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MRI scanners safe from EU laws – Liz Lynne

June 16, 2011 12:34 PM

Lib Dem Euro MP Liz Lynne is celebrating victory in a longrunning campaign to exempt MRI hospital scanners from restrictions in a new European directive on electromagnetic fields.

The West Midlands MEP, who is First Vice President of the European Parliament's Employment and Social Affairs Committee, has welcomed news that the European Commission is proposing to exempt magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology from exposure limits in a revised European Directive on electromagnetic fields.

Without these new proposals, the Electromagnetic Fields Directive, due to come into force in 2012, would have seriously affected the development and use of MRI scanners in hospitals across the EU.

Exposure restrictions to protect against theoretical safety risks would have limited the time that operators were able to spend near MRI machines when they are in use. The directive would also have prohibited new uses of MRI technology, pioneered by UK hospitals, which allow doctors to monitor how treatments are working.

Ms Lynne, Shadow Rapporteur on the directive for the wider Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Europe group, said:

"I am delighted that it now looks like we have finally won the fight for an exemption of MRI technology from the Electromagnetic Fields Directive.

"I hope other MEPs have learnt their lesson and will agree with me that we should leave this technology well alone.

"Under the original legislation, MRI scanners would have been effectively banned from 2012, which would have been a disaster for patients. The health of workers is already protected by existing safety standards.

"When this directive was going through the European Parliament, I fought unsuccessfully to have MRI scanners left out of the remit of the directive. However, I did not get any support from any of the other political groups and I had to continue my fight for a moratorium alongside medical professionals.

"The evidence from the medical profession, then as now, was overwhelmingly against restricting the use of MRI scanners.

"These are vital machines which can save lives; limiting their use would mean doctors resort to less successful, more dangerous procedures."

Commenting on the possible effect of the proposals on electromagnetic fields on the manufacturing sector, Ms Lynne said:

"We need to look at this legislation carefully with both workers and employers to assess what impact it will have on manufacturing and other sectors"

"It is important that any limits on commonly used EU manufacturing processes are proportionate and based on up to date scientific and medical evidence."

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

Please find a link to the Commission's press release as well as the text of the proposal on Directive 2004/40/EC [1][1] on electromagnetic fields. here:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/andor/headlines/news/2011/06/20110614_en.htm

The proposal, which now has to be approved by the Council and the European Parliament,clarifies the definitions on adverse effects on health, introduces an updated exposure limits system (frequencies that are recognised as having harmful effects on the human cardiovascular system or the central nervous system), as well as a number of provisions intended to facilitate the work of the employers when carrying out the risk assessments required by law.

The proposal requires the employer to evaluate the risks of exposure to electromagnetic fields and take measures to reduce them. This could vary from increasing the distance, to reducing the intensity, limiting exposure time, etc. This legislation will only cover workers during their professional activities. All other categories of people, such as consumers, phone users and passengers, are covered by the existing Council Recommendation 1999/519/EEC for the general public and specific legislation in each Member State.