FCC Amending Safety Rules Relating To Exposure To Amateur Radio Frequencies

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05/12/2019

The FCC is in the process of amending its Part 97 Amateur Service Rules relating to RF exposure safety. In one long document In ET Docket 19-226 released Dec. 4 which discusses a wide range of RF safety concerns, the FCC said the current safety limits for RF exposure for amateurs will remain unchanged, but the specific exemption hobbyists having to perform an RF exposure assessment will be replaced by the general FCC exemption criteria. Radio amateurs have historically had to comply with RF exposure limits, but some stations have been exempted from having to perform assessments based solely on power and frequency. The Commission said that overall, if an RF source is “categorically excluded” from routine assessment under the old rules, it will most likely still be exempted under the new rules, which are expected to come into force in the future. next months.

“For applicants and licensees of the amateur radio service, we substitute our general exemption criteria for the routine power-only assessment specific exemption in section 97.13 (c) (1) and specify the use of professional / controlled limits for hobbyists, where applicable, “the FCC said.

“The sky is not falling here,” commented ARRL Lab Manager Ed Hare, W1RFI. “The main aspects of the rules will not impose new major burdens on the amateur radio service. As with all regulatory matters, however, the devil may be in the details, so ARRL technical staff, legal staff, and ARRL RF Safety Committee experts are carefully reviewing this FCC document.

Under revised section 97.13 (c) (1), “Instead of an assessment with general population / uncontrolled exposure limits, amateur licensees may assess their functioning in relation to members of their household. immediate using the occupational / controlled exposure limits in Section 1.1310, provided the appropriate training and information has been consulted by the hobbyist licensee and his or her family members, ”the amended rule reads.

“RF exposure from other nearby people who are not part of the amateur licensee’s household should be assessed against uncontrolled exposure limits for the general population. Appropriate methodologies and guidance for evaluating the operation of the amateur radio service are described in the Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) Bulletin 65, Supplement B”, Concludes the revised rule.

The FCC said it was not convinced by the ARRL’s argument in its comments that the routine assessment exemption for amateur radio stations operating below a certain power threshold should be maintained. “Amateur radio licensees operate a variety of facilities of different sizes, powers and frequencies, which may be located in close proximity to people, which raises various RF exposure issues,” the FCC noted.

In a meeting with FCC OET chief Julius Knapp and senior officials in early November, the ARRL asked the FCC to make a calculator available on the Internet to facilitate the correct calculations required by rules. The ARRL said this would be preferable to unofficial third-party calculators, the results of which may not receive the same degree of deference in local disputes. Several software programs have been proposed as models.

The FCC did not choose amateur radio in writing its latest RF exposure rules. The rules affect multiple services, and the exemptions for many other services have also been removed as part of a broader policy driven by a proliferation of RF devices, some resulting in situations where gain antennas are located much closer people than expected in 1996 when the rules were last revised.


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