The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) is the Australian Government's primary authority on radiation protection and nuclear safety.

It is the role of ARPANSA to assess the relevant scientific research and provide expert advice. This forms the basis for the protection of the Australian public from the harmful effects of radiation, including radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic energy (EME) emitted by radiocommunications sources.

ARPANSA sets the RF EME human exposure limits within Australia. The exposure limits are contained in the Radiation Protection Standard for Maximum Exposure Levels to Radiofrequency Fields – 3 kHz to 300 GHz (2002) (the ARPANSA Standard). The ARPANSA Standard also includes requirements for protection of the general public and the management of risk in occupational exposure, together with additional information on measurement and assessment of compliance.

How does the ARPANSA Standard apply?

The exposure limits contained in the ARPANSA Standard are only enforceable if they are referenced in other regulatory arrangements (including ACMA regulatory arrangements and under occupational health and safety requirements). The ACMA’s EME regulatory instruments reference the ARPANSA exposure limits for fixed installations and end-user devices.

How are the human exposure limits determined?

The recommendations in the ARPANSA Standard are based on published scientific literature and international guidance. The limits in the ARPANSA Standard  are closely aligned with the 1998 guidelines of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) for limiting exposure to time-varying electric, magnetic, and electromagnetic fields (up to 300 GHz), which are endorsed by the World Health Organization. In 2009, ICNIRP issued a statement confirming the validity of their guidelines, taking into account scientific advances in the 10 years since they were published.

Are the human exposure limits up to date?

ARPANSA undertakes an ongoing assessment of recent scientific literature on EME and health:

  • ARPANSA produces a literature review of published literature related to electromagnetic fields and health in the frequency range 0–300 GHz. Published literature includes articles in peer-reviewed journals, scientific-body reports, fact sheets and conference proceedings. The review is updated monthly.
  • In 2014, ARPANSA published the Report by the ARPANSA Radiofrequency Expert Panel on Review of Radiofrequency Health Effects Research – Scientific Literature 2000–2012. The report found that the exposure limits in the ARPANSA Standard continue to provide a high degree of protection against the known health effects of EME exposure.

What other information does ARPANSA make available about EME?

ARPANSA provides on its website background information on EME and a series of fact sheets to help explain the current thinking on communications equipment (including mobile phones) and health, based on substantiated scientific research. Other useful information includes a base station survey report and environmental EME reports.

All enquiries regarding the ARPANSA Standard and EME human exposure limits should be directed to ARPANSA.

Last updated: 23 March 2015