on health concerns associated with electromagnetic fields

The European Parliament,

-   having regard to its resolution of 4 September 2008 on the mid-term review of the European Environment and Health Action Plan 2004-2010 (5),

-   having regard to its resolution of 10 March 1999 on the proposal for a Council Recommendation on the limitation of exposure of the general public to electromagnetic

1.  Urges the Commission to review the scientific basis and adequacy of the EMF limits as laid down in Recommendation 1999/519/EC and report to the Parliament. The review should be undertaken by SCENIHR;

The SCENIHR just published (Jan. 2009) an exhaustive 83 page review on this subject. They found no reason to change exposure guidelines. P. 60 "In conclusion, no health effect has been consistently demonstrated at exposure levels below the ICNIRP-limits established in 1998. However, the data base for this evaluation is limited especially for long-term low-level exposure." P. 61 "It is concluded from three independent lines of evidence (epidemiological, animal and in vitro studies) that exposure to RF fields is unlikely to lead to an increase in cancer in humans. However, as the widespread duration of exposure of humans to RF fields from mobile phones is shorter than the induction time of some cancers, further studies are required to identify whether considerably longer-term (well beyond ten years) human exposure to such phones might pose some cancer risk."

2.  Calls for particular consideration of biological effects when assessing the potential health impact of electromagnetic radiation, especially given that some studies have found the most harmful effects at lowest levels; calls for active research to address potential health problems by developing solutions that negate or reduce the pulsating and amplitude modulation of the frequencies used for transmission;

The studies that "have found the most harmful effects at lowest levels", were poorly executed studies that have mostly been refuted by far more comprehensive and rigorous studies. In many cases, serious flaws have been found with studies that show harm. The suggestion that cellular standards such as GSM be modified to "negate or reduce the pulsating and amplitude modulation of the frequencies used for transmission" repeats the pseudo-scientific jargon and unsubstantiated claims of some alarmist web sites.

3.  Maintains that as well as, or as an alternative to, amending European EMFs limits, the Commission, working in coordination with experts from Member States and the industries concerned (electricity companies, telephone operators and manufacturers of electrical appliances including mobile phones), should draw up a guide to available technology options serving to reduce exposure to EMFs;

4.  Notes that industry stakeholders as well as relevant infrastructure managers and competent authorities can already influence certain factors, for example setting provisions with regards to the distance between a given site and the transmitters, the height of the site in relation to the height of the base station, or the direction of a transmitting antenna in relation to living environments, and, indeed, should obviously do so in order to reassure, and afford better protection to, the people living close to such facilities; calls for optimal placement of masts and transmitters and further calls for the sharing of masts and transmitters placed in this way by providers so as to limit the proliferation of poorly positioned masts and transmitters; calls on the Commission and Member States to draw up appropriate guidance;

According to the WHO, there are over 1.4 million cellular base stations in the world today. A large fraction of these are in Europe. The undertaking a massive public review of all such installations based on fears that are unsupported by the scientific evidence, will only serve to further fuel unwarranted public alarm.

5.  Invites the Member States and local and regional authorities to create a one-stop shop for authorization to install antennas and repeaters, and to include among their urban development plans a regional antenna plan

6.  Urges the authorities responsible for authorizing the siting of mobile telephony antennas to reach agreement, jointly with the operators in that sector, on the sharing of infrastructure, in order to reduce the volume thereof and the exposure of the public to EMFs;

7.  Acknowledges the efforts of mobile communications and other EMFs-transmitting wireless technologies to avoid damaging the environment, and in particular to address climate change;

Climate change?!! What does climate change have to do with cell phone towers?

8.  Considers that, given the increasing numbers of legal actions and measures by public authorities having the effect of a moratorium on the installation of new EMF-transmitting equipment, it is in the general interest to encourage solutions based on negotiations involving industry stakeholders, public authorities, military authorities and residents' associations to determine the criteria for setting up new GSM antennas or high-voltage power lines, and to ensure at least that schools, crèches, retirement homes, and health care institutions are kept clear, within a specific distance determined by scientific criteria, of facilities of this type;

Scientific criteria have already determined that the EMF emissions from cell phone towers are completely safe. The proposed measures are completely arbitrary and unscientific.

9.  Calls on the Member States to make available to the public, jointly with the operators in the sector, maps showing exposure to high-voltage power lines, radio frequencies and microwaves, and especially those generated by telecommunications masts, radio repeaters and telephone antennas. Calls for that information to be displayed on an internet page so that it can easily be consulted by the public, and for it to be disseminated in the media;

Publishing maps of cell phone towers, etc. as proposed will only serve to further to fan the flames of public alarm. What is needed is clear public explanation of the scientific findings by the public health authorities.

