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This article has been accepted for publication in a future issue of this journal, but has not been fully edited. Content may change prior to final publication. Citation information: DOI 10.1109/ACCESS.2020.2976434, IEEE Access

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Electromagnetic Radiation due to Cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies: How safe are we?

NAREN1, ANUBHV ELHENCE1, VINAY CHAMOLA.1, AND MOHSEN GUIZANI2 (FELLOW,

IEEE)

1 Department of EEE, Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Pilani 333031, India 2 Department of Computer Science, Qatar University, Qatar (e-mail: [email protected] ).

Corresponding author: Mohsen Guizani. Author (e-mail: [email protected]).

ABSTRACT The electromagnetic radiation (EMR) emitted out of wireless communication modules in various electronic devices have been identified by researchers as biologically hazardous to humans as well as other living beings. Different countries have different regulations to limit the radiation density levels caused by these devices. The radiation absorbed by an individual depends on various factors such as the device they use, the proximity of use, the type of antenna, the relative orientation of the antenna on the device, and many more. Several standards exist which have tried to quantify the radiation levels and come up with safe limits of EMR absorption to prevent human harm. In this work, we determine the radiation concern levels in several scenarios using a handheld radiation meter by correlating the findings with several international standards, which are determined based on thorough scientific evidence. This study also analyzes the EMR from common devices used in day to day life such as smartphones, laptops, Wi- Fi routers, hotspots, wireless earphones, smartwatches, Bluetooth speakers and other wireless accessories using a handheld radio frequency radiation measurement device. The procedure followed in this paper is so presented that it can also be utilized by the general public as a tutorial to evaluate their own safety with respect to EMR exposure. We present a summary of the most prominent health hazards which have been known to occur due to EMR exposure. We also discuss some individual and collective human-centric protective and preventive measures that can be undertaken to reduce the risk of EMR absorption. This paper analyses radiation safety in pre-5G networks and uses the insight gained to raises valuable concerns regarding EMR safety in the upcoming 5G networks.

INDEX TERMS EMR, wireless, safety, standards, health, protection

Electromagnetic Radiation due to Cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies: How safe are we?, Smombie Gate | 5G | EMF Electromagnetic Radiation due to Cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies: How safe are we?, Smombie Gate | 5G | EMF Electromagnetic Radiation due to Cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies: How safe are we?, Smombie Gate | 5G | EMF Electromagnetic Radiation due to Cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies: How safe are we?, Smombie Gate | 5G | EMF

I. INTRODUCTION

THE ever-increasing adoption of wireless communica- tion has created a very complex situation of electromag- netic radiation (EMR) exposure. With newer technologies such as 5G, the number of devices will increase exponentially and operate on a broader frequency spectrum. With this upcoming technology, the society will be more connected than ever before, and would witness huge economic growths. However, it is very important to identify beforehand, if any, harmful or adverse effects resulting from increased exposure of human beings.

Currently, there are about 15 billion wireless local area net- work (WLAN) devices ranging from Wi-Fi routers to Internet of Things (IoT) devices [1], 9 billion mobile connections, and about 67% of the world population currently uses mobile

phones [2]. Any unidentified or unaddressed health hazard due to use of these devices or exposure to their radiation could impact the health of people globally.

Several organizations at both national and international levels have established guidelines for limiting EMR exposure in residential as well as occupational scenarios. Scientific research on EMR exposure-related biological effects began as early as the 1940s [3], but gained significant pace in the early 2000s with the widespread increase of EMR exposure due to cellular communications.

The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) has issued regulatory limits on EMR exposure for the general public and workers. ICNIRP’s 1998 guidelines have been adopted by most of the countries in the world today [4]. But these limits only take into account

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License. For more information, see https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

This article has been accepted for publication in a future issue of this journal, but has not been fully edited. Content may change prior to final publication. Citation information: DOI 10.1109/ACCESS.2020.2976434, IEEE Access

Naren et al.: Electromagnetic Radiation due to Cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies: How safe are we?

Electromagnetic Radiation due to Cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies: How safe are we?, Smombie Gate | 5G | EMF Electromagnetic Radiation due to Cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies: How safe are we?, Smombie Gate | 5G | EMF

NON – IONIZING IONIZING

1 MHz 1 GHz 1 THz 1 PHz 1 EHz 1 ZHz

Extremely Low Frequency

Radio

Microwave

Infrared

Visible

Ultraviolet

X-Rays & Gamma rays

Electromagnetic Radiation due to Cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies: How safe are we?, Smombie Gate | 5G | EMFElectromagnetic Radiation due to Cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies: How safe are we?, Smombie Gate | 5G | EMF

Less Energy More Energy FIGURE 1: Ionizing and Non-ionizing Radiation Sources and there Frequency bands

Electromagnetic Radiation due to Cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies: How safe are we?, Smombie Gate | 5G | EMF

the thermal effects of EMR and dismiss evidence on the biological effects of EMR exposure as unclear or unsat- isfactory findings. In addition, there are several standards prescribed by medical bodies such as the Building Biology, BioInitiative, and Austrian Medical Association Standards. These limits have been arrived at after extensive scientific research of thermal, non-thermal, chronic exposure, and bi- ological effects carried out by health experts from across the world. On comparing these limits with those prescribed by the ICNIRP, it can be seen that the limits prescribed by the medical bodies are several orders of magnitude lower than those prescribed by the ICNIRP. Therefore, a clear understanding of the differences between these limits, and an assessment of the current exposure levels in accordance with both kinds of exposure limits mentioned above is the need of the hour.

