What are the dangers of radio frequency (rf)  and microwave exposure to humans?
Dangers to Humans of Radio Waves and Microwaves.

We can define the potential hazards of RF radiation in terms of:

1 Direct effects on people
(a) Thermal effects attributable to the heating of the human body due to the absorption of RF energy. At lower frequencies this includes heating due to excessive current densities in some parts of the body.

(b) Shocks and burns which may result from contact with conductive objects, e.g. scrap metal, vehicle bodies, etc., located in electromagnetic fields.

(c) The so called ‘athermal’ effects, if any, where it is postulated that the fields act directly on biological tissue without any significant heating being involved.

2 Indirect effects on people
Effects on people wearing implantable devices such as heart pacemakers, insulin pumps, passive metal plates and other related hardware due to interaction with some aspect of the implantable device. Some effects in this category affect the quality of life rather than physical health, e.g. interference with hearing aids and other electronic devices.

3 Effects on things in the environment
Ignition of flammable vapours and electro-explosive devices, e.g. detonators

Interference with equipment
Category 3 above may, of course, also involve people who may be present near the subject and may be affected by fire or explosion, people in aircraft where critical equipment is interfered with and the aircraft may be in jeopardy.

With the widespread use of mobile phones risks extend to interference with critical medical equipment in hospitals. Hence many people are likely to be affected in some way ranging from these obvious examples down to the merely irritating cases of interference with computers and domestic radio sets.

Before proceeding it is worth noting that a perceived ‘effect’ is not necessarily synonymous with ‘harm’ or ‘injury’. Our environment affects our bodies daily and some effects are of value, some harmful, and some have no apparent effect.

Some aspects of these topics may be differentiated in a general way in relation to the frequencies involved. Standards do tend to differ considerably in the detail of these.

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