March 12, 2020

ICNIRP Releases Updated Guidelines


The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) has released its updated guidance for the protection of humans and exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (EMF). The guidelines have been updated and cover future technologies, including specific comment to address concerns about the safety of fifth-generation mobile networks. The conclusion of the updated guidance remains that 5G technologies used with the parameters set within the guidelines will not be able to cause harm.

The guidelines were developed following a thorough review of all relevant scientific literature, scientific workshops and an extensive public consultation process. They provide protection against all scientifically substantiated adverse health effects due to EMF exposure in the 100 kHz to 300GHz range.

The ICNIRP first published its international guidelines for protection against harmful effects of radio frequency fields in 1998. The main changes in the 2020 guidelines, that are relevant to new technologies and 5G exposures are those for frequencies above 6 GHz. Where the updated guidance does suggest changes, the mobile network operators will comply with the new guidelines. 

ICNIRP Chairman, Dr Eric van Rongen, discussing the updated guidance said:

“When we revised the guidelines, we looked at the adequacy of the ones we published in1998. We found that the previous ones were conservative in most cases, and they’d still provide adequate protection for current technologies.”

“However, the new guidelines provide better and more detailed exposure guidance in particular for the higher frequency range, above 6 GHz, which is of importance to 5G and future technologies using these higher frequencies. The most important thing for people to remember is that 5G technologies will not be able to cause harm when these new guidelines are adhered to.”

Commenting on the updated ICNIRP guidelines Hamish MacLeod, Director at Mobile UK, said:

“The International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) has published the outcome of a review of its guidelines for electromagnetic fields for the frequencies used by mobile phone base stations.  Following this thorough review, the expert body has recommended some limited changes to the exposure guidelines. The mobile industry takes the safety of its customers, the public and the environment very seriously. Where the updated guidance does suggest changes, the mobile network operators will comply with these changes.

“The consistent conclusion of public health agencies and expert groups is that compliance with the international guidelines is protective for all persons (including children) against all established health risks.”

Notes to Editors

- Mobile UK is the trade association for the UK’s mobile network operators- EE, O2, Three and Vodafone.

- The International Commission on Non‐Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) provides scientific advice and guidance on the health and environmental effects of non‐ionizing radiation (NIR) to protect people and the environment from detrimental NIR exposure.

- NIR refers to electromagnetic radiation such as ultraviolet, light,infrared, and radio waves. In daily life, common sources of NIR include the sun, household electrical appliances, mobile phones, Wi‐Fi, and microwave ovens.

- For further information and a Q&A about 5G and health, please click here.

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