Electromagnetic fields (EMF)

Application of the Precautionary Principle to EMF

European Commission, Luxembourg

Reports from the meeting

Invitation to comment:

We invite public comment on our Draft, Precautionary Framework for Public Health Protection. Please address comments to emfproject@who.int

Conducting Human Health and Environmental Risk Assessment and Risk Management under the precepts of Precautionary Principle represents challenges and opportunities for scientists, policy makers and the public. Responding to the need to provide a framework and test it in a case study, the World Health Organization, The European Commission and the National Institute of Environmental Health Science is conducting a 3 day meeting on “Application of the Precautionary Principle to EMF”. This meeting, to be held in Luxembourg on February 24-26, 2003, brings together international experts whose individual perspectives can lead to the synthesis of an approach that recognizes and accommodates the diverse disciplines necessary for successful implementation of Precautionary Principle.

The first day is an open meeting featuring point-counterpoint presentations to highlight strengths and weaknesses of the Precautionary Principle, and arguments for and against its use for policy decisions regarding possible health implications from exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF). Attendees will have the opportunity to provide input and perspective and participate in an open discussion with a panel of experts.

During the second and third days, invited experts will develop recommendations for evaluating if, when and how Precautionary Principle should be invoked. As a starting point the group will use the criteria for the application of Precautionary Principle developed in the Commission Communication and published in February 2002: decisions must be proportional to the chosen level of protection, non-discriminatory in their application, consistent with measures already taken, based on potential costs and benefits, subject to review and capable of assigning responsibility for producing the scientific evidence necessary for more comprehensive risk assessment. EMF will be a test case for an environmental agent already classified as possibly carcinogenic for the low frequency magnetic fields, and for mobile phone technologies where key studies for the conventional risk assessment will not be completed for several years.