This recommendation was adopted at the session on 4 December 2002 on the basis of a report by Alain Croisy and Bertrand Raux.
Assisted by Jean-Michel Maignaud, Committee technical adviser, in accordance with Article R.224-4 of the Consumption Code.
ISSUES THE FOLLOWING OPINION:
Improve consumer information– Train healthcare professionals
On telephone bases:
• In the light of current knowledge, no hazard to public health has been proven;
• The set-up of a mediation body for the installation of base stations is apparently underway upon consumer request (Interministerial Circular of October 16, 2001). Therefore, it would be urgent that this body actually work to seek a balance between the interests of operators to ensure territorial coverage and legitimate resident concerns;
• Independently of the mediation body, preventive information should be disseminated to site residents before base installation. The actual or future facilities should be in strict compliance with the regulations in effect, specifically regulations on safety distances and markings.
Operational electromagnetic fields near residents, even those near the antenna (specifically under the antenna) are much lower (whatever the measurement method used) than the fields emitted by the actual handsets. One can reasonably deduce that the doses that residents actually absorb are much lower even if they receive said doses 24/7. It should be pointed out that throughout France, the GSM ‘contribution’ is 600 times lower (1,200 times lower in Paris) on average than the FM and TV band contribution. Therefore, said contribution cannot be considered as likely to entail deleterious biological effects. Therefore, to reassure consumers:
• Residents living near the antennae should receive accurate information (based on actual in situ measurements) on the levels of the fields generated by the base stations (and possibly by other electromagnetic wave transmitters). The medical and paramedical professions and the elected officials should receive training or detailed and scientifically accurate information so they may usefully serve as relays to the population.
• When the base stations are installed, it should be mandatory for operators to take measurements upon request by residents or the mediation body, so that the above-mentioned informative action is feasible. Later, independent organisations coordinating with local consultation bodies should carry out random controls. The measurements should be based on an identical, reliable and reproducible methodology, such as the ANFR (Agence Nationale de Fréquences, the National Frequencies Agency) measurement protocol.
• It should be the operators’ responsibility through an independent foundation (whose budget items could be funded by all the partners) to contribute to the funding of informative campaigns addressed to consumers and possibly also to studies likely to shed light on any implications of mobile telephony on health.
Pursue research on electromagnetic wave effects
On the pursuit of research on electromagnetic wave effects, the Committee considers that – in addition to the exploratory avenues described by the ZMIROU report and without claim of exhaustiveness – it would be advisable for scientists to undertake the following:
• Fine-tune the measurements and draw up very accurate interpretations of the medical implications of any alterations to BBB permeability;
• Pursue epidemiological cohort studies so as to avoid the bias of ‘case-control’ studies and broaden said studies to include other pathologies and not only cancers.
Use handsets with low SAR, improve territorial coverage, use hands-free kits, limit calls, do not use phone while driving or at service stations
On mobile phones (the handsets) per se:
• Since mobile phone usage has now become a fixture of society and can also be extremely useful in certain circumstances, it would be mistaken to attempt restricting their use in an authoritarian way. Consequently, the authorities should encourage manufacturers to produce cell-phone handsets with very low SAR and operators to improve territorial coverage so that everyone can use the handsets, to maximise risk minimisation.
• When mobile phone is purchased, manufacturers should systematically supply an accessory (such as a hands-free kit) so that the antenna is not close to the sensitive areas of the human body (head, gonads, heart implants, and so on). It should also be mandatory for SAR value to be clearly stated on the handset and in advertising material. It would also be highly desirable for manufacturers to provide the SAR of current mobile phones in operation;
• The public authorities should urge people offering solutions to lower handset-transmitted waves, to submit their products to independent, recognised laboratories, to determine the actual efficiency of their devices.
Pending the technological advances that will minimise transmitted power, the Committee invites consumers, and specifically the children using mobile phones, to restrict the use of the mobile phones to truly useful calls. Parents could have their children use phones that only allow calling a restricted list of pre-recorded numbers. In an individual capacity, users practising the precautionary principle should use whatever means they can – specifically hands-free kits – to keep the antenna far from any sensitive part of the human body (head, gonads, heart implants, and so on).
The Committee reminds consumers that the various miracle solutions purporting to lower electromagnetic wave damage now on the market have not always been the object of a positive assessment by recognised independent organisations. Therefore, said devices give a false sense of security. Consequently, the Committee formally advises against the use of said devices.
The Committee warns consumers of the alarmist messages by people or associations whose findings – due to the non-representative character of their reported samples – cannot claim any scientific character of veracity and reliability. In themselves, said unfounded alarmist messages are likely to generate various pathologies or symptomatologies in highly sensitive people (apprehension, anxiety, sleep disorders, and so on).
Furthermore, the Committee insists on the fact that the main, clearly identified risk factor of mobile telephony to date is still using the telephone (with or without the hands-free kit) while driving a car, a motorcycle or even riding a bike due to the resulting inattention. Said inattention causes inappropriate driving and interferes with user’s reflexes. Consumers must imperatively become aware of this and adjust their behaviour accordingly (an October 2001 INRETS report informs on this problem).
Furthermore, the Committee is prompted to ask people when in contact with highly flammable vapours (solvents, hydrocarbons, and so on) to switch off their mobile phone first. Indeed, the vapours (when filling up with gas at a service station, for instance) may be ignited by the mobile phone (micro-electric spark generated by start-up of the ring or vibrator or by the regular call-backs to the base stations, for instance). In some European countries, this ban is already in effect.
Finally, the Committee can only approve the conclusions and recommendations issued by the Parliamentary Office for Evaluation of Scientific and Technological Options, in its report on the possible incidence of mobile telephony on health , concerning the actions addressed to the population, the information of local elected officials, and the improvements required for relay-antenna sites.
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