Council of Europe Report EMF RF Fields

Council of Europe Report on EMF RF Fields, June 5, 2011

(The Council of Europe, which has 47 member states and is based in Strasbourg, is highly influential in policy-making and has often seen its decisions enacted through conventions and treaties.)

Summary and Conclusions of findings: 

The potential dangers of electromagnetic fields and their effect on the environment. Report Committee on the Environment, Agriculture and Local and Regional Affairs Rapporteur: Mr Jean HUSS, Luxembourg, Socialist Group


The potential health effects of the very low frequency of electromagnetic fields surrounding power lines and electrical devices are the subject of ongoing research and a significant amount of public debate. While electrical and electromagnetic fields in certain frequency bands have fully beneficial effects which are applied in medicine, other non-ionising frequencies, be they sourced from extremely low frequencies, power lines or certain high frequency waves used in the fields of radar, telecommunications and mobile telephony, appear to have more or less potentially harmful, non-thermal, biological effects on plants, insects and animals, as well as the human body when exposed to levels that are below the official threshold values.

One must respect the precautionary principle and revise the current threshold values; waiting for high levels of scientific and clinical proof can lead to very high health and economic costs, as was the case in the past with asbestos, leaded petrol and tobacco.

10. Conclusions

63. The potentially harmful effects of electromagnetic fields on the environment and human health have not yet been fully elucidated and a number of scientific uncertainties continue to exist in that regard. Nevertheless, anxieties and fears remain in wide sectors of the population over the health hazards posed by the waves, and also of the demands voiced by high-level scientists, by groupings of doctors and by the associations of concerned citizens which abound in many Council of Europe member states.

64. The precautionary principle and the right to a healthy environment, particularly on behalf of children and future generations, must be key factors in all economic, technological and social development of society. In that regard, the Parliamentary Assembly has decided on several previous occasions (see Recommendation 1863 (2009) on environment and health: better prevention of environment-related health hazards and Recommendation 1959 (2011) on preventive health care policies in the Council of Europe member states) that coherent, effective preventive measures must be taken to protect the environment and human health.

65. After analysing the scientific studies available to date, and also following the hearings for expert opinions organised in the context of the Committee on the Environment, Agriculture and Local and Regional Affairs, there is sufficient evidence of potentially harmful effects of electromagnetic fields on fauna, flora and human health to react and to guard against potentially serious environmental and health hazards.

66. That was moreover already the case in 1999 and 2009 when the European Parliament overwhelmingly passed resolutions upholding the precautionary principle and efficient preventive actions vis-à-vis the harmful effects of electromagnetic fields, in particular by substantially lowering the exposure thresholds for workers and the general public according to the ALARA principle, by restoring genuine independence of research in that field, and through a policy of enhanced information and transparency towards the anxious populations (see European Parliament Resolution of 2 April 2009 on health concerns associated with electromagnetic fields, 2008/2211 INI).

67. Lastly, the Assembly could endorse the analyses and warnings issued first in September 2007, then in September 2009, by the European Environment Agency (EEA) concerning the health hazards of electromagnetic fields, mobile telephony and not least mobile phones. According to the EEA, there are sufficient signs or levels of scientific evidence of harmful biological effects to invoke the application of the precautionary principle and of effective, urgent preventive measures.

1 Reference to the committee: Doc. 11894, Reference 3563 of 29 May 2009.
2 Draft resolution adopted unanimously by the committee on 11 April 2011.


2 thoughts on “Council of Europe Report EMF RF Fields

  1. Pingback: Water meters, EMF and our Fairfield Community | Fairfield Safe Meters

  2. I am an engineer and I work in the wireless communications field. I’m sorry to hear you have concerns regarding the safety of low-power RF telemetry devices. As I hope you are aware, the effects of RF energy on the human body have been studied extensively over many decades and the overwhelming scientific, medical, and engineering consensus is that there is no appreciable risk from the very low levels of energy emitted from these sorts of devices.

    Absolute proof of *safety* is of course impossible for anything and its absence is a common red herring held out by those opposed to something under any circumstance without facts to support their opposition…the argument always goes: I can’t demonstrate that it’s dangerous, but you can’t prove that it’s safe…so we must all err on the side of caution. Of course the “high-levels of proof” you demand have been provided and accepted by the scientific community, engineers, safety regulators, government agencies, and others who are experts in their fields and responsible for analyzing that data and providing for the public safety; why do you feel better qualified than they are?

    You might consider the following:
    1) RF energy dissipates as the square of the distance from its source; nobody sleeps with a water, gas, or electric meter under their pillow or otherwise holds one for any substantial period of time.
    2) The levels of RF energy emitted from smart meters and similar low-power telemetry devices is dramatically lower than from most cell phones, nearby radio or television transmitters, or even that leaked from microwave ovens.

    I understand that new technologies can be intimidating, but of all the new technologies we encounter in our daily life, low-data rate, low-power RF telemetry transmitters are among the most innocuous. I hope you will reconsider and review some material from scientific peer-reviewed sources. As has been demonstrated in the unscientific debates in the popular media and on the internet over climate change, evolution, and even the age of the Earth, you can always find some people who will vehemently advocate for a particular perspective without regard to facts. This is a scientific issue and should be resolved scientifically.

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