Electromagnetic fields (EMF)

International Conference on EMF - From bioeffects to legislation

8-9 November 2004
Ljubljana, Slovenia

Statement of Conference

Over 140 scientists and government officials from 25 countries met at the EMF Conference on Electromagnetic Fields - From Bioeffects to Legislation - in Ljubljana, SLOVENIA, 8-9 November 2004.

The Conference was organized and sponsored by the following scientific and government organizations:

  • Institute of Non-Ionizing Radiation (INIS)
  • World Health Organization (WHO)
  • International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP)
  • European Commission (DG EMPL)
  • COST 281
  • EMF NET
  • Forum EMS
  • Ministry of Health
  • Ministry of Environment
  • Ministry of Information Society of the Republic of Slovenia

The aim of the conference was to provide an answer to our information based society's most commonly asked question: Do current EMF standards provide sufficient protection against EMF exposure? This question is particularly important since some new EU member states and candidate Members of the EU use lower limit values in their standards and legislation in the field of EMF.

The Conference provided a unique opportunity to compare and discuss not only different standards but, more important, different approaches to the development of standards and legislation. It is related in particular to the old divergences between "Western" and "Eastern" approaches, and to the possibility of reaching consensus in the future. Such discussion is especially needed for the new EU Countries that have to deal with the EU Recommendation of July 2001 and the EU Directive for protection of the workers of May 2004.

However, there has been a strong move to use precautionary measures in the face of uncertainties in the science. Unfortunately, some countries have seen fit to use the precautionary principle in a way that undermines the science on which the guidelines on exposure limits are based.

The distinguished invited speakers discussed the sound scientific background of the EMF guidelines and provided advice to the governmental representatives on how to manage the EMF issue. In addition, a round table meeting on the different models for EMF standards in new EU member states and candidate Members of the EU and their possible harmonization including review of the current research activities in those countries was organized.

Conference conclusions and recommendations:

  • It is openly recognized that the international ICNIRP guidelines are based on the best and most updated available science and, thus, a very wide scientific consensus.
  • An assessment of the scientific evidence to date suggests that no adverse health consequences have been established at exposure levels below current international ICNIRP guidelines.
  • National authorities in the EU, particularly in the new EU member states and candidate Members of the EU should protect their citizens and workers by adopting international guidelines or use the WHO framework for developing EMF standards for limiting exposure from EMF sources and encouraging compliance with these standards.
  • Additional precautionary measures can be adopted, provided they do not undermine the science-based guidelines. The measures could address aspects such as emission limits or technical measures to reduce fields from the EMF sources, but should not modify exposure limits established by international guidelines
  • The recommendations from WHO are to protect human health by adopting the ICNIRP exposure limits as a mandatory requirement and to address continuing public concerns about health effects of EMF exposure by adopting voluntary precautionary measures as follows:
    • Governmental/industrial/academic research program that leads to better health risk assessments
    • Encourage manufacturers to keep exposures to the minimum needed for the technology
    • Better risk communication
    • Target messages to audience with honest and accurate information
    • Public involvement in decision-making, especially when siting facilities, to minimize EMF exposures and public concern
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