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SAMENA calls for coordinated research on RF health hazards

Regional telecoms council says there is need for global effort to understand and regulate possible risks of wireless

Concerns about the health risks of long term exposure to RF frequencies is mainly due to anecdotal evidence or isolated research.
Concerns about the health risks of long term exposure to RF frequencies is mainly due to anecdotal evidence or isolated research.

The South Asia, Middle East, North Africa Region's SAMENA Telecommunications Council (SAMENA) is calling for more coordinated research on the possible health hazards of exposure to Radio Frequency (RF) from telecommunications equipment.

The council has warned that as mobile networks are expanded, there is a greater density and greater number of people that are exposed to RF energy, although most concerns about the possible dangers of RF are based on anecdotal information or uncoordinated research.

Bocar A Ba, CEO of Samena Telecommunications Council commented: "While there are recommendations from WHO on existing exposure limit guidelines, discrepancies in RF exposure standards and adopted RF exposure policies continue to exist. To address this issue, we recommend a comprehensive research based three-step process for addressing the RF issue through a deeper and more conclusive monitoring of the effects of RF exposure to set uniform exposure level norms across the region. To initiate this, we urge all stakeholders to collaboratively initiate an investigation via further cooperation with the GSMA and the Mobile Manufacturers Forum (MMF) as global trade associations with particular experience of addressing the RF issue for the greater benefit of the telecom industry, the consumers, and the environment of this region."

SAMENA is calling for a three-step approach of evaluation of safe limits, standardization of those limits in line with forthcoming World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations and global compliance.

The council is suggestion investigation of human RF exposure through extensive research and by evaluating existing expert reviews by independent public health agencies to be able to address stakeholders' concerns; advocacy for the adoption of science‐based and harmonized policies, standards, and regulations based on WHO recommendations and ensuring compliance of RF networks and devices with exposure requirements.

Current concern about the risks of RF has been driven by anecdotal exchange of information, linking telecommunications exposure to health issues. Such concerns, it added, might also be attributed to differences in science-based standards that govern RF exposure as well as health concepts and traditions, which may differ from region to region.

Sherif Issa, Head of Health and Environment department in Mobinil and GSMA's Health Policy Group Deputy Chair said: "I was delighted to participate in developing such a rich, yet brief and straightforward document from the SAMENA Council. Just what we need in our busy world. By addressing key RF issues and providing the essential numbers in a nutshell, this document stands as an excellent guide for anyone working in the mobile industry, focus groups and the general public."

While there is no coordinated response, a number of regulatory authorities in the region have already drawn attention to the issue, including the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) Pakistan and Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRA) in Bahrain.