washington DC agreed, calling the FCC's decision "arbitrary and capricious" and remanded the case back to the FCC for re-consideration. No further action has been taken since.  

Despite the lack of action by the FCC, public concerns over potential health problems resulting from exposure to RF radiation have grown significantly over the past few years. Wireless radiation has been classified as a Group 2B carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the World Health Organization, and a review by an independent panel of experts of the recent 10-year, $30 million study by the National Toxicology Program of the National Institutes of Health demonstrated “clear evidence” of carcinogenicity in the Schwannoma cells of the heart and some evidence of an association with malignant gliomas in the brain” from chronic, low-level exposures.

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Dr. Otis Brawley, American Cancer Society’s Chief Medical Officer at that time stated, “The NTP report linking radiofrequency radiation to two types of cancer marks a paradigm shift in our understanding of radiation and cancer.” The world-renowned Ramazzini Institute corroborated these findings in their recent study.  Even manufacturers of wireless devices warn consumers to keep these devices away from their bodies.

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