In the Finnish news media, there is a complete silence (nobody dares to speak?) about the new law introduced in France, limiting the spread of the wi-fi networks (story in the French Le Monde) (for the translation in English, see below).
In fact, the situation in Finland is just the opposite to what is happening in France. In Finland wi-fi is allowed to be spread freely and everywhere, including daycare centers and schools.The justification for this “freedom” are the obsolete safety limits from 1998 (!) that were “reaffirmed” in 2009.
The freedom to spread the wi-fi is scientifically unwise in the situation when the research evidence on the effects of the wi-fi-emitted radiation is extremely limited but, at the same time, the wi-fi radiation is classified as a possible human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).
France dared to take a small step, which is in line with the European Precautionary Principle. In Finland, the situation is entirely different.
Finnish government agency responsible for the radiation safety of Finns, STUK – Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, neglects the issue of children’s’ exposures nearly completely. The only formal statement from STUK, entitled ‘Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority: Children’s mobile phone use should be limited‘, concerning limiting exposures of children to the radio-frequency electromagnetic radiation (RF-EMF), is from the January 2009 (statement in English; statement in Finnish) The statement advises limiting the unnecessary (non-essential) exposures to RF-EMF for children and adults alike. However, this is all what STUK did in the matter. A long time ago released a short statement, “buried deeply” on STUK’s website. The message of this statement is not being actively propagated, people are not being reminded that the potential problem exists, that the science is limited and contradictory, that we should be precautionary.
In fact, the 2009 statement is being used by STUK as an excuse to do nothing anymore. When asking why STUK is not more active in informing Finns about the potential risks of exposing children to RF-EMF, STUK’s answer is for years the same – we did inform about it in January 2009.
At the same time, the use of wireless devices (e.g. tablets) is becoming obligatory in Finnish schools and even daycare centers.
What a hypocrisy by STUK. On the one hand advising limiting unnecessary exposures by children but, on the other hand, allowing an unlimited spread of wi-fi in schools and daycare centers. Schools are places where the internet access for learning can be achieved easily by using the wired access. Learning and knowledge does not become better when kids can run around the classroom with the wireless tablets. But when they keep the tablets on their bellies, even the obsolete 1998 safety limits are being exceeded.
But about the exceeding exposure limits and the limiting of the unnecessary exposures, the hypocritical STUK, says not a word – bad for the “business”?
An English translation of the story in the French Le Monde concerning the new law.
by Pierre Le Hir, Le Monde, Jan 29, 2015
Two years in the works, the law governing public exposure to electromagnetic fields generated by wireless technology (base stations, mobile phones, tablets …) was adopted by the Members of the National Assembly [MNAs], Thursday, January 29 in late morning, when time was set aside in favor of the Greens. It was voted by the whole majority, while the UDI Party abstained – except Bertrand Pancher (Meuse) who voted in favor – and the UMP voted against it, seeing it as a barrier to the development of digital industries.
This law – the first in France to establish a precautionary approach addressing the potential health risks of radio frequencies – is the result of a real obstacle course, during which its initial ambitions were seriously downgraded. The Bill, filed in January 2013 by the MNA for Val-de-Marne Laurence Abeille (Europe Ecologie-Greens) had been referred to committee by the Socialists, before returning to the National Assembly in January 2014, under a watered-down form, and then to be adopted in first reading by the Senate in June 2014, in an even planed release.
Despite these successive setbacks, the environmental group decided to submit the Bill to a vote as is to prevent his return to the Senate where it would have suffered new delays and probably additional knife strokes. Its adoption is thus final and welcomes Mrs Abeille, “the application decrees will be able to be taken without further delay “.
NOT LOWERING THE LIMITS
Finally, the “Law on sobriety, transparency, information and consultation for exposure to electromagnetic waves” appears as a compromise between the supporters of a stricter supervision of the sector and wireless phone operators, opposed to any regulatory obstacle. “This present text does not fully address all the issues, recognizes the Green MNA. However, it is an essential first step. »
The major novelty is the introduction into French law of a principle of “sobriety” of public exposure to electromagnetic fields. As virtuous as it is, this principle, however, remains vague and non-binding. It is thus no longer question of lowering the exposure limits in force, which depending on the frequencies involved, are between 41 and 61 volts per meter (V/m), while the original Bill was aimed to scale them back to “as low as reasonably possible” or 0.6 V/m.
The National Frequency Agency (AFNR) will nevertheless make every year a national census of “atypical points” or “places where the level of public exposure substantially exceeds that generally observed at the national scale”. Operators will have to remedy them within six months, “subject to technical feasibility”.
The average exposure in France is now about 1 V/m, but a study of the Operations Committee on mobile waves (Copic), covering sixteen municipal representative of the French territory and published in 2013, reported some exposure peaks “up to 10 V/m at maximum transmitter power”, even if the levels remained below 0.7 V/m in 90% of cases. The AFNR considers up to now as atypical places where exposure exceeds 6 V/m.
In matters of transparency, the installation of antennas will now be subject to prior notice to mayors and presidents of inter-municipal bodies. And these may in turn – but are not required – to organize a consultation with residents. In addition, a campaign of “awareness and information on the responsible and rational use of mobile devices” will be conducted.
WI-FI PROHIBITED IN DAYCARE CENTERS
A section of the Act is devoted to the protection of babies. Wireless devices will be banned in “the spaces dedicated to the care, resting and activities of children under 3 years”, that is to say, nurseries and daycare centers. However, contrary to the initial desire of environmentalists, Wi-Fi will remain permitted in primary schools. It will however have to be disabled outside “digital educational activities”.
Finally, the often-dramatic situation of people suffering from electro-hypersensitivity receives the first consideration. The government will have to submit a report to Parliament on this issue within a year.
«Anti-wave» associations also prefer to consider the glass half full rather than half empty. “This act, which is the first dedicated to the issue of electromagnetic waves and their impact on the environment and health, marks a first step in the legal recognition of the need to regulate the development of mobile phone communications and all wireless applications, ” says the association for the regulation of mobile phone base stations (Priartem). In its view, “this first legislative effort must be an encouragement to go further in protecting people “.
CALLS FOR CAUTION
This act arrives in a context of accelerated development of sources of electromagnetic fields, in particular with the deployment of very high-speed 4G mobile communications. As of January 1st 2015, ANFR indicates the number of 4G base station sites authorized in France was, for all operators, 18,699 – compared to 12,525 a year earlier – and 15,424 are in service.
If there is no scientific consensus around the potential health risks from radiofrequencies, many studies and opinions have called for caution. In 2011, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified them as “possibly carcinogenic”. And in 2013, the National Agency Health Safety of Food, Environment and Labor (ANSES) recommended to “limit exposure of the population to radio-frequencies – especially from mobile phones – especially for children and heavy users “. It also called for “controlling the overall exposure from base stations”.