ARRL

ARRL General Bulletin ARLB051 (1996)

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ARLB051 New RF standards Part 2

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ARRL Bulletin 51  ARLB051
From ARRL Headquarters
Newington CT  August 6, 1996
To all radio amateurs

SB QST ARL ARLB051
ARLB051 New RF standards Part 2

(continued from part 1)

The new regulations also will require the addition of five questions
on RF environmental safety to the amateur examinations for Novice,
Technician, and General-class elements 2, 3(B) and 4(B). Sumner
noted that the Commission's Report and Order does not take into
account the practical problems associated with such a significant
revision to the volunteer-administered amateur examinations, and
that more time than the Commission has allowed will be required to
do a good job.

The Commission acknowledged the updated guidelines generally are
more stringent than the current rules but said that the new rules
will protect the public and workers from strong RF emissions.
Adoption of new rules by August 6 was required by the
Telecommunications Act of 1996.

The FCC encourages the amateur community ''to develop and
disseminate information in the form of tables, charts and computer
analytical tools that relate such variables as operating patterns,
emission types, frequencies, power and distance from antennas.'' The
Commission said it intends to provide ''straightforward methods for
amateur operators to determine potential exposure levels'' by year's
end.

In comments filed earlier with the FCC, the ARRL strongly opposed
adoption of the new requirements. The ARRL said most Amateur Radio
users do not possess the requisite equipment, technical skills,
and/or financial resources to conduct an environmental analysis. The
League has, for several years, recommended a policy of ''prudent
avoidance'' of exposure to electromagnetic radiation as a
common-sense approach to potential--but not yet proven--health
hazards and against such practices as running high power to indoor
antennas or to mobile antennas that might expose the vehicle's
occupants. The ARRL also argued that amateur stations, because of
their intermittent operation, low duty cycles, and relatively low
power levels, rarely exceed the 1992 ANSI/IEEE standard. Finally,
the ARRL noted that unlike other radio services, RF safety questions
already are included in amateur license examinations. But the FCC
expressed concern that Amateur Radio operations ''are likely to be
located in residential neighborhoods and may expose persons to RF
fields in excess of the MPE guidelines.''

For now, the League advises hams not to panic and to read up on the
subject.  You can download the complete Report and Order by pointing
to http://www.fcc.gov/Bureaus/Engineering_Technology/Orders/
fcc96326.txt.  Other resources are available on the ARRLWeb page
at http://www.arrl.org/news/rfsafety/.

General information on RF safety is available in the safety sections
of The 1996 ARRL Handbook and in the 15th edition of The ARRL
Antenna Book. These materials offer guidelines on how to comply with
the ANSI standard referred to in the Report and Order.
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