"Cellular Network Densification Increases Radio-Frequency Pollution": True or False?

Luca Chiaraviglio, Sara Turco, Giuseppe Bianchi, Nicola Blefari-Melazzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


A very popular theory circulating among non-scientific communities claims that the massive deployment of Base Stations (BSs) over the territory, a.k.a. cellular network densification, always triggers an uncontrolled and exponential increase of human exposure to Radio Frequency “Pollution” (RFP). To face such concern in a way that can be understood by the layman, in this work we develop a very simple model to compute the RFP, based on a set of worst-case and conservative assumptions. We then provide closed-form expressions to evaluate the RFP variation in a pair of candidate 5G deployments, subject to different densification levels. Results, obtained over a wide set of representative 5G scenarios, dispel the myth: cellular network densification triggers an RFP decrease (up to three orders of magnitude) when the radiated power from the BS is adjusted to ensure a minimum sensitivity at the cell edge. Eventually, we analyze the conditions under which the RFP may increase when the network is densified (e.g., when the radiated power does not scale with the cell size), proving that the amount of RFP is always controlled. Finally, the results obtained by simulation confirm the outcomes of the RFP model.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2608-2622
Number of pages15
JournalIEEE Transactions on Wireless Communications
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 28 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2022-12-13
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): OSR-2020-CRG9-4377
Acknowledgements: This work was supported in part by KAUST under Award OSR-2020-CRG9-4377 and in part by CNIT for the Project PLAN-EMF.
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.


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