In May 1996, in response to growing public concern in several Member States over possible health effects from exposure to an ever-increasing number and diversity of EMF sources, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched an international project to assess the health and environmental effects of exposure to electric and magnetic fields, which became known as the International EMF Project. An International Advisory Committee (IAC), consisting of representatives of international organizations, independent scientific institutions and national governments provides oversight for this project.
The International EMF Project brings together current knowledge and available resources of key international and national agencies and scientific institutions in order to develop scientifically-sound recommendations for health risk assessments of exposure to static and time varying electric and magnetic fields in the frequency range 0-300 GHz.
This Project has been devised to provide authoritative and independent peer-review of the scientific literature. Since its inception, the objectives of the EMF Project have been to:
- review the scientific literature on biological effects of EMF exposure;
- identify gaps in knowledge requiring research that will improve health risk assessments;
- encourage a focused agenda of high quality EMF research;
- formally assess health risks of EMF exposure, encourage internationally acceptable harmonized standards;
- provide information on risk perception, risk communication, risk management;
- advise national programs and non-governmental institutions on policies for dealing with the EMF issues.
The IAC meets once a year to discuss national activities, current research programmes, legislation and public concern, and advises the International EMF Project on its activities. The next IAC annual meeting is tentatively scheduled for 10-11 June 2009 at WHO in Switzerland. The original plan, to which the program has closely adhered, anticipated that all the health risk assessment activities under the IAC’s direction would be completed and published by the end of 2008, after which the WHO will continue to monitor new developments.