A meeting of international scientists has endorsed a statement recognising risks from EMR and endorsing a precautionary approach.
Exposure to electromagnetic fields can increase cancer risks in children and health problems in adults, and mobile phone raidaiton may contribute to brain tumours. These are among the effects identified by a group of international scientists in a statement known as the Benevento Resolution.
Released on 19 September, the Benevento Resolution is a consensus statement signed by 31 scientists from around the world.
It recognises the existence of health effects from environmental levels of EMF/EMR and urges precautions to reduce exposure. The statement also calls for funding of independent, publicly-managed science to investigate what the scientists describe as the “explosive growth of technologies for wireless communication as well as the huge ongoing investment in power transmission.”
The genesis of the resolution was a conference on “The Precautionary EMF Approach: Rationale, Legislation and Implementation”, hosted by the city of Benevento, Italy in February this year. The meeting was organised by the International Commission for Electromagnetic Safety (ICEMS), a non-for-profit group of concerned scientists. At the meeting scientists from 12 countries endorsed the 2002 Catania Resolution (EMR News 1(4), 2002).
The Benevento Resolution was signed by 31 scientists and EMR researchers at its September release and has gained the support of additional scientists since. http://www.icems.eu/resolution.htm.
The text of the resolution is as follows.The Benevento Resolution
The International Commission for Electromagnetic Safety (ICEMS) held an international conference entitled The Precautionary EMF Approach: Rationale, Legislation and Implementation., hosted by the City of Benevento, Italy, on February 22, 23 & 24, 2006.
The meeting was dedicated to W Ross Adey, MD (1922-2004). The scientists at the conference endorsed and extended the 2002 Catania Resolution and resolved that:
1. More evidence has accumulated suggesting that there are adverse health effects from occupational and public exposures to electric, magnetic and electromagnetic fields, or EMF, 1 at current exposure levels. What is needed, but not yet realized, is a comprehensive, independent and transparent examination of the evidence pointing to this emerging, potential public health issue.
2. Resources for such an assessment are grossly inadequate despite the explosive growth of technologies for wireless communications as well as the huge ongoing investment in power transmission.
3. There is evidence that present sources of funding bias the analysis and interpretation of research findings towards rejection of evidence of possible public health risks.
4. Arguments that weak (low intensity) EMF cannot affect biological systems do not represent the current spectrum of scientific opinion.
5. Based on our review of the science, biological effects can occur from exposures to both extremely low frequency fields (ELF EMF) and radiation frequency fields (RF EMF). Epidemiological and in vivo as well as in vitro experimental evidence demonstrates that exposure to some ELF EMF can increase cancer risk in children and induce other health problems in both children and adults. Further, there is accumulating epidemiological evidence indicating an increased brain tumor risk from long term use of mobile phones, the first RF EMF that has started to be comprehensively studied. Epidemiological and laboratory studies that show increased risks for cancers and other diseases from occupational exposures to EMF cannot be ignored. Laboratory studies on cancers and other diseases have reported that hypersensitivity to EMF may be due in part to a genetic predisposition.
6. We encourage governments to adopt a framework of guidelines for public and occupational EMF exposure that reflect the Precautionary Principle2 - as some nations have already done. Precautionary strategies should be based on design and performance standards and may not necessarily define numerical thresholds because such thresholds may erroneously be interpreted as levels below which no adverse effect can occur. These strategies should include:
6.1. Promote alternatives to wireless communication systems, eg, use of fiber optics and coaxial cables; design cellular phones that meet safer performance specifications, including radiating away from the head; preserve existing land line phone networks; place power lines underground in the vicinity of populated areas, only siting them in residential neighborhoods as a last resort;
6.2. Inform the population of the potential risks of cell phone and cordless phone use. Advise consumers to limit wireless calls and use a land line for long conversations.
6.3. Limit cell phone and cordless phone use by young children and teenagers to the lowest possible level and urgently ban telecom companies from marketing to them.
6.4. Require manufacturers to supply hands-free kits (via speaker phones or ear phones), with each cell phone and cordless phone.
6.5. Protect workers from EMF generating equipment, through access restrictions and EMF shielding of both individuals and physical structures.
6.6. Plan communications antenna and tower locations to minimize human exposure. Register mobile phone base stations with local planning agencies and use computer mapping technology to inform the public on possible exposures.
Proposals for city-wide wireless access systems (eg Wi-Fi, WIMAX, broadband over cable or power-line or equivalent technologies) should require public review of potential EMF exposure and, if installed, municipalities should ensure this information is available to all and updated on a timely basis.
6.7. Designate wireless-free zones in cities, in public buildings (schools, hospitals, residential areas) and, on public transit, to permit access by persons who are hypersensitive to EMF.
