Final opinion on
Potential health effects of exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF)
As part of its mandate, the SCENIHR is asked to continuously monitor new scientific evidence that may influence the assessment of risks to human health in the area of electromagnetic fields (EMF) and to provide regular updates to the Commission.
The purpose of this Opinion is to update the SCENIHR Opinions of 2009 in light of newly available information and to give special consideration to areas where important knowledge gaps were identified in the previous Opinions. In addition, biophysical interaction mechanisms and the potential role of co-exposures to environmental stressors have been addressed
A public consultation on this Opinion was opened on the website of the Scientific Committees from 4 February to 16 April 2014. A public hearing was also held in Athens, on 27 March 2014. 57 organisations and individuals participated in the public consultation providing 186 comments to different chapters and section of the Opinion.
Each submission was carefully considered by the SCENIHR and the scientific Opinion has been revised to take account of relevant comments. The cut-off date for the literature review was extended to include relevant scientific papers published up through June 2014. The scientific rationale and the Opinion section were clarified and strengthened and a new chapter on interaction mechanisms was added.
Content of the opinion:
The results of current scientific research show that there are no evident adverse health effects if exposure remains below the levels recommended by the EU legislation. Overall, the epidemiological studies on radiofrequency EMF exposure do not show an increased risk of brain tumours. Furthermore, they do not indicate an increased risk for other cancers of the head and neck region.
Previous studies also suggested an association of EMF with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. New studies on that subject did not confirm this link.
Epidemiological studies associate exposure to Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) fields, from long-term living in close proximity to power lines to a higher rate of childhood leukaemia. No mechanisms have been identified and no support from experimental studies could explain these findings, which, together with shortcomings of the epidemiological studies prevent a causal interpretation.
Concerning EMF hypersensitivity (idiopathic environmental intolerance attributed to EMF), research consistently shows that there is no causal link between self-reported symptoms and EMF exposure.