Glossary of EMF safety terms

Glossary of Australian EMF safety terms
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Australian Communications and Media Authority.

The ACMA is the Australian Commonwealth body responsible for the regulation of broadcasting, radiocommunications, telecommunications and online content. ACMA has powers to issue standards and make determinations under the Radiocommunications Act 1992. ACMA maintains a public website with information about its RF EMF safety regulations at

ACMA Apparatus LCD
Refers to the Radiocommunications Licence Conditions (Apparatus Licence) Determination 2003 made by ACMA, which applies to apparatus licences, except for some broadcasting licences. The Apparatus LCD:

  1. provides that a licensee may only operate a radiocommunications transmitter under certain circumstances;
  2. restricts the exposure of the general public to electromagnetic radiation (EMR) from radiocommunications transmitters to a level below recognised exposure limits; and
  3. requires a licensee, in certain circumstances, to demonstrate to the ACMA that EMR from radiocommunications transmitters operated by the licensee does not expose the general public above recognised exposure limits.

It can be downloaded from the Australian government Comlaw web site at (search for “Apparatus Licence”)

ACMA EMR standard
Refers to the Radiocommunications (Electromagnetic Radiation – Human Exposure) Standard 2003 issued by ACMA, which regulates the performance of particular radiocommunications transmitters, to protect the health and safety of persons exposed to RF EMF from the transmitters. This standard is framed mainly for Australian manufacturers and importers of mobile stations with an integral antenna. It can be downloaded from the ACMA website at
Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency

Refers to the Australian government expert authority on radiation health and safety, including for RF EMF. ARPANSA maintains an informative website at

ARPANSA RPS3 standard
Refers to ARPANSA’s Radiation Protection Series No. 3 for maximum exposure levels to radiofrequency fields – 3 kHz to 300 GHz. The ARPANSA RPS3 is Australia’s prime reference for ensuring RF EMF safety and can be downloaded from the ARPANSA website (
ARPANSA RPS3 exposure limits
Refers to the basic restrictions and reference levels of the ARPANSA RPS3. The basic restrictions are the mandatory exposure limits of the ARPANSA RPS3. Reference levels are derived from the basic restrictions and are provided as an easier and more conservative way of showing compliance with the basic restrictions. Two tiers of exposure are provided for these limits: an upper tier for occupational exposure, and a lower tier for general public exposure. RF EMF exposures at the upper occupational tier are only allowed for the duration of a working shift during any day. The lower tier limits are suitable for continuous all day RF exposures and are applicable to all persons regardless of their age, health status and awareness of RF hazards.
Aware user
As defined by ARPANSA in the RPS3, means a person who is appropriately trained to use two-way radios and other portable wireless devices (see Schedule 5, clause S5.2), which expose the user to levels likely to exceed the basic restrictions for general public exposure. Appropriate training includes awareness of the potential for exposure and measures that can be taken to control that exposure. An aware user is not necessarily an RF worker.
In the broadcasting industry, an aware user may be a rigger, studio floor manager, journalist or production staff member who operates a high-powered two-way radio or high-powered radio microphone as part of their role. Talent required to use high powered radio microphones may also be aware users.
Aware user device
As defined by ACMA EMR standard, means a hand-held or body-worn radiocommunications transmitter that operates on a push-to-talk basis and is intended for use as:
a) an ambulatory station; or
b) a land mobile system station; or
c) a maritime ship station; or
d) a citizens band radio station; or
e) an amateur station.
The ARPANSA RPS3 has a wider and more relevant classification scheme for aware user devices, as summarised in its Table S1 of Schedule 5. For example, a wireless microphone with a mean power (ERP) of 20 – 100 mW would be classified as an aware user device.


Basic restrictions
As defined by ARPANSA in the RPS3, means the mandatory limiting values of exposure expressed in terms of selected quantities that closely match all known biophysical interaction mechanisms that may lead to health effects.


