5G doesn’t require new limits on RF exposure, FCC says

Cell tower
The exposure limits apply to all RF-emitting objects, including handheld devices and cell towers, and span technology generations, including 5G. (Pixabay)

Federal Communications Commission officials have decided that no new limits on radio frequency (RF) exposure are needed and that 5G does not pose any added health risks.

Following a six-year review, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on Thursday introduced a proposal that maintains current limits on RF exposure, concluding that existing standards are sufficient to ensure public health and safety when it comes to wireless technologies. The agency said the findings were informed by close work with the FDA and other federal health and safety agencies. The exposure limits apply to all RF-emitting objects including handheld devices, computers and cell towers, and span technology generations including 3G, 4G, and 5G.

RELATED: FCC responds to 5G health concerns as politicians push for more information


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The advent of 5G and its use of high-frequency millimeter wave airwaves and the need for many more small cells has caused growing public concern over potentially adverse health effects from wireless transmissions.

Some cities have voted to block 5G deployments, while others communities have pushed back against small cell installations. In May, Chicago residents voiced concerns over impacts from 5G after Verizon and Sprint launched their next-generation networks in limited parts of the city. Earlier this year members of congress sent letters to the FCC expressing concerns and asking for information on the safety of 5G small cells.

The FCC yesterday noted exposure limits in the U.S. for handheld devices are already “among the most stringent in the world.”  

RELATED: Brussels halts 5G plans over radiation rules

According to a New York Times article last month, experts say that radio waves actually become safer at higher frequencies, rather than more dangerous, because their poor propagation characteristics mean they don’t penetrate well.

 “The available scientific evidence to date does not support adverse health effects in humans due to exposures at or under the current limits” wrote Jeffrey Shuren, Director of the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, to the FCC. “No changes to the current standards are warranted at this time.”

Pai’s proposal also seeks to establish a uniform set of guidelines, regardless of the wireless service of technology, for how to determine compliance with the FCC’s exposure standards.


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