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Home Publications Radiation NRPB Archive NRPB W-Series Reports ›  NRPB-W23: Non-technical summary

NRPB-W23: Non-technical summary

Non-technical summary

On the 8 and 9 May 2002 scientists from the National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) performed a survey of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields in the Cookridge area of Leeds. The aim of this was to assess exposure to radio signals from mobile phone base stations and other transmitters, which were mounted on Tinshill BT Radio Station and a nearby water tower and lattice tower.

Guidelines for limiting exposure to radio signals that are recommended by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) have been adopted for use in the UK by the Government and by the Board of NRPB. These guidelines are designed to prevent established adverse effects on human health.

During this survey scientists from NRPB measured the total exposures due to all radio signals from 30 MHz to 18000 MHz (18 GHz). This measurement range was chosen as it includes mobile phone base station transmissions, which are around 900 and 1800 MHz in Great Britain, and transmissions from the microwave dish antennas on Tinshill BT Radio Station which are in the range 4 GHz to 18 GHz. In addition, other major sources of electromagnetic radiation in the environment such as broadcast radio and television transmissions are also included in this range.

Measurements of power density were made in Holtdale Gardens, Ireland Wood Primary School, Cookridge Primary School, two locations at Cookridge Fire Station, Holy Name Roman Catholic School, Ralph Thoresby High School and Silk Mill Approach. Comparison of the measurements with the guidelines showed that the total exposure from radio signals measured between 30 MHz and 18 GHz in the schools and residential areas ranged from 0.00016% to 0.041% of the ICNIRP reference level for exposure of the general public. The highest total exposure overall, 0.14% of the ICNIRP public reference level, was measured at the top of the Fire Station practice tower. All the measured exposures are therefore well below guideline levels and are not considered hazardous.

These results are consistent with the conclusions of the Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones (IEGMP) that relate to exposures of members of the public from mobile phone base stations. The conclusions in the report were that:

the balance of evidence indicates that there is no general risk to the health of people living near to base stations on the basis that exposures are expected to be small fractions of guidelines. (paragraph 1.33)

In coming to this conclusion, IEGMP drew on the results of measurements that have been made by NRPB. The IEGMP conclusions were reinforced by measurements made subsequently by the Radiocommunications Agency (part of Ofcom from December 2003) which has recently reported the results of measurements on 100 base stations carried out during 2001. You can find these results on their website at

This survey was carried out at the request of Harold Best MP, Member of Parliament for Leeds North West.

Last reviewed: 1 September 2009