Makerere University

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Precautionary measures for Electromagnetic radiations (EMF) from ICT equipment

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To all Staff and Students

Seldom does IT caution users on the likely health implications of incorrect usage of Electronic and Information Technology equipment. Most of these electronic equipments, emit radiations that are classified as low frequency electromagnetic fields (EMF). Technology manufacturers, claim that these low frequency radiations from smart mobile devices,Wi-Fi routers, computer monitors, UPSs, printers, modems etc. are not harmful.

However, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (a part of the World Health Organisation) classifies low-frequency EMFs as a “possible human carcinogen” based on human observational data and animal research that link EMF radiation to tumours. Also our EMF exposure increases with 5G networks, ubiquitous Wi-Fi hot spots, and smartphones that never leave our sides.

Its therefore important that users take precautionary measures to reduce/minimise exposure to radiations even when some of the precautionary measures seem impractical in this day and age!

1) Turn off mobile Data, Wi-Fi & bluetooth services when not actively using your smart mobile device to reduce background data transmissions. Also occasionally consider using only SMS! Its also worth noting that when GSM signal reception is low, cell phones typically increase in radiation levels to compensate. In such cases, keep your cell phone at a reasonable distance from your body and use a headset or speakerphone.

2) Whenever possible, use speaker mode and texting as these can help to increase distance between your body and the cellphone thus minimising radiation.Putting the cell phone against your ear, in your shirt pocket, in your
pants pocket, or any other place on your body, should be avoided.

3) Using wired internet, is always recommended as a safety measure. However, we need to appreciate that the world is becoming more "connected on the move, anytime anywhere" and the best we can do, is to take precautionary measures that minimise radiation. Its therefore best to use wired internet if your office is fitted with fixed data points (wired internet also offers a better/stable connection than wireless and reduces the risk of data breach). However, if all you have in your office is wireless internet, make sure you are not seated right next to the wireless router!

4) Run your computer off of battery as opposed to using it while charging. Also do not put your laptop directly on your lap, because of potential dangers from the magnetic fields, intermediate radio-frequencies, electric fields (if plugged in), and wireless radiation (if using wireless internet).

5) Is your office located in a server room with racks and high-performance servers? Then you might be sitting in the wrong place! Server racks are generally designed with anti-radiation glass and the metallic parts with anti-radiation coating and that is why you need to keep them locked with a key (its not just about keeping the dust away!). If the server racks you are sitting next to are open, then you are exposing yourself to high levels of radiation. DICTS main server room, is separated from our offices with anti-radiation glass. No one sits and works from the server room.

6) Is your environment/office/computer lab littered with piles of disused computers,UPSs and monitors especially the (Cathode-ray Tube type of monitors?)--see attached pic. These, posses chipsets with diodes that emit radiation,UPSs contains radiation meeting batteries and CRT monitors emit x-rays! Prolonged exposure to such an environment is unhealthy. Should you have these, please contact DICTS and we will liaise with the Estates department to pick them for safe disposal as guided by the PPDA disposal procedures.


Makerere's main campus is rich in foliage cover and plants, absorb electromagnetic radiations (this has its pros & cons). Also, the radiations from different Wi-Fi routers vary depending on a number of factors and there is currently no scientific consensus on the safe distance from a WiFi router. However, its generally advisable that users maintain a 30-40 feet distance from Wi-Fi routers (especially the outdoor long range WiFi-routers).

The precautionary measures above, are not meant to cause panic but rather to encourage users to be more conscious of EMF radiations when using Electronic gadgets and ICT equipment on and off campus.