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N9GL's RF Safety Column


  • "Hijacking Science" August 2008
    It appears that scientists who do not like the results produced by good scientific investigation are attempting to bypass accepted procedures to propagate the results that they believe should be shown. For a number of years, it has been apparent that certain scientists have strong beliefs that exposure to RF energy harms people. Unfortunately for them, well designed and performed scientific studies have not confirmed their beliefs; however, rather than accepting what science shows, these people stubbornly cling to their beliefs. Some of them have designed studies that are likely to have the results that they would like them to have. The latest and most disturbing occurrence is that these people are spreading rumors among their colleagues who accept the word of their trusted colleagues as truth and further propagate the mistruths.
  • "Anything for a Buck" September 2008
    After writing my last column I was amazed by the number of people who wrote to tell me that cell phones are dangerous, and they have proof! I was directed to one of a number of videos that were available on YouTube, showing kernels of popcorn on a table that popped when one to four cell phones around them were transmitting. "It's obvious," reasoned these correspondents, "that if a cell phone can generate enough heat to pop corn, then it can also fry your brain cells!"
  • "The Canaries in the Mine" October 2008
    Amateur Radio is more than 100 years old. At one time, hams were virtually the only people in the world exposed to RF signals. As time progressed and radio communications technology has been developed and proven -- largely by radio amateurs -- its use was made available to the masses and the number of RF signals in the air greatly increased. This has reached a zenith today, with a majority of people walking around with RF transmitters in the form of cellular telephones.



  • "The Pendulum Swings" January 2001
    What a confusing world we live in! First, we hear that RF is harmful, then we hear that it's not.
  • "Athermal Bioeffects" February 2001
    The topic of athermal effects is far too large topic to cover in a single column. This month, I plan to define what most people mean when they refer to athermal effects and give an example of their existence.
  • "The Military's New RF Weapon" March 2001
    I had planned to continue the discussion of athermal effects of RF energy. In the interim, the US military announced the development of a new RF weapon for crowd control purposes. Let's examine this new issue.
  • "What about Federal Preemption of State and Local Laws?" July, 2001
    A bill pending in Missouri's Legislature could affect Amateur Radio operators. As a scientist, I find this bill disturbing since it starts out by misrepresenting the potential for RF energy to cause damage to children.
  • "More About Athermal Bioeffects--Does RF Affect Your Thinking?" August, 2001
    Some British researchers have postulated that the high incidence of automobile accidents involving cellular telephones was due to athermal effects of the cellphone's RF on the brain.
  • "Can We Trust Controlled Experiments?" November, 2001
    The "controlled experiment" is the hallmark of scientific study. So, why should we be skeptical about the outcomes of such studies?



  • "RF Safety and the 'C' Word" February 2000
    Understanding the scientific basis of RF Safety can be a lifetime's work.
  • "RF Safety and the 'C' Word--Part II" March 2000
    Understanding the scientific basis of RF Safety can be a lifetime's work.
  • "They Blinded Me with Science!" April 2000
    In the past two columns, I've presented the theories regarding the formation of cancer and have discussed one way that RF energy cannot fit these theories and another way that it can. I left you hanging last month with a question: "But does it?" This month, we'll look at how science has tried to answer this question.
  • "Remembering Friends --or-- How I Missed the Wife Swapping Street by One Block" May 2000
    Would it surprise you to learn that science was convinced of the linkage between cigarette smoking and disease 20 years before it was proven?
  • "Answers to Questions from Hams about Epidemiology" June 2000
    Last month's topic was epidemiology, the science of statistical analysis of populations. In my continuing discussion of scientific investigation and its effects on RF safety, I had reached epidemiology.
  • "Taking RF Safety Regulations on the Road" July 2000
    My "July" column is tardy because I've been overseas. During my travels, I discovered that other countries do not face the same kinds of RF exposure rules that we have here in the US. So, where does that leave a US ham operating in another country?
  • "Understanding SAR" August 2000
    Cellular telephone makers soon will offer consumer information on Specific Absorption Rate or SAR. What is SAR, and how can people use it?
  • "The Multiple Transmitter Question" October 2000
    We are exposed to RF energy from a number of sources--not just the RF from our own Amateur Radio stations. What are the RF safety implications of these multiple sources of RF?
  • "RF Safety and the Neighbor" November 2000
    Radio frequency interference has been an issue between hams and their neighbors for as long as I can remember. As the expert on the subject, ARRL Lab Supervisor Ed Hare, W1RFI, can tell you, virtually all RFI problems can be solved with a little patience and some good engineering.
  • "What's Different about RF Safety in Great Britain?" December 2000
    When you look at the news over the last few months, most of the RF Safety articles seem to be about the goings-on in Great Britain. What is happening in that country that is different from the rest of the world?


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