The precautionary approach gains ground - a round-up

A roundup of news and research suggesting that the precautionary approach to electromagnetic radiation is finally gaining ground. Based on research reports located by John SCott and courtesy of ES-UK.

Wifi in schools

A new website – – has been set up by a small group of scientists concerned about the rapid spread of wireless technologies in schools.
They are, they say, fully supportive of the use of computers in schools and wish schools to be able to provide excellent information and communication technology facilities, but not at the expense of the health of pupils and staff.
They are concerned by the lack of information that schools and parents have been given about the potential risks from this technology and that schools have not been advised about the need to have policies in place to protect pupils and staff who may suffer adverse health effects.
They therefore support the application of the precautionary principle until better long-term health studies have been carried out.
The website provides information about the science, about international concerns and about the precautionary approach that some people are now taking with regard to these technologies to enable parents and schools to make more informed decisions about which technologies schools should be choosing for children and teenagers to use.

European Parliament
Environment and Health Action Plan 2004-2010

In its mid-term review the European Parliament adopted, by 522 votes to 16, with seven abstentions, a resolution incorporating the following good intentions:

• The Parliament declares that the EU needs to acquire specific expertise on environmental health, to be based on transparency and on a multidisciplinary and adversarial approach which would thus enable the general public's distrust of official agencies and committees of experts to be countered....

• Although there have been genuine advances in environmental policy in recent years.... EU policy still lacks a comprehensive preventive strategy and fails to apply the precautionary principle.

• The Parliament stresses that, when it comes to assessing the impact of environmental factors on health, consideration should be given first and foremost to vulnerable groups such as pregnant women, newborn babies, children and the elderly. Those who are the most susceptible to pollutants should be protected by specific measures to reduce exposure to indoor environmental contaminants in healthcare facilities and schools.

• The Parliament calls on the Commission to draft appropriate minimum requirements to guarantee the quality of indoor air in buildings to be newly built bearing in mind the quality of indoor air, exposure to electromagnetic radiation and the health of particularly vulnerable sections of the population. It also calls for environmental quality standards for priority substances in water to be laid down.

• The Parliament is concerned about the lack of specific legal provisions to ensure the safety of consumer products containing nanoparticles being put on the market.

• And the Parliament is greatly concerned at the Bio-Initiative
international report on electro- magnetic fields (, which highlights the health risks posed by emissions from mobile-telephony devices such as mobile telephones, UMTS, Wifi, Wimax and Bluetooth, and also DECT landline telephones. It notes, in this respect, that the limits on exposure to electromagnetic fields which have been set for the general public are obsolete. They do not take account of developments in information and communication technologies or vulnerable groups, such as pregnant women, newborn babies and children. It therefore calls on the Council to set stricter exposure limits for all equipment which emits electromagnetic waves in the frequencies between 0.1 MHz and 300 GHz.
Click here for the full report.

Meanwhile in France...

New laws, the strictest so far in Europe, are to ban all advertising of mobile phones to children under 12 and the sale of any phone designed to be used by those under six.
The French government will also introduce new limits for radiation from the phones and make it compulsory for handsets to be sold with earphones, so that users can avoid irradiating their heads and brains. And one of the country's largest cities last month started an advertising campaign to discourage the use of the phones by children.
Click here for the full report.

And the famous French National Library (BNF) has just cancelled a
contract to install Wifi for its users in favour of wired connection so as to avoid the exposure of its staff and of all visitors to electromagnetic fields. Click here for the full report.

And in Germany...

Germany's official radiation protection body has said that people should avoid using Wifi wherever possible because of the risks it may pose to health, and use landlines instead of mobile phones. It also warns of ‘electrosmog’ from other everyday products from baby monitors to electric blankets.
The Environment Ministry recommended that people should keep their exposure to radiation from Wifi ‘as low as possible’ by choosing ‘conventional wired connections because people receive exposures from many sources and it is a new technology and all the research into its health effects has not yet been carried out’.
The ministry added that it is ‘actively informing people about possibilities for reducing personal exposure.’
Click here for the full report.

Click here for more articles on computers and wifi

First Published in 2009

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