10. Proposes that the Commission consider the possibility of using funding from the Trans-European Energy Networks to investigate the effects of EMFs at very low frequencies, and particularly in electrical power lines,

11. Calls on the Commission, during the 2009-2014 parliamentary term, to launch an ambitious program to gauge the electromagnetic compatibility between waves created artificially and those emitted naturally by the living human body with a view to determining whether microwaves might ultimately have undesirable consequences for human health;

The statement about "waves created artificially and those emitted naturally by the living human body" again repeats the pseudo-scientific jargon and unsubstantiated claims of some alarmist web sites. In its 2004 document entitled "
What are Electromagnetic Fields: Summary of Health Effects" the World Health Organization said: "In the area of biological effects and medical applications of non-ionizing radiation approximately 25,000 articles have been published over the past 30 years. Despite the feeling of some people that more research needs to be done, scientific knowledge in this area is now more extensive than for most chemicals. Based on a recent in-depth review of the scientific literature, the WHO concluded that current evidence does not confirm the existence of any health consequences from exposure to low level electromagnetic fields."

In its Jan. 2009 Report, the SCENIHR echoed this conclusion (P. 25): "Recent well-conducted epidemiological studies provide evidence against an association between RF-EMF exposure from broadcast transmitters and the risk of childhood leukemia. Although new exposure sources such as mobile phone base stations, cordless phone base stations or wireless networks are relatively recent, exposures from these sources are generally lower than the ones investigated in these studies on broadcast transmitters. Thus, there appears to be no immediate need for further studies related to these sources."

12. Calls on the Commission to present a yearly report on the level of electromagnetic radiation in the EU, its sources, and actions taken in the EU to better protect human health and the environment;

The SCENIHR already has a mandate from the European Commission to monitor the scientific literature on the issue of EMF and health. It has issued regular reports; most recently on Mar. 21, 2007 and again on Jan. 19, 2009. The Jan. 2009 report states (P. 4): "It is concluded from three independent lines of evidence (epidemiological, animal and in vitro studies) that exposure to RF fields is unlikely to lead to an increase in cancer in humans." It seems that the Parliament will not be satisfied until its scientists agree with the alarmist groups.

13. Calls on the Commission to find a solution enabling Directive 2004/40/EC to be implemented more rapidly and thus ensure that workers are properly protected against EMFs, just as they are already protected under two other Community acts against noise (10) and vibration (11) and to introduce a derogation for MRI under Article 1 of that Directive.

14. Deplores the fact that, as a result of repeated postponements since 2006, the findings of the Interphone study have yet to be published, the purpose of this international epidemiological study being to establish whether there is a link between use of mobile phones and certain types of cancer, including brain, auditory nerve, and parotid gland tumors;

See response to Point G above. The Interphone studies are not definitive because of the issue of recall bias. This is probably one of the main reasons for the delay in publishing "final" results.

15. Draws attention in this context to the appeal for caution from the coordinator of the Interphone study, Elisabeth Cardis, who, in the light of existing knowledge, recommends, as far as children are concerned, that mobile phones should not be used beyond reasonable limits and that landlines should be preferred;

16. Believes in any event that it is up to the Commission, which has an important contribution to the financing of this global study, to ask those in charge of the project why no definitive findings have been published and, should it receive an answer, to inform Parliament and the Member States without delay;

17. Also suggests to the Commission, to make for efficiency in policy and budget terms, that the Community funding earmarked for studies on EMFs be partly switched to finance a wide-ranging awareness campaign to familiarize young Europeans with good mobile phone techniques, such as the use of hands-free kits, keeping calls short, switching off phones when not in use (such as when in classes) and using phones in areas that have good reception;

Why not use these funds to educate the public about the true state of the scientific findings instead. This would go a long way towards easing unjustified fears.

18. Such awareness-raising campaigns should also familiarize young Europeans with the health risks associated with household devices and the importance of switching off devices rather than leaving them on stand-by;

This statement is sounding a false alarm. There is no evidence that the implied household devices: WiFi networks, cordless phones, etc. pose any health risk whatsoever. The level of EMF from these devices is hundreds of times lower than a cell phone, and thousands of times less than established safety limits.

19. Calls on the Commission and Member States to increase research and development (R&D) funding for the evaluation of potential long-term adverse effects of mobile telephony radio frequencies; Calls also for an increase in public calls for proposals for investigation of the harmful effects of multiple exposure to different sources of EMFs, particularly where children are concerned;

See response to Point 11. According to the WHO, 25,000 papers have been published to date without establishing a health risk from EMF.

20. Proposes that the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies (EGE) be given the additional task of assessing scientific integrity in order to help the Commission forestall possible cases of risk, conflict of interests, or even fraud that might arise now that competition for researchers has become keener;

The European Parliament appears to be casting doubt on the scientific integrity of mainstream scientists. It is echoing the statements of alarmist groups who accuse public health authorities and mainstream scientists of bias and collusion with the telecommunications industry. In fact the only EMF & health studies that have been retracted due to fraud are those by Liburdy et al. and Rudiger et al. that claimed to find harmful effects from EMF. Lennart Hardell, one of the leading scientists who claims that cell phones cause brain tumors, has earned fees in cell phone litigation, including an $800M damage suit that was dismissed for "lacking in scientific credibility".

