Mobile Phones And Exposure To EMF: Stay Tuned For More Information, Soon

Author:Mr Christian Di Mauro and Vincenzo Donadio
Profession:Hogan Lovells
 
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Ongoing discussion has been rekindled in Italy over the potential risks of exposure to electromagnetic fields ("EMF").

In a decision handed down on 15 January 2019, the Regional Administrative Court of Lazio ("TAR Lazio") ordered the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education, Universities and Research (the "Ministries") to launch a campaign providing information to the public on "any short or longterm health risks due to the use of mobile phones".

The facts

Before the order by tar lazio, the ministries had previously been sued by a citizens group, the association for the prevention of and fight against electrosmog ("a.P.P.L.E"). This group describes itself as "promoting protection of health and integrity of human beings and environment from the exposure to electromagnetic fields."

A.P.P.L.E's action was based on the provisions of law no. 36/2001 (The "law"). This sets out the basic principles for protecting workers and members of the general public from the effects of overexposure to electric, magnetic and electromagnetic fields. It also covers the promotion of research into potential effects of exposure, and environmental and landscape protection via the promotion of emf-minimising technology.

Referring to article 10 of the law in particular, the claimant argued that the ministries should have promoted information and environmental education campaigns. Their inactivity in that respect was unjustified, according to the claimant.

To support its claim and highlight the need for education campaigns, a.P.P.L.E filed some scientific studies in court. These, it claimed, showed that use of mobile and cordless phones could have harmful effects on human health due to exposure to emfs, especially for children whose psychophysical development may be negatively affected by these fields.

The decision

Tar lazio's decision acknowledged the existence of a note issued by the ministry of health1 in 2012, in response to a previous request submitted by a.P.P.L.E. The note informed a.P.P.L.E that an information campaign was being prepared by the ministry of health, and specified that

The issue of possible health risks arising from the use of mobile phones was already under its scrutiny, particularly following the classification - by the international agency for cancer research - of electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans (category 2b) and In 2011, the higher health council (consiglio superiore di sanità)...

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