Scientific terms and abbreviations can seem confusing, so we have gathered these terms and definitions to you help you better understand the universe of radiofrequency and RF radiation exposure. You'll find many of these terms on this site and in other related reports and discussions.
AC electricity operates at ELF or extremely low frequencies.
2G; second generation
2G stands for the Second Generation of mobile communications systems. Examples of 2G technologies include CDMA and TDMA. GSM is a 2G communications system.
3G; third generation
3G or Third Generation is the generic term used for new generation mobile communications systems, which make available enhanced communication services such as Internet access and the ability to view video footage. Examples of 3G technologies include WCDMA and CDMA2000. UMTS is a 3G communication system.
Radio transmitter and receiver used for transmitting and receiving voice and data to and from mobile phones in a particular cell.
Restrictions on exposure to electromagnetic fields that are based on established health effects and biological considerations.
Code Division Multiple Access, a 2G technology.
Code Division Multiple Access 2000, a 3G technology.
A geographic area covered by a particular base station.
Determination by measurements or calculations of the amount and distribution of radio frequency energy absorbed in a human body exposed to electromagnetic fields.
The complete range of stored or propagating electric and magnetic field energies. The lower part of the spectrum is known as non-ionising energy and includes power line frequencies, radio frequencies, infrared, visible light and ultra violet. The upper part of the spectrum is known as ionising energy and includes x-rays and gamma rays.
ELF extremely low frequencies
Signals operating at extremely low frequencies include AC electricity and video display terminals (VDTs)
EMF or electromagnetic fields or electromagnetic waves
Emitted by many natural and man-made sources. Used to transmit and receive signals from mobile phones and base stations.
Fields generated from a radio frequency source. Unlike exposure, emission is not dependent on the presence of a person.
Study of the cause and distribution of diseases in human populations.
External electromagnetic fields incident to a person. The quantity of an exposure depends on the duration and strengths of the fields.
The amplitude of the electric or magnetic fields. Related to power density through the impedance of free space.
The number of times per second at which an electromagnetic wave oscillates. Determines the wave’s properties and usage.
General public exposure
All exposure to electromagnetic fields experiences by members of the general public, excluding occupational exposure or exposure during medical treatment.
Global System for Mobile Communications, a 2G communications system using TDMA technology.
Hz; kHz; MHz; GHz
Hertz - unit of measurement for frequencies; one thousand Hz; one million Hz; one billion Hz.
International Agency for Research on Cancer, the WHO’s specialist cancer agency.
International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection, an independent scientific body that has produced an international set of guidelines for public and occupational exposure to radio frequency fields. ICNIRP’s guidelines have been adopted by many countries worldwide.
International Electrotechnical Commission, a global organization that prepares and publishes international standards for all electrical, electronic and related technologies, which serve as a basis for national standardisation and as references when drafting international tenders and contracts.
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, a source of technical and professional information, resources and services.
Studies using isolated cells or similar preparations that can provide important insights into fundamental mechanisms. However, such studies cannot generally provide convincing evidence of adverse health consequences due to their isolated and artificial nature.
Studies using animals that are more informative for risk assessment than in vivo studies. However, uncertainties remain as a result of biological differences from humans and aspects of RF energy absorption.
See electromagnetic spectrum.
Exposure to electromagnetic fields during work that are experiences by people having appropriate knowledge about EMF.
N.I.E.R. - Non Ionizing Electromagnetic Radiation report. NIER is a report based upon either calculations or measurements that evaluates the RF emissions from a given source to allowable standards.
See electromagnetic spectrum.
The energy flowing from an antenna through a unit area normal to the direction of propagation in a unit time. Measured in watts per square metre.
RF or radio frequency
That portion of the electromagnetic spectrum between about 3 kHz and 300 GHz that is generally used for communications purposes, including broadcast radio and television and mobile communications.
Specific Absorption Rate, a measure of the amount of RF power absorbed. The units are watts per kilogram.
Time Division Multiple Access, a 2G technology.
Universal Mobile Telecommunications System, a 3G communication system using WCDMA technology.
video display terminals
Video display terminals or (VDTs) operation at ELF.
The distance in metres between any two ‘similar’ points on a radio wave. The lower the frequency of a wave, the longer the wavelength.
Wideband Code Division Multiple Access, a 3G technology.
World Health Organization, the United Nations’ specialised agency for health. In 1996, the WHO established the International EMF Project to assess the scientific evidence of possible health effects of EMF in the frequency range from 0 Hz to 300 GHz.
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