Tuesday, 28 June 2011
Department of Environment, Community and Local Government
Catherine Murphy (Kildare North, Independent)
Question 346: To ask the Minister for the Environment; Community and Local Government the measures he will take to reduce the impact of electromagnetic sensitivity which is estimated to impact on half the worldâ€™s population by 2017; if indemnities will be required from the communications industry; if he is in dialogue with the Department of Health on this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15718/11]
Phil Hogan (Minister, Department of Environment, Community and Local Government; Carlow-Kilkenny, Fine Gael)
The issue of potential health effects of electromagnetic fields was the subject of an Expert Group Report published by Government in March 2007 entitled Health Effects of Electromagnetic Fields. This report is available for download on my Departmentâ€™s website (www.environ.ie/en/publications).
The Expert Group examined a wide range of issues in relation to the potential health effects of electromagnetic fields, including the issue of electromagnetic hypersensitivity. It answers many of the health risk questions raised by the public in relation to the potential effects of electromagnetic fields. The Report and its recommendations were accepted by the Government and form the basis for current policy in this area.
The Report advised that majority scientific opinion to date was that a causal link between the symptoms of electromagnetic hypersensitivity and exposure to electromagnetic fields at levels below the limits recommended by the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) has not been demonstrated. However, a minority group of scientists believe otherwise and extensive international research continues to be coordinated through bodies such as the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The Departmentâ€™s current advice to those living in close proximity to mobile phone masts, based on the conclusions of the Expert Group Report, is that there is no causal link between symptoms of electromagnetic hypersensitivity and exposure to electromagnetic fields at levels below the limits recommended by the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) which are in force here. This applies irrespective of the location of the phone mast.
The Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg), the licensing authority for the telecommunications industry, commissions audit reports to verify that its licensed operators are in compliance with their licence conditions relating to emission limits for non-ionising radiation. The detailed measurement results from over 700 transmitter sites surveyed to date have so far shown total compliance. Recorded levels of radio frequency signals are typically measured as being within the range of 0.002% to 2% of the safe exposure levels set by the ICNIRP guidelines. This is lower or comparable to radio frequency exposures from radio and television broadcasts. The location of licensed telecommunications antennae and the results of individual site survey reports can be found on ComRegâ€™s website: http://www.askcomreg.ie/mobile/siteviewer.273.LE.asp.