Physics and biology of mobile telephony

Lancet. 2000 Nov 25;356(9244):1833-6. doi: 10.1016/s0140-6736(00)03243-8.


Although safety guidelines--to which mobile telephones and their base-stations conform--do protect against excessive microwave heating, there is evidence that the low intensity, pulsed radiation currently used can exert subtle non-thermal influences. If these influences entail adverse health consequences, current guidelines would be inadequate. This review will focus on this possibility. The radiation used is indeed of very low intensity, but an oscillatory similitude between this pulsed microwave radiation and certain electrochemical activities of the living human being should prompt concern. However, being so inherently dependent on aliveness, non-thermal effects cannot be expected to be as robust as thermal ones, as is indeed found; nor can everyone be expected to be affected in the same way by exposure to the same radiation. Notwithstanding uncertainty about whether the non-thermal influences reported do adversely affect health, there are consistencies between some of these effects and the neurological problems reported by some mobile-telephone users and people exposed longterm to base-station radiation. These should be pointers for future research.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Consumer Product Safety*
  • Hot Temperature
  • Humans
  • Microwaves*
  • Physical Phenomena
  • Physics
  • Telephone*