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Public Health (06-03-2015)

Final Opinion - Potential health effects of exposure to electromagnetic fields

The European Commission and its non-food Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) have published the final Opinion on potential health effects of exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF).

This Opinion addresses issues of public concern, such as potential health effects from radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF EMF) emitted by mobile phones, WiFi 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 previous Opinions on EMF of 19 January 2009 and 6 July 2009, in light of newly available information (over 700 studies, mostly published after 2008).

The results of current scientific research do not link exposure to electromagnetic fields below the limits suggested by the EU legislation with adverse health problems.

Overall, the epidemiological studies on mobile phone radiofrequency EMF exposure do not show an increased risk of brain tumours. Furthermore, they do not indicate an increased risk for other cancers of the head and neck region.

The association of EMF with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease that was suggested by previous studies was not confirmed by new studies that did not find any link.

Epidemiological studies link exposure to Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) fields, from long-term living in close proximity to power lines for example, to a higher rate of childhood leukaemia, which is a rare blood cancer. This correlation has neither been explained nor supported by animal and cellular studies. So far, research findings were not able to find a possible mechanism to explain this association. More research is needed to confirm or exclude a possible causal association.