Masts & Antennae

Research shows higher rates of illnesses and cancers in those living near mobile masts and base stations. One study has shown that the risk of developing cancer for those living within 400 metres of  mobile phone antennae in comparison to those living outside this area, was three times as high.  (See Studies Below)


There are over 10,000 mobile phone antennae in Ireland. This map does not include 5G, Tetra or Wireless broadband.

There are over 10,000 mobile phone antennae in Ireland, transmitting microwave radiation constantly for 2G (GSM), 3G (UMTS), 4G (LTE) and now 5G (NR) * and wireless broadband from a number of mobile phone and telecommunications companies.

A mobile phone mast (called a cell tower, cell site or phone tower in some other countries) is the structure that carries the antennae and other equipment. An antenna is the device that transmits and receives wireless signals between them and mobile phones and devices. They are commonly rectangular in shape, mostly white.

TETRA antennae which are placed on Garda station masts are long thin metal usually sticking out the top.   TETRA is the secure telecommunications network for emergency services.

The round drum shapes on many masts are repeaters which transmit and receive signals between mobile masts. Not all antennae are installed on masts, as many are placed on buildings or in monopoles so are not as conspicuous as large mast structures.  Small antennae can be hidden.  Some telecoms structures are disguised to look like trees to blend into the environment.

Despite recommendations by experts and the EU Resolution in 2009 that mobile phone antennae should not be placed near schools, hospitals, homes, places of worship, these antennae are now being placed almost anywhere the companies want them.

With the introduction of more technology, the demand for faster speed with 3G, 4G and wireless broadband, and 5G we, and our children, are being increasingly exposed to more and more harmful radiation, as more masts and antennae are erected.

For up to date information on new masts and planning applications, see Mast Watch Ireland.

Important Note:

The more we use smart phones and wireless devices to communicate, work, access streaming services, the more bandwidth is needed to facilitate these networks.  The more people using the networks, the less bandwidth there is to share between them, so base station technologies are upgraded and areas intensified with more antennae and  harmful microwave radiation is therefore increased.   This applies to all generations of mobile phone technology, 2G, 3G and 4G – not just 5G. 

While there is currently a lot of discussion and protest about the new 5G networks, and although 5G (microwave and millimetre wave) will be used for much more than just mobile communications and are a serious cause for concern with wide spread installations and uses, it has to be said that if we continue to rely on and use wireless smart phones and smart technology, then the infrastructure will continue to go up and extend.

In the last year masts, monopoles and antennae for increased 2G, 3G and 4G coverage, as well as the new 5G network are being installed across the country at an alarming rate.  Many of these installations do not require planning permission as they are being fixed to existing structures, are below the required height for planning permission, or new legislation does not allow for public consultation.  Locals are not being informed and many people are not aware of health risks.

Scientific Studies

One Study Finds Cell Tower Radiation Is Linked To Type Of  Damage In Human Blood That Predicts Cancer 

A 2017  published study comparing people living close (within 80 meters) and far (over 300 meters) from a cellular antennas found that the people living closer to the cellular antennas had statistically significant effects- increases in blood damage considered biomarkers predictive of cancer.  Researchers measured the radiofrequency (RF) radiation exposures to the two groups and found that although the levels were within government limits, the people living closer to the cellular antennas had a much higher RF exposure.

Impact of radiofrequency radiationon DNA damage andantioxid ants in peripheral blood lymphocytes of humans residing in the vicinity of mobile phone base stations (Zothansiama et al, 2017)

Through blood tests, researchers found statistically significant findings in people living closer to mobile base stations – who had higher RF levels in their bedrooms than the control group.

The exposed group had statistically significant:

  • Higher frequency of micronuclei.
  • Attrition in antioxidant glutathione concentration, activities of catalase and superoxide dismutase.
  • Rise in lipid peroxidation a product of free radical oxidation.

“The present study demonstrated that staying near the mobile base stations and continuous use of mobile phones damage the DNA, and it may have an adverse effect in the long run. The persistence of DNA unrepaired damage leads to genomic instability which may lead to several health disorders including the induction of cancer, ” concluded the study authors.

