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27 February 2020

Switzerland: 19.4496 INTERPELLATION: Mobile Phones. Health Risks Due to Non-Compliance with SAR Values

UPDATE:  Read below the Opinion of the Federal Council of 26 February 2020.

Mobile phones. Health risks due to non-compliance with SAR values -
unofficial translation

Fied by: MUNZ MARTINA, Swiss Socialist Party
Date: 18.12.2019
Filed at: National Council
State of deliberations: Not yet dealt with in the Council


In its replies to interpellations 18.362218.3966 and 19.3180, the Federal Council provided a range of information on devices that generate radio frequencies. These include mobile phones, watches measuring the pulse, headphones, laptops and tablets, which are often located all day long on or near the user's body. Although the Federal Council has indicated that it takes health risks seriously, it has minimized the seriousness of the problem, insisting on the high level of individual responsibility of the manufacturers of these devices.

Mentioned in interpellation 19.3180, the Phonegate scandal in France is spreading. The first mobile phone models have been withdrawn and complaints have been filed for exceeding the European-wide SAR value of 2 W/kg. Also in the USA, mobile phone models exceed the SAR value of 1.6 W/kg. For this reason, a class action lawsuit was filed against Apple and Samsung in December 2019. Another class action brought by victims of brain tumors caused by regular use of mobile phones is currently being heard in the US Superior Court. Furthermore, in Italy, two court decisions have established a medically proven link between the occurrence of brain tumors and the professional use of mobile phones.

It is therefore reasonable to suspect that non-compliance with the authorized SAR value constitutes a health threat. And it is possible that many of the mobile phones concerned are also available in our country. Art. 4 ss LRNIS empowers the Federal Council to take measures in the event of non-compliance with the SAR value.

In this regard, I would like to ask the Federal Council to answer the following questions:

1. Why does it allow manufacturers and importers to monitor compliance with the SAR values when it is known that some countries do not assume individual responsibility?

2. Is the Federal Council prepared to ensure that regular independent checks are carried out on mobile telephones and other devices that emit radiation on or near the user's body?

3. Is it prepared to withdraw equipment which does not comply with the limit value from the market and to sanction responsible suppliers?

4. Is it prepared to publish regularly the detailed and complete results of the checks carried out?

Opinion of Federal Council of 26 February 2020

The safety of mobile telephones is regulated in the Ordinance of 25 November 2015 on Telecommunications Installations (OIT; SR 784.101.2). The Federal Act on Protection against the Dangers of Non-Ionizing Radiation and Sound (LRNIS) is therefore not applicable here (cf. Art. 1 para. 3 LRNIS; SR 814.71).

1. According to the OIT, compliance with the essential requirements for product safety, and thus compliance with the SAR values, is the responsibility of the manufacturer. In general, the Federal Council considers it appropriate for manufacturers to assume this responsibility. Due to the number of products, the Confederation would not be able to monitor the safety of all products. Enforcement efforts are based on the principle of proportionality and risk potential.

2. and 3. In Switzerland, the competence for market surveillance of mobile phones is laid down in Art. 36 OIT and in the Ordinance of 25 November 2015 on Low-Voltage Electrical Equipment (OMBT; SR 734.26). The competent enforcement authorities can already prohibit the placing on the market of products that endanger the safety or health of users or third parties.

Due to the principle of proportionality mentioned and the risk potential, the Confederation has so far not paid particular attention to mobile phones. The Federal Council is prepared to review the situation with regard to mobile phones and other devices with equivalent radiation levels by the end of 2020 and, if necessary, to intensify implementation.

4. The OIT already now offers the possibility for enforcement bodies to publish information on the dangers of individual products and the measures taken, provided that the manufacturer has not taken adequate measures itself or has done so too late. If the enforcement authorities were to carry out measurements on mobile telephones in the future, the Federal Council would of course be prepared to publish the results.




National Council




Environment, Media and communications, Health, Economy

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