Mobile Communication & Health: medical, biological & social problems
20-22 September 2004
Electromagnetic safety of mobile communication base stations
The conference “Mobile Communication and Health: medical, biological, and social problems” was held in Moscow on September 20-22, 2004. It was jointly organized by the Russian National Committee on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection within the World Health Organization's (WHO) International EMF Project. Representatives of WHO, the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), and scientists from 14 different countries discussed the topic of "Electromagnetic safety of base stations of mobile communication."
The development of mobile communications, and the consequent need for global coverage networks has led to the installation of large numbers of mobile communication base stations. As a result there has been a need to fully characterize exposure levels around base stations, to check compliance with national and international exposure standards, and to assess possible health risks of public exposure.
These issues were debated within the conference and experience on the handling of base stations in some of the participating countries was also discussed.
After comprehensive discussion, the following conclusions were agreed by the participants:
- The level of safety of electromagnetic sources, including base stations for mobile communication, should be evaluated with reference to accepted, science-based standards;
- From a comprehensive review of the large body of scientific literature, a consensus exists that international guidelines, as well as Russian national regulations, ensure adequate protection against all established health effects of radiofrequency fields according to current knowledge level;
- However, large discrepancies exist between Russian and international standards – in particular in the frequency region of interest for mobile communication – that justify actions towards harmonization;
- To this purpose, participation of Russian scientists in the actions for world-wide harmonization of standards promoted by WHO’s International EMF Project, is highly recommended;
- In view of the continuous development of telecommunications – and of mobile telephony in particular – it is recommended that further research be promoted and international collaboration and information exchange be encouraged;
- In setting research needs and priorities, reference should be made to WHO’s research agenda; active contribution of Russian scientists to the periodical update of such agenda is sought;
- Residential exposure to electromagnetic fields radiated from base stations are well below limits recommended by international and national standards; this has been supported by the results of surveys conducted in various countries, and presented at the Conference;
- Noting the public sensitivity towards base stations, it is recommended that mobile communication operators, as well as national agencies, consider the possibility of precautionary actions; the Precautionary Framework suggested by WHO provides useful guidance for such actions;
- It is imperative that open and transparent communications occur between all parties involved and easy access of the public to the relevant information be provided;
- Independent and scientifically qualified institutions should be identified and made legally responsible for providing unbiased information, checking compliance with the standards, and providing advice in cases of controversy.
The above recommendations should be brought to the attention of all parties interested in the development of mobile communication, including international organisations, national authorities, manufacturers and operators, and the public.