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Brussels, 6 Augusts 2001

Safer mobile phones: European Commission publishes new safety standard on electromagnetic fields

The European Commission tackles GSM safety concerns: a new electromagnetic safety standard(1) provides for manufacturers to comply with strict limits. Mobile phones manufactured to this standard, defined by the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC), will not expose users to excessive electromagnetic waves. The new standard will apply to mobile phones marketed within the European Union. These limits, set out by the Council of Ministers (2), are based on values proposed by the International Committee on non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). They will be reviewed later this year.

Phones manufactured to this standard will conform to the Radio and Telecommunication Terminal Equipment Directive (1999/5/EC). The standard was established thanks to new measurement methods based on "dummy heads" filled with test devices ("phantom heads"). New test methods are laid down in the basic standard(3) measuring absorption rate for human exposure to electromagnetic fields. The new safety standard refers to the basic standard, and goes beyond it in fixing limits to electromagnetic exposure.

Mobile phone producers are co-operating in defining safety standards and in applying them. The Mobile Manufacturers Forum has undertaken to publish the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) values of their phones. The basic standard makes these values comparable, and a recent report for the European Parliament (4)says that on average, they are currently about 50% below those recommended by the Council.

Further standards to be adopted by the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC) will cover other product types, such as GSM base stations or antennas, anti-theft ports (used in shops) and low power radio devices.

For further information:

(1) EN 50360: product standard to demonstrate the compliance of mobile phones with the basic restrictions related to human exposure to electromagnetic fields (300 MHz - 3 GHz). OJ C 208, 26.07.2001

(2) Recommendation of 12 July 1999 on the limitation of exposure of the general public to electromagnetic fields (0 Hz to 300 GHz)

(3) EN 50361:basic standard for the measurement of Specific Absorption Rate related to human exposure to electromagnetic fields from mobile phones (300 MHz - 3 GHz)

(4)4 European Parliament, Directorate General for Research - Directorate A STOA - Scientific and Technological Options Assessment Briefing Note N° 05/2001 PE nr. 397.563, February 2001, Electromagnetic fields and health

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