Biological effects from exposure to electromagnetic radiation emitted by cell tower base stations and other antenna arrays- B. Blake Levitt and Henry Lai

“The siting of cellular phone base stations and other cellular infrastructure such as roof-mounted antenna arrays, especially in residential neighborhoods, is a contentious subject in land-use regulation… Both anecdotal reports and some epidemiology studies have found headaches, skin rashes, sleep disturbances, depression, decreased libido, increased rates of suicide, concentration problems, dizziness, memory changes, increased risk of cancer, tremors, and other neurophysiological effects in populations near base stations. The objective of this paper is to review the existing studies of people living or working near cellular infrastructure and other pertinent studies that could apply to long-term, low-level radiofrequency radiation (RFR) exposures” Biological effects from exposure to electromagnetic radiation emitted by cell tower base stations and other antenna arrays

Study of the health of people living in the vicinity of mobile phone base stations:
I. Influences of distance and sex  (2002) R. Santini, P. Santini, J.M. Danze, P. Le Ruz, M. Seigne

Neuro cell towers

Cell tower antennaPeople living within 50-300 meter radius are in the high radiation zone and are more prone to ill effects of electromagnetic radiation   Professor Girish Kumar, India – Presentation (2011) 

Compilation of Research Studies on Cell Tower Radiation and Health

Mobile Telecommunications in Kempten West – Blood levels alarmingly altered

The Citizens Initiative Kempten West, which was established after the installation of the T-Mobile transmitter on the bank building (in Lindauerstraße) carried out blood tests on locals before and after installation. Unfortunately, the results confirm the fears of the Initiative. Blood levels were alarmingly altered Study 2007

The Influence of Being Physically Near to a Cell Phone Transmission Mast on the Incidence of Cancer

The result of the study shows that the proportion of newly developing cancer cases was significantly higher among those patients who had lived during the past ten years at a distance of up to 400 metres from the cellular transmitter site, which has been in operation since 1993, compared to those patients living further away, and that the patients fell ill on average 8 years earlier. Germany 2004

Neurobehavioral effects among inhabitants around mobile phone base stations 

The prevalence of neuropsychiatric complaints as headache (23.5%), memory changes (28.2%), dizziness (18.8%), tremors (9.4%), depressive symptoms (21.7%), and sleep disturbance (23.5%) were significantly higher among exposed inhabitants than controls (2007)

2011 – Mortality by neoplasia and cellular telephone base stations in the Belo Horizonte municipality, Minas Gerais state, Brazil.

Pollution caused by the electromagnetic fields (EMFs) of radio frequencies (RF) generated by the telecommunication system is one of the greatest environmental problems of the twentieth century. The purpose of this research was to verify the existence of a spatial correlation between base station (BS) clusters and cases of deaths by neoplasia in the Belo Horizonte municipality, Minas Gerais state, Brazil, from 1996 to 2006 and to measure the human exposure levels to EMF where there is a major concentration of cellular telephone transmitter antennas.

Increased Incidence of Cancer near a Cell-Phone Transmitter Station –  Wolf and Wolf , Israel 2004

Significant Decrease of Clinical Symptoms after Mobile Phone Mast Station Removal – 2014 Tetsuharu Shinjyo & Akemi Shinjyo

Impact of radiofrequency radiation on DNA damage and antioxidants in peripheral blood lymphocytes of humans residing in the vicinity of mobile phone base stations. (2017)

Mobile Phone Base Station Tower Settings Adjacent to School Buildings: Impact on Students’ Cognitive Health (2018)

Cell Tower Health Effects.Electromagnetic Radiation Safety

Health Effects Associated with Radio Frequency Radiation. Expert Testimony prepared by Magda Havas, B.Sc., Ph.D.

