Research into non-ionising radiation

The Interagency Committee on the Health Effects of Non-Ionising Fields monitors research into extremely low frequency electric and magnetic fields, and radiofrequency fields.

This Committee reports to the Director-General of Health. The membership includes representatives from government, industry, academic and consumer groups. The Committee meets every 6 months and considers papers on key research topics, and research reviews published by national and international health bodies. A copy of the terms of reference are found below. At the end of this section there are links to recent reviews considered by the Committee.

The Committee has prepared a report to Ministers to provide them with background information and a current summary of research findings: Interagency Committee on the Health Effects of Non-Ionising Fields: Report to Ministers (published in May 2015).

At its most recent meeting the Committee concluded that there was no new research that would lead it to propose any changes to current Ministry recommendations.

International research

Internationally, a lot of research is being done into the possible health effects of electromagnetic fields. This includes both extremely low frequency fields and radiofrequency fields.

World Health Organization

The World Health Organization (WHO) has a continuing project investigating possible health effects of electromagnetic fields. This includes the low frequency fields from power lines and other electrical equipment and cabling, and radiofrequency fields from radio transmitters.

The WHO published a review of the research on low frequency electric and magnetic fields and health in June 2007. The WHO also prepared a factsheet summarising the findings of the review.

The WHO is currently preparing a review on radiofrequency fields and health.

Research database

The EMF Portal maintained by the University Hospital Department of Aachen University contains a summary of research publications on ELF and RF fields and health, and is updated regularly.

Reviews of the research into radiofrequency fields

There is a variety of ongoing research into the possible health effects of radiofrequency fields.

Many reviews of the research in this area have been published over the past few years. These reviews conclude that, overall, the results show that exposures which comply with current limits do not cause health effects. Nor has any mechanism been established through which such exposures could cause effects. On the other hand, further research is needed in some areas (for example, mobile phone use for more than 15 years) in order to provide greater certainty.

Some recent reviews are listed below. Some of these (such as the Norwegian and Swedish reviews) are shorter and less technical than others (such as the UK Health Protection Agency 2012 review), but the more complex reports include summaries of their findings and conclusions.

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