What do we know about EME?

3 September 2020

Now more than ever, Australians are relying on technology to stay connected – including through mobile phones and other wireless technologies.

What do we know about EME? Answer: extensive scientific research confirms that mobile technology has no long or short term health effects; and the Australian Government is focused on capturing the benefits of advanced telecommunications while ensuring strict protections and safety standards are met.

All mobile networks, including 1G through to 5G, have generated electromagnetic energy (EME), in the same way that the TVs, radios, heaters, electric ovens, fridges and light globes do.

The Australian Government is focused on capturing the benefits of advanced telecommunications while ensuring strict standards are met. In developing wireless networks in Australia, telecommunication carriers must comply with rigorous safety standards. End user devices, such as your mobile phone handset, must also comply with these standards.

The EME standard set by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) defines the maximum exposure limit for all wireless equipment and is strictly enforced by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). Measurements undertaken by carriers and ACMA show that mobile telecommunication sites emit a tiny fraction of maximum EME exposure limits. The exposure limits are themselves very conservative. As such, sites which operate at 100% of the limit are still considered safe.

This standard is informed by decades of quality studies undertaken by expert Australian and international scientists which show the low levels of EME produced by telecommunications equipment have no adverse effects. This includes previous generations of mobile technology, like 3G and 4G, and the higher, more efficient, radio waves used for 5G.

Most countries, including Australia, use a standard that is based on guidelines set by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), an independent non-profit organisation responsible for providing scientific advice and guidance.

In December 2019, the Government announced $9 million over 4 years for an Enhanced EME Program to give Australians access to clear and reputable information about EME, based on the latest scientific advice. The funding will also support ARPANSA to continue research into EME. While there is no evidence that low levels of EME are an issue, continued scientific research forms part of our protective health approach to provide informative and reliable facts.  

More information on 5G and EME are available within our EME Hub and by visiting ACMA’s and ARPANSA’s websites. Our information and resources will continue to be updated as new research becomes available so Australians can be confident about our telecommunication networks.

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