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I saw some apartment in my county in a very good location (quite close to the beach), however, the rent is very cheap. The apartment is the highest on that building, on top of this building there is a cellular antenna.

My questions:

  1. Is there any danger in living 10 meters from such antenna?
  2. Is there any way to measure the transmit power (using some application or device)?
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  • $\begingroup$ If the cellular tower is on top of the building of the apartment you desire than you are probably in a null region for the antenna anyway. Your greatest danger is the tower falling on the building, resulting in a leak in the roof, resulting in flooding your apartment during time of rain -- would you worry about that? $\endgroup$ – K7PEH Oct 18 '16 at 0:25
  • $\begingroup$ @volatile If you're feeling concerned about the cell-phone towers, please do research the "nocebo" effect. There are people who genuinely feel sick when they're close to antennas. However, such people can't tell the difference between antenna that's actually radiating and antenna that's disconnected and only looks scary. $\endgroup$ – AndrejaKo Oct 19 '16 at 10:33
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Cellular networks are heavily regulated all over the world. Part of these regulations is that there's no amount of power radiated in any inhabitable direction that would pose a risk to the health of any human being.

Yes, there are ways to measure the transmit power, but you'd need to measure that in the antenna cable (and there's no way they'd let you do that). You can measure the field strength at the point where you stand, and that's probably more useful for you.

However, two things:

  1. It's already guaranteed by the fact that the antenna is where it is that it's aligned and powered in a way that makes sure no harm will be done, and someone with a very expensive measurement device measured that after setting up the antenna, anyway.
  2. Such measurements require very expensive equipment, a lot of know-how and the chance to measure all relevant usage scenarios: A base station with only a few handsets that are very close will only transmit a tiny fraction of the power it would transmit if it had hundreds of handsets very far away. The power and the direction of base stations are adaptable, and you have no influence whatsoever on that.

So, for me, as a studied electrical engineer: I wouldn't worry.

I answered another question on electronics.SE a couple hours back, and there, someone had dug up a magic, passive "ring" of some simple diodes that the seller claims would be able to detect GSM signals – which is total nonsense, as a single cell phone would under almost no circumstances transmit enough power to light up an LED – that'd be illegal, and also, stupid, because the battery would be empty within minutes. Don't believe people that try to sell you fear about radio waves. Yes, you can cook meals and kill animals with microwave radiation, but for all we know and can scientifically prove (and we've been doing the GSM "experiment" on about 3 to 6 Billion people for about 25 years now) it's not harmful. If you need to worry about something invisible, worry about structural damages to your building. You are very much more likely to die in a building collapse than of cell tower microwave irradiation.

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I think the biggest risk you would take by renting such an appartment is terrible cellular reception. If your provider is one of the providers using the antenna on top of your building, that would most likely imply that an extra tower was needed on that spot. Being right underneath it, you'd have little benefit from the tower above you, apart from reflections...

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The FCC has a bulletin on this. It says (page 21):

Measurement data obtained from various sources have consistently indicated that "worst-case" ground-level power densities near typical cellular towers are on the order of 1 µW/cm2 or less (usually significantly less).

Wolfram Alpha can put that into perspective for us:

  • 1/89th the average solar irradiance at Pluto
  • 1/10th ACGIH limit for 10 minute UV light exposure
  • approximately the retinal irradiance from a pyrotechnical flare

In other words, if you aren't afraid of looking at a fireworks show, 1 µW/cm2 shouldn't concern you.

Another comparison: solar irradiance, at noon, at the equator, on a clear day, is about 100,000 µW/cm2 (1 kW/m2). So, the electromagnetic energy you will receive from the cell tower is about five orders of magnitude less than the maximum you could get from the Sun without leaving this planet.

There's another effect to consider: With your phone in your pocket, or held against your head, the associated field strength on your body can easily be more than the field from a relatively distant cell tower. With the tower so close your phone will run on its minimum power, which might actually mean less RF energy incident on your body overall.

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The only way you can get some real damage from anything microwave is from concentrated RF.

Like if you saw a radar by your house and decided to lay on top of it for some reason...you won't last very long.

If you are ever in an aircraft hangar and someone forgets to turn off their radar and you start feeling all warm inside its because you are cooking!

Think about kitchen microwaves, RF trapped in a box that's it! So as long as the transmissions aren't insanely powerful and concentrated you don't have anything to worry about.

Malfunctioning HPA (high power amplifiers) have been known to fry birds (the flappy ones not satellites), besides the crazy readings, that's a pretty clear sign there is a problem.

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