As Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, I have policy responsibility for matters pertaining to public exposure to non-ionising 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-Ionizing 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.
ComReg, the independent telecoms regulatory authority, ensures that licensed mobile operators comply with their licence conditions and do not exceed ICNIRP guidelines. ComReg carries out a Programme of Measurement of Non-Ionising Radiation (NIR) Emissions and details in this regard are available on the regulator’s website.
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 reaffirmed 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.
This is an area that is kept under review, and 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 and technological developments and provide independent advice to my Department in this area.