Since the onset of creation, EMFs have always existed as the sun rays/waves created radiation. As technological advancement developed, telecommunication devices were found to release a substantial amount of EMF into the environment in the 20th century; however, the level of radiation exposure was less of a concern to the average human’s health.
Today, virtually all smart devices like cellphones, microwave ovens, Wi-Fi routers, and even laptops continually send an invisible layer of Electromagnetic Field radiation to the environment and, most importantly, the users.
In Europe, over 400 million or almost 86% of residents own one or more smart devices and continually spend 50% of their time near them. This constant attention to these gadgets presents possible health risks to the users; hence the European Union has sought ways to protect people from the hazardous level of Electromagnetic radiation by curating laws that limit radiation exposure to the environment.
What are EMF regulations in Europe?
Electromagnetic Field regulations are directives made by the European Union to protect people and the environment from the risks of hazardous radiation.
Before these regulations are enacted for compliance, radiation monitoring is performed by either a national or international radiation monitoring body. Radiation monitoring involves measuring the external radiation dose rate of the environment or objects that emit a certain level of radiation. The results are then assessed following the possible effect of such a level of radiation that can impact the average human health, and the interpretation determines the regulatory laws.
The government then assigns the concerned organization through statutory laws to draft laws that will help keep the radiation level at minimal, preserving human life.
EMF regulations and regulatory agencies in Europe
The European Union (EU) passed the Directive 2013/35/EU of the European Parliament and the council on June 26, 2013, to tackle EMF exposure and was published in the official journal on June 29, 2013.
The directive covered the minimum health and safety requirements regarding the occupational risk of being exposed to Electromagnetic fields. It was put in place to replace the 2004 Electromagnetic directive that was tagged unworkable and was never implemented into action.
The guidelines and regulations are strongly related to the principles of ICNIRP 2010, the International Commission on Non-ionizing Radiation Protection guidelines on power frequencies. In comparison to the ICNIRP 2010, the directive has an internal quantity or Exposure Limit Value (ELV) equal to the ICNIRP’s basic restriction and its external field or actions levels are equal to the ICNIRP’s reference level.
This directive has formed a reference point for other EU countries and is either enforced directly into their law or incorporated with their countries’ existing laws.
The directive implementation in other EU countries
As directed, the EU directive does not apply to some EU countries directly as each country has to implement it into their legal framework or law concerning radiation regulation.
The 2016-1074 French decree is centered on the rules and recommendations that ensure occupational safety concerning the exposure to Electromagnetic Fields (EMF). It was published in August 2016 and enforced in January 2017, and its guidelines were transcriptions of the European 2013/35/EU.
The decree particularly enforces this guideline on employers and employees who are possibly exposed to or affected by EMF. In the decree, there are specific rules and mandatory evaluations that must be performed and followed by employers and employees.
As regards medical radiation, the decree tackles medical researchers and clinical units using the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanner as the equipment is capable of creating high energy EMF that will inadvertently expose technicians and operators to an exposure limit above the what the directive and decree define.
Ireland- “S.I. No. 337/2016 – Safety, Health, and Welfare at Work (Electromagnetic Fields) Regulations 2016.”
Ireland’s Saftey, Health and Welfare at Work (Electromagnetic Fields) regulations 2016 were enforced by Mary Mitchell O’Connor, The Minister for Jobs Enterprise and Innovation. The regulations were a result of incorporating the Directive 2013/35/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of June 26, 2013, into the Safety, Health and Work Act 2005.
The regulations apply to activities in which employees are or are likely to be exposed to risks and health issues arising from the exposure to Electromagnetic Fields during their work. They also cover all the known direct and indirect biophysical effects caused by electromagnetic fields.
Northern Ireland- CEMFAW regulations (Northern Ireland)
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Northern Ireland operates similarly to the HSE UK as they both use the guidelines of the EU directives 2013 and the CEMFAW regulations ( however, there is a slight difference in the set of rules in Northern Ireland’s guidelines).
As expected, the CEMFAW regulations provide information to employers, employers, and the appropriate exposure limits; it came into operation on August 1, 2016.
The guidelines to assess, monitor, and ensure that the employee’s exposure limits as directed by the regulations. They should also devise plans to bring the limit to normalcy if it exceeds the regulation’s limit and provide health surveillance and medical examination when necessary.
Schedule 1 of the CEMFAW regulations (Northern Ireland) enforced limits, explained EMF, and provide in detail the safety conditions that should be adhered to.
The Control of Electromagnetic Fields at Work Regulations 2016 was made on May 17, 2016, laid before the Parliament on May 23, 2016, and came into force on July 1, 2016. The directive covers the minimum health and safety requirements regarding workers’ exposure to the risks arising from EMFs.
It also entails a derogation section for activities related to the installation, use, testing, maintenance, and development of research relates to the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machines for patients in hospitals while paying attention to the exposure limit values that must be obeyed in certain conditions.
The directive is majorly useful to employers and employees and their responsibility to health and safety concerning radiation and exposure limits. Therein, employers are directed to relay the level of EMF their employees will be subjected to, assess the level of the employee’s exposure limit value, and take appropriate actions if the ELV is higher than the required number (or the figures as stated in the regulation.)
It also contains a schedule that introduces the exposure limits and explains the effect of hazardous EMFs while providing in detail the safety condition that should be met. The regulation also contains an exemption that allows certain individuals to go above the exposure limit and also allows the sensory effect of the ELV to be exceeded as long as certain conditions are met.