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EU to postpone and amend legislation on electromagnetic fields
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11:54, October 27, 2007

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The European Commission on Friday proposed to postpone for four years the deadline for introducing legislation on workers' exposure to electromagnetic fields, which could affect the use of technologies such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).

The new deadline for the implementation of the legislation -- in the form of a directive -- is April 30, 2012.

The postponement will allow enough time to prepare a substantive amendment to the directive in order to take account of recent research findings on the possible impact of the exposure limits to MRI, said the commission, the executive body of the European Union (EU).

MRI is currently the leading technique for detecting brain tumors and many other serious conditions. It allows doctors to help 8 million patients each year.

The postponement will also allow sufficient time to take into account new recommendations from relevant international bodies, said the commission.

The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection is currently revising its recommendations for occupational limit values for static and low frequency electromagnetic fields, such as MRI.

The World Health Organization is also revising its Environmental Health Criteria for electromagnetic fields.

"The commission remains committed to the protection of the health and safety of workers. However, it was never the intention of this Directive to impede the practice of MRI," said EU Employment Commissioner Vladimir Spidla.

"Obviously, the commission recognizes MRI as a technology offering clear benefits to patients, and continues to support MRI research financially," he said.

The EU directive was adopted in April 2004 and was planned to come into force in April 2008. But in 2006, the European Commission received indications from stakeholders that the implementation of the legislation might create difficulties.

The commission launched a study to look into exactly what implications the directive's exposure limits would have on MRI and identify potential problems that could arise. The study is now underway and the results should be available by January 2008.

Source: Xinhua

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