Microwave Journal

FCC Chair Recommends No Change to RF Safety Standards

Seeks uniform guidelines to ensure compliance

August 13, 2019

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai has proposed the FCC maintain the existing health standards for exposure to RF radiation, which are among the most stringent limits for RF exposure in the world. He said the recommendation is based on more than six years of public input and review.

Jeffrey Shuren, Director of the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, supports keeping the current limits, writing the “available scientific evidence to date does not support adverse health effects in humans due to exposures at or under the current limits.”

While extending the existing standards, Pai is also proposing to establish a uniform set of guidelines, regardless of service or technology, to ensure compliance. This will replace the FCC’s “inconsistent patchwork of service-specific rules,” according to a news release describing Pai’s recommendations.

Pai's proposal, which needs to be voted on by the commission, includes the following elements:

  • Maintain the existing RF exposure limits. This would close the the FCC’s 2013 Notice of Inquiry seeking public input on whether to change the RF exposure limits.
  • Establish a uniform set of guidelines for determining compliance with the standards, using frequency, distance and power and independent of the service or technology.
  • Seek comments on establishing a rule to formalize the existing standard for devices operating at high frequencies.
“The FCC sets radio frequency limits in close consultation with the FDA and other health agencies. After a thorough review of the record and consultation with these agencies, we find it appropriate to maintain the existing radio frequency limits, which are among the most stringent in the world for cell phones.” Julius Knapp, chief of the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology

In 1996, the FCC adopted maximum permissible exposure limits for field strength and power density for transmitters operating from 300 kHz to 100 GHz, which were developed by the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP). The FCC has also adopted the specific absorption rate (SAR) limits for devices operating close to the body, as specified by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the IEEE. More information about the FCC’s RF exposure limits is available on the FCC website.