Are the tags and readers safe for people and the environment?
National and international safety regulations exist to help ensure that RFID equipment — both the tags and the readers — operate in a way that is safe for humans, animals and the environment.
There is no scientific or medical evidence to suggest that the exposure to electromagnetic fields generated by the use of RFID technology poses a threat to human health when operated according to a country’s specific regulations regarding exposure. As part of their ongoing educational program to support safe operations, EPCglobal Inc has developed a set of best practices to provide RFID system installers and users with additional information on human exposure to electromagnetic fields. These recommendations are based on guidelines and limits recommended by the various national and international regulatory agencies and standards bodies responsible for EMF safety.
Details on the impact and benefits of RFID tags and readers on the environment are also being studied. A February 2010 report from RACE networkRFID, a European concerted effort on RFID, details ISO guidelines on how to recycle RFID tags and shares the results of a study about RFID tag waste management undertaken by the Federal Environmental Agency of Germany.
While attention must be paid to properly recycling RFID tags and their composants, there are a wide range of benefits to RFID-enabled applications that balance these risks: For example, EPCglobal received a grant from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for a project called "Promoting Understanding of RFID and the Environment" (PURE) designed to investigate how EPC can ensure more efficient and more accurate sorting of recyclable items so that so many old appliances don't end up sitting in landfills. Applications in the healthcare supply chain also show how RFID-based systems can be a successful part of patient safety initiatives.