Environmental organisations in Switzerland have called for a massive reduction in permitted levels of electrosmog from mobile telephone antennae. The call comes a week before third generation mobile phone licences are due to come up for auction.
At a news conference on Monday in Bern, the organisations said radiation levels from antennae should be reduced to a tenth of the current permitted level of six volts per metre.
The groups represented include: Doctors for the Environment, the Swiss Energy Foundation, Pro Natura, the Swiss Foundation for the Protection and Planning of the Countryside, and the Swiss National Heritage League.
They are demanding swift action ahead of next Monday's auction of four Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) licences.
Similar opposition to antennae in the Austrian city of Salzburg led to reductions in permitted levels of radiation to 0.6 volts per metre.
The director of the Swiss Energy Foundation, Armin Braunwalder, believes the UMTS system will need an additional 4,000 to 12,000 antennae in Switzerland. "This is fraught with problems for protecting the countryside and health," he said.
"It's not a question of stopping mobile telecommunications but reducing the resulting electrosmog," he added.
Another demand is for one per cent of the proceeds of the UMTS auction to be spent on researching the effects of electrosmog, and to pay for more staff at the Federal Agency for the Environment, Forests and Landscape to carry out strict controls.
The president of Doctors for the Environment, Dr Bernhard Aufdereggen, said electrosensitivity was a reality. "Until results of research are absolutely certain, the fears of people concerned, as well as the effects of electrosensitivity, should be taken seriously."
He said people who were susceptible to electrosensitivity complained of sleeplessness, pains in the limbs, buzzing in the ears and headaches.
An adviser to the authorities in Salzburg, Dr Gerd Oberfeld, said it was becomingly increasingly clear that high frequency electromagnetic fields had negative effects on health.
He called for immediate methodological research on how base stations, cordless phones and other sources of high frequency fields affected human health.
"How should society react to the introduction of the third general of mobile telephones when the effects on health of the first two generations are not yet known?" he asked.