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Approach to protect public from exposure to EMR

Media Release No. 52 of 1999 - 17 August 1999

New approach to protect public from exposure to EMR

The Australian Communications Authority (ACA) has embarked on a new co-operative approach for the regulation of human exposure to electromagnetic radiation (EMR) generated by telecommunications equipment. The proposed regime is based on a new EMR standard to be developed by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA), as well as a Code of Practice, to be developed by the Australian Communications Industry Forum (ACIF).

The ACA's existing regulatory scheme utilises the exposure limits and field strength levels in the document known as AS/NZS 2772.1 (Int): 1998 - Radiofrequency fields Part 1: Maximum exposure levels - 3 kHz to 300 GHz. As part of the proposed changes to this regulatory system, this document will be reviewed by an expert group appointed by ARPANSA — an Agency within the Commonwealth Health and Aged Care portfolio which has the legislative authority to develop standards. A part of this review will require the group to develop exposure limits consistent with scientific research findings and world’s best practice. A new ARPANSA EMR standard is expected to be published by the end of 2000.
ARPANSA will consult extensively with the public to ensure that stakeholders have an opportunity to contribute and comment on the development of the new EMR standard

In conjunction with the new standard, ACIF has commenced the process of developing an EMR Code of Practice for the telecommunications industry which will operate in parallel to the standard. The Code will be developed by ACIF in line with the Telecommunications Act 1997. The ACIF Radio and Environs Reference Panel is proceeding to draw up Terms of Reference for the Code for operators of cellular mobile base stations.

To reach this decision, the ACA conducted extensive consultation with representatives of the telecommunications industry, unions and community groups. All groups agreed with the proposal.
The ACA first introduced a regulatory scheme in February 1999 to address community concerns about increasing exposure to EMR. A range of equipment and services generate EMR, including radio and television broadcast stations, mobile phone handsets and base stations, radiocommunications systems and remote garage door openers.

The ACA will keep the public informed of progress on this issue.

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