There is no clarity on whether mobile phones and networks pose health risks, but if the report of the Council of Europe is to be believed, mobile phones have “potentially harmful” effects on humans.
The council has warned of “extremely high human and economic costs of inaction if early warnings are neglected”. Although it has not been able to pin point the ill effects, it has claimed that the move is needed in view of “the precautionary principle should be applicable when scientific evaluation does not allow the risk to be determined with sufficient certainty.”
The council has also recommended that the threshold values of emissions of electromagnetic fields of all types and frequencies should meet the ALARA or “As Low As Reasonably Achievable” (which is the amount of radiation prescribed for medical treatments that use electromagnetic radiation).
The committee said it is crucial to avoid repeating the mistakes made when public health officials were slow to recognise the dangers of asbestos, tobacco smoking and lead in petrol.
This report contradicts earlier reports of World Health Organisation and some other prominent agencies, which said that there is no proof of mobile phones adversely affecting humans.
The Council of Europe, which is a consortium of 47 European states, cannot impose its will on governments but is highly influential in policy-making and has often seen its decisions enacted through conventions and treaties.
A draft resolution — calling on governments to “take all reasonable measures to reduce exposure to electromagnetic fields” from mobile phones and similar devices, including the ban in schools — was adopted unanimously by the organisation’s Committee of Environment, Agriculture and Local and Regional Affairs.
The committee is composed of 84 MPs and politicians from member states. Its members reviewed the latest research on the effects of electromagnetic fields and took fresh evidence from experts before reaching its conclusions.
The draft resolution will now go before the council’s full Parliamentary Assembly for approval.