Mobile phones, base stations and health
Mobile phone technology has become part of our everyday lives.
With over 26 million mobile phone subscriptions, most Australians now use mobile phones to communicate with their friends, family and customers in a flexible way, at a time that suits them.
Mobile devices and the base stations that make them work operate well within international and national safety limits. According to the World Health Organization and others, there is no established evidence to date to convince experts that the use of mobile devices and their base stations cause health effects. However some people remain concerned.
Research continues into mobile devices, base stations and health. Our approach to managing health issues is based on all available scientific evidence, to ensure we safeguard our customers, employees and the public.
We have designed this section of our website to answer the most frequent questions asked of us, and to communicate the most up-to-date scientific opinion.
We refer to mobile phones throughout this section of our website, but the information applies equally to other wireless items such as wireless-enabled computers and handheld email devices.
Just be brief - an overview
Mobile phone technology has become part of our everyday lives. Here is a brief overview how mobile systems work; who sets the safety guidelines; and what the World Health Organization says about mobile phones and health... more
Vodafone & health research
Mobile phones & your health
Base stations & your health
How mobile phone network systems work
How is my safety assured?
Vodafone ensures that it designs and operates its base station to comply with strict national and international RF standards...more
Tips on handset use
Information about hands-free devices, shielding, interference, phone use in hospitals and at petrol stations and more...more
Mobile phones, base stations and health - an overview
All wireless communications equipment including mobile phones we sell and the base stations we operate meet strict international safety guideline limits (ICNIRP). These guidelines have a substantial safety margin built into them and remain the basis for ensuring safety of our technology.
Vodafone relies on and recommends the advice of independent scientific experts, such as the World Health Organization (WHO), to give consumers accurate information to assist them in making informed choices about mobile technology and health.
On mobile phone safety the World Health Organization says,
"A large number of studies have been performed over the last two decades to assess whether mobile phones pose a potential health risk. To date, no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use."
"The electromagnetic fields produced by mobile phones are classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as possibly carcinogenic to humans"
The WHO explains
"possibly carcinogenic (Group 2B) [is] a category used when a causal association is considered credible, but when chance, bias or confounding cannot be ruled out with reasonable confidence."
The WHO provides information on how to effectively reduce mobile phone exposure:
"In addition to using "hands-free" devices, which keep mobile phones away from the head and body during phone calls, exposure is also reduced by limiting the number and length of calls. Using the phone in areas of good reception also decreases exposure as it allows the phone to transmit at reduced power."
WHO Fact Sheet 193 June 2011 - Electromagnetic fields and public health: mobile phones
The WHO will conduct a formal risk assessment of all studied health outcomes from radiofrequency fields exposure by 2012.
Vodafone supports effective measures to reduce exposure when using mobile phone devices while we wait for the completion of the additional research and WHO's formal risk assessment for radiofrequency fields in 2012.
Strict Safety Standards are always met
Mobile phones and base stations operate by transmitting and receiving radio signals using radiofrequency waves (RF). These are the same type of waves produced by radios, televisions and remote controls.
To place a call from our mobile handset, both the handset and the base station antenna send and receive radiofrequency (RF) fields. RF fields are the medium carrying the conversations (voice), messages (SMS), photographs, web, music or videos (data) we want to share with another person.
A large number of base stations are needed to allow more people to make calls, send emails & videos and connect to the internet from more locations. When a mobile phone is used, the body absorbs some of the RF field and some scientists have suggested that this might be harmful.
The International Commission for Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) has issued guidelines on levels of exposure to RF fields, including that from mobile phones and base stations. These guidelines have a safety margin built into them. Australia has adopted the ICNIRP levels in the ARPANSA Standard RPS3
All mobile phones sold by Vodafone meet strict national and international safety standards. The A-Tick () mark on your phone, usually found under the battery, is your guarantee that the telecommunications product meets the safety and technical standards set by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).
Before using a mobile device it is important that you read all safety, compliance and "how to use" information in the user guide as each device is different.
Compliance tests for RF safety (SAR test) are done with the phone at the maximum power. Each mobile device has different design characteristics and when operating the mobile the level of RF you receive depends on things such as how much data is being transferred, for how long; where the phone is in relation to the base station; and the distance of the phone from the head or body.
- Is using a mobile phone harming my health?
- Is it safe for children to use a mobile phone?
- Is it safe to have a base station near schools or my home?
- Does Vodafone contribute to or do research on health and mobiles?
- How do mobile networks work?
- Are mobile base stations safe?
- What is the current judgement on mobiles & health?
- Looking for external health authority advice?