• 18 JUL 07
    • 0

    #764: WHO recommend precautionary approach for ELF for the first time

    News flash from Powerwatch:



    For the first time on this issue, WHO have recommended that a precautionary approach should be adopted with regards to ELF EMFs. Following on the findings of the Draper report (June 2005) and the recommendations in the SAGE report (April 2007), this is a very important step for enabling sensible legislation to be put in place in the UK and Europe.

    “It is essential that exposure limits be implemented in order to protect against the established adverse effects of exposure to ELF electric and magnetic fields. These exposure limits should be based on a thorough examination of all the relevant scientific evidence.”“Only the acute effects have been established and there are two international exposure limit guidelines (ICNIRP, 1998a; IEEE, 2002) designed to protect against these effects.”

    “As well as these established acute effects, there are uncertainties about the existence of chronic effects, because of the limited evidence for a link between exposure to ELF magnetic fields and childhood leukaemia.”

    “Therefore the use of precautionary approaches is warranted. However, it is not recommended that the limit values in exposure guidelines be reduced to some arbitrary level in the name of precaution. Such practice undermines the scientific foundation on which the limits are based and is likely to be an expensive and not necessarily effective way of providing protection.”

    Section 1.1.12 – Protective Measures, from “Extremely Low Frequency Fields Environmental Health Criteria Monograph No.238”
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    The bolded section highlights a clear change of stance, towards an acceptance that the possibility of increased risk is great enough to warrant precaution. The second sentence very sensibly pointing out that to adopt a precautionary principle would require a fixed exposure level with supported evidence to be appropriate. However, with Ahlbom’s meta-analysis and the Draper report, coupled with the summaries of the SAGE report from this year, it seems quite justified to propose that a power frequency magnetic field level of 0.4 µT is well enough supported by the data to be adopted in this country.A good overview on the scientific evidence there is can be found at the Wikipedia entry for Electric Power Transmission.

    Interestingly, following this announcement, there is a groundbreaking announcement to be made publicly by a cross-party parliamentary working group regarding houses and proximity to powerlines. We will run with a new story on this first thing tomorrow morning.

    Alasdair Philips

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