13/05/2011 – Council of Europe calls for dramatic reduction in EMF exposure
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A new Council of Europe Committee Resolution calls for a dramatic reduction in human exposure to EMFs and microwave radiation from mobile phones and other wireless devices. This Resolution makes a strong call for properly applying the precautionary principle / approach to EMFs – both from electric power and from wireless communications technologies, something that all governments have so far completely failed to do. The Council of Europe represents all 47 Member Countries ensuring respect for its fundamental values: human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
Individual Member Governments are the ones empowered to actually take action. However, the Council of Europe carries some influence. The Resolution calls on Member Governments to impose a ban on mobile phones, DECT cordless phones, WiFi or wLAN systems in classrooms and schools. It also requires that we take all reasonable measures to reduce exposure to electromagnetic fields on "as low as reasonably achievable" (ALARA) principles, especially to radio frequencies from mobile phones, and particularly the exposure to children and young people who seem to be at most long-term risk from head tumours. It asks for targeted information campaigns aimed at teachers, parents and children to alert them to the specific risks of early, ill-considered and prolonged use of mobiles and other devices emitting microwaves.
As well as the above mentioned, other requirements include:
- to reconsider the scientific basis for the present electromagnetic fields exposure standards set by the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), which have serious limitations and instead apply "as low as reasonably achievable" (ALARA) principles, covering both thermal effects and the athermic or biological effects of electromagnetic emissions or radiation;
- to set preventive thresholds for levels of long-term exposure to microwaves in all indoor areas, in accordance with the precautionary principle, not exceeding 0.6 volts per metre, and in the medium term to reduce it to 0.2 volts per metre
- to introduce planning measures to keep high-voltage power lines and other electric installations at a safe distance from dwellings;
- to apply strict safety standards for low EMF electrical systems in new dwellings;
- to put in place information and awareness-raising campaigns on the risks of potentially harmful long-term biological effects on the environment and on human health, especially targeting children, teenagers and young people of reproductive age;
- to pay particular attention to "electrosensitive persons" suffering from a syndrome of intolerance to electromagnetic fields and introduce special measures to protect them, including the creation of wave-free areas not covered by the wireless network;
- to raise awareness on potential health risks of DECT-type wireless telephones, baby monitors and other domestic appliances which emit continuous pulse waves, if all electrical equipment is left permanently on standby, and recommend the use of wired, fixed telephones at home or, failing that, models which do not permanently emit pulsing electromagnetic radiation 24-7;
We applaud the Council of Europe Committee for this Draft Resolution. It is long past the time when governments all around Europe should have started being more precautionary about these issues. The suggestions here are strong ones. They will meet with great opposition not only from the industry, but also from governments who now receive large annual tax incomes from wireless devices, especially mobile phone use. This has really thrown down a gauntlet. We await with interest to see who takes up the challenge and what they do.