Electromagnetic fields (EMF)

Workshop on guiding public health policy in areas of scientific uncertainty

11-13 July 2005
Ottawa, Canada

Children and Mobile Phones: Clarification statement

Some recent media reports suggest that WHO's International EMF Project has changed its recommendation regarding precautionary measures for children using mobile phones. This followed a meeting in Ottawa, Canada in July 2005 to discuss the use of precautionary measures in areas of public health where there is scientific uncertainty.

To date, all expert reviews on the health effects of exposure to RF fields have reached the same conclusion: There have been no adverse health consequences established from exposure to RF fields at levels below the international guidelines on exposure limits published by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP, 1998).

The ICNIRP guidelines were developed to limit human exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF) under conditions of maximum absorption of the fields, which rarely occurs, and the limits incorporate large safety factors to protect workers and even larger safety factors to protect the general public, including children. Thus, the limits in the ICNIRP guidelines are highly protective and are based on all the available scientific evidence.

In 2000 WHO issued a fact sheet (#193) on Mobile Phones and their Base Stations. In the section under "Precautionary measures" it states "Present scientific evidence does not indicate the need for any special precautions for the use of mobile phones. If individuals are concerned, they might choose to limit their own or their children's RF exposure by limiting the length of calls, or by using "hands-free" devices to keep mobile phones away from the head and body."

Not only is the information provided in this WHO fact sheet still valid, but the precautionary measures suggested are still those recommended by the International EMF Project. For further information readers are referred to: http://www.who.int/emf

WHO's International EMF Project does not change its position through media reports, rather policies and recommendations will only be amended in documents published through normal WHO information outlets.