FCC Adopts New Radio Frequency Exposure Exemptions & Safety Rules, Seeks Comment on Additional Proposals

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Following proposed modifications to its radio frequency (RF) exposure rules originally released in 2013, and in an effort to prepare for the release of new 5G devices, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) has released a decision maintaining existing allowable RF exposure limits while simplifying the process for determining whether devices are exempt from RF exposure testing.  Replacing the old RF exposure exemption regime, the FCC’s order sets out three categories of devices that are exempt from testing based on formulas that consider the device’s power level and its separation distance from humans.  The order also excludes many fixed RF sources from future exposure testing, electing instead to implement “mitigation” procedures – such as appropriate signage and fencing – that will control and limit exposure.

Beyond adopting new RF exposure exemptions and safety rules, the Commission also issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) seeking comment on exposure issues of the future.  These include: (1) proposed standards and exposure limits for technologies used in frequency ranges below 100 kHz and above 6 GHz, and (2) proposed changes to Part 18 of the Commission’s rules to address the approval process for wireless power transfer systems.  In addition, the Commission denied a pending petition for reconsideration, affirming its prior finding that the pinnae (outer ear) should be treated like other extremities for purposes of determining RF exposure limit compliance.

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