ANSES (National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety) publishes an expert report on the exposure of children to radiofrequencies and its potential effects on their health. In its conclusions, the Agency emphasizes that children may be more exposed than adults due to their morphological and anatomical specificities, and in particular their small size, as well as the characteristics of some of their tissues.
ANSES has been contacted by the public authorities to find out whether the regulatory provisions currently in force for the marketing of radio devices intended for children are sufficiently protective in terms of health and safety with regard to children under six
Possible effects on cognitive functions and well-being
The expert appraisal work carried out by the Agency does not allow us to conclude whether or not there are effects of radiofrequencies in children on behaviour, auditory functions, development, the male and female reproductive system, the immune and systemic toxicity, nor carcinogenic or teratogenic effects.
On the other hand, the Agency concludes that there is a possible effect of exposure to radio frequencies on the well-being of children and their cognitive functions (memory, executive functions, attention).
Risky behaviors, depression and suicidal ideation
The expert appraisal made it possible to identify several studies highlighting an association between intensive and inadequate use of mobile telephones by young people and affected mental health (risky behaviour, depression, suicidal thoughts, etc.).
Children exposed increasingly early to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields
The data available on exposure show a strong expansion in the use of new wireless technologies, particularly among very young children. The multiplicity and diversity of places frequented by children generate multiple exposure situations, even as the uses of radioelectric devices (touch tablets, connected toys, etc.) are changing rapidly. Children also have their own mobile phone at an increasingly early age.
Furthermore, unlike previous generations, most children today are exposed to multiple sources of radiofrequencies from an early age and even potentially from the in utero development phase. Beyond that, the expert appraisal work has shown that children could be more exposed than adults, due to their small size, their morphological and anatomical specificities and the characteristics of some of their tissues.
The Agency’s recommendations
The Agency recommends changing the regulations:
– so that all radioelectric devices, and in particular those intended for children (touchscreen tablets, baby monitors, connected toys, etc.), are subject to the same regulatory obligations in terms of monitoring exposure levels and information of the public than those governing mobile phones so that compliance with the regulatory exposure limit values is ensured.
– to reassess the relevance of the specific absorption rate (SAR) used to establish the limit values for exposure of individuals, for the purposes of protection against the known and proven health effects (thermal effects) of radiofrequencies.