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Are There Any Health Risks With Prolonged Exposure to UHF RF Fields?

Posted By RFID Journal, 11.04.2013

If so, what are the technology's potential harmful effects?

—Name withheld


It depends on what you consider long exposure, but I would say yes, there could very well be some potential harmful effects if you were to sit all day in front of an ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID reader antenna emitting RF energy. In a previous post on this topic, in fact, I mentioned research conducted at the University of Texas at Arlington (see Can RFID Be Harmful to the Human Body?).

I reached out to the International Consortium on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) to ask if the organization had carried out any research regarding RFID, but I did not receive a response. As a general guideline, people should remain at least 1 meter (3.3 feet) from a reader. That's not to say you can't come closer as you walk by such a device. You can—but if you are going to be exposed to the reader for any extended period of time, you should remain at least a meter away from the antennas.

Additionally, if a person is going to be in front of a reader, you should not turn it on and off to reduce his or her exposure, as some early-stage research indicates this could actually have an impact on pacemakers.

—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal


Brandon Stickel 2013-11-06 03:26:04 PM
Hi Mark, This may be generalized a bit, but since readers/antennas are can be in close proximity to workers in warehouses throughout their normal activities (moving product), is this a safe technology to implement? They could potentially be exposed numerous times at varying distances throughout the day over months or years.

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