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Comment There are a lot of variables (Score 5, Informative) 791

I work with high power RF for a living. There are a lot of variables that contribute to non-ionizing radiation. Proximity, transmitter power, antenna radiation pattern, materials between you and the antenna, etc. There are ways to estimate the field intensity, but unless you know all the necessary factors, your calculations could be off by orders of magnitude. Having said that, the poster who commented that urban cells are lower power is generally correct, however, in a major metropolitan area, the cell can have many channels active at once, and the effect is cumulative. ANSI C95.2 is the safety standard covering this radiation. It's pretty technical, but the gist is the licensee (in this case the carrier) is responsible for making sure they don't cook the public.

The carrier must certify to the FCC that there are no publicly accessible areas that receive unsafe RF fields. The exact number varies by frequency, but generally there are two levels specified, one for publicly accessible areas and another for areas where personnel who have been trained in RF can work in levels above the public ones. These areas are normally calculated by the carrier prior to installation and they won't install if there's any chance they might exceed the safe levels.

As an example, I did an RF survey at one location where there was a multiple-transmitter FM antenna installed on top of a building that was across the street from another taller building. We had three FM broadcast transmitters operating on this antenna with about 250 kilowatts of radiated power, and the measured levels in the building across the street were not over the limits for public access. This was about 150 feet horizontally from the antenna. The solar coating on the building's glass stopped enough RF that it wasn't a problem.

If you want to measure it yourself, there are some inexpensive meters that are pretty accurate that will give you an indication of how much RF you're seeing. The one I have is this one: http://www.trifield.com/TrifieldMeter.htm It's about $150. I've seen these for sale at Fry's.

I have calibrated mine against a $5000 Narda commercial RF radiation meter and it's pretty close, certainly close enough for a "go/no-go" test which is what I use it for.

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