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Radiofrequency electromagnetic energy (RF EME) is also known as electromagnetic radiation (EMR). Radiofrequency EME is made up of waves of electric and magnetic energy moving together through space. We are exposed to radiofrequency fields every day both from natural and artificial sources. The sun is the main natural source of exposure. Artificial sources include AM radio signals and television broadcast signals, with only a very small contribution from phone towers. Radiofrequency sources in the home include mobile telephones, microwave ovens, televisions, radios, remote controls and videos.
The exposure standard is set by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA). Australian exposure limits are based on scientific research data and are designed to protect against all known adverse effects and to prevent unwanted nuisance effects (physical effects that have no long-term health implications). There are both occupational and public exposure limits set. The occupational limits apply specifically to people who work with radiofrequency equipment. The public limits take into account the possibility that a person might be exposed 24 hours per day.
Exposure to sufficiently high levels of EME can heat biological tissue and potentially cause tissue damage. Studies have shown that levels of EME normally encountered by the public are well below the levels needed to cause tissue damage.
At low levels of exposure to EME, the evidence for production of harmful biological effects is ambiguous and unproven. While there have been studies reporting biological effects at low levels, there has been no indication that these effects might represent a human health hazard.
Radiofrequency EME is quite different to ionising radiation, such as X-rays, which can produce molecular changes that can lead to damage in biological tissue.
Deakin has mobile phone towers and other transmitting equipment on or adjacent to all campuses.
As a precautionary measure the radiofrequency field strengths have been surveyed on every campus. The survey included the interior of buildings and on the various levels of multi-storey buildings. Nearly 400 locations were measured. The full survey report details for each Campus are available for staff to read:
Radiofrequency EME exposure levels at all Deakin campuses were well below the public limit specified in the ARPANSA standard with the highest measurement of 0.32% of the public limit recorded on the Melbourne Campus at Burwood.
The University is satisfied that the presence of mobile phone towers and other transmitters on our campuses do not present any health risk to our staff or students. The University will continue to monitor any potential risks associated with mobile phone towers.
Further details can by obtained by contacting the OHS unit in Human Resources Services Division (Geelong 72869, Melbourne 68175).
(Source information from ARPANSA and the Australian Communications Authority)