Updated radio frequency exposure rules take effect May 3



The FCC has announced that the rule changes detailed in a 2019 long Report and order The standards governing RF exposure will come into effect on May 3, 2021. The new rules do not change existing RF exposure limits (RFEs), but require stations on all services, including amateur radio, to be assessed against existing limits, unless exempted. For stations already in place, this assessment must be completed by May 3, 2023. After May 3 of this year, any new or existing station modified in a way that could change its RFE profile – such as an antenna or a different location or greater power – will need to perform an assessment before the date of activation or modification.

In the RF Report and order, the Commission foresaw that few parties would have to re-evaluations under the new rules and that these evaluations will be relatively straightforward, ”the FCC said in an April 2 statement. Public notice. “He nevertheless adopted a period of 2 years for the parties to verify and guarantee compliance with the new rules. “

Amateur service is no longer categorically excluded from certain aspects of the rules, as amended, and licensees can no longer avoid performing an exposure assessment simply because they emit below a given power level.

“For most amateurs, the main difference is the removal of the categorical exclusion for amateur radio, which means owners of amateur radio stations must determine if they qualify for an exemption or if they must perform. a routine environmental assessment, ”said Greg Lapin, N9GL chairman of the ARRL RF Safety Committee and member of the FCC’s Technology Advisory Board (TAC).

“Ham stations previously excluded from carrying out environmental assessments will have until May 3, 2023 to carry them out. After May 3, 2021, all new stations or those modified in a way that affects RF exposure must comply before being put into service, ”said Lapin.

The RF of December 2019 Report and order modifies the methods used by many radio services to determine and comply with FCC human exposure limits to RF electromagnetic fields. The FCC also changed the process to determine whether a particular device or deployment is exempt from further analysis by replacing a service-specific list of transmitters, facilities and operations for which an assessment is required with new criteria based on simplified formulas. the R&O also addressed how to conduct assessments where the exemption does not apply and how mitigate exposure.

Amateur radio licensees will need to determine whether existing facilities previously excluded under the old rules are now eligible for an exemption under the new rules. Most will, but some will not.

ARRL Laboratory staff are available to help hobbyists make these determinations and, if necessary, perform the calculations necessary to ensure their stations are compliant. Ed Hare, ARRL Laboratory Director, W1RFI, who helped prepare the ARRLs RF exposure and you book, explained it this way. “The FCC hasn’t changed any of the underlying rules for amateur station ratings,” he said. “The sections of the book on how to perform routine station evaluations are still valid and usable, especially the many maps of common antennas at different heights. Hare said ARRL Lab staff would also be available to help hobbyists understand the rules and rate their stations.

RF exposure and you is available for free download by ARRL. ARRL also has a RF Security Page on its website.

ARRL RF Safety Committee is working with FCC to update FCC aids for following human exposure rules – OET Bulletin 65 and OET Bulletin 65 Supplement B for radio amateurs. In addition, ARRL is developing tools that all hams can use to perform exposure assessments.


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