Environmental Epidemiological Study of Cancer Incidence in the Municipalities of Hausmannstätten & Vasoldsberg   Austria Study 2012

Health and Environmental Concerns Regarding Mobile Phone Base Stations EMFWise

Studies of health effects of mobile phone masts WiredChild

2019 – US Cell Phone Tower Removed after 4th Ripon Student diagnosed with Cancer

2008 West Dublin – Phone Mast Fears Grow as More Locals Suffer Cancer

2007 – Harney to probe residents’ mast cancer case claim – Clondalkan

2008 – No probe on cancer scare garda mast


Some countries are putting guidelines around placement near residential areas, and places where children spend a lot of time (school, home, care centres). Other countries are also reducing the power output or encouraging providers to share services rather than placing more antennae on masts.

In Ireland, no such guidelines are in place. Mobile phone and wireless broadband companies, An Bord Planeala, local councils and government agencies in Ireland do not consider any health risks from mobile phone mast radiation.  They actually do not care and allow them to be placed near schools, on roofs of hospitals, and on GAA and FAI grounds where children frequent.

In 2010, when Minister for Communications, Energy & Natural Resources,  Eamon Ryan, Green Party, launched an initiative to allow shared access mobile phone masts and antennae on local football grounds in exchange for free floodlights.

Similar deals are made between GAA clubs and telecoms companies to erect masts on sports grounds in exchange for large sums of money.

Planning Changes

In 2012 the Minister of the Environment, Community and Local Government issued an update to certain sections of the Telecommunications Antennae and Support Structures Guidelines (1996) as used by the planning department.  This stated that separation distances from vulnerable places such as schools in development plans, should not now be included in applications and, conditions limiting the life of telecommunication masts and antennas should cease.

The Minister included two reminders i.e. that health grounds should not be considered as part of the planning application and that ‘all future Development Contribution Schemes must include waivers for broadband infrastructure provision … The implications of these changes for local communities who might wish to object to such infrastructure was they could no longer initiate their campaign on policies quoting separation distances as a viable reason to object and, the potential that the previous temporary nature of permission had allowed in challenging application for renewal had ended.

“2.3 The Development Plan and Separation Distances The 1996 Guidelines advised that planning authorities should indicate in their development plans any locations where, for various reasons, telecommunications installations would not be favoured or where special conditions would apply, and suggested that such locations might include lands whose high amenity value is already recognised in a development plan, protected structures, or sites beside schools. While the policies above are reasonable, there has, however, been a growing trend for the insertion of development plan policies and objectives specifying minimum distances between telecommunications structures from houses and schools, e.g. up to 1km. Such distance requirements, without allowing for flexibility on a case-by-case basis, can make the identification of a site for new infrastructure very difficult. Planning authorities should therefore not include such separation distances as they can inadvertently have a major impact on the roll out of a viable and effective telecommunications network.”

A further update in 2018 on the planning guidelines allow for higher structures and more antennae and dishes on masts, as well as “new exemption specifically relating to the deployment of small cell antennae to smaller structures including electricity poles, telegraph poles, lamp posts, lighting structures, flag poles, CCTV poles, phone kiosks and bus shelters”  giving even more leeway to telecommunications companies. (pages 5 & 6)

1998 Oireachtas Report on Non-Ionising Microwave Radiation Emissions from Communication Masts (Including evidence from concerned groups)


As outlined above, many new installations of antennae, equipment and monopoles are exempt from Planning Permission due to height, placement, existing structure etc but can be appealed to An Bord Pleanala.

However, some new structures or extensions of masts do still require planning permission.  Please keep a close eye on your County Council’s Planning section on their websites, or site notices in your area, and object to any installation and/or extension of mobile phone masts and antennae.  Get your neighbours to object also.  Each submission costs only €20.

See Mast Watch Ireland for up to date information on planning applications in Ireland

To find out location of mobile phone antennae near you visit Comreg Site Finder

*Comreg References:

GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) =   2G   (2nd Generation) ;

UMTS   (Universial Mobile Telecommunications System) =    3G   (3rd Generation) ;

LTE (Long Term Evolution)  =   4G (4th Generation mobile telephony).

NR (New Radio) = 5G (5th Generation)

The ComReg site does not show the locations of Tetra masts used for Gardai and emergency services communications, or Fixed Wireless Broadband, eg WiMax, or Wifi Hotspots.

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