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Short overview:

The 8th International Workshop on Biological effects of Electromagnetic Fields completed. The main challenge of this Workshop was to gather scientists from 27 countries, most of them from Europe, and also from Armenia, Egypt, India, Iran, Japan, Malaysia, Peru, Russia, Turkey, USA.

Since this meeting was focused on few directions, mainly “quality of science” and “occupational/public health and new European legislation”, it achieved very high quality of presentations in comparison with many other meetings in this field before.

The organization of round tables on “European legislation in the field of EMF and optical radiation”, “risk communication programmes and policy”, “new projects in the field of non-ionizing radiation” were new approach giving the possibility for discussion and possible future research and decisions.

Several sessions: “Quality of science”, “Measurement, exposure, modeling, dosimetry”, “Human exposure standards”, “Biophysics and biology”, “Medical applications of EMF and UV”, “Occupational health and safety”, “Public health”, covered wide spectrum of the contemporary research studies in the field of non-ionizing radiation focused on human health, and also the main scientific interests of all participants.

Exposure and risk assessment of UV radiation in different occupations was discussed together with similar topics concerning other frequency ranges as a part of non-ionizing radiation health and safety.

The youth session, and the competition between the students for the “young scientists’ award” gave a special spirit of the Workshop.

 

Some of the main outcomes from the different sessions are as follows:

 

Quality of science: Risk communication and management

Council Recommendations invites the Commission to encourage research, to promote consensus on guidelines and to keep the matter under review. The EU policy is based on best available scientific knowledge, and the SCENIHR looks for gaps in knowledge. It gives particular attention on potential adverse effect on nervous system, including neurobehavioral disorders and on the risk of neoplastic diseases, understanding biophysical mechanisms of biological effects and epidemiological findings, the potential effect of co-exposure to other factors in the environment, adverse effects of THz range. The new idea is to develop a set of prioritized research recommendations updating previous efforts in this area (in particular by the SCENIHR and the WHO). These recommendations should include methodological guidance on the experimental design and minimum requirements to ensure data quality and usability for risk assessment.

Public concern on EMF exposures decreases in most of the countries in the world. This phenomenon is a result of implementation of risk communication programmes as some countries presented (Japan, Bulgaria and others).

Meanwhile, risk communication programmes needs to be improved because it is based only on pick out worst case results, and it is imbalanced.

 

Measurement, exposure, modeling, dosimetry

New approaches in the field of measurements and exposure assessment in the near field zone were presented, also for evaluation of the SAR values in the close proximity to the source.

Modelling of human exposure in the low and RF ranges were proposed for improving the uncertainty in exposure assessment and dosimetry. New models, as surface-based model of the human body, numerical model of human homogeneous head with metallic glasses, models for evaluation of the exposure from smart meters and for real-time signal analyses by mobile phones’ exposure were presented.

Several papers concerning methods for assessment of SAR values from mobile phones, smart meters presented original methods for evaluation.

One of the main focuses in this session was the improvement of the calibration methods, far vs. near field assessment of the exposure, the influence of the human body on the uncertainty of measurements.

Power frequency magnetic field was discussed concerning details in exposure assessment.

 

Human exposure standards

The main topic of the presentations, also of the discussion on the round table was the EU Directive 2013/35/EU that is in a stage of transposition in national legislation of the Member states. Most of the countries are not prepared for this transposition, and they wait for the Practical Guide that should be prepared by the European Commission.

The discussion covered also the methods for compliance with this Directive, also the way for harmonization in the field of EMF human exposure between European countries and others, as Russia, Latin America.

Similar situation exists concerning the Directive 2006/25/EC for optical radiation: the Practical Guide is not transposed in national legislation in some countries (including Bulgaria) that complicates the practical implementation of the measures.

Special questionnaire for determining of various measures used in international guidelines and EU Directive 2013/35/EU was discussed and disseminated amongst the participants. Results are in processing, and general conclusions will be available in the near future.

 

Biophysics and biology

First, in this session, the hypersensitivity phenomena were discussed. The question was: if these phenomena exist or this is other type of sensitivity that people associate with EMF exposure. Cell hydration was one of the discussed markers for studying weak biological effects, and contrariwise was the dosimetric considerations for observing the reason of every RF biological effect.

In addition, big variety of laboratory studies of the interaction of static and pulsed magnetic fields, ELF, intermediate frequencies, RF, millimeter waves, were presented. Some experimental studies could be addressed to low level of exposure (low dose), and others to non-thermal effects.

