Observations on Limiting Exposure

The National Radiation Protection Board published a study and conclusions in a 2004 document titled Advice on Limiting Exposure to Electromagnetic Fields (0-300 GHz).  They recommended the adoption of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) for limiting exposures to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) between 0 and 300 GHz.  The Board quite rightly recognised the need to be cautious in the ‘interpretation of scientific knowledge’, perhaps understanding that since there was a lack of consistent proof of the safety of EMF, this could raise questions over whether they could be harmful.

Although the Board adopted the ICNIRP exposure guidelines, their opening statement drew attention to the need for a cautious approach to the data.  They decided that restrictions on exposure in the general public should be more rigorous than for workers and drew attention to the potential for greater sensitivity in

  • Children
  • Those on medication
  • The elderly

The Board recognised that research was ongoing and stated that guidelines to limiting exposure to EMF should be kept under review.  This precautionary methodology, whilst laudable, does raise a number of questions.

Why was a technology used (microwave in mobile phones, for example) which was not proven to be safe?  It could be argued that many technologies that we use today are not safe, diesel car engines are an excellent example.  However, where a technology is long established (such as diesel) then it is very difficult to turn that technology around, or use a different one; just see how long it is taking for electric cars to come onto the market.  EMF, especially when used in mobile cell phones, is a new technology however.  Why was this technology not tested with greater rigour before people were allowed to be exposed to it?

Point 5 of the document observes that although there is no firm evidence of 

© Sounding Good Ltd 2019