A label issued by ACMA that is used to indicate the compliance of radiocommunications equipment, electrical and electronic equipment subject to ACMA’s EMC and EMR regulatory requirements. The C-tick has now been superseded by the RCM label.
Contact current
As defined by the AS 2772.2:2011 standard, means the root mean square (rms) magnitude of RF current flowing through a biological medium (typically the wrist) when making point contact (e.g. with a fingertip) with an RF-energized surface. It is expressed in amps (A) or, more commonly, milliamps (mA).
Compliance Level 1 and 2
As defined by ACMA in the Apparatus LCD, Compliance Level 1 category applies to a transmitter installation that meets any of the following criteria:
a) A mobile transmitter with an average total power not more than 100 W; or
b) A transmitter installation that is a point-to-point link operating above 1 GHz; or
c) The average total power supplied by the transmitter to all antennas fed by the transmitter is not more than 100 W and each antenna fed by the transmitter is installed so that it is inaccessible to a member of the general public; or
d) The average total equivalent isotropically radiated power (EIRP) of all antennas fed by the transmitter does not exceed 3,200 W in any direction and the bottom of the lowest antenna fed by the transmitter is at least 10 metres above ground level.
Compliance Level 2 category covers all transmitter installations that do not meet any of the criteria for the Compliance Level 1 category.
Controlled area
As defined by ARPANSA in the RPS3, means an area or place in which exposure to RF fields may reasonably be expected to exceed general public limits, and with the following characteristics:
a) The area must be under the supervision of a competent person who must ensure that exposures cannot exceed occupational levels;
b) The area may only be entered by persons who are made aware that they are doing so, and of the need for RF safety;
c) There must be documentation or signage to clearly indicate:
i. areas above occupational limits;
ii. areas above general public limits.


Electric field in units of volts per metre (V/m). The ARPANSA RPS3 stipulates reference level limits for time averaged and instantaneous ambient exposure to E-field.
Effective isotropically radiated power
Electromagnetic compatibility
Electromagnetic energy
Electromagnetic field
Electromagnetic radiation


Fixed RF source
Any RF source that is not mobile or portable.


General public exposure
As defined by ARPANSA in the RPS3, refers to all exposure to RF fields received by members of the general public. This definition excludes occupational exposure, exposure of aware users, exposure in controlled areas and medical exposure.


Magnetic field in units of amperes per metre (A/m). The ARPANSA RPS3 stipulates reference level limits for time averaged and instantaneous ambient exposure to H-field.


Integral antenna
As defined by ACMA EMR standard, means an antenna:
a) permanently attached to equipment; or
b) intended for direct attachment to a fixed connector on equipment, without the use of an external cable.


Limb current
As defined by AS2772.2:2011, means the rms magnitude of RF current flowing in a wrist or ankle that has been induced by an RF exposure. It is expressed in amps (A) or, more commonly, milliamps (mA). (See also definition of contact current).


Mobile or portable transmitting equipment
As defined by ARPANSA in the RPS3, a telecommunications transmitter that is designed to be used on land, on water or in the air, either while in motion or during halts at unspecified points.
Mobile station
As defined by ACMA, means a transmitter that is established for use:
a) in motion, on land, water or in the air; or
b) in a stationary position at unspecified points on land, water or in the air.
Mobile stations do not include radiocommunications receivers.


National Association of Testing Authorities

NATA is the national authority responsible for the accreditation of laboratories, inspection bodies, calibration services, producers of certified reference materials and proficiency testing scheme providers throughout Australia. There are several companies listed on the NATA web site ( that are specifically accredited for RF EMF assessments (search on keyword “EMR”). RF EMF assessments conducted by suitably accredited NATA assessors are accorded greater status by ACMA.

Non-aware user device
Means a device other than an aware user device.
The ARPANSA RPS3 standard provides a useful classification of non-aware user devices, as summarised in Table S1 of Schedule 5. For example, a wireless microphone with a mean base power of


Occupational exposure
As defined by ARPANSA in the RPS3, means the exposure of an RF worker (as defined below) to RF fields when on duty.


RCM label
Regulatory compliance mark

A label issued by ACMA that is used to indicate compliance to any ACMA regulatory arrangement for suppliers registered on the national database. The RCM is replacing all existing compliance labels (including the A-tick and C-tick labels) and will be the only available compliance mark for ACMA and electrical safety purposes after 01 March 2016.

Reference levels
As defined by ARPANSA in the RPS3, are practical or “surrogate” parameters that may be used for determining compliance with basic restrictions (as defined above). Refer to Appendix A (section A.2) for further details about reference levels.

Means frequencies in the range 3 kHz to 300 GHz.

RF field
A physical field, which specifies the electric and magnetic states of a medium or free space, quantified by vectors representing the electric field strength and the magnetic field strength.
RF worker
As defined by ARPANSA in the RPS3, means a person who may be exposed to RF fields under controlled conditions, in the course of and intrinsic to the nature of their work. Such persons are subject to the requirements of Section 5.1 of the ARPANSA RPS3.


Specific energy absorption

The energy absorbed per unit mass of biological tissue during a RF pulse. It is expressed in joule per kilogram (J/kg). SA is the time integral of the specific RF energy absorption rate during a pulse.

Specific energy absorption rate

The rate at which RF energy is absorbed in body tissues, in watts per kilogram (W/kg).