Hams No Longer Excluded from Government-Mandated RF Exposure Evaluations. Have Questions? The ARRL Can Help.

Is your amateur radio station compliant with Federal Communication Commission (FCC) rules governing RF exposure? The ARRL wants you to know that it provides free resources to ensure that you’re operating legally.

As reported by the ARRL, new FCC rules governing RF exposure evaluations went into effect May 3, 2021. Exposure limits were kept the same, but the new rules now included amateur radio licensees among those required to conduct RF evaluations of their stations. May 3, 2023, marked the end of a two-year transition period enacted to allow amateur licensees the opportunity to evaluate their stations’ RF exposure and make changes in compliance with FCC rules.

“All licensees must now conduct evaluations of their current station and reassess compliance when making changes to their stations that would affect exposure going forward,” the ARRL reported.

Previous to the new FCC rules, some ham stations were exempted from RF exposure evaluations based on station power and frequency. Mobile and handhelds were also exempt, as were repeaters that transmitted less than 500W effective radiated power. The new rules lift these exemptions.

Visit the ARRL website to view its RF Exposure landing page, which includes an RF exposure calculator, the entire RF Safety section from the 100th Edition of the ARRL Handbook, a video explaining the topic, and FAQs. An ARRL membership is not required to use these resources.

If you are an ARRL member, you can further benefit by using the ARRL Technical Information Service, along with having access to the experts within the ARRL Lab.

We also recommend reading the excellent May 2023 QST article by Greg Lapin, N9GL, which gives a historical perspective on FCC rules governing RF exposure and amateur stations, an explanation of recent rule adjustments, and simple exposure assessment methods. Lapin notes that the FCC does not require that the results of a station’s exposure analysis be submitted, but “it is advisable to keep a record of the analysis so that if there’s ever an exposure complaint about that station, the calculations can be shown to the FCC.”

He continues, “Under the updated FCC rules, every radio amateur is responsible for determining that their station does not cause exposure that exceeds the FCC MPE (Maximum Permissible Exposure) limits to any person, either within their homes or outside of them. This is also required for portable and mobile operations.

“Help show the FCC and the public that we’re responsible users of RF energy by carefully considering exposure from your station and performing any required evaluations.”

For some of the dangers of excessive RF exposure levels and other information, click here to read RF Safety FAQs from the FCC.

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