RF-EMF exposure measurement study – Cape Town, South Africa.

We refer to the folowing study:

Comparison of radiofrequency electromagnetic field exposure levels in different everyday microenvironments in an international context. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S016041201731485X

Supplemental Material: http://bit.ly/6nationsupplement

The aim of this study was to quantify RF-EMF exposure applying a tested protocol of RF-EMF exposure measurements using portable devices with a high sampling rate in different microenvironments of Switzerland, Ethiopia, Nepal, South Africa, Australia and the United States of America.

We will focus on the South African part of the study:

This study is meaningless in terms of Building Biology / Europaem 2016 biological standards but to be fair does not appear to be intended as such. At best all it suggests is that South Africa  probably has some of the highest average radiation levels in the world in nearly every category. However the radiation levels are a very low % of  the WHO/ ICNIRP  guidelines as adopted by our South African Department of Health  so if attempts to use this study as a challenge will meet with the usual response.

However we can use the measurements from the study to compare with biological standards.

The study states that cell phone tower output is generally the main radiation source but we could not find any differential between different times of day or between workdays and weekends.

Although it provides much data from the measuring devices used it  does not represent reality in terms of overall 24/7 exposure at each location.


So what time of day were the measurements taken for each category and why does it matter?

Well, it’s all about traffic! Traffic effects radiation output from a cell tower. Also one would expect that in an industrial area there might be a huge difference between weekdays and weekends, in all other areas as per the graph above a typical range of 0.8 – 1.35V/m depending on the time of day could apply.


According to biology standards

Because effects are accumulative and vary according to the different transmission types, biology standards apply a time limit to exposure levels and a different risk factor for each transmission type. Also nighttime exposure must be a fraction of daytime exposure in order for natural body regeneration to be possible during sleep times.

The Measured Radiation Levels, Urban Areas, Nighttime, Biological Effects, South Africa:

If we assume that the readings were taken mid-morning [maximum traffic] and apply the limits for GSM [2G, 3G & 4G] as listed in Europaem 2016 plus using the graph above, a reasonable assumption of the actual nighttime exposure levels can be made as follows-

From the study – Central Residential Areas [daytime as measured] = 0.55V/m

Day/night ratio according to the above graph is 1.3V/m divided by 0.8V/m = a ratio of 1.6:1.0

Therefore nighttime exposure level compared to what was measure during the day could be as high as 0.55/1.6 = 0.34V/m

Conversion to microwatts/m2 so to compare with the above Europaem 2016 Precautionary Guidance Values = 304 µW/m2


But because the Europaem values are based on accumulative effects over a 4hr period it is fair to say that during nighttime sleep periods of up to 8hrs a double accumulative “dose” applies so 608 µW/m2 should be the figure used when comparing to the Europaem table and the recommendation below which states “below the precautionary guidelines” when the period of exposure exceeds 4hrs.

So! As the table above recommends a maximum level of 10 µW/m2 for nighttime exposure to GSM frequencies and modulation types it is reasonable to assume that in urban areas in S.A. according to this particular study the typical nighttime exposure levels from cell phone towers are potentially over 60 times the recommended biological limits in terms of both building biology standards and those of the European Academy of Environmental Medicine.
Increasing RF-EMF exposure as an environmental pollutant:

The Polluter-Pays Principle

This principle, widely understood to be commonsensical and intuitively fair, is analogous to the slogan ‘you break, you pay.” It makes the party responsible for producing the pollution responsible for paying for the damage done to the natural environment.It has attained the status of a regional custom, because of the strong support it has received in most OECD and EC countries. In term 16 of the Rio Decleration:

National authorities should endeavour to promote the internalisation of environmental costs and the use of economic instruments,taking into account the approach that the polluter should, in principle, bear the costs of pollution, with due regard to the public interests, and without distorting international trade and investment.

NEMA (The National Environmental Management Act) echoes this – the costs of remedying pollution, environmental  degredation and consequent health effects and of preventing, controlling or minimising further pollution, environmental damage or adverse health effects must be paid for by those harming the environment .

In terms of NEMA pollution definitions below:

“other waves”

“emitted from any activity”

“adverse effect on human health or wellbeing”

“or will have such an effect in the future”

In other words objectors have every right to object to ionizing and any other waves (non-ionising radiation) on health grounds. There is more than enough substantiating evidence. Refusal to accept health based objections is in violation of NEMA.


The measurements from the study are of concern. We agree with the 326 scientists from 41 nations who are  appealing for guidelines and regulatory standards be strengthened (EMF Scientist Appeal). This is especially relevant in the light of  proposed ‘smart’city’ developments.










About the author