21. Calls on the Commission, in recognition of the public concern in many Member States, to work with all relevant stakeholders, such as national experts, non-governmental organizations and industrial sectors, to improve the availability of, and access to, up-to-date information understandable to non-specialists on wireless technology and protection standards;

22. Calls on International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection and the World Health Organization (WHO) to be more transparent and open to dialogue with all stakeholders in standard setting;

The ICNIRP and the WHO have exercised their responsibility to examine the totality of scientific evidence and to make recommendations based on science. The basis for these scientific conclusions should be clearly explained to the public. Alarmist groups with an unscientific agenda have bypassed the scientific process to appeal directly to politicians. Political actions resulting from unscientific pressure groups may set a dangerous precedent.

23. Condemns certain particularly aggressive marketing campaigns by telephone operators in the run-up to Christmas and other special occasions, including for example the sale of mobile phones designed solely for children or free call time packages aimed at teenagers;

24. Proposes that the EU's indoor air quality policy should encompass the study of 'wireless' domestic appliances, which, like Wi-Fi for Internet access and digital enhanced cordless telecommunications (DECT) telephones, have been widely adopted in recent years in public places and in the home, with the result that citizens are being continuously exposed to microwave emissions;

See responses to Points 11 & 12.

25. Calls, given its constant concern to improve consumer information, for the technical standards of the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization to be amended with a view to imposing labeling requirements whereby the transmitting power would have to be specified and every wireless-operated device accompanied by an indication that it emitted microwaves;

Why advertise a non existent "danger".

26. Calls on the Council and Commission, in coordination with the Member States and the Committee of the Regions, to encourage the introduction of a single standard designed to ensure that local residents would be subjected to as low a degree of exposure as possible when high-voltage grids were being extended;

27. Is greatly concerned about the fact that insurance companies are tending to exclude coverage for the risks associated with EMFs from the scope of liability insurance policies, the implication clearly being that European insurers are already enforcing their version of the precautionary principle;

The main reason why insurers are refusing to take on this risk is because of concerns that mass public alarm will reach such a level that it undermines the scientific integrity of liability judgments in the courts. The following quotes were taken from a white paper entitled "Electrosmog - a phantom risk" published by Swiss-Re, one of the world's largest re-insurers. The implications for the power of pseudoscience to affect the political process, the courts, and the economy are quite disturbing.
"The crucial question therefore is not what results EMF research will yield in the foreseeable future, but how society will evaluate such conjecture."
"Thus, we assess the risk of change as being extraordinarily explosive not because weak electromagnetic fields might, contrary to expectations, prove to be hazardous after all (similar to asbestos fibers). We consider the risk of change to be so dangerous because it is evident that a wide range of groups have great political and financial interest in electrosmog being considered hazardous by society."
P. 25
"If society wishes to consider weak electromagnetic fields a cause of illness, the fields will be deemed a cause of illness - and the possibility cannot be excluded that courts will hand down decisions to this effect…How far this trend will continue cannot be foreseen."
P. 30
"As far as weak EMF phenomena and diseases such as cancer…are concerned, there is no evidence of such a causal connection; indeed, there was not even a conjectural connection until a few years ago.
Scientific findings might be assessed differently in a subjective sense due to changing social values. This we describe as a sociopolitical change."

28. Calls on Member States to follow the example of Sweden and to recognize persons that suffer from electrohypersensitivity as being disabled so as to grant them adequate protection as well as equal opportunities;

It would be far more productive to recognize the scientific consensus that EHS is primarily a psychosomatic disorder. The treatment for such patients should be in accordance for best practices for such disorders, and should not inconvenience the rights of others.

29. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Committee of the Regions, and the WHO.

(1) OJ L 199, 30.7.1999, p. 59.
(2) OJ L 159, 30.4.2004, p. 1.
(3) OJ L 91, 7.4.1999, p. 10.
(4) OJ L 374, 27.12.2006, p. 10.
(5) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0410.
(6) OJ C 175, 21.6.1999, p. 129.
(7) Opinion of 21 March 2007 adopted at the 16th plenary meeting.
(8) Quality of life programme, contract No QLK4-1999-01563.
(9) March 2001 STOA study on 'The physiological and environmental effects of non-ionising EMR', PE297.574
(10) Directive 2003/10/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 February 2003 on the minimum health and safety requirements regarding the exposure of workers to the risks arising from physical agents (noise) (OJ L 42, 15.2.2003, p. 38).
(11) Directive 2002/44/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 June 2002 on the minimum health and safety requirements regarding the exposure of workers to the risks arising from physical agents (vibration) (OJ L 177, 6.7.2002, p. 13).

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