Surveying Roofing with 4G or 5G Mast Installations

I was asked to inspect a commercial building last week for a regular client of mine, with a view to completing a Schedule of Condition. My client knew there were roof problems, and wanted a thorough inspection of the roof to ensure any liabilities could be offset before signing the lease. On arriving, the landlords agent informed me that there were 4G or 5G telephone mast installations on the roof and I immediately asked if they were turned off, and was informed that they weren’t.

Telephone Mast Installations

Risks from 4G & 5G Telephone Mast Towers

Unusually, the purpose of this blog is not to cover any particular roofing defects, but rather to provide some guidance for other surveyors who are faced with the prospect of surveying near these telephone installations and yet don’t fully understand the risks.

These telephone masts will emit both EMF radiation and RF radiation and should be turned off ahead of accessing the roof for inspection, or indeed to complete any works. Unbelievably, a roofing contractor was due to attend in less than a week to install a liquid roofing system, and so could be working in close proximity to these masts for around a week. I carry a Trifield TF2 EMF/RF meter and on accessing the roof immediately took an RF reading, which recorded a peak RF reading of 15.6 milliwatts. We need to convert this reading to microwatts to understand the risk, so we times our reading by a thousand to get a peak reading of 15600 microwatts.

Dangerously High RF Reading

To contextualise this reading, you should note the following guidelines:

  • 0.1 -10 Microwatts (Slight Risk)
  • 10-1000 Microwatts (Severe Risk)
  • >1000 Microwatts (Extreme Risk)

So we have an RF reading, which is over 15 times higher than the extreme risk category and as such, you should remove yourself immediately from the risk, which of course meant that the roof survey could not be safely completed.

Why is RF Radiation Dangerous?

The World Health Organisation has classified RF radiation as a class 2B carcinogen, which for context, is the same class as car exhaust fumes. Many experts on RF radiation believe that it should be re-classified as a class 1, and my own view is that it will be re-classified at some point in the future.

Many surveyors out there will likely not carry an an EMF/RF meter, but I hope this blog serves as a simple reminder for the fact that telephone masts should be turned off ahead of accessing a roof for survey or maintenance works. If not turned off, it is certain that they will be emitting dangerous levels of EMF and RF radiation that you do not want to be exposed to.

I speak from personal experience when I say that negotiating with the telephone companies to get these masts turned off, can take weeks or even months, so you need to plan ahead.

2 responses to “Surveying Roofing with 4G or 5G Mast Installations”

  1. Joe Porath avatar
    Joe Porath

    Excellent article.

    Many people I have worked with for many years are totally unaware of the risks of pulsed microwave RF radiation from cell towers. Even today where there is more information and at least 23 credible research papers.

    1. Joe Malone avatar
      Joe Malone

      Yes, couldn’t agree more Joe; particularly roofing contractors who are likely to spend long periods of time in close proximity to the risk.


      Joe Malone

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