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30 November 2019

Switzerland: Mobile Telephony and Radiation: an inconsistent and biased federal report that ignores environmental impact

We will be publishing on both "Towards Better Health" and "Mieux Prévenir" reactions, press releases, articles etc. concerning the Swiss federal report of the working group "Mobile telephony and radiation" released on 28 November 2019.

Mobile telephony and radiation: an inconsistent and biased federal report that ignores environmental impact
Press release, Stop5G Association, 29 November 2019 - translation

The French-speaking Swiss association Stop5G questions the credibility of the results published yesterday by the ad hoc working group mandated by DETEC [Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications]. The composition of the working group questions and casts doubt on the scientific legitimacy of the health component of the report. In addition, Stop5G is surprised at the lack of consensus on the development of the network and notes the strong divergence of the proposals, some of which, favorable to the industry, foresee a 500% increase in the current radiation. The Association of Doctors for the Environment, a member of the working group, has also expressed strong criticism of this possible increase and considers that the health impact of non-ionizing radiation (NIR) has not been sufficiently studied. Finally, the deadlock in the report on environmental impacts and liability aspects is also a major concern. 

Initially scheduled for summer 2019, the report on Mobile Telephony and Radiation, published yesterday by the working group mandated by DETEC, presents a series of serious shortcomings that should be addressed before making any recommendations.

First, the composition of the working group itself raises questions. Of the 21 members of the group, four represent the private telecommunications sector, whose primary objective is to extend the telephony network in order to maximize commercial profits. In comparison, there are only two representatives of the medical profession, while health protection is a predominant, if not essential, public interest. It is also regrettable that there is no representative of those affected, particularly those who are intolerant of NIR. The presence of an ethicist within the group would also have been necessary to guide the reflection in a cross-functional way and ensure that the common good remains a priority in the weighing of interests.

Given the small representation of the medical profession, and the significant influence of industry representatives on the working group, it is questionable whether the group is legitimate in selecting and evaluating scientific work. The group itself acknowledges that its report contains a biased selection in the studies. It is therefore easy to understand that the group could not reach a consensus on the recommendations made, given its lack of scientific and ethical basis and the divergence of interests represented in it. This lack of consensus, noted by all observers, is worrying when we look more closely at the various options for the development of the Swiss telephony network. Indeed, people's exposure varies greatly depending on the options, ranging from maintaining the current level of exposure (options 1 and 2) to increasing it from 400% to 500% (options 4 and 5). However, the current level of exposure already has serious health consequences, since it is known that 5 to 7% of the Swiss population suffers from hypersensitivity to NIR, even though we do not yet know all its health consequences.

The Association of Doctors for the Environment (AefU), represented in the working group by Dr. Edith Steiner, expressed strong criticism of the increase in exposure integrated into options 3, 4 and 5 of the report, stressing that these options amount to short-circuiting the position of the Council of States, which has twice rejected the increase in limit values for mobile telephony installations. Dr. Steiner, also a member of the NIR Expert Advisory Group (BERENIS), recommended a reduction of these limit values to 0.6 V/m for sensitive use sites at the working group's press conference and questioned, in an article published on June 21, 2008, the current doctrine on the absence of the non-thermal effects of NIR. AefU also calls for the strict application of the precautionary principle with regard to 5G and recommends the development of optical fiber.

The lack of an environmental impact assessment, which was not part of the original mandate of the working group, is another problematic aspect of the report. Such an impact study is indeed essential, at a time when we are on the verge of the 6th mass extinction of species and we are already facing the full force of the beginnings of global warming. However, some scientists have highlighted the harmful consequences of mobile phone waves on wildlife. The Federal Materials Testing Laboratory is sounding the alarm about the risk of programmed obsolescence, which could increase considerably with the introduction of the "Internet of Things", made possible by the spread of 5G. This would result in uncontrollable electronic pollution with billions of connected objects being discarded.

Another important shortcoming is that the working group's report does not mention Council of Europe Resolution 1815 on the potential danger of electromagnetic fields and their effect on the environment (2011), which recommends, inter alia, that "a prevention threshold be set for long-term exposure to microwaves in all indoor areas, in accordance with the precautionary principle, not exceeding 0.6 volts per meter, and in the medium term to reduce it to 0.2 volts per meter".

Nor does the report detail the civil liability mechanisms that should apply to the coverage of NIR damage, raising concerns that the cost of such damage, if proven, may ultimately be borne by the community.

Supporting the idea that technology should serve humanity, and not the other way around, Stop5G calls for a new working group of experts with no connection of interest to industry to be quickly created and mandated to conduct studies using a recognized methodology on the health and environmental impacts of NIR. In the meantime, the precautionary principle must apply and it therefore seems justified that the cantonal authorities that have introduced a de facto moratorium on the installation of new antennas should maintain it, otherwise the costs associated with the marketing of potentially dangerous technologies will explode. Stop5G also believes that a consultation of the Swiss people on the NIR issue is necessary, given its importance. A popular initiative will therefore be launched soon on this subject.

For more information:


  • Camille Selleger
  • Louisa Diaz
  • Charly Pache
  • Olivier Bodenmann 

Association Stop5G - The Association aims to limit non-ionizing radiation induced by, among other things, the 5th generation of mobile telephony. To this end, it undertakes and supports political, public information and legal actions.


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