Electromagnetic Fields 2015 Update


About this Publication on Electromagnetic Fields

  1. Source for this Publication
  2. The Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR)
  3. Background to this SCENIHR opinion
  4. Specific questions asked by the European Commission to the SCENIHR

1. Source for this Publication

This publication is a summary of the opinion on the “ Potential health effects of exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF)” produced in 2015 by the SCENIHR (Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks) of the European Commission.

Levels 1 & 2 were written by the GreenFacts editorial team in collaboration with the DG Health and Consumers of the European Commission.

This publication is produced by GreenFacts under a contract from the DG Health and Consumers of the European Commission.

2. The Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR)

The Committee provides opinions on emerging or newly-identified health and environmental risks and on broad, complex or multidisciplinary issues requiring a comprehensive assessment of risks to consumer safety or public health and related issues not covered by other Community risk assessment bodies.

For further information on the SCENIHR, see: 

3. Background to this SCENIHR opinion

Council Recommendation of 12 July 1999 on the limitation of exposure of the general public to electromagnetic fields (0 Hz to 300 GHz) fixes basic restrictions and reference levels for the exposure of the general public to electromagnetic fields (EMFs).

For workers, the Council and the Parliament have adopted Directive 2004/40/EC of 29 April 2004 on the minimum health and safety requirements regarding the exposure of workers to the risks arising from physical agents (EMFs). This directive was repealed by a new one, issued on 26 June 2013, Directive 2013/35/EU

The Commission relies on the SCENIHR to periodically review new information that may influence the assessment of risks to human health in this area and to provide regular updates on the scientific evidence base to the Commission.

Since September 2008, the cut-off date for the previous review by the SCENIHR, a sufficient number of new scientific publications have appeared to warrant a new analysis of the scientific evidence on possible effects on human health of exposure to EMF. In addition, the development of new technologies using EMF in the THz range, especially imaging techniques such as security scanners for passenger screening, calls for new assessments.

On 16-17 November 2011, the International Conference on EMF and Health, organized by the European Commission under the auspices of the SCENIHR, provided an overview of the most recent scientific developments in this area as a first preparation for a future Scientific Opinion.

Consequently, the SCENIHR is being asked to examine this new scientific evidence and to address in particular the questions listed in the Terms of Reference.

4. Specific questions asked by the European Commission to the SCENIHR

The SCENIHR is asked the following questions:

  1. To update its Opinions of 2009 in the light of newly available information.
  2. To give particular attention to issues affected by important gaps in knowledge in the previous Opinions, especially:
    • the potential adverse effects of EMF on the nervous system, including neuro-behavioural disorders, and on the risk of neo-plastic diseases;
    • the understanding of biophysical mechanisms that could explain observed biological effects and epidemiological associations; and
    • the potential role of co-exposures with other environmental agents in biological effects attributed to EMF.
  3. To review the scientific evidence available to understand the potential adverse health effects of EMF in the THz range.
  4. To develop a set of prioritized research recommendations updating previous efforts in this area (in particular by the SCENIHR and the WHO). These recommendations should include methodological guidance on the experimental design and minimum requirements to ensure data quality and usability for risk assessment.

Read the summary...

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