The European population is increasingly exposed to physical and chemical agents in the environment, some of which may be damaging to health. Among these, electromagnetic fields (EMFs) are one of the most widespread, and their application in new technologies continues to grow, with novel uses being actively developed and commercialized. Although there is some concern among the public and public health professionals alike about possible health effects related to EMFs, results of studies to date are inconsistent.
The GERoNiMO (Generalised EMF Research using Novel Methods) project, which was launched in the beginning of 2014, proposes to close gaps of knowledge on health effects of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) and reduce exposure. The GERoNiMO project focuses on a range of frequencies from a few KHz (intermediate frequencies used, for example, for anti-theft devices) to radiofrequencies and microwaves (used for communication technologies). By using different but complementary approaches, GERoNiMO investigates the potential effects of these exposures on the risks of cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, behaviour, reproductive outcomes and ageing. It will use an integrated approach, bringing together researchers from different disciplines (biology, engineering and physics, epidemiology and public health, radiation protection and risk assessment and communication), 19 different research institutions and 13 countries to address key questions related to EMFs, specifically to:
– better understand the mechanisms underlying possible health effects of EMF;
– better characterise current and future levels of EMF exposure in Europe;
– further the state of knowledge on EMFs and health;
– improve health risk assessment of EMFs; and
– reinforce policy development and propose non-technological means to reduce EMF exposure.
Two research institutions from Finland, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH) and University of Eastern Finland (UEF), are participating in this international study. UEF will conduct biological laboratory studies and FIOH will evaluate EMF exposures in the working environments. The studies performed in Finland focus mainly to EMFs with intermediate frequencies.
GERoNiMO will provide support to the EU and national regulatory bodies by improving reliability of research data on potential effects of EMF exposures and providing educated recommendations for public health policy based on a consensus of experts from diverse fields. It will contribute to EU risk assessment, management and communication activities, building on previous EU-funded networks (EMF-Net and EFHRAN).
GERoNiMO is a five year project, coordinated by Professor Elisabeth Cardis, head of the Radiation Programme at the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL), in Barcelona, Spain. It is funded by the European Union (EU grant agreement 603794).
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