1.The Effects of Radio Waves on Living Organisms
The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) has implemented various measures to maintain a safer and more secure environment for radio wave use. This explanation provides an overview of major issues.
Safety Guidelines for Use of Radio Waves
The radio waves currently used for telecommunications or broadcasting are electromagnetic waves (non-ionizing radiation) which, like visible light waves, do not have enough energy to ionize atoms from materials. Although some of the electromagnetic waves, such as ionizing radiation including X-ray or gamma-ray, have high frequencies and strong energy that ionize atoms, they are very different from the radio waves we are dealing with: that is, non-ionizing radiation.
Studies regarding the effects of radio waves on the human body have been made over the last 50-plus years on a global scale, including in Japan. Based on scientific knowledge accumulated by these studies, we formulated the "Radio Radiation Protection Guidelines" (hereinafter referred to as the RRPG) taking sufficiently large safety factors into consideration. The standard values set out in these guidelines are on a par with the values released by ICNIRP (International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection), and are used not only in Japan, but in every country of the world. If these standard values are satisfied, it is internationally recognized that there is no influence on human health, as stated by the WHO (World Health Organization), ICNIRP and other international organizations.
The WHO has announced their research results as follows:there is no convincing scientific evidence that the weak RF signals from base stations and wireless networks cause adverse health effects.
＜Formulation of the Radio Radiation Protection Guidelines (RRPG)＞
The MIC received a report from the Telecommunications Technology Council on June 25, 1990 as a reply to "inquiry number 38 of June 27, 1988-Policy for Protection of the Human Body from Effects of Radio Wave Use". This report outlined the RRPG, including indicators of strength of radio waves with no adverse effect on the human body.
Moreover, a report on April 24, 1997 from The Telecommunications Technology Council, regarding "inquiry number 89 - Protection of the Human Body from Radio Waves" (inquiry made on November 25, 1996) set out practical guidelines for radio equipment used in very close proximity to the human body, such as mobile phones. In addition, they summarized future protection guidelines for radio waves, and the requisite items for future research regarding possible effects on the human body.
Binding Observance with the Safety Standard by Relevant Rules
The RRPG that were set out in 1990 and 1997 have been used as guidelines for radio station operations and the manufacture of radio equipment.
To be more thorough than before, and to implement safe and secure radio use, the MIC requires founders of radio stations, in accordance with relevant rules, to install safety facilities for frequency strength. In addition, the MIC requires manufacturers of mobile phones, etc. to meet standards for allowable amounts of radio wave absorption by the human body.
The rules for installing safety facilities have been enforced since October 1999, and applied mainly to the radio equipment of radio stations for broadcasting and non-mobile radio stations such as base stations for mobile phones. In these rules, we use the value of electromagnetic field strength in the general environment from the RRPG as a standard value.
On the other hand, we have regulated mobile phones etc. which are used close to the human head by radio waves absorption to the human body and have obliged the manufacturers of mobile phones etc. to observe this regulation since June 2002. This regulation uses the local SAR value in general environment which is shown in the RRPG.
Promotion of Research Regarding Effects of Radio Waves on Living Organisms
Research conducted in Japan and worldwide has found no evidence that radio waves which meet RRPG standards have any adverse effect on health. As a result, it has become common knowledge in the WHO and the countries of the world that there is no danger to human health from radio waves if these standards are met. However, there are still areas in which sufficient research results have not been obtained, and the WHO and other parties continue to conduct studies on a global basis so as to assess potential health risks more accurately.
In order to assess the effects of radio waves on health and enhance the reliability of the scientific data on which RRPG standards are based, the MIC set up the Committee to Promote Research on the Possible Biological Effect of Electromagnetic Fields in 1997 and pursued relevant research for 10 years. This committee conducts researches and investigates the biological effects of radio waves under close cooperation with medical, biological and engineering experts who assess exposure levels with high precision, as well as with the WHO.
With regard to the radio waves generated by mobile phones, etc., studies have been done on their effects on the blood-brain barrier, on memory, on formation of brain tumors (particularly as a result of long-term exposure), and on the dynamics of cerebral microcirculation, as well as epidemiological studies, but none of the studies found any effect of radio waves on human health.
Based on these findings, an April 2007 report by the Committee to Promote Research on the Possible Biological Effect of Electromagnetic Fields stated that “it has been shown that there are no effects on the human either from mobile phone base stations or mobile phones,” and “this committee cannot recognize that there is any firm evidence of effects on health, including non-thermal effects, from radio waves at strengths that do not exceed the policy for protection from radio waves.”
The report also notes that based on the WHO’s viewpoint that many issues still require further study, it is necessary to continue research on the safety evaluation of radio waves. Based on this conclusion, the MIC established an Investigative Committee on the Possible Adverse Health Effects of RF Electromagnetic Fields in June 2008, and is moving forward with the analysis of research findings from both Japan and abroad.
Dissemination of Information
The MIC disseminates information on the safety of radio waves by distributing pamphlets and holding seminars, etc.
- ＜Information on the Safetyof Radio Waves (Japanese)＞
2.Outline of the “Study on the Effect of Radio Waves on Medical Devices”
Recently, a variety of wireless systems including mobile phones are playing a more important role in our daily lives, and the opportunities to use equipment that emits radio waves are also increasing. Equipment that emits radio waves (which we shall refer to here as “radio equipment”) includes the PHS (Personal Handyphone System) handset, wireless card (contactless IC card) system, electronic articles surveillance (EAS) equipment, RFID (electronic tag) equipment, and wireless LAN equipment, etc. in addition to mobile phone handsets. When radio equipment and electrical and electronic equipment are in close proximity, there is potential for malfunctions to occur in electrical and electronic equipment due to waves emitted by radio equipment.
When such a malfunction occurs due to waves emitted by radio equipment, there is a possibility that an implanted medical device such as a pacemaker, etc. could produce an adverse effect on human health. It is therefore important to share essential information about the incidence and prevention of such effects among the users of radio equipment, those who have medical devices implanted in their bodies and manufacturers of both instruments.
Information on the incidence and prevention of the effect on implanted medical devices is provided in the "Guidelines on the Use of Radiocommunications Equipment such as Cellular Telephones and Safeguards for Electronic Medical Equipment*," enacted in 1997 at the Electromagnetic Compatibility Conference Japan (consisting of experts from academia, related ministries and agencies in the government, and related industry organizations. ARIB (Association of Radio Industries and Businesses) is its secretariat.)
The MIC has continued to carry out investigations to reduce risks to the public associated with radio wave use and to secure the radio wave environment for wide and safe use of mobile phones and other equipment, and has published the Guidelines to safeguard people with implanted medical devices from adverse effects.
- ＜Guidelines on the Use of Radiocommunications Equipment for Implanted Medical Devices (Japanese)＞
Guidelines on the Use of Radiocommunications Equipment such as Cellular Telephones and Safeguards for Electronic Medical Equipment (formulated by the Electromagnetic Compatibility Conference) can be found on the Electromagnetic Compatibility Conference website: