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Europe's MEPs Vote to Minimise EMF Exposure Risks

An article by Eileen O’Connor of Radiation Research Trust
April, 2009

Members of the European Parliament have recently produced reports, declarations and suggested changes to the law in response to the various reports of adverse effects on health to wireless technology such mobile phones, phone masts, tetra, WiFi, Wimax and wireless communication systems.  April, 2009 witnessed a rise in support for the precautionary approach.

There is evidence that increased exposure to wireless technology can cause biological effects below the levels laid down in the current EMF radiation exposure guidelines recommended by ICNIRP(International Commission for Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection).

Brain tumours are on the increase.... A third more children died in 2007 than in 2001Brain tumours are on the increase and are now the leading cancer killer among the under-40s and disturbing statistics out this month show that the illness is on the rise. A third more children died in 2007 than in 2001.

MEPs voted to adopt the Ries report calling for more reliable information to be made available about the effects of exposure to electromagnetic fields.  The report was adopted with 559 votes in favour, 22 against and 8 abstentions.

The Reis report said it ‘deplored’ the fact that the results of the Interphone epidemiological study, partially financed by the EU, has yet to be published.  The purpose of this wide ranging scientific project was to establish potential links between the use of mobile phones and certain types of cancer, such as brain, auditory nerve and parotid gland tumours. The report said the European Parliament was particularly concerned by the ‘appeal for caution’ from Elizabeth Cardis, the co-ordinator of the Interphone study, that “as far as children are concerned, mobile phones should not be used beyond reasonable limits.”

The Ries report also highlights how a number of national and regional governments in China, Switzerland and Russia as well as in at least nine EU Member States have set what are termed exposure limits are lower than those currently advocated by the Commission ‘preventive’ exposure limits that are lower than those currently advocated by the Commission and its independent scientific committee, the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks.

Radiation Research Trust trustee Elizabeth Lynne MEP and her colleagues produced a written declaration on the risks of exposure to electromagnetic fields resulting from the use of wireless technology. They called for the Liechtenstein legislation which sets an exposure limit of 0.6 V/m for mobile phone transmission antennas in sensitive areas such as homes, schools and workplaces. They also call on the Member States to produce information to make the public aware of the possible health risks of exposure to EMF radiation while releasing independently funded research into electro-hypersensitivity, which is recognised as a disability in Sweden.  They are encouraging the Commission to consider promoting wired technologies for data communication instead of radio or microwave wireless technologies. 
Furthermore, five members of the French Senate presented a bill/suggestion of law calling for restricting EMF exposure it states “Everyone has the right to live in a safe environment respectful of health”.  Do we have to wait for another health disaster?”

The French EMF bill is also calling to introduce stricter radiation limits The Bill states “There is already a long list of environmental and health alerts which public authorities chose to ignore: asbestos, lead, dioxins, mercury, glycol ethers, radioactive pollution.  All these cases prove that ignoring an early alarm call exposes the public to catastrophic multiple consequences.  By anticipating health effects, a long cortege of victims, social and environmental repercussions and costs could have been avoided.”

The French EMF bill is also calling to introduce stricter radiation limits of 0.6V/m and suspending WiFi/Wimax in order to protect the health and quality of life for future generations. 

Eileen O’Connor of the Radiation Research Trust welcomed the European Parliament’s move.  Mrs O’Connor commented; “We are delighted MEPs are taking this issue seriously and are taking an ethical approach to protecting public health. There is enough science and public concern to warren calling for the precautionary approach while science continues.

Our only disappointment is that the Ries Report does not offer recommendations on lower limits and calls for the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risk (SCENIHR) to carry out a scientific review and report back to MEPs.  Many members of SCENIHR consist of people who have a background in the ICNIRP and have been involved in establishing the current limits.


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