Exposure to electromagnetic fields
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 industry Code of best practice on mobile network development in England was updated in 2016. 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.
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 information sheet OfW80.
- World Health Organization (WHO) - Electromagnetic Fields
- WHO - Electromagnetic fields and public health: mobile phones
- WHO - Electromagnetic fields and public health: base stations and wireless technologies
- ICNIRP - guidelines for exposure to EMF Guidelines for Limiting Exposure to Time-Varying Electric, Magnetic, and Electromagnetic Fields (up to 300 GHz), Health Physics Vol. 74, No 4, pp 494-522, 1998
- Department of Health (DH)
- Mobile phone base stations and health (DH – 2011)