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Cellular Antennas

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 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




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.



Health effects

Are there studies showing a link between non-ionizing radiation and developing disease?

There is no unequivocal answer to the question of whether non-ionizing radiation (such as that emitted by mobile phones, household cordless phones, wireless communications networks, cellular base stations and the electric power grid) can endanger health or cause disease.  Scientists are divided in their opinions on the topic.


Most studies on radiofrequency emissions have focused on the development of different types of cancer, especially brain tumors, acoustic nerve tumors and salivary gland malignancies.  Other health outcomes studied were the effects on fertility (e.g. sperm morphology and motility); on brain function (e.g. cognitive function, attention and concentration deficit disorders in children, brain development in babies); on the heart and circulatory system (blood pressure and heart rate); on hearing, saliva (secretion, composition and flow), fat profile of blood, obesity, development of multiple sclerosis, neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, headaches, and the 'non-ionizing radiation hypersensitivity' syndrome.


In 2011 a Working Group of the International Association for Research on Cancer (IARC) stated that there was limited evidence of an increased risk of developing malignant brain tumors (glioma) and benign acoustic nerve tumors among mobile phone users.  The Working Group also pointed out that the results of current studies were insufficient for drawing clear conclusions about other types of cancer and/or about occupational or environmental exposure.  Based on this conclusion, they classified radiation from radio waves, such as from mobile phones, in Category 2B in the list of carcinogens, thus defining radiofrequency emissions as possibly carcinogenic to humans.


Studies on electric power grids (extremely low frequency, ELF) also focused on the risk of developing cancer, especially leukemia in children; effects on pregnancy outcomes (miscarriages and birth weight); effects on children's behavior, on cognitive function, hormones, neurodegenerative diseases (e.g. Alzheimer's) and heart diseases.


Population studies have pointed to an increased risk of developing leukemia (a blood cancer) among children who lived in close proximity to high tension wires, compared with children who lived further away.  Here too, as for non-ionizing radiation from radiofrequency waves, no unequivocal causal effect between exposure and morbidity has been proven.  However, on the basis of these studies the IARC classified non-ionizing radiation at lowest frequencies as 'possibly carcinogenic to humans' (category 2B).  To date no link between radiation from the electric power grid and other types of cancer has been established conclusively, neither in children nor in adults.










Magnetic & electric fields of low frequencies (ELF)

What is the minimal distance allowed between electrical installations (such as power lines or transformers) and residential homes?

The Ministry of Environmental Protection determines the criteria for distances separating electrical installations from sensitive land use sites such as residences, educational institutions, etc. These criteria depend on a large number of factors, such as the type of installation, the electricity that flows through it, the distance and height of the land use site, relative to the wires through which the electricity flows, the layout of the wires, etc.  The Ministry of Environmental Protection website lists the criteria for determining distances between electrical installations and residences, for each type of installation (Hebrew). 


Recommendations of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Ministry of Health regarding the maximal allowed level of radiation from electrical installations are:

  • 2000 milligauss for short-term exposure (momentary exposure)

  • 4 milligauss daily average for the busiest day (continuous prolonged exposure).

Chronic exposure, or continuous prolonged exposure, is defined as exposure of more than 4 hours daily for more than 5 days a week.  Residences, offices, educational institutions, commercial and industrial buildings, etc., are considered locations of chronic exposure.


For precise data on radiation levels, an authorized radiation surveyor may be summoned, from the list of authorized surveyors on the Ministry of Environmental Protection's website (Hebrew). 


Do powerline adapters emit stronger or weaker radiation than Wi-Fi (routers and access points)?

Powerline network adapters (working via the electricity network) use information modulation technology (modulation, information construction) on infrastructure wires for transmitting internet communications over short ranges over the home electrical infrastructure.

The modulation is done over a wide range of frequencies, determined by the rate of data transmission and from which the radiation frequencies which could develop during data transmission was determined.

Network adapters utilize two end units, one for receiving the information from the router and data modulation over the electrical infrastructure wires, and another for receiving it in another location.

The radiation levels produced by this technology are very low, because the signals passed through the electricity wires (in house walls) are relatively weak, and because rather than the radiation being produced by a broadcasting antenna (as exists in Wi-Fi technologies), it develops in a “parasitic” manner in the vicinity of the electricity wiring in house walls or in the vicinity of electricity sockets (and the adapters themselves), that do not act as efficient antennae.

Various measurements made for internet powerline network adapters, have shown levels of radiation below one nano-watt (one billionth of a watt) per cm2 at a distance of 1 meter from the electrical wiring – less than one thousandth of the radiation levels produced at a distance of 1 meter from a wireless routers and access points.

It should be noted that there are powerline network adapters that also use wireless technology (for making a wireless connection for cellphones, tablets and computers in the target area), and in these cases they also produce radiation at the 2.45 and 5 GHz frequencies (like the radiation from Wi-Fi networks).


To what degree does exposure to electromagnetic radiation increase when the electrical panel is located inside the house?

Levels of exposure to magnetic fields in the vicinity of electrical panels are mainly dependent on the size of electric currents and the way the conductors are arranged inside the panels. Distance from electrical panels also has a large effect.

The overall value of electrical currents developing inside home electrical panels can reach tens of amperes, as a function of the type of consumer connection to the electric company and the degree of electricity consumption. Exposure levels in the vicinity of the panels may reach several tens of milligauss and even more than this. However, as the distance from the electrical panels increases, exposure levels drop sharply.


The recommended method of reducing exposures to magnetic fields from electrical panels, according to the precautionary principle, is by keeping sufficient distance from the electricity cupboard. Thus, at a distance of 1 meter from the electrical panel, exposure levels drop to a few milligauss. In addition, the location of the electrical cupboard should not be in the walls of residential rooms (in which people may spend prolonged time periods).

What kind of radiation is emitted by hybrid cars?

The hybrid car, as its name implies, combines propulsion based upon energy from traditional fuel and from electric energy that accumulates during motion. Electric currents used in the electric part of propulsion while driving create a surrounding of low frequency magnetic fields. This radiation is defined as non-ionizing radiation from the electricity grid in the Extremely Low Frequency radiation range (ELF).

The Ministry of Environmental Protection and Health Ministry recommendations on the maximal radiation exposure level permissible from electrical appliances are available in the article on electric grids.

The power of magnetic fields created in hybrid cars differs from car to car according to the automobile make and model, and there are even differences between different cars from the same manufacturer and the same model. Also, the distribution of the power of the fields, in the car’s interior, varies from place to place within the car.

At present there are different positions regarding levels of magnetic fields created by hybrid cars and their radiation hazards. Also, the scientific knowledge existing on this subject is limited and there are no clear guidelines regarding their use.

In Israel, the issue of hybrid cars was addressed at length by the Ministry of Environmental Protection which authorized their use. The Ministry conducted extensive tests to examine the exposure to non-ionizing radiation inside hybrid cars and inside regular cars.

A link to data on radiation exposure in hybrid cars (Hebrew) in Israel may be viewed, detailing the average yearly level of exposure in each seat in the various cars checked, according to a stringent assumption of 18 hours average weekly time spent in the car.