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Mobile Phone Radio Wave Exposure Limited by Standards

New York, Feb 23, 2005

Concerns over possible harmful health effects of mobile phone use have spurred standards that dictate limits on radio wave exposure emitted by phones and other wireless handheld devices. The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) recently published a new International Standard specifying test methods for compliance with limits on radio wave exposure from mobile phones. The new International Standard IEC 62209-1 was developed jointly by the IEC, by the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC) and by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), who worked together informally through common membership in various technical committees.

Limits on specific absorption rate (SAR) – the rate at which radio frequency energy emitted by mobile phones is absorbed by the human body – are set by organizations such as the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), headquartered in Germany, and IEEE, an ANSI member and accredited standards developer based in the United States. This standard deals only with measurement methods and does not set SAR limits.

Radio frequency emissions from similar devices vary from one product and one manufacturer to another. The IEC standard will allow manufacturers of mobile phone and other hand-held wireless communication devices to ensure that their products adhere to internationally-recognized SAR limits. It specifies the methods to use to measure SAR limits and harmonizes different practices and different methods used around the world.

An existing IEEE standard – IEEE 1528, Recommended Practice for Determining the Peak Spatial-Average Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) in the Human Head from Wireless Communications Devices: Measurement Techniques – was the first to address the complex issues, instrumentation requirements, and uncertainty of performing accurate SAR measurements, according to IEEE. IEEE 1528 does not set specific limits for exposures of users of cellular phones and other personal communication devices, but helps wireless device manufacturers and regulators assess compliance with the requirements of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and similar government agencies in other countries -- that limit exposure from personal communication devices.

IEC Technical Officer Remy Baillif said there has been high demand from manufacturers for a global standard to measure SAR limits. Manufacturers of mobile phones, specialized test laboratories, telecommunications regulators and health officials are expected to be the largest user group of the new standard, according to the IEC, however consumers will ultimately benefit from implementation.

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