Cellular Antennas

Are there recommendations regarding living near a cellular base station?

Cellular base stations installed in residential areas are controlled by permits for installation and operation, issued by the Ministry of Environmental Protection.  These permits are issued in accordance with the recommendations of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Ministry of Health regarding exposure to radiation from cellular antennas.  The recommendations in Israel are more stringent than the international recommendations, and stipulate that the exposure to radiation from base stations, in areas where the public may be chronically exposed, must not exceed 1/10th of the recommended level determined by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP)In areas where the public may spend a shorter amount of time the exposure permitted is 30% of the ICNIRP recommendations.


Surveys to assess the energy level in proximity to locations of cellular base stations in typical urban areas showed that at a distance of 50 m from the cellular base station, radiation usually drops to a few microwatts per cm2.  Adverse health effects of exposure to such low levels have not been established to date.

Cellular base station in residential area

Cellular base station in residential area


In any case, one can verify that exposure to non-ionizing radiation does not exceed the values set in the table in the Ministry of Environmental Protection's document (Hebrew), which summarizes the maximal exposure levels allowed for radiofrequency radiation.



How can one measure radiation from a cellular Antenna independently?

Anyone wishing to perform private measurements of radiation may do so, by summoning a professional radiation surveyor.  The Ministry of Environmental Protection publishes a list of persons authorized to perform radiation measurements, as well as a list of suppliers of measuring instruments.


Dosimeter - radiation measurement instrument

Dosimeter - radiation measurement instrument



What is the minimal distance allowed between a cellular base station antenna and a residential area?

The minimal distance between a cellular base station antenna and a residential area depends on various factors, and is determined according to intensity of emission, direction, height of the base station antenna, and other technical considerations.  Safety ranges change according to communications coverage in an area, which depends on the density of users in the given area.  This distance is authorized by the Ministry of Environmental Protection in accordance with the Non-Ionizing Radiation Law.


A cellular base station antenna  with symbolic radiation

A cellular base station antenna 
with symbolic radiation


For each station there is a minimal distance stipulated in the permit, at the front of the antenna in the direction of emission (horizontal minimal distance), as well as a vertical distance.  This means that the public is prohibited from entering the area within a distance shorter than the minimum allowed by the permit.



Where can one obtain information on cellular base stations?

The Ministry of Environmental Protection is responsible for issuing permits for the installation and operation of sources of radiation, including cellular base stations (by virtue of the Non-Ionizing Radiation Law (Hebrew). The Ministry updates the list of active antennas within cellular base stations monthly, and constantly monitors the emission densities of each antenna.

On the Ministry's website one can find an interactive map (Hebrew), from which one can obtain information on the date of installation, date of operation, and date of last measurement for each station (the address of the base station must be entered within the form).

In addition, the construction of a station requires obtaining a permit from the Committee for Planning and Construction of the Local Municipality (excluding cases where a building permit is not required).  Building permits may be verified at the local authority within whose jurisdiction the station is located.




Are there special guidelines regarding the use of radiation-emitting devices by children?

In general, the guidelines of the TNUDA center and the Ministry of Health regarding radiation-emitting devices are based on the precautionary principle, which aims to strike a balance between the developing technological needs of modern society and the degree of caution required to safeguard health.  The principal recommendation for reducing the level of radiation to the user is to place the source of radiation away from the body (for instance, by using earphones when talking on a mobile phone).

For children, it is recommended to follow strictly the general recommendations regarding the use of mobile phones, because children are more sensitive to developing illness following exposure to harmful agents.  This sensitivity is due to a number of factors:

  • Body tissues of children are developing, hence they are more sensitive to environmental hazards.

  • Children's life expectancy is long, so that they may accumulate significant amounts of exposure.This long life expectancy makes them vulnerable to developing diseases that manifest themselves several years after exposure (such as cancer, which may develop some 10-40 years or more after exposure to the harmful agent).

  • Exposure of children to radiation touches on ethical issues related to decision-making on behalf of minors.

In general, it is known that the degree of sensitivity of children to carcinogenic agents is inversely related to age: in other words, the younger the child, the greater the risk.

It should be mentioned that many parents allow their children, even babies, to use non-ionizing radiation-emitting devices, such as Tablets.  Even if the amount of radiation emitted by such devices is low, the use of non-ionizing radiation-emitting devices by children should be given due consideration in view of the above points.



Fifth Cellular Generation (5G)

What is WHO’s attitude to the risks of the fifth cellular generation?

Below is a summary of the World Health Organization's recently published position, which is cited.

"To date, and after much research performed, no adverse health effect has been causally linked with exposure to wireless technologies. Health-related conclusions are drawn from studies performed across the entire radio spectrum but, so far, only a few studies have been carried out at the frequencies to be used by 5G.

Tissue heating is the main mechanism of interaction between radiofrequency fields and the human body. Radiofrequency exposure levels from current technologies result in negligible temperature rise in the human body.

As the frequency increases, there is less penetration into the body tissues and absorption of the energy becomes more confined to the surface of the body (skin and eye). Provided that the overall exposure remains below international guidelines, no consequences for public health are anticipated".

