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Repacholi: 3000 studies have shown no adverse effects
Oman Created: 3 Feb 2010
MUSCAT -- Allaying fears that radio-frequency (RF) and electromagnetic fields are harmful to human health and environment, the first regional two-day International Conference of Radio-communications on Health and Environment Prospective, concluded with the pre-established finding that 'there is no scientific evidence to date establishing any health or environmental effects from RF exposure.

The conference organised by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs, Ministry of Health, and the Oman Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, at the Grand Hyatt Muscat, was aimed at providing a forum for discussion on the possible health and environmental effects of exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF) and the protection standards, particularly from devices emitting fields in the radio frequency (RF) part of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Representatives of key international organisations including the World Health Organization (WHO), International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), provided advice and recommendations on these issues. There were presentations and discussions on topics which included health and environmental effects of exposure to RF fields from telecommunications devices, standards that limit exposure to workers and the public, and compliance and safety measures.

While the conference was mainly devoted to discussions in the RF part of the spectrum, it was felt appropriate that discussions on various health and environmental issues were applicable to all EMFs. From presentations and discussions the conference was concluded that there is no scientific evidence to date establishing any health or environmental effects from RF exposures below the limits of the current international guidelines.

This includes exposures to the RF fields from mobile phone base stations and all current wireless technologies. It was felt that countries should work closely together and co-operate, possibly through a regional committee, to adopt EMF public health and environmental protection measures that would be similar throughout the region. Harmonisation of EMF standards is a key recommendation of WHO's International EMF Project.

In comments given to the Observer, Professor Michael Repacholi of the Sapienza University of Rome and Chairman Emeritus of ICNIRP, said, the conference offered an opportunity for everyone involved with telecommunications facilities to discuss issues such as health effects, standards, policies, resulting in what turned out to be an excellent discussion. There were many renowned international speakers coming up with conclusions on health matters and suggesting useful policies that could be of benefit to many countries, including Oman, he added.

With regard to the raised concerns over RF and EMF, he pointed out, there have been almost 3,000 studies conducted worldwide to determine whether there are health effects from RF. To-date none of these have established that there any adverse effects below the level set by the international standards. This is indeed a very important message because people want to know how much work is being done, said Repacholi.

With regard to the conference, he said, "It is really good that Oman has taken the lead to bring international leaders together in an atmosphere where you can discuss the issues. There have been many speakers and a lot of discussion.... with representatives from all or most of the Gulf countries." Conference participants supported the following specific recommendations:
Government agencies having responsibility for EMF should strengthen their institutional capacity to effectively deal with all EMF issues, particularly to identify and monitor EMF sources of concern, and to manage the technical support needed to complete projects related to health and environmental protection.

The responsible government agency should use whatever technical support it needs to develop legislated standards for protection of health and the environment against EMF and undertake the necessary steps to enforce compliance with them.

In developing EMF standards this agency should work closely with other national authorities having responsibility for EMF, ideally through the formation of an inter-agency committee assisted by competent scientific and technical experts. In addition, such a committee should consider:
a. Developing standards and policies in a way that is clear and transparent to all stakeholders, including operators and the public
b. Facilitating a "one-stop-shop" for granting permissions for new EMF facilities
c. Having a public review of draft EMF standards and policies that could impact on public health and safety, and the environment
d. Monitoring compliance with regulations and standards and subject them to periodic review and revision as necessary

EMF standards should take into account the exposure limits in the international (ICNIRP) guidelines, guidance on calculation, measurement and compliance (ITU) and the health and safety recommendations of the WHO.

To provide up to date information, there should be a dedicated web site and printed materials, utilising good scientific information already available where possible, relating to health and environmental effects of EMF fields and the compliance status of all EMF installations.

Countries should participate fully in and support the activities of WHO's International EMF Project. This would include attendance at the annual meetings of its International Advisory Committee (IAC), where the latest EMF information is provided, networks with representatives from other national authorities are formed, and inputs to draft WHO reports and documents related to EMF health and environmental effects are discussed.

To increase public awareness of EMF issues, national and international conferences and workshops should be held to allow discussions on various EMF health, regulatory and environmental issues.

When large EMF installations are being considered for approval, possible environmental and health impacts should be assessed before final approval and license is given.

Ensure that RF safety is a component of the initial qualification and recertification of engineers.
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Source: Zawya, 01 Feb 2010

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