MadSci Network: Physics

Re: Can living next to a TV antenna transmitter be harmful?

Date: Tue Nov 18 17:11:12 2003
Posted By: John Moulder, Faculty, Radiation Biology, Medical College of Wisconsin
Area of science: Physics
ID: 1068685521.Ph

TV antenna transmitter

You ask:

Can living next to a TV antenna transmitter be harmful?

TV broadcast antennas (UHF or VHF) use radio-frequency (RF) radiation to transmit both the pictures and the sound. Some of that RF radiation reaches the ground near the tower, otherwise people who live near the tower would not be able to receive a TV signal (unless they got cable).

In the US and in most of the world, the amount of RF radiation that people who live near TV and radio broadcast towers can receive is strictly regulated by the government. In the case of the US, this regulation is by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

In most cases, the RF radiation levels near towers are less than 10% of the level specified by the regulations; but in some cases where there are multiple antennas near each other, the level of RF radiation can come very close to the regulations.

Most scientists consider that there are no health hazards associated with these levels of RF radiation. There are several reasons for this:

  1. Based on what we know about biology and about the physics of RF radiation, no effects would be expected to occur at these levels of exposure.
  2. Exposure of cells to these levels of RF radiation generally produces no effects at all. When effects have been reported, other scientists have generally not be able to replicate (repeat) the studies.
  3. Exposure of animals for long periods of time to these levels of RF radiation (or to higher levels) generally produces no effects at all. As with the cellular studies, the scattered reports of effects have failed attempts at replication.
  4. Studies of people who are exposed to radiation on the job have found no consistent evidence for health effects.
  5. Finally, there is no consistent evidence that people who live around TV and radio broadcast antennas have any unusual health problems. The major studies have focused on cancer:

Two on-line resources that deal specifically with RF radiation exposures from TV broadcast antennas are:

John Moulder
Radiation Biologist
Medical College of Wisconsin
Electromagnetic Fields and Human Health

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