Questions & answers on the revised environmental EME report format


Changes to the ARPANSA Environmental EME Report

On this page, the name of the report has been shortened to the ARPANSA EME report.

Why has the ARPANSA EME report changed?

Significant changes to the format of the Environmental Electromagnetic Energy (EME) Report template have been introduced after consultation with the EME Reference Group in order to make the report easier to read and understand. Feedback from the public indicated that calculated levels of radiofrequency (RF) EME should be reported in physical units as well as being expressed as a percentage of the public exposure limit in the ARPANSA radiofrequency Standard. An additional explanation of the content of the report is available. In May 2012, the ARPANSA EME Report was updated to refer to 'wireless' base stations rather than 'mobile phone' base stations. This change was made to reflect the significant growth of mobile broadband and data services operating on the Australian mobile networks.

How does the current ARPANSA EME report differ from the previous ARPANSA EME report?

The revised report differs in the following main respects.

  • An explanation of how the EME is calculated is now presented at the front of the report.
  • The calculated values of RF EME for the existing transmitting equipment and any proposed changes are presented side-by-side in a single table.
  • Calculated levels of RF EME are now reported in physical units of volts per metre (V/m) and milliwatts per metre squared (mW/m²) as well as being expressed as a percentage of the public exposure limit of the ARPANSA Standard RPS3.
  • A single template will now be used for all sites, whether existing, proposed or a mixture of existing and proposed.
  • Information on which technologies use which frequency bands and the corresponding RPS3 exposure limit in those bands is now included in the report. Some changes to wording on the report have been made to improve clarity and reduce misunderstanding.

The following does not change from the previous version of the report:

  • The calculated values of EME levels are still provided as a maximum value within each of several circular bands surrounding the antenna. The original report format used only 'spot' estimates at certain distances.
  • Additional estimates may be included for 'other areas of interest' taking into account the communities concerns or elevated locations.

How are specific community sites selected?

The areas of community interest are chosen on a site by site basis and are linked to the 'community sensitive locations' identified by the carrier in the community consultation plan required by the Communications Alliance Ltd C564:2011 Industry Code – Mobile Phone Base Station Deployment.

In keeping with the spirit of the Code, which promotes transparency and consultation, the following factors are taken into account.

  • Analysis of 'interested and affected' groups as identified in the network operator's (Carrier's) community consultation plan.
  • Views expressed by the local council.
  • Closeness to the antenna of sites widely considered to be of special community interest, such as pre‑school and child-care facilities.
  • For an existing site, previous feedback or objections from this community.

The ARPANSA EME report, including the 'Other Areas of Interest' Table, is a general report undertaken by the Carrier prior to the commencement of consultation with local communities. Any further EME calculations or reports undertaken by the carrier in the course of community consultation or feedback do not form part of the ARPANSA EME report.

How are topography and buildings taken into account?

Generally, locations very close to the base of the antenna will experience very low levels of EME compared to the surrounding areas. This may not be true if a location is both close, say within 100 m, and elevated above the height of the base of the antenna structure. This may occur because a building is located nearby or the ground rises sharply. In either of these circumstances, EME levels may actually be higher than found at the height of flat ground or a community member may have reasonable concerns that this is so. If such locations exist, carefully calculated estimates in a representative sample of such situations should be provided in the 'Calculated EME Levels at Other Areas of Interest' section of the ARPANSA EME report. It is important to note that in many cases the location may not be in the direction of significant radiated EME and the EME levels may be very low.

What does it mean if the new ARPANSA EME report shows different EME levels compared to the old report?

It is expected that values given in the new report will be slightly higher than would have been found in the oldest format report, even for an identical installation. It is unlikely that there will be many sites for which this will occur as relatively few reports will not have been updated since 2006. The maximum value found at the foot of the table of calculated EME levels should usually remain the same.

However, the values in the rest of the table now have different meanings to those issued prior to 2006. Instead of giving a value at exactly 50 m from the base of the tower or building, the highest value found anywhere, in any direction, within 50 m of the tower or building is given. Clearly, this value may be higher or equal to the previous (pre-2006) estimate.

Instead of giving a value of EME at 200 m and 300 m from the base of the tower or building, the new format table now gives the highest value of EME found in any direction, and at any distance between 200 m and 300 m from the base of the tower or building. Again, this value may be equal or higher than the previous (pre-2006) estimates.

This change in reporting does not mean the actual values of EME will be higher.

Will it be retrospective?

The new ARPANSA EME report format is not intended to be used retrospectively. The new format, making use of maximum values within circular bands and including other areas of interest will apply for new sites and for upgrades of existing sites where the Communications Alliance Ltd Industry Code requires an ARPANSA EME report.

The 'Other Areas of Interest' Table is not primarily designed for existing sites. However, in keeping with the consultative spirit of the Code, if significant previous community submissions have been received for an existing site, the mobile phone carriers will consider the site history and where appropriate include calculation results in the 'Other Areas of Interest' table.

How many additional 'Other Areas of Interest' calculations can be expected per report?

The ARPANSA EME report is a basic report. It is expected that for an average report, there may be 3 to 5 additional 'Other Areas of Interest' calculations. These should be chosen to be representative of both community concern and locations where higher levels of EME may actually be expected on technical grounds.

Major community sensitive locations would be expected to be included and a small number of floors of a multistorey building close to the antennas.

For some sites there may be no indication for 'Other Areas of Interest', such as where there is flat ground, no elevated buildings and no locations identified as being of particular community concern. In these cases, after checking:

  • the Communications Alliance Ltd Code community consultation plan
  • topography or buildings near the antennas
  • other locations, such as those identified as being of significant previous community concern

no other areas of interest will have been identified. In this case, the EME Report should include the statement 'No locations identified' in the 'Other Areas of Interest' table, as shown below.

Additional locations Height / scan
relative to location
ground level
Maximum cumulative EME level
All Carriers at this site
Existing and proposed equipment
Electric field
V/m
Power density
mW/m²
% of ARPANSA exposure limits
  No locations identified        
           
           

What happens when a site is upgraded?

When an existing site is upgraded, the new format should be used where the Code requires an ARPANSA EME report.

How will the older reports be updated?

Over time, sites will be revisited by Carriers for maintenance, equipment replacement or upgrading of the installation. Where a site is upgraded and where a recalculation of the ARPANSA EME report is required by a Carrier, then the new ARPANSA EME report format will be prepared. The revised reports will then be made available on the National Site Archive.

Can I expect to have an EME calculation done for my house?

Whilst the ARPANSA EME report is a basic report, members of the public are free to request (in writing) a Carrier to provide additional information under the Communications Alliance Ltd Industry Code, Section 10.3 Additional Information Supplied by Carrier. The Carrier will choose how best to service that request, but it will not be considered as part of the ARPANSA EME report (which is covered under Section 6.2 RF EME Health and Safety Information of the Code)

Where can I get help to read the new ARPANSA EME report?

Additional information on how to understand the ARPANSA EME report and on how it is prepared are available on this website.

In addition, Carrier contact phone numbers which are provided in community consultation letters and newspaper advertisements for a specific site, can clarify and explain the report or organise an RF specialist to explain the ARPANSA EME Report for that site.