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Public Health (24-06-2010)

Half of Europeans would like more information from the EU on Electromagnetic Fields, according to survey

Half of Europeans would like more information from the EU on Electromagnetic Fields, according to survey

Today, the European Commission publishes the results of the second Eurobarometer survey on Electromagnetic Fields (EMF). This survey was commissioned following a significant research effort over the last few years and in light of the high level of public concern and media interest on this issue. This second report on the topic follows on from the previous survey conducted in 2006 and gives a good view of trends in public perceptions on EMF in Europe.

Some key findings of the report:

Electromagnetic Fields: Awareness and concerns about potential health risks

  • 46% of Europeans surveyed claim to be "very concerned" or "fairly concerned" about the potential health risks of EMF. This is a slight (2%) reduction compared to the 2006 survey.
  • The top 3 objects citizens correctly identify as being sources of EMF are mobile communication masts and mobile phones (both 59%) and high voltage power lines (58%).
  • When it comes to levels of concern about potential health risks from EMF-producing items, power lines generate the highest level of concern (35%), followed by mobile phone masts (33%).

Satisfaction about information on potential health risks of EMF

  • 20% of respondents say that they have received information on EMF. Of these, 58% are satisfied with the quality of information received. This is more than double that the level recorded in the first survey (28%).

The role of public authorities and the EU

  • 58% of Europeans surveyed believe that national public authorities do not do enough to protect them from the potential health risks of EMF.
  • 48% of respondents feel that the EU should inform the public of potential health risks, 39% think the EU should set safety standards for products and 36% think the EU should develop guidance for public health protection.

Background

Electromagnetic fields (EMF) are given off by virtually all equipment using or transporting electricity. The public is exposed to EMF though a variety of electric and electronic devices and installations. Due to the rapid increase in mobile phones and other personal, domestic, commercial and medical electronic equipment, the number of sources of daily public exposure to EMF is increasing. Even though Member States are responsible for protecting the health of the public from EMF, the European Commission is financing research, assessing the state of the science and taking policy initiatives to ensure a high level of health protection.

Further information

The full Eurobarometer survey on Electromagnetic fields can be found here:
http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/index_en.htm

Further information on EU action on EMF (Council Recommendation on the limitation of the exposure of the general public to electromagnetic fields, Opinions of the Scientific Committee, Funding and monitoring of research and the 2006 Eurobarometer survey) can be found here:
http://ec.europa.eu/health/electromagnetic_fields/policy/index_en.htm