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RF Exposure


Amateur Radio is basically a safe activity. In recent years, however, there has been considerable discussion and concern about the possible hazards of electromagnetic radiation, including both RF energy and power-frequency (50-60 Hz) electromagnetic fields.  To allay such concerns, the FCC set limits on the amount of RF energy people can be exposed to. Some stations now need to be evaluated to ensure they are in compliance with RF exposure limits.

As detailed in a May 2023 QST article by Greg Lapin, N9GL, the rules which took effect on May 3, 2021 now require amateur radio operators to perform station evaluations.  The Amateur Radio Service is no longer categorically excluded from certain aspects of the RF exposure rules, and licensees can no longer avoid performing an exposure assessment simply because they are transmitting below a given power level.  

A two year transition period was implemented to allow existing stations to make any necessary changes, but as of May 3, 2023, the transition period ends and all transmitters operating in the US are expected to comply with the exposure rules.  The ARRL has on its website an RF Exposure Calculator to assist amateurs in performing station assessments.  

ARRL RF Exposure Resources

These links are to ARRL resources and tools related to RF exposure:

Frequently Asked Questions about the May 3, 2021 changes to the FCC RF-exposure rules

100th Edition ARRL Handbook's RF safety section as a PDF

ARRL's RF Exposure Calculator

Helping Amateurs Interact with Neighbors about Radio Transmissions (PDF file, developed by RF Safety Committees from ARRL, RSGB, IRTS ans SSA)

ARRL Learning Network video on RF exposure 

FCC RF Exposure Resources

These links are to resources documentation that is on the current FCC web site. Some of this information has not yet been updates to reflect the recent changes in the rules.  The information on how to evaluate a station is the most current information that the FCC has available. Information on station exemptions has been superseded by new methods that all radio services use to determine whether a particular installation needs to be evaluated or not.


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