Will the high frequencies used in the fifth generation be more dangerous to human health?

The fifth cellular generation will also use higher frequencies, some in the millimeter wave (waves that are several millimeters long), to enable the required performance of the cellular network.

These frequencies are part of the electromagnetic non-ionizing radiation spectrum. They are used for various civil and military needs, and especially for short-range communications.

At present, there is no established information that indicates a unique risk of these frequencies compared to other frequencies in the non-ionizing radiation spectrum, including those used in current cellular generations. It should be noted that the radiation at these frequencies has a relatively small depth of penetration to the human body (the penetration is mainly to the skin tissues).

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified the non-ionizing radiation in all radio frequencies up to 300 GHz (including frequencies used in the existing cellular technologies and frequencies used in the fifth cellular generation) in category 2B - "possible carcinogen". Therefore, a basic principle that is recommended to protect against the health risks of non-ionizing radiation is the "precautionary principle".

In addition, this technology is not yet widely used, and there is not much public exposure to radiation at these frequencies. Therefore, there are a few studies on the effects of exposure to millimeter waves on human health, and further studies in the field are required (in laboratory conditions and population studies).

Is there any association between the fifth cellular generation and the Corona virus?

The fifth generation of cellular communications has no causal association with the Corona virus, COVID-19.

Connecting the outbreak of the virus to the 5th cellular generation is an artificial attempt to link two unrelated things, based solely on timeliness (running several 5th generation networks in China and the outbreak of the virus in China).

Why are things unrelated?

First, cellular sites are used for wireless transmission and receipt of cellular signals through radio frequency radiation. They cannot distribute material in any form, and certainly not bacteria and viruses. Therefore, claiming their share in spreading the virus has no grounds.

The fifth generation of cellular communications uses two types of frequencies: below GHz 6 in the range of frequencies currently used for cellular communications, and above GHz 24 in frequencies intended for future uses of the fifth generation. Frequencies currently used in China for cellular communications for the general population are the frequencies of previous generations (below 6 GHZ). Non-ionizing radiation, including the high frequency radiation intended for the fifth cellular generation, cannot cause a change in the structure of the atoms within the body cells (unlike the ionizing radiation). Therefore, to the best of our current knowledge, non-ionizing radiation cannot cause direct damage to the hereditary material (DNA) inside the cell, using the mechanism of ionization of the atoms in cells, as well as changes in virus structure and creation of new viruses on the base of existing viruses.

Another argument raised in this regard is that the fifth generation technology can suppress the immune system (which helps the human body fight infectious diseases, such as those caused by invasion of viruses), making the public more susceptible to the virus.

Studies examining the association between radio frequency exposure and the immune system have shown that high-intensity radio frequency exposure, which is significantly higher than the international exposure limits, raises body core temperature and can temporarily affect the immune system.

However, many other studies that have investigated whether exposure to low-frequency radiation, similar to that generated near fifth-generation cellular sites, can affect the immune system, have not presented, to date, established evidence that this exposure can affect the immune system.

What is a “cellular generation”? What is the fifth cellular generation (5G)? Why it is needed?

The term "cellular generation" refers to the technology of cellular communication. Switching from one "cellular generation" to the next one occurs once a decade or so.

The fifth cellular generation (5G) is intended to replace the major generations currently used (the third and the fourth). The move to the fifth generation is designed to improve the ability to support the operation of smartphones and to enable the use of advanced capabilities and applications which require high volume and fast data transfer. In addition, the fifth generation is designed to support the Internet of Things (IoT), the "Internet of Things", expressed in smart home, smart cities, smart transport, smart shopping and more.

A cellular network is needed to handle efficiently larger information traffic. This requires technological solutions similar to transport solutions, needed to ease the burden of road vehicles. The fifth generation will be able to transmit more data, at a faster rate and at a lower latency. It can also connect more "consumers" to support "Internet of Things" systems.

Do the international radiation protection standards and guidelines address the health risks of the fifth cellular generation and the millimeter waves?

Yes. The leading international standards and guidelines for the protection of non-ionizing radiation (by the International Radiation Protection Association, ICNIRP and the IEEE Organization) relate to the non-ionizing radiation spectrum, up to 300 GHz, including the millimeter wave range and the existing and future cellular frequencies, including the fifth cellular generation mobile. Furthermore, the international standards and guidelines have recently been updated (2020) and are now reflecting scientific updates in exposure limits, especially in the high frequencies and the fifth generation technologies. The limitations are based on scientific updates and up-to-date physical models that provide a more accurate estimate of environmental exposure on the human body. In particular, they address the systems closest to the human body and short-pulse transmission (including thermal effects), especially for modern technologies that will use pulse transmission (such as the fifth cellular generation).

The International Committee for Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) has made it clear that in setting its latest radiation exposure limits it has examined all possible health effects, including non-thermal effects. Nevertheless, recommendations in respect of exposure limitations relate to health effects, which according to ICNIRP's position, are based on established adverse health effects, mainly thermal effects and neural excitation. ICNIRP's position is that exposure limits (thresholds) can only be established when there is well-based and solid scientific knowledge in regard of these effects. Therefore, no separate thresholds for long-term non-thermal effects have been established.