Report on the limitation of the exposure of the general public to electromagnetic fields

The EC has published the report from the Commission on the application of Council Recommendation of 12 July 1999 (1999/519/ec) on the limitation of the exposure of the general public to electromagnetic fields (0 hz to 300 ghz) COM(2008) 532 final - 1.9.2008 based on the recommendations of the Scientific Committee for Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR).

Public is exposed to electromagnetic fields (EMF) generated by an increasing variety of electrical and electronic devices and installations. EMF may have biological effects under certain conditions. On 12 July 1999, the Council adopted a Recommendation (1999/519/EC) to limit the exposure of the population to EMF.

Situation in EU Member States.

It is the Member States’ responsibility to protect the populations from potential health risks and most Member States have adopted the Recommendation and some have legally binding measures to control EMF exposure of the general public.

Although most consider the Recommendation sufficient to provide a high level of health protection, some have adopted more stringent exposure limits and others have suggested some modifications to the Recommendation: more stringent restrictions and reference levels for ELF (Finland, Sweden and the Netherlands), stricter restrictions and reference levels at fields of 10 kHz-300 GHz (Lithuania), long-term and non-thermal effects of EMF (Bulgaria), and information on product safety (Poland). While not asking for specific changes to the Recommendation, Slovenia insisted on the importance of the information to consumers on non-ionising radiation and on ways of minimising exposure, and Sweden has developed a simple and low-cost precautionary approach to minimise exposure to ELF and RF. Along similar lines, the Netherlands are suggesting the possibility of taking precautionary measures in view of the increased childhood leukaemia risks from 50 Hz magnetic fields from overhead power lines.

Main Concusion from the EC.

In conclusion, the Commission intends to continue monitoring closely the application of this Recommendation, promoting the development of scientific knowledge on key aspects of the potential health impact of EMF, re-assess the validity of the Recommendation in the light of any relevant new scientific development and take appropriate action should the need arise.