Publication - Article

Mobile phone infrastructure regulation in Europe: Scientific challenges and human rights protection

Abstract

As the progress of mobile phone technology accelerates throughout Europe, the regulatory framework necessary for its safe and extended use has been slow to develop. This article analyses the relationship between scientific knowledge and regulation concerning the heath effects of increasing emissions of electromagnetic fields (EMF). From a conservationist perspective, no other example of industrial impact on the natural environment has achieved such extended penetration so quickly. From a theoretical standpoint, stakeholders are faced with a difficult choice between comprehensive risk assessment versus immediate application of the precautionary principle. By exploring the interaction between citizens, governments, and international bodies, we first analyze the challenges faced by regulators in the presence of uncertain scientific knowledge and standards of measurement. We then highlight the inadequacy of current risk assessment parameters. Lastly, within the context of State and European regulation of EMF exposure, we expand scholarship on the human rights framework to protect vulnerable populations from environmental pollution. We conclude that, because scientific knowledge is incomplete, a precautionary approach is better suited to State obligations under international human rights law.