Healthcare professionals and patient groups in Europe are rallying behind an effort to permanently exempt MRI from a European Union proposal to set limits on the exposure of workers to electromagnetic fields.
The EU's Physical Agents Directive 2004/40/EC (EMF) was originally scheduled to go into effect in 2008, and was designed to reduce worker exposure in a wide range of industries to electromagnetic fields that vary over time. The European medical imaging industry began lobbying against the rules in 2007, when it discovered that they would probably prevent healthcare personnel from entering MRI suites, and was able to win a delay in their implementation.
MRI advocates are now hoping to win a permanent exemption for MRI from the EMF directive, and are organizing support for a proposal from the European Commission to amend the directive granting a "derogation" or permanent amendment, protecting MRI from the new rules. The EC is scheduled to submit the proposal to the European Parliament and Council in early 2010.
Backing the proposal are the Alliance for MRI, the European Society of Radiology, and the European Federation of Neurological Associations. The groups assert that MRI has been used for more than 25 years, imaging as many as 500 million patients without evidence of harm to workers due to EMF exposure. They also warn that without the derogation, new research and developments in MRI will be severely restricted, as will routine cleaning and maintenance of MRI equipment.
Professor Gabriel Krestin, professor and chairman of the department of radiology at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, Netherlands, said worker protection is taken very seriously and, because MRI is used in a controlled environment, comprehensive guidelines can guarantee the safety of workers without the need for electromagnetic exposure limits.
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