Exposure to electromagnetic fields

07 September 2010

Ofcom regulates the operation of mobile networks in relation to their use of radio frequencies but does not have any duties related to the recommendations for exposure to EMF emissions. We do not set emission safety levels and we have neither the expertise nor the remit to participate in matters concerning biological or health research. However, the following general advice provides background information and indicates where further information may be found.

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) Code of best practice on mobile phone network development was updated in 2013.  This sets out (at paragraph 7.5) the need for certificates of International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) compliance to be provided with planning applications and for operators to continue to ensure all sites remain compliant.

Exposure guidelines for base stations

The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is one of a number of public bodies which regulate work that causes or could cause EMF exposure of workers or the public and has published information which covers matters relating to mobile phone technology.  Public Health England has also published advice at Mobile phone base stations: radio waves and health.  Additional industry information is also available from the Mobile Operators’ Association.

Ofcom has carried out measurements of representative samples of cellular base stations in publicly accessible areas which indicate that, even in the vicinity of cellular masts, measurements are consistently found to be very significantly below these levels.  Ofcom’s remit is restricted to carrying out sample measurements of emission levels so as to allow those with an interest to assess compliance with the above ICNIRP guidance.  Further information about Ofcom’s surveys of radio emissions near to mobile phone base stations are published in our website information sheet OfW80.

Reference Information

February 2016