There were presentations concerning dielectric properties of tissues, also possible cancer development due to EMF exposure. Water characteristics under EMF exposure were in discussion, as well.

Of course, the permanent discussions on Ca2+ efflux, growth parameters of cells, the possible effects from weak exposure of pulsed fields were considered.

Several studies of EMF exposure to humans (volunteers) of mobile phones were presented.

It was very important that non-ionizing and ionizing radiation were discussed for biological and adverse effects or for synergism. The risk assessment and the risk policy concerning non-ionizing radiation exposure should follow the used policy in the field of ionizing radiation.

 

Medical applications EMF and UV

New methods for applying low frequency magnetic fields, direct currents, ultrasound, magnetic nanoparticles were presented at this session.

One important outcome is that speaking about health effects, both adverse and beneficial effects on health should be considered. Medical applications of the whole frequency range of EMF, also of the optical radiation (UV) have to be studied. The wide spread of devices with sources of non-ionizing radiation moves the medical diagnosis and treatment to new challenges. In other case, medical personnel (in MRI, physiotherapy) and patients are exposed to non-ionizing radiation that could be harmful for their health.

 

Occupational health and safety

Results show high risk for workers exposed to ELF in energetics, for workers with RF exposure in military application of radars and other radio equipment, for radiographers in medical diagnosis with MRI equipment, for medical staff in physiotherapy, for workers exposed to magnetic fields in industry. New methods for evaluation of cumulative solar radiation in outdoor workers, also new aspects of ELF safety were discussed.

Combination of EMF and co-factors, as smoking habit, shift work was investigated.

 

Public health

There were several aspects of non-ionizing radiation exposure to general population concerning the use of sunbeds for tanning, power lines, transformer stations, digital TV and LTE base stations. Results of measurements in the vicinity of the cited sources, also in metro stations were presented. Some results were focused on exposure to children concerning possible adverse effect on their health and childhood leukaemia.

Legislation concerning the use of solaria was discussed, and the opinions were that stringent requirements should be applied.

 

Some of the general challenges were connected with new methodology in laboratory, human and epidemiological studies, investigations in the whole frequency range, including optical (mainly UV) radiation, intermediate frequencies, millimeter waves, ionizing radiation, as well. Other achievement is the study of combination of factors, including EMF, as smoking habit, ionizing radiation, a shift work.

 

As a chair of the organizing committee, I want to express my gratitude to all guests for their participation, and for their excellent presentations, and especially to those that were so busy to attend the meeting for the whole time, as the representatives of the European Commission (SCENIHR) – Giulio Gallo, Theodoros Samaras, Donata Meroni, WHO – Emilie van Deventer (attending online).

 

I, also, want to thank to our partners: ICOH (Scientific Committee Radiation and Work), especially to Fabriciomaria Gobba, to the European Commission, to the Director of the National Centre of Public Health and Analyses, the Dean of the Faculty of Public Health and the Rector of the Medical University of Pleven, and of the Medical University of Varna.

 

Special thanks are for the support from the BG 07: Programme “Public Health Initiatives” with the financial contribution of the Norwegian Financial Mechanism 2009-2014 and EEA Financial Mechanism 2009-2014: “Improving control and information systems in risk prevention and healthcare”.

 

I express my personal gratitude to all members of the Committee: prof. P.Kostarakis, prof. M.Markov, prof. Ch.Sammut, prof. T.Kalkan, to the International Advisory Committee, helping in arranging the programme, and giving advices in the process of organization of the meeting.

 

It is very important for me to express my special gratitude to the Bulgarian organizers of the meeting, mainly to V. Zaryabova, T. Shalamanova, also to M. Ivanova, V. Topalova, Chr. Petkova, P. Ivanova, R. Petrova, M. Dimitrova, A. Kostova, L. Israel, V. Staneva. All they worked hard for the real organization of the meeting and for the comfort of the participants.

 

Finally, as you understood, the next meeting will be held in Armenia. We wish to prof. Sinerik Ayrapetyan to continue the process of gathering scientists all over the world, and to follow the traditions of these meeting created by prof. Panos Kostarakis and improved by the next chairs, and to organize a meeting with high level of research quality in the field of non-ionizing radiation.

 

Thank you!

 

Michel Israel,

Chair of the 8th IWBEEMF,

Varna, Bulgaria

 

 

 

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