FCC Human Exposure to RF-EMR: Guidelines for Cellular Antenna Sites

Adapted from https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/human-exposure-radio-frequency-fields-guidelines-cellular-and-pcs-sites; see [additions/comments] and subtractions, below.

[S4WT: RF-EMR = pulsed, data-modulated, Radio-frequency Electromagnetic Microwave Radiation]

Primary antennas for transmitting wireless telephone service, including cellular and personal communications wireless service are usually located outdoors on towers and other elevated structures like rooftops, water tanks and sides of buildings. The combination of antenna towers and associated electronic equipment is referred to as a “cellular or PCS cell site” [Wireless Telecommunications Facility (WTF) or Wireless] “base station.”

  • Cell towers are typically 50–200 feet high (Vertical) [and typically 2,500–5,000 feet feet away (Horizontal) from residences; the third essential variable is Power]
  • [VHP: Localities must regulate all three variables (Vertical • Horizontal • Power) to finally complete the cooperative federalism scheme set up by the 1996 Telecommunications Act (1996-TCA), which was confirmed by the US Supreme Court in 2005 in Palos Verdes v Abrams

Antennas are usually arranged in groups of three, with

  • one antenna in each group used to send signals to mobile devices
  • two antennas used to receive signals from mobile devices.
  • [S4WT: this sounds like a description of yesteryear (even though this FCC web page was updated in 2019); many of today’s 4G/5G antennas are phased arrays with steerable beams with send/receive handled by the same antennas]

On a WTF, the total radio frequency microwave (RF/MW) radiation that can be transmitted from each transmitting antenna depends on

  1. the number of radio channels that have been authorized by the Federal Communications Commission and
  2. the [maximum] Effective Radiated Power (ERP) of each transmitter. [S4WT: max ERP is calculated in this way: the sum of per channel Maximum Input Power × Antenna Gain]

[S4WT: Max ERP is what matters because the 2012 Spectrum Act (§6049(a)) says:

47 U.S. Code § 1455 (a) Facility modifications

(1) In general. Notwithstanding section 704 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (Public Law 104–104) or any other provision of law, a State or local government may not deny, and shall approve, any eligible facilities request for a modification of an existing wireless tower or base station that does not substantially change the physical dimensions of such tower or base station.

(2) Eligible facilities request. For purposes of this subsection, the term “eligible facilities request” means any request for modification of an existing wireless tower or base station that involves—

   (A) collocation of new transmission equipment;

   (B) removal of transmission equipment; or

   (C) replacement of transmission equipment.

(3) Applicability of environmental laws. Nothing in paragraph (1) shall be construed to relieve the Commission from the requirements of the National Historic Preservation Act [1] or the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969.”

Although The FCC permits an effective radiated power (ERP) of up to:

  • A: 500 Watts/channel × Antenna Gain × # of channels/antenna = # of Total Watts ERP

The majority of cell sites in urban and suburban areas operate at:

  • B: 100 Watts/channel × Antenna Gain × # of channels/antenna = # of Total Watts ERP
  • An ERP of 100 watts corresponds to an actual radiated power of 5-10 watts.

In urban areas, cell sites commonly emit an ERP of 10 watts/channel or less.

  • C: [10 Watts/channel × Antenna Gain × # of channels/antenna = # of Total Watts ERP]

For PCS cell sites, even lower ERPs are typical.

As with all forms of electromagnetic energy, the power density from a cellular or PCS transmitter rapidly decreases as distance from the antenna increases.

[S4WT: It is also true, therefore, as the antenna moves

  • from . . . a typical 2,500–5,000 feet from residences
  • to . . . 25–50 feet from residences

. . . the power density from a cellular or PCS transmitter rapidly increases as distance from the antenna decreases . . . so the one true statement the FCC is not telling you is that distance is your friend; the only way to tolerate antennas closer than 2,500–5,000 feet from residences is to cap the power input/power output drastically and police this power 24/7 with City-installed-and-controlled fuses.]

Consequently, normal ground-level exposure [from typical antennas that are 2,500–5,000 feet from residences] is much less than the exposure that might be encountered if one were very close to the antenna and in its main transmitted beam.

[S4WT: Also, consequently, ground-level exposure [from antennas that are 25–50 feet from residences] is much greater than the example given above because people are very close to the antennas and, are too often, in its main transmitted beam (think second- and third-story bedrooms, seen here.].

Measurements made near typical cellular and PCS cell sites have shown that ground-level power densities are well below the exposure limits recommended by RF/microwave safety standards used by the FCC.

[S4WT: Well, since compliance with the unscientific and unsound FCC RF-EMR Maximum Permissible Exposure (MPE) Guideline cannot insure public safety, the FCC RF-EMR MPE guideline is a commercial guideline only, not a safety guideline. We know this is true because . . .

  1. The FCC RF Guideline only considers the rate of exposure and not the total dose of exposure (this is unlike any other poison or toxic agent studied by the NIEHS’ National Toxicology program)
  2. The FCC RF Guideline is based on the average exposure readings which are 1/100th to 1/10,000th times lower than the peak exposure readings; The peak RF-EMR readings are the relevant bioactive components in pulsed, data-modulated, Radio-frequency Electromagnetic Microwave Radiation (RF-EMR).
  3. The FCC RF Guideline is based on average RF-EMR measurements over a six-minute averaging time for commercial exposures and a 30-minute averaging time for general public exposures, yet then the FCC says the public can withstand these RF-EMR levels 24/7, forever — which is nonsense.
  4. Actually, the FCC RF guideline does not consider the time of exposure at all, which is utter nonsense, once you consider exposure to other electromagetic radiation such as from the sun (tanning vs burning) and paying one’s electric bill (paying for Watts×Time-of-use, or kiloWatt-hours of electricity).
  5. The FCC RF Guideline was a scam from day one; a dirty trick to commercialize military technology in order to make make oodles of money, as explained here.]


