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FCC Finds Cell Phones do not Exceed Current RF Exposure Limits

Updated: Nov 24, 2020

In August of 2019, the Chicago Tribune published an article entitled “We Tested Popular Cellphones for Radiofrequency Radiation. Now the FCC is Investigating,” an article that sparked a wild debate between the proponents and critics of the FCC’s current RF exposure limits for cell phones. Why? Because the Chicago Tribune reported that various cell phone models tested in their experiment emitted RF levels far above the FCC’s limits.

Amid speculation that the FCC’s current RF exposure limits for cell phones should be revised to more accurately reflect modern cell phone use, the Chicago Tribune hired RF Exposure Lab, LLC in San Marcos, California to test various cell phone models. The purpose of these tests was to deviate from standard testing methods in order to accurately reflect RF exposure in the 21st century. The FCC’s current testing standards, which were adopted in the 1990s, require testing labs to position cell phones up to 25 millimeters from the testing “body.” RF Exposure Lab, LLC deviated from conventional testing methods by testing the cellphones 2 millimeters from the body to simulate RF exposure when cellphones are placed in pant or shirt pockets. Of the eleven phones initially tested, they concluded the following:

The above devices were tested to reflect the companies’ differing testing procedures. For example, Apple tests its phones at 5 mm away from the body while Samsung tests its phones at 10 mm and 15 mm away from the body. The FCC’s RF exposure limit is set at 1.6 W/kg. Nearly every device tested at 2 mm from the simulated body fluid exceeded this limit. A few devices measured at five, ten, and fifteen millimeters from the fluid also exceeded this limit.

Companies responded to the Chicago Tribune’s tests by citing inaccurate testing procedures as the reason for the alarming results. In response to this, the Chicago Tribune retested the devices by following these companies’ procedural guidelines; yet, they still found that some phones emitted RF levels that exceeded the FCC’s limits. In response to the Chicago Tribune’s claims, the FCC conducted its own investigation, and in December of 2019, released its results.

The FCC Laboratory, pursuant to the rules 47 CFR 2.945, tested the eleven devices. According to its report, the FCC conducted its tests according to the following standards:

  • 47 CFR § 1.1307

  • 47 CFR § 1.1310

  • 47 CFR § 2.1093

  • ANSI/IEEE Std. C95.1-1992

  • IEEE Std. 1528-2013

  • FCC KDB Publication 447498 D01 General RF Exposure Guidance v06

  • FCC KDB Publication 865664 D01 SAR Measurement 100 MHz to 6 GHz v01r04

  • FCC KDB Publication 648474 D04 Handset SAR V01r03

  • FCC KDB Publication 941225 D01 3G SAR Procedures v03r01

  • FCC KDB Publication 941225 D06 Hotspot Mode v02r01

The FCC found that none of the eleven tested devices exceeded set limits. It is important to note, however, that the FCC only tested devices according to the companies’ testing procedures, meaning that the distances used to test the phones were five, ten, and fifteen millimeters away from the simulated fluid. The FCC’s tests confirm that the devices do not exceed limits at these distances from the body; however, the FCC did not address the Chicago Tribune’s argument that devices are not safe at a 2 mm distance from the body.

In a Resolution of Notice of Inquiry published on December 4, 2019, the FCC rejected a proposal to amend existing RF exposure limits, citing the FDA’s claim that “the weight of scientific evidence has not linked cell phones with any health problems” as confirmation that its current RF exposure limits are appropriate. With the ever-expanding technological possibilities propelled by the onset of 5G, additional complaints regarding cell phone (and other technologies) safety are sure to emerge. It is vital that companies comply with the FCC’s rules and regulations, and at Rhein Tech Labs, we offer EMC and RF testing for your devices. Contact us today for a quote!

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