7. ICEMS is willing to assist authorities in the development of an EMF research agenda. ICEMS encourages the development of clinical and epidemiological protocols for investigations of geographical clusters of persons with reported allergic reactions and other diseases or sensitivities to EMF, and document the effectiveness of preventive interventions. ICEMS encourages scientific collaboration and reviews of research findings.
1 EMF, in this resolution, refers to zero to 300 GHz.
2 The Precautionary Principle states when there are indications of possible adverse effects, though they remain uncertain, the risks from doing nothing may be far greater than the risks of taking action to control these exposures. The Precautionary Principle shifts the burden of proof from those suspecting a risk to those who discount it.
We, the undersigned scientists, agree to assist in the promotion of EMF research and the development of strategies to protect public health through the wise application of the precautionary principle.
1. Fiorella Belpoggi, European Foundation for Oncology & Environmental Sciences, B.Ramazzini, Bologna, Italy
2. Carl F Blackman, President, Bioelectromagnetics Society (1990-91), Raleigh, NC, USA
3. Martin Blank, Department of Physiology, Columbia University, New York, USA
4. Natalia Bobkova, Institute of Cell Biophysics, Pushchino, Moscow Region
5. Francesco Boella, National Inst Prevention & Worker Safety, Venice, Italy
6. Zhaojin Cao, National Institute Environmental Health, Chinese Center for Disease Control, China
7. Sandro D’Allessandro, Physician, Mayor of Benevento, Italy, (2001-2006)
8. Enrico D’Emilia, National Institute for Prevention and Worker Safety, Monteporzio, Italy
9. Emilio Del Giudice, National Institute for Nuclear Physics, Milan, Italy
10. Antonella De Ninno, Italian National Agency For Energy, Environment & Technology, Frascati, Italy
11. Alvaro A. De Sallas, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil
12. Livio Giuliani, East Veneto & South Triol, National Inst Prevention & Worker Safety, Camerino University
13. Yury Grigoryev, Institute of Biophysics; Chairman, Russian National Committee NIERP
14. Settimo Grimaldi, Inst Neurobiology & Molecular Medicine, National Research, Rome, Italy
15. Lennart Hardell, Department of Oncology, University Hospital, Orebro, Sweden
16. Magda Havas, Environmental & Resource Studies, Trent University, Ontario, Canada
17. Gerard Hyland, Warwick University, UK; International Inst. Biophysics, Germany; EM Radiation Trust, UK
18. Olle Johansson, Experimental Dermatology Unit, Neuroscience Department, Karolinska Institute, Sweden
19. Michael Kundi, Head, Institute Environmental Health, Medical University of Vienna, Austria
20. Henry C Lai, Department of Bioengineering, University of Washington, Seattle, USA
21. Mario Ledda, Inst Neurobiology & Molecular Medicine, National Council for Research, Rome, Italy
22. Yi-Ping Lin, Center of Health Risk Assessment & Policy, National Taiwan University, Taiwan
23. Antonella Lisi, Inst Neurobiology & Molecular Medicine, National Research Council, Rome, Italy
24. Fiorenzo Marinelli, Institute of Immunocytology, National Research Council, Bologna, Italy
25. Elihu Richter, Head, Occupational & Environmental Medicine, Hebrew University-Hadassah, Israel
26. Emanuela Rosola, Inst Neurobiology & Molecular Medicine, National Research Council, Rome, Italy
27. Leif Salford, Chairman, Department of Neurosurgery, Lund University, Sweden
28. Nesrin Seyhan, Head, Department of Biophysics; Director, Gazi NIRP Center, Ankara, Turkey
29. Morando Soffritti, Scientific Director, European Foundation for Oncology & Environmental Sciences, B. Ramazzini, Bologna, Italy
30. Stanislaw Szmigielski, Military Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, Warsaw, Poland
31. Mikhail Zhadin, Institute of Cell Biophysics, Pushchino, Moscow Region
32. Igor Y Belyaev, Dept Genetics, Microbiology and Toxicology, Arrhenius Laboratories for Natural Sciences, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
33. Suleyman Dasdag, Biophysics Department of Medical School, Dicle University, Diyarbakir, Turkey
34. Reba Goodman, Prof Emeritus, Clinical Pathology, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA
35. Luisa Anna Ieradi, Istituto per lo Studio degli Ecosistemi CNR, Roma, Italia
36. Lukas H Margaritis, Professor of Cell Biology and Radiobiology, Athens University, Athens, Greece
37. Vera Markovic, Faculty of Electrical Engineering, University of Nis, Serbia
38. Gerd Oberfeld, Federal Salzburg Government. National Medical Management, Public Health Hygiene and Environmental Health, Salzburg, Austria
from 'EMR and Health' Dec 2006, vol 2 no 4
About The Author - Lyn McLean is a consumer advocate, author and educator and has been monitoring and writing on the subject of electromagnetic radiation (EMR) for over 20 years. She is the director of EMR Australia.