June 07, 2022 4 min read

The ever-advancing technology age has undoubtedly made life more convenient for all as the use of smart gadgets, high-tech 5G frequencies, and wireless touchpoints allow for broader access to data and information. However, all these smart technologies put users at risk as they emit Electromagnetic Field (EMF) radiation which is linked to hundreds of diseases and life-threatening ailments that range from adulthood and childhood cancers, depression and extreme mood swings, and cardiovascular and cardiovascular reproductive disorders.

In a bid to reduce the dangers of prolonged exposure to Electromagnetic Field Radiation (EMF) among Americans, the United States in conjunction with health departments and other concerned bodies has enacted rules and regulations that must be followed by individuals, corporate bodies, states, and other institutions. These regulatory laws are called EMF standards or EMF regulations.

What is the EMF standard (US)?

The EMF standard (US) is a set of regulatory rules that helps individuals and companies obey the set exposure limit of electromagnetic radiation from their home or organization, which helps in limiting the amount of hazardous radiation in the environment. Hence, non-compliance to these rules often leads to a fine or punishment as directed by the rules to the disobedient party.

EMF regulation in the US

Like in most parts of the world, the EMF exposure of each state is investigated, monitored, and then enforced at both the national and local levels by multiple organizations. Likewise, the United States has some national regulatory organizations presiding over the 50 states.

Before establishing these organizations, the federal government has often relied on studies and research of international bodies like the WHO. Now indigenous US regulations bodies have used these preexisting international guidelines to draft theirs.

These organizations are responsible for radiation regulation and setting radiation exposure limits for devices like electronic products and electronic radiation products. In the United States, several bodies help regulate. They include the 

  • Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 
  • National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and 
  • other federal health and safety agencies. 

The US radiation regulations organization

Currently, two nationally recognized bodies in the United States regulate radiation emission and exposure. However, they partner with other organizations to fully enforce their guidelines.

FDA – United States Food and Administration Agency

The United States Food and Administration agency operates using the Radiation Control ( once known as the Radiation Control for Health and Safety Act of 1968. 

This law applies to any object regarded as an electronic product under the law, which can either be medical ( diagnostic x-rays and ultrasound machines) and non-medical ( microwave ovens and televisions)

The organization regulates electronic products' manufacturing process and offers specific radiation limits each electronic product emits at maximum use. It also limits the linear accelerators used in creating radioisotopes that are used in nuclear medicine.

There has been evidence that the FDA has misrepresented their scientific findings on the safety of EMFs. Read more here.

FCC- Federal Communications Commission

TheFederal Communications Commission (FCC) is responsible for the radiation exposure limit of cell phones, smart devices, and communication tower users.

Since the FCC is responsible for ensuring all wireless communication devices sold in the United States are safe for use, wireless devices like cellphones and smartphones with proximity to the human body must be operating at or below 6 GHz. They are also tasked with the responsibility of removing devices that fail to meet the set radiation exposure standard.

According to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, the FCC is mandated to evaluate the effect of communication transmitters, smartphones, and radiations on the environment and users, and on August 1, 1996, the Federal Communication Commission adopted the NCRP's recommended Maximum Permissible Exposure limits.

In addition to the NCRP's limit, the Commission also adopted a Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) , working closely with the FDA to set a safe exposure to radiofrequency (RF). The Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) is a unit used to measure the amount of radiofrequency absorbed by a user while using a mobile phone and the recommended SAR level approved by the FCC is 1.6W/kg.

Recently, a Federal Court ruled that the FCC has ignored evidence and failed to update their guidelines. Read more here.

Exposure limit regulations 

To ensure the most minimal radiation exposure in the environment for the safety of people’s health, radiation exposure limits are set. Although there are national laws as regards the handling of radioactive material and other radioactive rules, the United States has no Federal exposure limit despite the publications from the American Conference of Governmental Industry Hygienists and the International Commission on Electromagnetic Safety. 

As regards residential or occupational exposure to electric and magnetic fields from power lines, the United States is yet to set a Federal limit for all states to adhere to. Irrespective of the limits' unavailability, six states ( Florida, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, New Montana, and Oregon) have set their unique exposure limit, mostly centered on power lines.

Despite the sheer absence of a federal exposure limit, the average American is exposed to 620 millirems per year, according to the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP), while the recommended standard per annum is set at 5000 millirems.

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