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Electromagnetic Exposure wise, does Amateur radio (Particularly 1.8 to 440 megahertz) induce a health risk due to RF radiation?

Other than the Maximum Permissible Exposure (MPE) limits, which will cause RF burns etc., are there any studies that show long term usage of radio being bad for you?

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  • $\begingroup$ RF exposure may not be the only issue. Taking an informal look at my older ham friends vs. non-ham, it appears the hams have a lot more motor control (tremors, balance, etc) issues. Assuming it's not just simple chance or RF, could it be exposure to lead based solder or other chemicals? Damage from electric shocks? Seems like there's a lot of other potential problems that people don't take as seriously. $\endgroup$ – Brian Knoblauch Aug 24 '14 at 17:00
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Sure, there are plenty. Unfortunately, they all seem to be selling something.

The scientific consensus is quite clear: no known risk, beyond the obvious risk of being cooked which MPE limits are set to avoid.

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  • $\begingroup$ Mobile phones and HV power lines are apples to oranges with this issue. Mobile phones transmit with much less power than the equipment you may have in your shack. Power lines are sufficiently far that by the time their EMF reaches you, they're massively attenuated. $\endgroup$ – horse hair Aug 17 '14 at 10:48
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    $\begingroup$ @horsehair Do you think the existing research does not apply? Are you sure a cell phone pressed against your head does not expose you to a greater field strength than a 100W transmitter in your yard? If you have some useful information to share, please write an answer. $\endgroup$ – Phil Frost - W8II Aug 17 '14 at 12:04
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    $\begingroup$ So @horsehair, what you are implying is that when the FCC set the MPE limits, they somehow overlooked amateur radio? Or, that when the WHO studied EM radiation from cell phones, they didn't look at levels of radiation that were demonstrated to be harmful? (Like I don't know...a microwave oven?) Again, if you have some useful information to share, feel free to write an answer. $\endgroup$ – Phil Frost - W8II Aug 18 '14 at 12:54
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    $\begingroup$ You really should put that in an answer, @horsehair. $\endgroup$ – Phil Frost - W8II Aug 19 '14 at 11:36
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    $\begingroup$ @horsehair you commented "Thanks but I don't want to move you out of your spot or take your points" - false modesty is not helpful to anyone. If you have more authoritative sources, more directly relevant to the question, post them as an answer. Let the community decide which answer is worth promoting for others to learn from by voting up. After all the point of this website is to allow our collective expertise to be documented for everyone's benefit and validated by community votes of other amateur operators. $\endgroup$ – BenSwayne Aug 20 '14 at 0:57
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There are some indications that RF has ill effects on humans, at least in certain configurations or environments. Here are a few references taken from the top search results from Google Scholar. It looks like there's a lot of debate on this issue, and support for both sides.

aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/128/5/1175.short

onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/bem.10162/full

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF00051295

aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/127/1/50.short

My personal opinion is that cell phones are safe, though I don't put mine in my hip pocket or otherwise in close proximity to the soft, permeable tissue of my testicles, nor do I sleep with a phone near my head. I also hold the opinion that amplifiers and things like that should be a meter or so away from the body, even the legs, where though there are no major organs, blood constituents are produced in the bone. I also recommend using external antennas for even handhelds, if they're used more than once in awhile. There was an old article on this topic written by a ham / medical doctor, I think in the ARRL magazine, but I don't remember the name of it.

Remember that RF decreases at the inverse square of the distance of propagation. Pushing the source a little away from you makes a big difference in the amount of energy that permeates your tissue.

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