In literature, many research studies have analyzed health hazards due to EMR exposure [5]. Numerous adverse health conditions such as cancer, infertility, damage to the auditory system, alteration of blood cells and blood flow, mental, cognitive and sleep disorders, and impaired childhood de- velopment have been identified in various studies. We have explored the literature in this area and presented a section de- scribing various health risks associated with EMR exposure.

The major contributions of this paper are highlighted be- low.

  • This paper analyses radiation levels of commonly used cellular, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi devices to estimate how safe they are to human beings in terms of radiation.
  • The procedure followed in this work serves as a tutorial for the general public who can arrive at a good esti- mate of their radiation exposure with minimal technical knowledge or expertise.
  • This paper reviews several works which have identified various health hazards resulting from EMR exposure and presents the findings to highlight the dangers of excessive EMR exposure.
  • This paper suggests techniques for people as well as societies/organizations to protect themselves from ex- cessive EMR exposure and also presents ways to mini- mize ambient EMR levels in different environments like schools, hospitals, and homes.

    The rest of this paper is organized as follows. In Section II of this paper, we discuss the nature of EMR used in

FIGURE 2: Most common sources of EMR exposure

wireless communication devices and the need to analyze EMR from various common sources such as mobile phones, laptops and other cellular, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth devices. In Section III we discuss a few important standards and guidelines for EMR exposure which have been determined by scientific organizations/commissions to avoid EMR related health hazards in humans. In Section IV we present our findings on the radiation levels present in common use cases of popular devices. In section V, we summarize the important health hazards of EMR exposure that have been documented and reported. In section VI we describe some measures to protect ourselves from EMR and also discuss ways to minimize ambient EMR in public places. In section VII we recommend some proactive prevention techniques which can be immediately adopted at both individual and societal levels to prevent harmful EMR exposure. In section VIII we discuss our findings from section IV in light of sections II, III, V and VI. We finally conclude the paper in section IX.

II. PRELIMINARY BACKGROUND AND MOTIVATION

A. IONIZING & NON IONIZING RADIATION

When referring to interaction of EMR with biological sys- tems, EMR is categorized into two types: non-ionizing and ionizing. About 60% of the human body is water. Based on whether the incoming radiation is high enough to break the chemical bonds of water or not, it is categorized as ionizing radiation (if it can break the bonds) and as non- ionizing radiation (if it is not able to). Several classes of electromagnetic waves are classified as non-ionizing and ionizing radiation as depicted in Fig. 1. The frequencies we are interested in (radio frequencies) falls in the category of

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License. For more information, see https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

This article has been accepted for publication in a future issue of this journal, but has not been fully edited. Content may change prior to final publication. Citation information: DOI 10.1109/ACCESS.2020.2976434, IEEE Access

Naren et al.: Electromagnetic Radiation due to Cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies: How safe are we?

Electromagnetic Radiation due to Cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies: How safe are we?, Smombie Gate | 5G | EMF Electromagnetic Radiation due to Cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies: How safe are we?, Smombie Gate | 5G | EMF

TABLE 1: Common wireless communication technologies

are several antennas for different communication purposes such as cellular, GPS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Table 1 lists the most commonly used wireless technologies at present and their frequency ranges. Fig. 3(a) shows the usage of multiple antennas in a smartphone. Similarly Fig. 3(b), Fig. 3(c) and Fig. 3(d) show the antennas used in the Jio-Fi 4G Hotspot, the Wi-Fi antennas present in a laptop, and the Bluetooth antenna used in a wireless earphone respectively.

A cell phone communicates wirelessly with a cellular base station that is typically hundreds of meters away. The antennas on a mobile phone are not directive, i.e, they transmit and receive EMR roughly in all directions. Their radiation pattern is roughly omni-directional. This enables good communication, because the user does not necessarily orient the phone in the direction of the cell tower. These an- tennas ensure the propagation of the electromagnetic waves to the, enabling communication. The omni-directional nature of these antennas case radiation energy to dissipate in all directions. But this means that a mobile phone emits radiation directly into the head of the user. Moreover, when the phone is situated in areas with weak reception such as the far end of its closest cell tower or in the basement of a building, its radiation increases by several magnitudes in order to ensure good connection with the cellular base station.

