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Electrosmog goes under Swiss microscope

Transmission masts have prompted health fears Keystone

The effects of electromagnetic pollution on people’s health and the environment will be the focus of a new scientific research programme.

This content was published on March 11, 2005 - 11:13

The government announced that it would grant SFr5 million ($4.33 million) for the four-year project, which hopes to answer some of the questions raised by consumers.

"The launch [of this project] responds to the wishes expressed by several parliamentary interventions and also to the cantons’ heightened interest in the matter," said the interior ministry in a statement on Friday.

It added that research would concentrate on the effects of non-ionising radiation on humans and their surroundings.

Non-ionising radiation is emitted from mobile phones and transmission masts. Whether this "electrosmog" is harmful to people’s health is still being debated by specialists the world over.

Research has so far proved inconclusive, although some results have suggested a possible risk.

Danger?

The ministry said that scientists would study the emissions - at various strengths and from different sources - to find out if they were a danger to humans.

It added that research would include epidemiological and cellular biology studies, as well as work on risk management and communication.

The Swiss National Science Foundation is currently drawing up a research plan and calling for proposals.

Attempts by Swiss mobile phone operators to put up new masts in preparation for new third-generation technology last autumn sparked a public outcry last year.

Questions have also been raised over mobile phones in Switzerland. The Federal Health Office has recommended that the public limit their usage.

There are an estimated six million mobile phone users in Switzerland.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

The Swiss National Science Foundation, which operates independently, is the central player in publicly funded research.

The government only decides on the general focus of research topics and the total amount of funding.

The foundation attempts to provide solutions to problems of social and national significance.

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