RF Health Safety Limits and Recommendations

May 14, 2023


The rapid proliferation of cellular mobile telecommunication devices and systems is raising public health concerns about the biological effects and safety of RF radiation exposure. There is also concern about the efficacy of promulgated health safety limits, rules, and recommendations for the RF radiation used by these devices and systems.

This article reviews and discusses the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) notices and rules, International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) guidelines, and International Committee on Electromagnetic Safety (ICES) standard for safety levels with respect to human exposure to electric, magnetic, and electromagnetic fields (EMFs).

The recently revised RF exposure limits are adjusted only for heating with RF radiation. These limits are largely intended to restrict short-term heating by RF radiation that raises tissue temperatures. They are narrow in scope and are not applicable to long-term exposure at low levels. This review discusses the assumptions underlying the standards and the outdated exposure metrics employed, and concludes that the revised guidelines do not adequately protect children, workers, or the public from exposure to RF radiation or people with sensitivity to electromagnetic radiation from wireless devices and systems.

Furthermore, the review discusses important animal data that the standards do not appear to take into account. Moreover, for millimeter-wave radiation from 5G mobile communications, there are no adequate human health effects studies in the published literature. The conclusions by scientific organizations, such as the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), that diverge from these standards are also discussed. The review concludes that many of the recommended limits are debatable and require more scientific justification from the standpoint of safety and public health protection.

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