Many objects and devices send out electromagnetic waves. Outside of the visible range (i.e. light), electromagnetic waves are invisible to the human eye, but their beneficial effects are all around us every day – from powering appliances, to telecommunications, broadcasting and navigation.
This section aims to help you understand more about the basic science of electromagnetic waves and how they make mobile phones work.
What are radio waves?
Electric and magnetic fields are fundamental forces in nature. Together they create invisible electromagnetic waves which pass through the environment - like ripples on the surface of water.
Electromagnetic waves have different properties and uses, depending on their wavelength. Radio waves occur within a specific range of wavelengths, and are useful for transmitting sound and digital signals.
Lower frequency waves such as microwaves cannot change the structure of biological material, but can have a heating effect called non-ionising radiation. Higher frequency waves like x-rays can change the structure of biological material. This is called ionising radiation. Radio devices emit non-ionising radiation.
Living with electromagnetic waves
Natural sources of electromagnetic waves include the sun. This emits light, UV and radio waves. The earth itself generates a magnetic field. And lightning creates both an electric field and radio waves.
There are also many man-made sources. These include all electrical products, from TVs and computers to kitchen appliances, and the power lines that carry electricity to them. Radio and TV broadcasts, medical x-ray machines, lasers and radar also emit electromagnetic waves in one waveband or another.
Here are some typical levels of radio wave emissions for common household appliances compared to the maximum exposure as recommended by ICNRIP and the WHO:
TV Transmitter - 1/20th of WHO recommendation
Radio Base Station - 1/45th of WHO recommendation
Microwave Oven - 1/13th of WHO recommendation
Refrigerator - 1/42nd of WHO recommendation
Vacuum Cleaner - 1/5th of WHO recommendation
Doing our bit
We see radio wave emission issues as important, and are committed to providing responsible leadership. That is why Nokia is focussing on EMF and health issues, and participates in a number of industry associations and scientific forums. Nokia aims to support the World Health Organisation (WHO) by explaining the EMF protection scheme behind the recommendations from WHO and ICNIRP (International Commission on Non Ionising Radiation Protection) to all interested individuals or groups.
Nokia supports the adoption of international harmonised standards limiting EMF exposure based on the recommendations from the World Health Organisation and the International Commission on Non Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) worldwide, even where it is not yet in place, so that:
products comply with international emissions regulations
base station site acquisition addresses both emissions and environmental impact issues
local community concerns are taken into consideration in network planning
We also believe it is important to advance scientific understanding and proper risk communication. This helps to develop sound, fact-based guidelines for the use of radio technologies. That is why Nokia has an on-going commitment to further research and continuous dialogue with all stakeholders.
Most of all, we support the continuing development of informed opinion. That is why we encourage people to explore all the information available. We would like you as an individual to make up your own mind from a position of knowledge, and confidence in your own understanding.