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Public Health (04-02-2014)

Public consultation on the Preliminary Opinion on Potential health effects of exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF)

Today, the European Commission and its Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks, SCENIHR, launch a public consultation on the preliminary opinion “Potential health effects of exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF)”.

The consultation will run until 16 April 2014. Interested parties are invited to provide comments on the scientific evidence of this preliminary opinion online.

In addition to the online consultation, the draft opinion will be subject to a public hearing in Athens, Greece, on 27 March 2014, followed by a Workshop on EMF the next day.

The preliminary opinion addresses issues of public concern, such as potential health effects from radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF EMF) emitted by mobile phones and broadcast transmitters, as well as from extremely low frequency (ELF) magnetic fields originating from power lines and any electrical household appliance at home or in the office.

It aims to update the SCENIHR opinions of 19 January 2009 and 6 July 2009 in the light of newly available information (over 500 studies, mostly published after 2009).

This preliminary opinion addresses areas concluded inconclusive and/or in need of further investigation, by the 2009 Opinion, namely:

  • The potential increased cancer risk of the brain (glioma) and the ear (acoustic neuroma) in heavy users of mobile phones.
  • The potential association between exposure to broadcast transmitters and a higher rate of childhood cancer, including childhood leukaemia.
  • Reproductive problems, cognitive function or symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, stress, sleep disturbances, skin problems, etc.
  • Increased risk of Alzheimer's disease.

This preliminary opinion being put forward for public consultation, has found no causal link between electromagnetic fields at the current maximum limits and the above adverse effects to health. However, it concludes that further study is needed in some of these areas, notably the link with cancer of the ear (acoustic neuroma).