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Public Health (22-11-2011)

Electromagnetic Fields and Health: The Way Forward

Today, based on the input from the Scientific Steering Committee of the International Scientific Conference on Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) and Health, the Commission's DG Health and Consumers is highlighting a few key messages of relevance for the future risk assessment of EMF.

Some key conclusions coming from the conference are:

  • Research is the driving force behind risk assessment
  • The amount of radiation exposure (dosimetry) and exposure assessment are a major source of uncertainty in research on EMF and health
  • The nocebo effect (an ill effect caused by the suggestion or belief that something is harmful) is a major contributor to electrohypersensitivity
  • Epidemiology (case-control studies) is the main source of evidence for potential adverse health effects of EMF (e.g. childhood leukaemia, glioma). However, so far these results are not confirmed by other evidence.


On 16-17 November 2011, the European Commission hosted an international scientific conference on electromagnetic fields (EMF) and health in Brussels. The aim of the event was to hold a scientific discussion on the remaining uncertainties in EMF & Health research and to develop a proposal for a strategy to address these remaining issues. Speakers at this high-level, uncensored debate included:

  • MEP, Michèle Rivasi, who provided her views on the issue,
  • Dr Chris Portier, director of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and the National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH) at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who explained health risk assessment;
  • Dr Elisabeth Cardis, coordinator of the Interphone project, who explained the results from case-control epidemiological studies;
  • Dr Joachim Schüz, Head of the IARC Section on Environment and Radiation, who explained the results from other types of epidemiological studies;
  • Dr Emilie van Deventer, Head of the WHO EMF project, who chaired the session on the current state of knowledge.

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