The fight for recognition of electro-hypersensitivity as a handicap and establishment of "white zones" for electro-hypersensitive persons in Belgium.
An “Ecolo-Groen” resolution aimed at recognizing electro-hypersensitive patients was defeated Wednesday morning (30 Janaury 2013) in the Public Health Committee of the House. This resolution requested the Government principally to officially recognize the existence of this syndrome as an “illness” (maladie), as well as to recognize as a handicap the resulting functional maladjustments and disabilities.
The text equally requested Belgium to conduct and participate in scientific studies aimed to update the mechanisms of the causal link between exposure and symptoms, as well as to provide « white zones » in certain public areas, free of electromagnetic waves, in order to favor the access of persons suffering from electro-hypersensitivity to public, social and health services.
Since the announcement of placing the resolution on the agenda, the Members of the Public Health Committee have received numerous testimonies (and medical certificates) from all parts of the country, attesting to the physical and social suffering which electro-hypersensitive persons endure and of the link between their symptoms and the intensity of exposure to electromagnetic radiation. Faced with an unsolicited and uncontrolled exposure and the absence of accessible treatment, these persons expressed their demands, which accompanied the resolution.
The majority of all the parties, however, voted against this proposed resolution, arguing that there was a lack of scientific certainty on the subject. Beyond our deception and our preoccupations, faced with a government majority which shows little concern for the precautionary principle, the “Ecolo-Groen” group sincerely deplores the proposal of the socialist group, from which hails the current Minister for Health, Laurette Onkelinx.
The authors of the resolution have been accused of giving credit to « conspiracy theories » surrounding this issue, « to politically use suffering » of the sick persons, that is, « to sow panic » amongst the population. We sincerely hope that this linguistic abuse from the Flemish as well as French-speaking socialist Members is not shared by Minister Onkelinx, that it is neither her vision nor actual political policy in the case of electro-hypersensitive persons.
For the « Ecolo-Groen » group, the fight is not over. The ecologists will pursue in the coming months current and evolving scientific knowledge of this issue in order to relay it to the services of the Health Minister and to influence her position on the matter.
We wish to remain in touch with you and your recommendations and not to give up, to continue to testify before all political authorities, to contribute as far as possible to greater scientific knowledge of the syndrome, to continue to search for ways of relief, and to share this with others in order to render life easier for all who are suffering today.
On our part, we will pursue our monitoring of the studies and testimonies which will one day contribute to attaining this recognition.
At a time when certain persons are pressuring politicians to deregulate the norms of health protection, we must join our forces and demonstrate the social and health benefits of the norms, in particular those adopted by the Region of Brussels. [In 2007, the Parliament of the Brussels Region adopted a 3 V/m exposure limit for mobile phone base stations, a limit 200 times stricter than the limits recommended by the European Union and the World Health Organization – making them the most restrictive in the EU. This is impeding roll-out of 4G network technology in the Region.]
All this will not stop Ecolo from pursuing its fight and maintaining its solidarity with the victims of environmental pollution.
Thérèse SNOY, Muriel GERKENS, Députées fédérales
Meyrem ALMACI, Députée fédérale Groen
Original text in French :