Council of Europe advice on health risks of electromagnetic radiation

Council of Europe advice on health risks of electromagnetic radiation

The document on the Council of Europe website: Resolution 12608 and press release resolution 1815

Link to Resolution 12608 in PDF file (alternate with markings).

The Council of Europe, known from the European Convention on Human Rights, published a report on 6 May 2011 under the chairmanship of Jean Huss on the dangers to public health of electromagnetic fields. The committee calls for the lowering of exposure limits.

The committee goes further than that: it recommends removing all wireless equipment from classrooms and calls for special measures to be taken to protect people who are sensitive to electromagnetic radiation, including the setting up of ‘radiation-free white zones’.

The recommended exposure limit is 0.2 Volt per metre. This is 100 microwatts per square metre, which is 100.000x stricter than current exposure limits (see Standards, limit values and SBM-2015 guidelines).

Highlights from the EU report

  • 8.1.2. Reconsider the scientific basis for the present electromagnetic fields exposure standards set by the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection, which have serious limitations and apply “as low as reasonably achievable” (ALARA) principles, covering both thermal effects and the athermic or biological effects of electromagnetic emissions or radiation;
  • 8.2.1. Set preventive thresholds for levels of long-term exposure to microwaves in all indoor areas, in accordance with the precautionary principle, not exceeding 0.6 volts per metre, and in the medium term to reduce it to 0.2 Volts per metre.
  • 8.3.2. Ban all mobile phones, DECT phones or WiFi or WLAN systems from classrooms and schools, as advocated by some regional authorities, medical associations and civil society organisations.

Significantly lowered exposure limits

The Council of Europe seriously criticizes the current ICNIRP limits:

29. The rapporteur underlines in this context that it is most curious, to say the least, that the applicable official threshold values for limiting the health impact of extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields and high frequency waves were drawn up and proposed to international political institutions (WHO, European Commission, governments) by the ICNIRP, an NGO whose origin and structure are none too clear and which is furthermore suspected of having rather close links with the industries whose expansion is shaped by recommendations for maximum threshold values for the different frequencies of electromagnetic fields.

30. If most governments and safety agencies have merely contented themselves with replicating and adopting the safety recommendations advocated by the ICNIRP, this has essentially been for two reasons:

  • in order not to impede the expansion of these new technologies with their promise of economic growth, technological progress and job creation;
  • and also because the political decision-makers unfortunately still have little involvement in matters of assessing technological risks for the environment and health.

The Council recommends a new directive for the maximum field strength of 0.2 Volts per metre (V/m). Note: The current standard is 40 Volts per metre. Wireless devices exceed the level of 0.2 V/m in an area of about 3 metres around the device by more than 0.2 V/m:

  • A GSM phone in conversation at 3 meters distance is 3 V/m peak power.
  • A DECT base station or DECT handset in conversation at 3 meters distance is 1 V/m peak power.
  • A Wifi laptop at a distance of 0.5 metres in data transmission is 0.95 V/m peak power.

This means that mobile phone calls should no longer be allowed in a school classroom, wireless home telephones (DECT) should not be used and no Wifi installation and Wifi devices can be used. The advice is to use wired Internet.

Points from the EU report on Electro-hypersensitivity (EHS)

A. Draft resolution, adopted unanimously by the committee on 11 April 2011

   8.1.4. Pay particular attention to “electrosensitive” persons suffering from a syndrome of intolerance to electromagnetic fields and introduce special measures to protect them, including the creation of wave-free areas not covered by the wireless network.

4. Effects on the environment: plants, insects, animals

   22. Finally, another expert specialising in clinical medicine and oncology confirmed, on the basis of the findings of biological and clinical analysis of several hundred French patients describing themselves as “electrosensitive”, that a syndrome of intolerance to electromagnetic fields (SIEMF) does exist and that those people are not feigning illness or suffering from psychiatric disorders.

9. Scientific studies and arguments pursued by associations and NGOs, by groupings of scientists, by the European Environment Agency and by the European Parliament

   60. Here, too, the rapporteur stresses that some people may be more sensitive than others to electromagnetic radiation or waves. The research performed, for instance, by Professor Dominique Belpomme, President of the Association for Research and Treatments Against Cancer (ARTAC), on more than 200 people describing themselves as “electrosensitive” succeeded, with corroborative results of clinical and biological analyses, in proving that there was such a syndrome of intolerance to electromagnetic fields across the whole spectrum of frequencies. […] In this context, Sweden has granted sufferers from electromagnetic hypersensitivity the status of persons with reduced capacity so that they receive suitable protection.

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