IEEE / ICES SC4 Report

On January 10 and 11, 22 members of the Subcommittee 4 Standard Revision Working Group of the IEEE International Committee on Electromagnetic Safety (ICES)—formerly known as SCC-28 SC4— met in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Those present agreed on a number of issues regarding standard revision, “based on our current understanding and pending the conclusion of the review and white paper process.” Then at a January 19 SC4 meeting in San Antonio, Texas, members made a few modifications to the following agreements:

  1. The RF safety standard should be based on science.
  2. RF safety standard revision should be derived from peer-reviewed publications and documents that are reviewed by the SC4.
  3. The adverse effect level remains at 4 W/kg subject to revision following completion of the literature evaluation and white papers.
  4. The maximum exposure limits should be based on established adverse effects after inclusion of an appropriate safety factor(s).
  5. Safety factor(s) should consider uncertainties in the biological database (e.g., measurements, environmental conditions, exposure duration, individual variability, and other factors.)
  6. Non-thermal RF biological effects have not been established and none of the reported non-thermal effects are proven adverse to health (does not apply to electro-stimulation). Thermal effect is the only established adverse effect.
  7. The microwave hearing effect is not adverse and should not be used for setting the peak power limit.
  8. The shape and size of the averaging volume and the peak SAR limit are still to be determined. The important end point is the temperature change.
  9. RF standard should be harmonized with other international standards to the extent where scientifically defensible.
  10. Rationales must be documented for all changes relative to the current standard
  11. The editorial committee will add in the informative section a paragraph dealing with potentially sensitive subpopulations, such as children.
  12. Reconsider the two-tier approach (whole body average SAR 0.4 and 0.08 W/kg), the peak SAR value and the averaging volume.

The 5th Revision Working Group members met on April 8 and 9 at the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to discuss more revision details. A revised draft will be presented to the SC4 members for discussion at the June IEEE ICES meeting in Québec City.

–C.K. Chou