I'd like to add some to the discussion on the biological effects of RF. 1. Way back in the early '70s I worked at Motorola Comm division; next door to my lab was one run by Dr. Quiriano Balzano. His expertise was (still is, I suppose) exactly that: biological effects of RF radiation. At the time, he was doing extensive research in a very direct way (very un-PC now!). He used lab rabbits, exposed to well-controlled RF fields over a wide range of frequencies VHF upwards) for long periods of time. He found that the most sensitive indication of damage were the rabbits' eyes; they would develop cataracts after a sufficiently long exposure to a sufficiently high field strength. He then measured the near-field strengths and spectra of the many types of hand-held equipment that Motorola manufactured and sold, and conducted a years-long study using several times the highest levels he measured. NONE of the test rabbits ever suffered any ill effects; the resulting paper was published, reviewed, etc. and was generally accepted as valid. No subsequent study has ever been conducted to that same level of detail and thorough ness!
2. There is a very large study group that has been voluntarily exposing themselves to RF field strengrths MUCH MUCH higher for MUCH MUCH longer than, for example cell phones (especially current technologies, which use very low transmitting power even in marginal areas). I refer to the 1 million+ or so radio amateurs (I am a Life Member of both the ARRL and the IEEE) around the world. While I am not aware of any organized scientific study of this group, from my personal observation I imagine hams are on average among the HEALTHIEST and longest-lived populations! I am quite surprised no one has ever thought about doing that study; I suspect that far too many of the possible researchers have axes to grind that might be blunted by its results!
The amount of RFI has definitely increased because there are so many more sources, both in terms of different kinds of wireless transmission technologies on various bands, such as WiFi and 4G networks, and in terms of point sources (millions of cell towers, millions of Blackberries and WiFi-equipped laptops) for each of these transmission technologies. Other, perhaps less obvious sources, include clock radios and halogen lamps.
I would love to see a Sherlock or Monkeys which talks about something that took place in the 21st century. But I digress. My point here is that one can't help but notice that RFI has actually increased in recent years. My beloved Blackberry is among the biggest culprits. Who among us hasn't been on a conference call where asychronous (actually, often persistent) buzzing is disrupting the discussion. "Can everyone check if their Blackberry is near the phone?" is a common question on these calls. I don't know how designers can easily stanch this interference. It's not like you can put a choke on the antenna without killing the signal. Still, it's a serious problem.
Good detective work, which unfortunately required a major effort on your part in terms of having to pick up and move. Forget about the inconvenience, the issue you raise about the effect of the RF disturbances on humans is really far more alarming. Glad you were able to clear out of dodge.
Truchard will be presented the award at the 2014 Golden Mousetrap Awards ceremony during the co-located events Pacific Design & Manufacturing, MD&M West, WestPack, PLASTEC West, Electronics West, ATX West, and AeroCon.
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