Greetings from ARPANSA,
Welcome to the third issue of ARPANSA’s Electromagnetic Energy (EME) Newsletter where we update you on progress under our 2020-2024 EME Action Plan.
The last time I wrote to you was in May and it’s been a busy period for the team. How did we get to the end of the year so quickly? While it feels like time has travelled at the speed of light, a lot has happened in the past 7 months.
In this newsletter you’ll read about our new EME laboratory, which we officially opened last month. You’ll also read updates on our research, stakeholder engagement, and communications activities.
We look forward to providing further updates on the program in 2023 and wish you all the best for a safe and happy festive season.
Associate Professor Sarah Loughran
EME Program Director
EME laboratory opening
Constructing a new laboratory was a key deliverable under our 2020-2024 EME Action Plan. This $2.35 million project, which opened on 17 November, was more than two years in the making for the agency. It provides important infrastructure for radiation protection and research.
ARPANSA’s old anechoic chamber had reached the end of its life and could only measure and calibrate equipment up to 8 GHz. The new anechoic chamber can currently calibrate equipment up to 40 GHz and research radio waves up to 100 GHz.
Not only will our new world-class research facility future proof our work, but it will also allow us to remain at the forefront locally and internationally in providing science-based health advice on radio waves. The research that will be undertaken at this chamber will help to build the Australian community’s understanding of health protections relating to technologies that use EME.
We look forward to reporting on the research that will come out of the anechoic chamber in the coming years.
Science Week 2022
In August, we held two public lectures at the University of Melbourne’s Science Gallery as part of National Science Week. We had around 30 people attend our ‘Misinformation’ presentation including students, industry contacts and members of the public.
The goal of the EME team’s presentation was to counter misinformation about radio waves and health by providing accurate information:
- Dr Stuart Henderson and Dr Chhavi Bhatt spoke about public exposure to radio waves and preliminary results of their measurement study
- Assoc Prof Ken Karipidis presented information showing there was not a relationship between mobile phones and cancer
- Assoc Prof Sarah Loughran spoke about the health effects of misinformation
- Rohan Mate shared early results from his PhD to show that even higher radio wave exposed workers were safe
- Dr Chris Brzozek spoke about EME risk perception.
In many ways, it was a showcase of some of the work that is being done under the Australian government’s enhanced EME program.
Talk to a Scientist
Twice a week, Australians can speak to an expert on the phone about radiation exposure and protection. They can also contact ARPANSA online at any time and receive a response by email. This year, our scientists answered more than 750 queries from the public. The most popular topic from the public was whether radio waves from telecommunications infrastructure impact health.
In 2023, we will continue to use social media, public engagements, and our Talk to a Scientist service to reassure Australians that current scientific evidence shows there are no established health effects from exposure to radio waves from mobile phone and NBN base station antennas below the limits in the ARPANSA safety standard.
One of the action plan’s key initiatives is to promote, co-ordinate, fund and lead EME research that contributes to knowledge gaps such as the health effects of high-frequency wireless technologies like 5G.
To achieve this, we established a research framework that provides funding to support priority study areas identified by us, and other leading international bodies.
On Friday 25 November, we announced our call for major research project applications for the 2022-23 financial year. These projects can attract up to $300,000 and applications are due by 3 February 2023. Successful funding applicants will be notified in April 2023.
We also provide up to $30,000 to support minor research projects. Applications can be submitted at any time.
During the last 7 months, we funded two research projects:
- Investigating the presentation of non-specific symptoms attributed to electromagnetic fields: In this study, The University of Wollongong and ARPANSA are investigating what causes electromagnetic hypersensitivity
- Well-characterised exposure systems for laboratory bioeffects experiments above 6 GHz: This study, led by Swinburne University of Technology and ARPANSA, addresses a gap in the literature to improve research methods that look at radio wave exposure for setting appropriate safety limits.
Results for both projects are expected to be published in 2023.
With international borders reopening, the EME team was able to participate in a range of conferences and speaking engagements including:
BioEM, 19-24 June, Japan
- Assoc Prof Sarah Loughran gave two workshop presentations at this conference. One discussing Australia’s enhanced EME program and a second exploring 50 years of bioelectromagnetism research
- Dr Chhavi Bhatt presented a poster on EME measurements
- Dr Chris Brzozek presented a posted on ARPANSA’s Talk to a Scientist program
- Assoc Prof Ken Karipidis presented a poster on EME environmental effects
- Rohan Mate gave a presentation on occupational exposure to radio waves
GSMA EMF Forum, 11 October, online
- Assoc Prof Sarah Loughran joined a panel and answered questions about Australia’s approach to EME protection and risk communication.
ACMA RadComms, Tuesday 15 November, Melbourne
- Assoc Prof Sarah Loughran provided an overview of our EME program and what we have achieved to date.
AMTA Symposium, Friday 18 November, Melbourne
- Assoc Prof Sarah Loughran provided an update on our EME Program
- Dr Stuart Henderson shared results on an EME measurement survey he and the team conducted in Melbourne in early 2022.
To stay up to date with the action plan, please register for ARPANSA's twice-yearly EME newsletter.