LEXNET context

As pointed out by World Health Organisation (WHO) “A large number of studies have been performed over the last two decades to assess whether mobile phones pose a potential health risk. To date, no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use.”

To protect the public against known health effect of electromagnetic fields, limits have been established. According to the European Union Treaty, it is the EU member states responsibility to protect the health of the public. Since a common protective framework can be useful the European Council adopted in 1999 a recommendation (1999/519/CE) on the limitation of the exposure of the general public to electromagnetic field. In Europe, telecommunications equipment has to comply with the RTTE directive that requires products to comply with the European Council recommendation.

Basic restrictions that limit the specific absorption rate (SAR), expressed in Watt/kilogram, and characterising the RF human absorption have been provided by ICNIRP (International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection). They also define the reference levels that are limiting the incident field strength to the level inducing an exposure compliant with the basic restrictions.

In spite of these existing protection limits, the new technologies that are using ElectroMagnetic Fields (EMFs) induce questions and fears. While scientific knowledge is progressing slowly forward, controversies continue to rage and induce fears. The European Commission is conducting a survey on EMFs through the euro-barometer. These surveys showed a high level of concern among the public. For instance, in the last one, performed in 2010, 70% of the respondents believe that  mobile phone masts affect their health.

Eurobarometer 73.3 2010 - EMF Risk Perception

The epidemiological studies that have been conducted didn’t close the debate since the researchers concluded that biases and errors limit the strength of their conclusions and prevent a causal interpretation. Such statement has strengthened the existing concern. While wireless systems contribute to our quality of life in many ways, and represent a large part of the digital economy, concerns about possible health effects could curb the general public from using innovative wireless systems.

The LEXNET project proposes to develop effective mechanisms to reduce 50% (at least) of the public exposure to EMF, without compromising the quality of service. It will: 

Define a global index of exposure assessing the averaged exposure of the population over space and time, and composed of up- and downlink sources of EMFs;

Build numerical and experimental tools to assess this index, using personal dosimeters and network planning tools;

Identify future network mechanisms, technologies;

and parameters allowing reducing the human exposure in the bands from 700 MHz to 6 GHz. To cover all the frequency bands that can be used in the future by LTE, the 0.4 GHz band will be also addressed through theoretical studies and through simulations;

Build a “cost function” related to this exposure index that can be used to optimise the network architecture and operation, as well as the related technologies.

Duration and Funding

The project started in November 2012 and it will last until October 2015.

It is supported by the European Commission in the 7th Framework Programme (Grant Agreement n°318273), under the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) workprogram.

Challenge 1:   Pervasive and Trusted Network and Service Infrastructures.

Objective 1: Future Networks

Funding: 7,32 M€ 

The project officer is Remy Bayou.

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