In 1996, the FCC adopted updated guidelines for evaluating human exposure to RF fields from fixed transmitting antennas such as those used for cellular and PCS cell sites.

[S4WT:Yes, we have carefully studied the selection of the FCC RF-EMR MPE guideline

The FCC’s guidelines are identical to those recommended by the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements, a non-profit corporation chartered by Congress to develop information and recommendations concerning radiation protection.

[S4WT: Yes, we talked to the Director of the NCRP for an hour and then downloaded and read this 396-page publication from 1986, summarizing science through 1982: “NCRP Report No. 86 — Biological Effedts and Exposure Criteria for Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields [and Radiation]”

The FCC’s guidelines also resemble the 1992 guidelines recommended by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), a non-profit technical and professional engineering society, and endorsed by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), a nonprofit, privately-funded membership organization that coordinates development of voluntary national standards in the United States.

[S4WT: Aah, yes, the same engineering organization that puts a filter in place to guarantee that the IEEE only looks at scientific evidence that has to do with the heating of biological tisssue, which is only one of the hundreds of scientifically-established harms from pulsed, data-modulated, Radio-frequency Electromagnetic Microwave Radiation (RF-EMR). We have the evidence that proves that the IEEE is merely cherry-picking the scientific evidence.]

In the case of cellular and PCS cell site transmitters, the FCC’s RF exposure guidelines recommend a maximum permissible exposure level to the general public of approximately 580 microwatts per square centimeter [for 850-900MHz only] [S4WT: This translates to 5,800,000 microwatts per square meter (µW/m²) . . . compare that to the recommended BioInitiative RF-EMR exposure guideline of 3 to 6 µW/m².

[S4WT:More specifically, the FCC RF MPE Guideline is frequency-specific this:]

FCC Guidelines for Maximum Public Exposure to
Radio-frequency Electromagnetic Microwave Radiation (RF-EMR)
Reported as Average RF-EMR

Frequency range (MHz) Electric field strength (V/m) Magnetic field strength (A/m) Average Power density (µW/m²) Averaging time (minutes)
0.30-1.34 614 1.63 (1,000,000,000)* 30
1.34-30.00 824/f 2.19/f (1,800,000,000/f²)* 30
1.3 1,000,000,000 30
1.5 800,000,000 30
3.0 200,000,000 30
10.0 18,000,000 30
15.0 8,000,000 30
25.0 2,880,000 30
30-300 27.5 0.073 2,000,000 30
300-1,500 (f/1500)*10 million 30
600 4,000,000 30
700 4,670,000 30
800 5,330,000 30
900 6,000,000 30
1,000 6,670,000 30
1,250 8,330,000 30
1,500-100,000 10,000,000 30

*Plane-wave equivalent power density; f = frequency in MHz;

This limit is many times greater than RF levels typically found near the base of cellular or PCS cell site towers or in the vicinity of other, lower-powered cell site transmitters.

[S4WT: Not any more . . . see the evidence below . . .

2020: RF-EMR Exposures — Metered at 1,280,000 μW/m² on the streets in Plumas County, CA

Calculations corresponding to a “worst-case” situation (all transmitters operating simultaneously and continuously at the maximum licensed power) show that, in order to be exposed to RF levels near the FCC’s guidelines, an individual would essentially have to remain in the main transmitting beam and within a few feet of the antenna for several minutes or longer.

[S4WT: The preceding sentence is a misleading statement, based on the false assumption that FCC RF-EMR Guideline (10,000,000 μW/m² for 1500 MHz and above) is actually protective of the biology of humans and all other living organisms. It is not. It is not a safety guideline. This has been scientifically established by tens of thousands of non-Wireless-Industry funded peer-reviewed scientific studies. There is no debate among serious scientists.

The debate is only perpetuated by the Wireless Industry, their purchased/captured experts and Governments which are salivating over the surveillance/control that Densified 4G/5G wireless infrastructure can achieve.]

Thus, the possibility that a member of the general public could be exposed to RF levels in excess of the FCC guidelines is extremely remote. When cellular and PCS antennas are mounted on rooftops, RF emissions could exceed higher than desirable guideline levels on the rooftop itself . . .

[S4WT: Not true. The occupants of top floors of building with roof-mounted antennas have metered RF-EMR well above even the ridiculously-high 10,000,000 μW/m² for 1500 MHz and above.]

even though rooftop antennas usually operate at lower power levels than free-standing power antennas.

[S4WT: They operate far too high for being that close to people. They only need to provide -85 dBm (0.002 μW/m² for 5-bars on a cell phone for telecommunications service — the only service for which the Wireless Industry can preempt local authority). They can do that with power hundreds of thousands of times lower than current levels.]

Such levels might become an issue for maintenance or other personnel working on the rooftop. Exposures exceeding the guidelines levels, however, are only likely to be encountered very close to, and directly in front of, the antennas. In such cases, precautions such as time limits can avoid exposure in excess of the guidelines. Individuals living or working within the building are not at risk.

[S4WT: Many Wireless Telecommunications Facilities installers — even those in their twenty’s — are getting sick and contracting cancer (evidence here). None of this FCC safety propaganda is based on real-world experience or evidence available to everyone 2020 — the jig is up. The public is informed.]

Download the FCC [propaganda] page as a pdf