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Communications Network

Impact of EM Fields

The deployment of 5G networks will lead to an increase in the number of base stations that will simultaneously use different technologies operating in a larger number of radio frequency bands.

Taking into account the human health protection, 5G technology is not significantly different from other technologies already used for mobile communications networks in close frequency bands.

Regarding the impact of 5G on human health, the World Health Organization (WHO) published its position on the following link and concluded that, while respecting the existing international recommendations for limits on electromagnetic field levels, no impact on public health is expected.

In order to minimise the impact of EMF when using mobile devices, the Ministry of Health issued Preventive Recommendations for the Usage of Mobile Devices.

Moreover, the EU Commission expressed its view regarding EMF and 5G on the following link. For more information on public health protection please see the document.

Joint Research Centre, the service for science and knowledge at the European Commission, published a preliminary study on electromagnetic emissions from mobile communications networks and the potential impact on health in June 2021, available at the link.

In Croatia, the protection of people from electromagnetic fields (EMF) falls within the competence of the Ministry of Health, which prescribes protection measures by the Ordinance on Protection against Electromagnetic Fields (Ordinance of the Ministry of Health).

The prescribed limit values for the public domain in Croatia are based on the Council Recommendation 1999/519/EC on limiting the exposure of people to EMF (0 Hz - 300 GHz). By defining the area of increased sensitivity, the Ordinance of the Ministry of Health introduced an additional area of protection in relation to the Council of the European Union Recommendation for which stricter limit levels are prescribed in relation to the limit levels for public areas, 2.5 times more stringent for the strength of the electrical field, and 6.25 times more stringent for the power density.

Group 1  restrictions according to the EU recommendation
Group 2  without restrictions or less stringent restrictions than the EU recommendation
Group 3  stricter restrictions than the EU recommendation

Source: National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), Netherlands

Monitoring of the use of radio spectrum is performed by HAKOM, which will continue to do the same along with the development of 5G technology, in accordance with the values of permitted EMF exposure levels prescribed by the Ordinance of the Ministry of Health. Should the Ordinance be changed, HAKOM will adjust its operations.

HAKOM checks compliance of the installed base stations with the permitted EMF exposure levels prescribed by the Ordinance of the Ministry of Health. If during the process of checking the compliance of a particular base station there is doubt that the EMF levels do not comply with the permitted levels, HAKOM shall conduct control measurements for that station on-the-spot. EMF measurements shall also be carried out based on justified citizens' requests. All results of EMF measurements conducted by HAKOM are published within the GIS portal on the HAKOM website, and for each measuring point it is possible to access a detailed measurement report on the link.
HAKOM conducted control measurements of electromagnetic field levels at locations near base stations where 5G technology was tested in the city of Osijek. For more information on measurements, see the document.

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The Ordinance of the Ministry of Health defines public areas and areas of increased sensitivity for which the limits of the levels of the EMF are prescribed, as well as conditions that must be fulfilled during the planning, installation and usage of the sources of the EMF, i.e. base stations. The parameter important for the impact on the human body is the total level of EMF of all sources at a given location, whose limit value is prescribed by the Ordinance of the Ministry of Health and does not depend on the type of used technology. The areas of increased sensitivity are residential and business buildings, schools, preschool education institutions, maternity hospitals, hospitals, retirement homes and tourist accommodation facilities and children's playgrounds. The area of increased sensitivity also includes areas planned for the aforementioned facilities, according to the urban plan. Installed base stations shall not create EMF levels exceeding the values laid down in the Ordinance. For more information on radiation protection please contact the link of the Ministry of Health.

Source: Professor PhD Davor Bonefačić: presentation “High frequency Electromagnetic fields - exposure, risks and protection”, FAIR, 2020.

In March 2020, the International Commission on non-ionising radiation Protection (ICNIRP) updated guidelines covering many applications such as 5G, WiFi, Bluetooth, mobile phones and base stations.

An overview of measures implemented by individual countries related to the application of limit levels of reference sizes with added data for Croatia can be found on the link.

Comparison of EMF restrictions at the international levels can be found on the website of the Dutch National Institute for public Health and the Environment (RIVM).

The frequency bands to be used for 5G are 700 MHz and 3.6 GHz, which have already been used for TV (700 MHz) and fixed wireless access (3.6 GHz). At a later stage, 5G will use frequency bands already used by mobile communications networks for 2G, 3G and 4G (800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz and 2600 MHz), but also some frequency bands that have not been commercially used so far (e.g. 26 GHz). The limits for all these bands have already been laid down in the Ordinance of the Ministry of Health.

Base station owners are obliged to carry out the first and, every other calendar year, periodic measurements of the EMF sources for the purpose of verifying the compliance of the base station with the permitted levels of the EMF and to report on this to the Ministry of Health. These measurements are carried out for each base station and will also be carried out for 5G base stations. The first and periodical measurements for operators are carried out by companies authorised by the Ministry of Health. The list of authorized companies is available on the web pages of the Ministry of Health.