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Exposure to electromagnetic fields: ANFR strengthens the monitoring of exposure to the electromagnetic fields emitted by mobile phones and tablets (SAR)


    From 25 April 2016, the body SAR measurements is carried out by ANFR at a maximum distance of 5 mm on all sides of phones or tablets, compared with a distance of up to 25 mm currently. This follows a decision of the European Commission of 5 April 2016, in response to a request from France requesting stricter rules concerning the measurement method of the specific absorption rate (SAR). This movement is therefore in the direction of strengthening the monitoring of the exposure of the users of radio equipment, particularly concerning data mobile use when the phone is not close to the head but held close to the body.

    SAR or specific absorption rate quantifies the level of exposure to radio waves emitted by a device (phone, tablet). The head SAR measurement for use with phones at the ear is not changed and is carried out with the equipment in contact with the ear.

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    In terms of public exposure to electromagnetic fields, ANFR missions are: to ensure compliance with public exposure limit values; to maintain an updated measurement protocol; to manage the national process to measure electromagnetic fields and to control the compliance of equipment and terminals put on the market. In addition, the law called "Abeille" entrusted to the Agency new missions in order to reconcile public information and the rapid deployment of digital networks.

    As part of the control of the equipment’s compliance, ANFR conducts specific absorption rate measurements (SAR) that quantifies exposure to the waves emitted by the equipment either in the head or in the body. These measurements are strictly defined by European standards. In the case of body SAR, current standard (EN 50566: 2013) provides that the measurement is carried out at a distance of use provided by the manufacturer and up to 25 mm.

    The French authorities have lodged a formal objection to this standard EN 50566: 2013 on the basis that it did not achieve the essential requirement of health protection and safety of the R&TTE Directive 1999/5/EC. The French authorities proposed to supervise the application of the standard to reduce excessive margin of discretion of the manufacturer to choose the distance of separation between the equipment and body to which the conformity assessment must be conducted.

    In response, the European Commission concluded that the EN 50566:2013 standard fails to meet the essential requirements of health and safety of the R&TTE Directive 1999/5/EC. Implementing Decision (EU) 2016/537 of 5 April 2016 led to the publication in the Official Journal of the European Union of the reference to EN 50566 2013 with an application restriction as set out in the Annex of Decision. This decision has taken effect April 25th, 2016.

    As part of its compliance monitoring activities, ANFR apply this application restriction as follows:

    • Only radio equipment whose SAR test report’s date mentioned in the technical construction file (TCF) is subsequent to the date of the note will be affected by this decision;
    • For phones, where an approved accessory is not provided with the product, ANFR will consider compliant in regard of body SAR requirement, any radio equipment whose body SAR measured at a separation distance of 5 millimeters on both faces and all four edges is below the limit of 2 W/kg.
    • For tablets, where body SAR measurement is required on appropriate sides, a maximum separation distance of 5 millimeters will be considered.
    • The procedure described above will be applied until June 12th, 2017 or until the publication of the revised standard EN 50566:2013.

    Click here to see the text of the implementing decision of the European Commission.

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