At Vodafone we are open and committed to safety

Together with our parent companies, we fund our share in the cost of independent national, regional and international scientific research in priority areas identified by the World Health Organization. In Australia we contribute to the Australian government's electromagnetic energy (EME) research program through a carrier license levy ($4.5 million over 5 years). The programme established in 1999, now in its third cycle has already provided over $10 million for Australian EME research.

The WHO's 2010 RF research agenda identified the following specific areas where additional research is needed into the potential effects of RF on human health:

  • Population-based studies
  • Effects on the brain
  • Early life and children
  • Ageing and degenerative disease
  • RF exposure levels from new technologies

Vodafone ensures the independence of research for which it is involved by contributing to national and international programs, such as the Australian government's EME research program where strict management firewalls between researchers and contributors are put in place.

We believe research is best conducted under frameworks requiring that:

  • Researchers design and report their studies independently of third parties
  • Research is of the highest standard
  • Research is published in peer-reviewed literature

We support and monitor ongoing scientific research and are guided by health evaluations based on the overall weight of scientific evidence made by recognised scientific review groups such as the:

  • World Health Organization (including the International Agency for Research on Cancer [IARC])
  • International Commission Non-ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP)
  • European Commission Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks

A scientific review must meet several criteria for Vodafone to consider it a reference review. It must:

  • Be relevant to mobile telecommunications and health
  • Be undertaken by a panel of experts commissioned by a recognised national or international health agency
  • Consider all available peer-reviewed evidence covering the scope of the review
  • Apply review and risk assessment criteria consistent with the WHO approach
  • Post-date the ICNIRP guidelines.

Expert reviews

International and Australian research efforts

In 1996, the World Health Organization established the International Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) Project to examine electricity and radiofrequency fields (RF) such as those associated with mobile phone technology. This project is a major International collaborative project involving more than 50 globally recognised health agencies and expert scientific organizations. The project covers research, information, standards and knowledge.

Following extensive international reviews, the WHO has promoted RF health research to fill gaps in knowledge. For the latest WHO research agenda visit The 2010 WHO Research Agenda for Radio Frequency Fields.

The WHO explains that “...national governments and research institutes have funded over $250 million on EMF research over the past 10 years.” In Australia Vodafone contributes to the Australian government’s electromagnetic energy (EME) research program through a license levy ($4.5 million over 5 years). The program established in 1999, now in its third cycle has already provided over $10 million for Australian EME research.

These RF research projects are jointly funded by governments, international organizations and the mobile phone industry. Where industry funding is involved important measures have been implemented to ensure complete independence of the research undertaken by the laboratories. For more information on these projects, visit the WHO’s page on EMF research

WHO health risk assessment for radiofrequency fields (RF) fall within the International EMF Project. The health risk assessments are the result of in-depth critical reviews conducted through independent, scientific peer-review groups. See the current WHO timetable -2012- for the WHO formal risk assessment of all studied health outcomes from radiofrequency fields exposure.

The science process

This section has been designed to provide information for students and interested individuals who want to explore more about how radiofrequency fields interact with the body and how expert scientific groups make assessments about health risks. 

At Vodafone, we only consider the opinion of panels commissioned by recognized national or international health agencies such as the World Health Organization. Their opinions are based on the entire body of evidence, rather than on the basis of single scientific studies.

Even for single scientific studies scientists should follow the “scientific method” and have their research “peer reviewed” and published so that other scientists can examine how the research was done and comment on the author’s interpretation of the results. By following these steps correctly, scientists ensure their results are not affected by external influences such as their own or others’ prior beliefs.

Read more about how scientists carry out their research and their research findings

Can one research paper turn the tide on mobile phones and health risk?

Applying the science process, no single research paper is likely to change the overall scientific opinion on mobile phones and health risk. Following publication and peer review and independent replication, the single study has to be reviewed by experts against the whole body of science in order for the health risk assessment to be meaningful.

Helpful links for science and social science students:

World Health Organization - This on-line course provides high school students with detailed information on the science behind mobile phone technology. The course covers biology (including cancer), techniques of biology, physics (including the radiofrequency spectrum and its measurement) and has sections on the basic requirements of science writing, presenting and making risk assessments.

EMF explained is an informational resource which covers the technological aspects of wireless technologies and issues. It has been developed by the mobile phone industry associations and for health advice the site references national and international health authority advice.

Green facts provides facts about health and the environment in simple terms. The site covers a wide range of environmental topics and has a specific section on electromagnetic fields

GSMA electromagnetic spectrum animation explains how each of the different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum (e.g. static electricity, power lines, radio, TV, mobiles, heat, light, UV, X-rays and nuclear energy) are used by man and the effects that each part of the spectrum has on the human body.

Vodafone’s approach to health and safety from our technology

Safeguarding the health and safety of our customers, public and employees is given high priority at Vodafone.

In addressing our commitment to the safety of our customers, public and employees and addressing public concern we:

  • Ensure that all our terminals and base stations meet the ARPANSA standard (RPS3) and we provide individualised RF site safety information on where you can/cannot go near our base station transmitters.
  • Engage with local communities as part of our responsible network deployment process and refer customers and communities worried about base stations and health to respected health advisory bodies such as the World Health Organization.
  • Help Vodafone employees understand how to respond to customer/public concerns with the correct facts including guidance to those concerned about how best to limit their RF field exposure from handsets.
  • Work with the telecommunications industry to address public concerns about health.

We support research to resolve scientific uncertainty and we are committed to reducing public concern by making objective information widely available to our stakeholders and by engaging in open, transparent dialogue

Our approach to base station safety

In addition to ensuring that all of our base stations meet the ARPANSA Standard, we ensure that access points to its base station sites are clearly signed to indicate the presence and nature of antennas and other radio equipment. Working procedures are in place to ensure that if landlords, their employees or contractors, or members of the public need access to the rooftop, they are advised of the area of the roof to which access should be restricted or arrangements can be made to power down the antenna.

When any telecommunications equipment is installed on any property, a full radiofrequency safety assessment is conducted by an accredited assessor. The assessor provides the property owner/manager with a Radiocommunications Site Management Book (RCSMB). The book is designed to help anyone who is required to work near the radio telecommunications equipment (base station) installed on the roof and to do so safely.

More Information