Risk management ragarding RF EMV: a WHO survey

woensdag, 19 november 2014 - Categorie: Artikelen

Bron: rpd.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2014/11/13/rpd.ncu324.long .
nov. 2014

Amit Dhungel1,*, Denis Zmirou-Navier1,2 and Emilie van Deventer3
- Author Affiliations

1Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, EHESP School of Public Health, Avenue du Professeur Léon Bernard CS 74312, 35043 Rennes, France
2Lorraine University School of Medicine, av. de la Forêt de Haye, 54505 Vandoeuvre-Les-Nancy, France
3Radiation Programme, Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland
↵*Corresponding author: amitdgl@hotmail.com


This study aims to describe current risk management practices and policies across the world in relation to personal exposures from devices emitting radiofrequency fields, environmental exposures from fixed installations and exposures in the work environment. Data from 86 countries representing all WHO regions were collected through a survey. The majority of countries (76.8 %) had set exposure limits for mobile devices, almost all (90.7 %) had set public exposure limits for fixed installations and 76.5 % had specified exposure limits for personnel in occupational settings. A number of other policies had been implemented at the national level, ranging from information provisions on how to reduce personal exposures and restrictions of usage for certain populations, such as children or pregnant women to prevention of access around base stations. This study suggests that countries with higher mobile subscriptions tend to have set radiofrequency exposure limits for mobile devices and to have provisions on exposure measurements about fixed installations.


There has been ongoing concern about the possibility of adverse health effects resulting from exposure to radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic fields (EMF), such as those emitted by wireless communication devices and networks in the frequency range of 100 kHz to 300 GHz. There is scientific evidence of demonstrable acute effects (heating) from high levels of exposure, and many countries have developed safety policies based on the exposure limits proposed by the International Committee for Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) or Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) to prevent such effects(1–3). There is less scientific clarity about the risks of long-term exposure to lower levels of RF EMF(4). In 2012, the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified RF EMF as ‘possibly’ carcinogenic (Group 2B), based on studies on mobile phone usage. To date, there is no international consensus regarding effects of such exposure. In this setting, countries have adopted risk management policies with a variety of national exposure limits reflecting a mix of influences, including scientific evidence, precautionary approaches and local politics.

To assess the status of national policies and regulations on RF EMF and to help policy-makers determine a rational course of action, a survey was undertaken by the Radiation Programme in the Department of Public Health and Environment of the World Health Organization. The survey took place in 2012 in the course of the scientific update of WHO's Environmental Health Criteria (EHC) monograph on RF EMF. The last WHO Monograph on RF EMF was issued in 1993(5), and since that period, there has been a huge propagation in the number of mobile phone users, with an estimated 6.8 billion subscriptions by the end of 2013(6). The survey contributes the WHO's EHC Monograph the basis for health protection against RF EMF, with particular attention to current standards and guidelines, and exhibits the variety of measures in effect worldwide.

This paper summarizes the main findings from this survey and describes key policy actions regarding personal, environmental and occupational exposures to RF fields associated with the following exposure situations:

Personal exposures associated with the use of mobile devices (such as mobile phones);

Environmental exposures associated with fixed installations transmitting signals from radio, television and wireless communication networks and

Occupational exposures in the telecommunication, industrial and medical sectors.

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