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.
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.