Europeans Tackle Cell Phone Radiation Hazards
TechWeb
Journalist: Andrew Craig
June 22, 1998

Fears about the potential harmful effects of radiation from devices such as cellular phones could be eased — at least in Europe — by a set of new proposals.

A series of proposals intended to limit the exposure of the general public to electromagnetic radiation were released Monday by the European Commission, Europe’s governing body. The proposals define a Europe-wide framework of reference levels for evaluating, assessing radiation levels and correcting any possible dangers.

While devices such as cellular phones, power lines, and electric appliances are of great benefit to users, there are concerns regarding the potential health effects of electromagnetic radiation from these sources, the commission said.

The guidelines are intended to standardize the control of equipment emitting non-ionizing radiation in countries throughout the European Union, said Padraig Flynn, the commission’s employment and social affairs commissioner. This will also help restore public confidence in this type of equipment, he said.

“The absence of requirements or guidelines at EU level in this area are having a negative effect on the attitudes of consumers with regard to equipment emitting non-ionizing radiation,” said Flynn.

The commission said in a statement that it is in the interests of both the general public and industry that there are “appropriate mechanisms in place to ensure that the unquestionable benefits of systems which emit electro-magnetic radiation are not called into question by concerns over the possible health effects.”

A set of regulations like this is badly needed, said Lisa Pierce, director of telecommunication services at Giga Information Group. “There should be some kind of general, objective scientific evidence on which to build rational conclusions,” about the effects of radiation, said Pierce.

But, the cellular phone industry has so far been reluctant to deal head-on with the problem, said Pierce. “The industry needs to come forward and, for everyone’s sake, needs to get it done and objectively,” she said.

The general public’s fear of radiation has had some negative impact on the cellular phone industry, said Pierce. “A number of people will chose not to leave their cell phone on because of this,” she said. “But the impact has not been huge.”