Plans for review of phone masts

The article below suggests progress - of sorts - toward the recognition of a health problem.

Best, Imelda, Cork


Plans for review of phone masts

Martin Wall

The Government is to consider plans for a new committee to examine the safety implications of electromagnetic fields generated by sources such as mobile-phone masts and power lines.

Minister for Communications Noel Dempsey is to bring proposals to Cabinet this week for the establishment of a new inter-departmental group that will look at the effects on health of electromagnetic fields.

The move follows a report by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Marine and Natural Resources in June which recommended stronger links between Government departments in this area and the establishment of a new independent board to review, from an Irish perspective, all published data.

The current official position of the Department of Health is that "the consensus of scientific literature to date regarding possible adverse health effects from exposure to electromagnetic fields from facilities such as power lines, mobile phones and their base stations is that there is no evidence of a causal relationship between such exposure and ill health".

However, in his preface to the report last June, the chairman of the Oireachtas committee, Noel O'Flynn, said that there were people who suffered ill effects from using mobile phone handsets or because they lived beside a mast.

He said the members of the Oireachtas committee had "ample experience of meeting with and talking to those who were suffering".

Mr O'Flynn said last night he welcomed the Minister's plans to bring proposals to Cabinet.

He said he believed the committee's report had been received very favourably by the department. He was happy the committee had brought "added value" to the process.

Mr O'Flynn said from presentations made to the committee over recent months there appeared to be no co-ordination between the various Government departments - health, communications and environment - that have responsibilities in this area.

He said the committee also believed it was important the country should not have to rely on an international assessment of scientific literature in this area, and there should be an independent board that would carry out this task from an Irish perspective.

The committee, in its report in June, also called for the establishment of a standing advisory committee to scrutinise and agree standards for the mobile telephony industry.

© The Irish Times


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September 2005

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