Thursday, 25 April 2019

Strict emission limits in Belgium aimed at mobiles could stop digital radio

Digital radioNew regulations in Belgium which lower public exposure limits to the radio frequency emissions from mobile phone base stations by 200 times could also stop digital audio broadcasting (DAB) in the country.


A study conducted for the Brussels Institute of Environmental Management, has found the regulations cover “pulsed” radio waves and therefore include digital radio services, not just mobile phone base stations.

The arbitrarily stricter regulations were recommended by the Superior Health Council (CSS) as an application of the precautionary principle to take into account any uncertainties related to the radiation emitted by base stations in 2007.


The exposure limits were introduced in 2009 and are much lower than the international safety guidelines used throughout Europe and recommended by the EU and World Health Organization.


In response to several questions put to Mrs Evelyne Huytebroeck, the Brussels Region Minister for Environment, Energy and Urban Renewal in Parliament, she commissioned a study to identify when electromagnetic waves should be described as pulsed or, not pulsed.


The regulations were aimed at mobile phone base stations and the regulations did not apply it to installations which did not emit pulsed radio waves. However, mobile phone operators warned the Government at the time that other services also belong to this category and there was no scientific basis for the laws.


According to Minister Huytebroeck, the legislator chose to include pulsed waves “due to the fact that pulsed waves are presumed to have a greater impact on health” rather than target mobile phone technologies.


The study confirmed analogue radio and digital television are not pulsed, but digital radio is without a doubt pulsed and would be unlikely to meet the strict limits.


It also found that analogue TV signals are regarded as pulsed due to their synchronisation pulses and these have been around for about 50 years.


Furthermore, the study also concluded that, while the radiation of the 2G and 4G (LTE) mobile phone networks are considered pulsed, the regulations do not apply to 3G technologies (UMTS/HSDPA) because they do not emit pulsed radio waves.


Consequently the mobile phone operators in Belgium have asked for the Minister to justify why the regulations unfairly and inconsistently target mobile phone technologies.


AMTA Chief Executive Officer, Chris Althaus, said: “The 3 V/m limit is more than 200 times more restrictive than the recommendations of the World Health Organization and therefore it is not based on science-based rationale.”


“Such measures provide no additional health protection for the community and will only serve to increase the level of concern. Reducing limits is interpreted by the public as evidence there is something to be concerned about regarding the safety of base stations.”


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