Laptops communicate with both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth tech- nology, but Wi-Fi is used more extensively to connect to wireless routers located nearby. Just as for mobile-phones the laptop antennas are designed to ensure good connection re- gardless of its orientation or position in a Wi-Fi zone. Hence, even laptop Wi-Fi antennas are roughly omnidirectional in nature. Laptops are mostly used either on the lap or on a desk. When used on the lap, severe amounts of radiation directly enter the legs, groin and torso region. Moreoever, since the antenna is located very close to the body, the magnitude of radiation is extremely high. When used on desks or tables, the face of the user directly faces the antenna. Most laptops have their antennas located at the top of the display. Laptops are used for several hours at a time in very close proximity and hence raise more concern than mobile phones which may be held next to the ears for just a few minutes during a call.

In the last two years, the popularity of Bluetooth head- phones and earphones have increased drastically. Some of these earphones such as the one shown in Fig. 3(c) have the antenna extremely close to the ear. These devices are worn by users almost throughout the day and kept active almost continuously. In addition to the radiation from the earphone itself, the connected smartphone or mobile phone, kept in the pocket also emits Bluetooth radiation continuously.

For a common user, it is very difficult to measure the three- dimensional radiation pattern to estimate his own safety in regards to EMR exposure. Therefore, in this document we analyze the radiation levels from the most common sources to and scenarios of EMR exposure. We then correlate our find- ings with a few well-defined , scientifically and holistically determined safety limits.

Electromagnetic Radiation due to Cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies: How safe are we?, Smombie Gate | 5G | EMF

Name of technology

1G

2G 2.5G

3G

3.5G 3.75G 4G

WIMAX

5G

Wi-Fi

Bluetooth (versions 1-5)

Frequency

800 MHz

850/900/1800/ 1900 MHz

800/850/900/ 1800/1900/ 2100 MHz

1.8 GHz/2.6 GHz 3.5 GHz/5.8 GHz 1.8 GHz/2.6 GHz

2.3 GHz, 2.5 GHz and 3.5 GHz

600 MHz to 6 GHz and 24-86 GHz

2.4/5 GHz 5 GHz

Deployment year

1970-1980

1990 1985

     2004
     2007
     2012
     2009

2008-2015

     2018
     1997
     2000

Electromagnetic Radiation due to Cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies: How safe are we?, Smombie Gate | 5G | EMF Electromagnetic Radiation due to Cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies: How safe are we?, Smombie Gate | 5G | EMF Electromagnetic Radiation due to Cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies: How safe are we?, Smombie Gate | 5G | EMFElectromagnetic Radiation due to Cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies: How safe are we?, Smombie Gate | 5G | EMF Electromagnetic Radiation due to Cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies: How safe are we?, Smombie Gate | 5G | EMF Electromagnetic Radiation due to Cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies: How safe are we?, Smombie Gate | 5G | EMFElectromagnetic Radiation due to Cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies: How safe are we?, Smombie Gate | 5G | EMF Electromagnetic Radiation due to Cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies: How safe are we?, Smombie Gate | 5G | EMF Electromagnetic Radiation due to Cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies: How safe are we?, Smombie Gate | 5G | EMFElectromagnetic Radiation due to Cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies: How safe are we?, Smombie Gate | 5G | EMF Electromagnetic Radiation due to Cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies: How safe are we?, Smombie Gate | 5G | EMF

non-ionizing radiation. Some of the most common electronic devices which people use today such as mobile-phones, smartphones, laptops, wireless speakers and headphones, and smartwatches, all communicate using radio frequencies. Broadly, they can be categorized into devices which use cellular, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth technology as shown in Fig. 2. This kind of radiation has been linked with various adverse health effects in human beings. The severity of these effects varies with the power of radiation, distance of the radiation source, the kind of device, the type of antenna used in the device, the modulation technique used in the communication and the duration of exposure.

Electromagnetic radiation in the frequency range 20 KHz – 300 GHz is referred to as radio frequency (RF) radiation. Most of the commonly used communication services such as F.M. radio, television broadcast, satellite, cellular, Global Positioning System (GPS), Wi-Fi and Bluetooth all lie in this frequency range.

B. MOTIVATION

An antenna is a transducer which converts A.C electric currents flowing in metal conductors to radio frequency electromagnetic waves and vice-versa. Antennas are used in all wireless radio frequency communication devices. During transmission, A.C electric current is supplied to the antenna’s terminals, which induces the antenna to radiate EMR waves in the radio frequency range. During reception, the antenna intercepts radio waves to generate an A.C electric current at its terminals, which is applied to a receiver before amplifica- tion. In the latest smartphones which are in use today, there

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License. For more information, see https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

This article has been accepted for publication in a future issue of this journal, but has not been fully edited. Content may change prior to final publication. Citation information: DOI 10.1109/ACCESS.2020.2976434, IEEE Access

Naren et al.: Electromagnetic Radiation due to Cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies: How safe are we?

(a) Antennas in a smartphone (b) Antennas in a portable Wi-Fi router

(c) Antennas in Bluetooth earphones (d) Wi-Fi antennas in a laptop FIGURE 3: Antennas in common wireless devices

Electromagnetic Radiation due to Cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies: How safe are we?, Smombie Gate | 5G | EMF Electromagnetic Radiation due to Cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies: How safe are we?, Smombie Gate | 5G | EMF