BERENIS - Swiss expert group on electromagnetic fields and non-ionising radiation

The FOEN has nominated a consultative group of Swiss experts from various disciplines with scientific competence regarding electromagnetic fields and NIR, which has commenced its work in July 2014. The group is called “BERENIS”, based on the acronym of the respective German term. The BERENIS experts regularly screen the scientific literature, and assess the publications which they consider relevant for the protection of humans from potentially adverse effects.

The Swiss expert group on electromagnetic fields and non-ionising radiation (BERENIS)

In Switzerland, the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) is the responsible government body for monitoring and assessing research on health effects of non-ionising radiation (NIR) from stationary sources in the environment. This includes informing and updating the public about the current state of research, which is the basis for the ambient regulatory limits stated in the Swiss "ordinance relating to protection from non-ionising radiation". In the case of reliable new scientific knowledge and experiences, the FOEN would advise the Federal Council of Switzerland to adapt these ambient regulatory limits.

Assessing the results and conclusions of scientific studies enables early detection of potential health risks of NIR. The FOEN places particular emphasis to not overlook any evidence of harmfulness for public health demanding for corrective regulatory interventions. Furthermore, critical assessment of available scientific data is required to make firm statements about the validity of the presented evidence for biological effects, their relevance for public health, and if so, to estimate the number of potentially affected people.

NIR includes a broad spectrum of frequencies with varying intensities and radiation characteristics, which is becoming more complex and multifaceted as the development and application of technologies emitting them is very dynamic and rapidly increasing. In the context of the work of BERENIS, NIR at frequencies below 10 GHz is addressed. Potential biological effects and the underlying mechanisms of NIR are manifold, and research activities range from the molecular to the population level. As a consequence, specific expertise in various disciplines is needed to assess the related scientific studies rooted in many different biological, medical and technical scientific realms.

The FOEN has therefore nominated a consultative group of Swiss experts from various disciplines with scientific competence regarding electromagnetic fields and NIR, which has commenced its work in July 2014. The group is called "BERENIS", based on the acronym of the respective German term. The BERENIS experts regularly screen the scientific literature, and assess the publications which they consider relevant for the protection of humans from potentially adverse effects. The results of this evaluation are published in quarterly newsletters, which can be downloaded from this webpage.

Selection criteria for assessed publications

Critical assessment of scientific studies is labour intensive and time consuming. BERENIS therefore does not attempt to discuss all newly published studies in detail. However, the most important and most relevant studies with regard to health risk assessment shall be identified and considered. Priority is thus given to studies that fulfil as many of the following criteria as possible:

1) General

  • high scientific standards
  • environmentally relevant exposures, such as NIR by infrastructure facilities
  • new or different scientific perspectives
  • studies that are publicly or scientifically debated in a controversial manner

 2) Epidemiological studies

  • findings that may be relevant for human health and well-being
  • exposure in the range or below the ambient regulatory limits
  • results from Switzerland
  • results that are applicable to the Swiss context

3) Experimental studies

  • findings that may be relevant for human health and well-being
  • well-defined and controlled study conditions, including exposure setup
  • results that challenge previous findings or provide new insights

Members of BERENIS

  • Prof. Dr. Martin Röösli, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Basel (in charge)
  • Prof. Dr. Peter Achermann, Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Zurich
  • Dr. Jürg Fröhlich, Fields at Work GmbH, Zurich
  • Prof. Dr. med. Jürg Kesselring, previous head of the Department of Neurorehabilitation, Rehabilitation Centre, Clinics of Valens
  • Prof. Dr. Meike Mevissen, Vet-Pharmacology & Toxicology, University of Bern
  • Dr. David Schürmann, Molecular Genetics Group, Department of Biomedicine, University of Basel
  • Dr. med. Edith Steiner, Ärztinnen und Ärzte für Umweltschutz, Basel

Secretariat:

  • Dr. Stefan Dongus, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Basel

Federal Office for the Environment:

  • Alexander Reichenbach

Observers:

  • Dr. Evelyn Stempfel (Federal Office of Public Health)
  • Roland Krischek (Swiss National Accident Insurance Fund)
  • René Guldimann (State Secretariat for Economic Affairs)
  • Dr. Samuel Iff (SECO)

Newsletter for download

Contact
Last modification 02.11.2018

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