Exposure to electromagnetic radiation

/ Updated on 06.11.2006

By decision of April 6, 2001, the Instituto das Comunicações de Portugal (ICP) has decided to adopt the reference levels set in the Recommendation of the European Council 1999/519/CE, of July 12, 1999, that shall now apply, as a technical parameter, to all radiocommunications stations to be installed under the terms of each network or station license, and will therefore be specified in each license or in their annexes. Non-compliance with these levels by the respective licensees shall therefore constitute a counter-manding measure, liable to a fine, under the terms of Decree-Law no. 151-A/2000, of July 20.

This decision was taken within the framework of ICP's powers as the entity responsible for managing the radio spectrum, whereby in terms of radio licensing and within the scope of its legally defined powers, ICP assigns the frequencies required for the correct operation and use of radiocommunications networks and stations and issues the respective utilisation licenses, when necessary, under the terms of prevailing legislation.

Analysis of the effects of (non-ionising) electromagnetic radiation has been undertaken by most European Union countries and also by Community institutions that have conducted various studies.

The said Recommendation of the European Council 1999/519/CE, adopted on June 12 1999, was issued in this context, and concerns the limitation of the exposure of the general public to electromagnetic fields (0Hz-300GHz), in accordance with which Member-States should take measures in this field, namely in the areas of protection, information to the public and monitoring of scientific findings.

In Portugal the basic legal framework is established by the above mentioned Decree-Law no. 151-A/2000, of July 20, that approved the system applicable to the licensing of radiocommunications networks and stations, the inspection of the installation of such stations and the use of the radio spectrum, as well as definition of the principles that shall apply to radio fees, protection from electromagnetic radiation exposure and the sharing of radio communications infrastructures.

Article 22 of this diploma concerns exposure to electromagnetic radiation, and ICP is responsible, after approval by the competent authorities, for ensuring publication of the reference levels or standards by which exposure to electromagnetic fields may be evaluated.

The measure now taken by ICP is intended to remain in force until the entities in question approve the referred requirements, thus aiming to ensure that the exposure of persons to electromagnetic fields remains within the limits of the above mentioned Recommendation.

It should also be recalled that the licenses granted via the public tender for the third generation mobile systems (UMTS) already include the obligation on the respective operators to guarantee that the stations of their networks respect the limits established in the said Recommendation, or other limits resulting from standards or legislation to be subsequently approved.

Mode of application of the Recommendation of the Council 1999/519/CE, of July 12, 1999:

As a transitory measure, the reference levels defined in Table 2 of Annex III of the Recommendation, shall apply. Full compliance with the reference levels shall ensure that the basic restrictions are upheld.

At this stage, ICP shall conduct the necessary tests in the band between 100 kHz and 60 GHz, in which the majority of radiocommunications networks and stations operate.

It shall also be stated that in order to check the levels, the contributions of all fixed and permanent stations in areas where the population spend a significant amount of time, shall be considered.