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EMF Studies

10 March 2018

Switzerland: Mobile Telephony: War of the Waves

Dr. Carlos Beat Quinto, member of the central committee
of the Federation of Swiss Doctors (FMH) - which
has some 30,000 members
On March 5, 2018, the Council of States, Swiss Parliament, voted once again on revision of the Ordinance on Protection against Non-Ionizing Radiation (ORNI). By a vote of 22 to 21 with 2 abstentions, the Council said “no” to the Motion,“Avoiding the collapse of mobile networks and securing the country's digital future" and thus rejected an increase in the limit values for mobile phone antennas.

A number of associations concerned about the effects of radiofrequency radiation on people and the environment were against the motion: Doctors for the Protection of the Environment, Federation of Swiss Doctors, Union of Swiss Farmers, HabitatDurable, Swiss Federation of Patients. and advocacy groups. During the debate prior to the vote, some of the deputies mentioned having received several hundred letters and copies of scientific studies from people concerned about health, including electrosensitive persons.

The following article appeared in Migros Magazine, which has a readership of over 700,000 persons.

Mobile Telephony:  War of the Waves
by Alain Portnermigrosmagazine.ch, 2 March 2018 (translation)

The Parliament is going to discuss a motion on the increase in the power of mobile phone antennas.  The Federation of Swiss Doctors (FMH) is against this.

The debate on mobile phone antennas is revived.  Their power would be increased in Switzerland.  This is in any case the desire of the signatories of a motion that will be considered this week during the spring session of the Parliament.  The motion is supported by the Federal Council

For the supporters of the motion (a small majority - 7 votes against 6 by the members of the Transport and Telecommunications Commission of the Council of States), it is urgent to revise "the Ordinance on Protection against Non-Ionizing Radiation" in order to avoid the collapse of the mobile network and to ensure the digital future of the country."

Standards are too strict

In their opinion, the relaxation of standards, which they judge to be too strict (they are among the severest in the world), would allow Switzerland not to miss the shift to 5G and would also respond to "the meteoric rise in the amount of data being exchanged" as well as the "difficulties hindering the construction of new facilities".

Opponents, including the Federation of Swiss Doctors, are invoking the sacrosanct precautionary principle. They consider it preferable to abandon a modification of the limit values ​​as long as doubts remain about the effects of emissions from these antennas.

This week, the senators will have to weigh the interests between the modernization of the mobile network desired by the operators and the impact that such a choice could have on people's health.

The Council of States will look into a proposal to make mobile phone installations more powerful. The Federation of Swiss Doctors (FMH) opposes it. Why?

From a scientific point of view, it is preferable to refrain from increasing the limit values ​​before publication of the results of studies in progress.

Which studies?

The effects of electromagnetic radiation on health are the subject of research around the world and there are many studies on this subject. The work of BERENIS - the [Swiss] expert advisory group on non-ionizing radiation - provides a good overview. For example, the full results of a large animal study conducted in the United States on the issue of cancer risk due to mobile phone radiation is awaited. Only first partial results have been published so far. The public consultation on this subject is announced for June 2018.

The WHO - World Health Organization - still considers these electromagnetic waves as potentially carcinogenic. So, is there a risk or not of developing tumors using our mobile phones?

In the light of current scientific knowledge, it is impossible to give a categorical answer to this question. In a September 2016 newsletter, BERENIS states that in most animal studies on life expectancy, the fact that mobile phone radiation increases the risk of tumors in animal experiments has not been observed. To obtain a more precise estimate of the impact of these radiations on human health, we must await other results.

What are the population groups potentially most at risk?

Children and teenagers.  It is in any case what various studies conducted to date show.

The Federation of Swiss Doctors also requires the establishment of, I quote, "a non-ionizing radiation monitoring system and further research on the impact of radiation on health" ...

In 2014, the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) set up the BERENIS Advisory Group to monitor the progress of research in this area and evaluate the results. This monitoring is important and needs to be continued and expanded. That is what we are asking.

The current Swiss standards for relay antenna emissions are among the strictest in the world. What are the risks of easing them?

It is not a question of the current limit values, but their increase. In an article published on 24 January this year in the "Bulletin des médecins suisses", BERENIS concluded "that non-ionizing radiation produces measurable biological and psychological changes and that there are clues, but so far no irrefutable evidence to the contrary, according to which they are likely to be considered as significant causes of disease".

The Swiss mobile telephony network is, it seems, close to saturation. Do we not risk, by refusing to increase the power of antennas, holding back the digital development of our country?

Good mobile network coverage and access to the mobile internet are important for economic development in Switzerland. But as long as it is not scientifically proven that an increase in current limit values ​​has no impact on health, we should - I repeat - renounce increasing them.

In figures


Mobile phone antenna installations (there may be several per installation) were identified in the national territory in mid-February 2018. Their quantity has doubled in fifteen years (there were 9,323 in 2003).


People (users with or without subscriptions) were customers of the mobile telephony in Switzerland in 2016. Although provisional, this figure is relatively accurate according to the Federal Office of Communication.


That year, in June, the National Council had agreed to raise the limit values ​​for antenna radiation. Six months later, the Council of States, narrowly refused this (20 votes against 19).

Sources: Federal Office of Communication and Swiss Parliament.

Original article in French:

Our comment, published on-line:

The results of the animal study of the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) on the issue of the risk of cancer due to radiation from mobile phones has shown the appearance of serious carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic pathologies affecting multiple organs (brain, prostate, liver, pancreas, thyroid, heart), especially in rats subjected to elevated levels of exposure.  These results have found a higher incidence of malignant schwannomas of the heart, caused by the waves according to the NTP researchers.  In a teleconference destined for the the media worldwide, the presenter of the results of these studies, a senior NTP scientist, minimized the seriousness of these results, thus leading the billions of cell phone users to believe that it is not necessary to make simple gestures to reduce exposure to waves.

Even a slight increase in cancers due to the radiation of mobile phones would constitute a serious public health problem since billions of people are using these devices.  Exposure is widespread and increasing.  Children are more vulnerable because the radiation of mobile phones penetrates more deeply into their bodies and they will have a lifetime of exposure, leading to an increased  risk for cancer.

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