Radiation Protection Standards and Policies

In the last third of the 20thcentury, concern about possible detrimental effects on human health of artificial non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation (NIR) prompted many efforts to determine the maximum levels of exposure and to set up recommendations for safety standards for the entire EMF spectrum, both for occupational and for the general public. These standards of safety are based on evidence provided by scientific studies worldwide, and are revised periodically. In addition, the World Health Organization’s International Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) Project has been promoting the adoption of science-based international standards and the harmonization of national standards. As important tools to achieve these commitments, WHO has compiled a worldwide standards database and has published two policy handbooks that are very useful for countries developing NIR standards.

The purpose of the chapter is to provide information on standards and policies in Latin American countries in order to inform government and other authorities about policies and regulations in the region and about international standards recommended by WHO. The structure of several standards and recommendations are examined, such as those developed by the International Commission on Non- Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineering), the ITU (International Telecommunications Union) and the USA FCC (Federal Communications Committee).

After 1992 the ICNIRP has been charged with the development and maintenance of international guidelines for NIR. Its 1998 publication established general public and occupational maximum permissible limits against NIR exposure and are the most credible international guidelines on NIR, being endorsed by WHO, the International Labor Office (ILO) and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). By 2009 they had been adopted as national standards by more than 50 countries worldwide. The IEEE standards adopted in North America are similar, but less strict than the ICNIRP Guidelines although they are based on the same science.

he ITU has made recommendations on compliance of telecommunication systems with EMF exposure limits. At the regional level in Latin America the Inter-American Telecommunication Commission (CITEL) has compiled information and regulations of the WHO, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the ITU, the ICNIRP, the Mobile Manufacturers Forum (MMF), the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), with respect to the effects of NIR and the established technical standards. CITEL has also compiled EMF regulations in force in Latin America and other regions.

Currently in Latin America there are 10 countries that have implemented non-ionizing radiation standards for telecommunication systems: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela. Others are being developed, such as Costa Rica, Dominican Republic and Uruguay. Most of the implemented standards are based on ICNIRP guidelines.

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