Small Cell and 5G Health Concerns


Under the federal Telecommunications Act, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) completely occupies the field with respect to radiofrequency (“RF”) emissions regulation. The FCC established comprehensive rules for human exposure to RF emissions (the “FCC Guidelines”). Although the FCC requires all new and modified facilities to demonstrate compliance with the FCC Guidelines prior to construction, the FCC does not require compliance testing at regular intervals thereafter. The FCC requires all applications to include a written statement that the proposed emissions will be compliant, may require that the applicant provide a theoretical model and technical data to support the certification and, in some cases, may require the applicant to perform on-site field tests.

State and local governments cannot regulate wireless facilities based on environmental effects from RF emissions to the extent that the emissions comply with the FCC Guidelines. State and local governments may require applicants to demonstrate compliance with the FCC Guidelines, but they cannot establish compliance requirements that differ from the FCC Guidelines. Accordingly, the City’s RF compliance review process is modeled after the FCC’s review process—all applicants are required to submit an RF compliance report with technical data to prove that the emissions will be in compliance, and the City retains the option to require on-site testing if the technical data suggests that additional analysis is warranted.

Questions regarding potential RF hazards from FCC-regulated transmitters can be directed to the Federal Communications Commission, Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau, 445 12th Street, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20554; phone: 1-888-225-5322 (1-888-CALL-FCC); e-mail: If you have concerns in the future that the facility is not in compliance with the FCC Guidelines, you should report your concerns to the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau, 445 12th Street, SW, 3rd floor, Washington, DC 20554; phone: (202) 418-7450.

For additional information regarding RF emissions safety and compliance, please see the following resources from various federal, state and independent sources. Please note that these links are provided for informational purposes only and the views expressed in them should be attributed to the original source.