The Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) has updated the previous opinion on ”Possible effects of Electromagnetic Fields (EMF), Radio Frequency Fields (RF) and Microwave Radiation on human health” by the Scientific Committee on Toxicity, Ecotoxicity and the Environment (CSTEE) from 2001, with respect to whether or not exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF) is a cause of disease or other health effects. The opinion is primarily based on scientific articles, published in English language peer-reviewed scientific journals. Only studies that are considered relevant for the task are cited and commented upon in the opinion. The opinion is divided into frequency (f) bands, namely: radio frequency (RF) (100 kHz < f ≤ 300 GHz), intermediate frequency (IF) (300 Hz < f ≤ 100 kHz), extremely low frequency (ELF) (0< f ≤ 300 Hz), and static (0 Hz) (only static magnetic fields are considered in this opinion). There is a separate section for environmental effects.
Radio Frequency Fields (RF fields)
Since the adoption of the 2001 opinion extensive research has been conducted regarding possible health effects of exposure to low intensity RF fields, including epidemiologic, in vivo, and in vitro research. In conclusion, no health effect has been consistently demonstrated at exposure levels below the limits of ICNIRP (International Committee on Non Ionising Radiation Protection) established in 1998. However, the data base for evaluation remains limited especially for long-term low-level exposure.
Intermediate Frequency Fields (IF fields)
Experimental and epidemiological data from the IF range are very sparse. Therefore, assessment of acute health risks in the IF range is currently based on known hazards at lower frequencies and higher frequencies. Proper evaluation and assessment of possible health effects from long-term exposure to IF fields are important because human exposure to such fields is increasing due to new and emerging technologies.
Extremely low frequency fields (ELF fields)
The previous conclusion that ELF magnetic fields are possibly carcinogenic, chiefly based on occurrence of childhood leukaemia, is still valid. For breast cancer and cardiovascular disease, recent research has indicated that an association is unlikely. For neurodegenerative diseases and brain tumours, the link to ELF fields remains uncertain. No consistent relationship between ELF fields and self-reported symptoms (sometimes referred to as electrical hypersensitivity) has been demonstrated.
Adequate data for proper risk assessment of static magnetic fields are very sparse. Developments of technologies involving static magnetic fields, e.g. with MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) equipment require risk assessments to be made in relation to occupational exposure.
There are insufficient data to identify whether a single exposure standard is appropriate to protect all environmental species from EMF. Similarly the data are inadequate to judge whether the environmental standards should be the same or significantly different from those appropriate to protect human health.