I propose to take Questions Nos. 151 and 152 together.
The roll-out of 5G in Ireland is a matter for private mobile network operators, operating on a commercial basis. The regulation of these service providers, to the extent permitted by law, is a statutory function of the Commission for Communications Regulation, ComReg in accordance with the Communications Regulation Act 2002. This role includes the monitoring of compliance by authorised operators with terms and conditions, including with respect to non-ionising radiation levels. ComReg is statutorily independent in the exercise of its functions.
As Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, I have policy responsibility for matters pertaining to public exposure to non-iodising radiation. Irish policy in this area is informed by a substantial volume of internationally recognised scientific research and evidence. This includes the guidelines set down by the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).
These guidelines provide scientifically based exposure limits that are applicable to both public and occupational exposure from electromagnetic fields (EMF), including 5G. ICNIRP guidelines apply up to a frequency of 300 gigahertz (GHz), well above the maximum frequencies being considered for 5G. ICNIRP guidelines are based on evidence gathered from all peer reviewed scientific literature and not on the conclusions of any single scientific paper, event, or other source.
In 2015, the Irish Government commissioned a report by the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment of the Netherlands (RIVM). This was published in 2016 and is entitled “Electromagnetic Fields in the Irish Context”. It examined and synthesised existing peer-reviewed research into clear findings, with particular focus on the potential health effects of electric and magnetic fields arising from high voltage power lines, and electromagnetic fields from base stations for mobile communication. This report reaffirms the overall conclusion of an earlier 2007 report, “Health Effects of Electromagnetic Fields” , that there is insufficient evidence to establish a causal relationship between exposure to low-frequency electromagnetic fields and adverse health effects.
In this regard, I have recently assigned a new statutory function to the Environmental Protection Agency to provide general information to the public on matters pertaining to public exposure to non-ionising radiation, to monitor international scientific developments and provide independent advice to my Department in this area.