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Project Title:
Measurement of the power density of radio waves in the vicinity of microcell and picocell base stations

Start Date:
January 2002



Research Team:

Principal Investigator:

Dr Simon Mann

Contact Details:

HPA Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards
OX11 0RQ


The Electromagnetic Field Dosimetry Group at NRPB provides advice, services and performs research on the practical aspects of assessing people's exposure to electromagnetic fields. Recent projects include the following:

  • Group members acted as Consultants during the preparation of the AGNIR report on TETRA and also made detailed measurements of the waveforms from mobile terminals and base stations in support of the report.
  • The lead investigator of this project is a member of the subcommittee that is designing a method to assess peoples exposures to the radio waves produced by hand-held mobile phones in an international study of brain tumours.
  • Group members are carrying out a study to assess the exposure of workers with radio transmitters in the broadcast and telecommunications industries and determine the feasibility of a possible future epidemiological study.

Members of the Group wrote NRPB Report R321 on "exposure to radio waves near mobile phone base stations" published in June 2000 and made available in draft to IEGMP during the preparation of its report.


Radio wave strengths will be measured near microcell and picocell base stations at twenty sites with a range of different base station designs and site characteristics in order to assess typical exposure levels. Spot measurements will be made using a spectrum analyser and broadband antennas over a wide range of frequencies, chosen to encompass other environmental radio transmitters as well as base stations. A structured series of measurements will be made to produce a detailed profile of the radio wave strengths at ground level at a subset of the sites. The measurements will be interpreted by comparing them with the reference level advised by ICNIRP for exposure of the general public and also by comparing them with previously published measurements from larger (macrocell) base stations.

Potential Difficulties:

Selecting 20 sites that are genuinely representative.


IEGMP noted that there had been no systematic experimental study in the UK of, for example, how the intensity changes with distance from a base station, and no systematic studies that would have allowed it to make a useful comparison of the intensity of typical exposure levels received by individuals from mobile phone transmitters compared with those from other RF sources (Paragraph 4.35). This project aims to address these areas where published information is lacking with a focus on microcell base stations.

The European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC) has proposed the establishment of a collaborative action on human exposure to radiation from GSM and GPRS/UMTS base stations across Europe under the new COST 281 action “Potential Health Effects from Emerging Wireless Communication Systems”. It is intended, under this project, that meetings held under the collaborative action will be attended with a view to contributing to the discussions and making the published results of this study available.


Final Report:

The Final Report on this project is available to download.

Peer-reviewed Publications:

Results from this project have been published in the following peer-reviewed paper:

Cooper TG, Mann, SM, Khalid, M and Blackwell, RP (2006). Public exposure to radio waves near GSM microcell and picocell base stations. J Radiat Prot, 26(2), 199-211.

Scientific Report:

Results from this project have been published in a scientific report, which is available to download from the Health Protection Agency web site.

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© MTHR 2003 | Page last updated: 25-Feb-2010 18:20