Brexit won't change EMF regulations, say U.K. experts

A new British Journal of Radiology commentary on the European Union (EU) Physical Agents (Electromagnetic Fields, EMF) Directive concludes that years of sensible negotiations and compromise have led to the successful translation of the regulation into U.K. law and that the directive is permanent until repealed and is not subject to change when Brexit is implemented.

MRI activities are exempt from the occupational exposure limits contained in the regulations, subject to certain conditions, wrote Stephen Keevil, PhD, from St. Thomas Hospital, Guy's and St Thomas' National Health Service Foundation Trust in London, and Dr. David Lomas from the University of Cambridge and Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge (BJR, February 2017, Vol. 90, pp. 1070).

"The commentary gives advice on compliance with these conditions and on how to satisfy the other requirements of the regulations, all of which are either already required under existing legislation or represent good MR safety practice," they wrote.

The Control of Electromagnetic Fields at Work Regulations 2016 came into force in July 2016, while equivalent regulations took effect in Northern Ireland in August, with the purpose of implementing the EU Physical Agents (Electromagnetic Fields) Directive (2013/35/EU) in U.K. law. A lengthy campaign took place to mitigate the impact of very conservative EMF exposure limits that would have had a very detrimental effect on MRI. But thanks to the Health and Safety Executive's (HSE) working very closely with the MRI community, the final regulations are clear and better structured than the original directive, and as a consequence will have little impact on MRI facilities, the authors wrote.

The commentary summarizes the implications in the context of MRI research in the U.K., and explains what facilities need to do to comply. The advice is generic and applies to all facilities regardless of scanner model, field strength, or gradient performance, the team wrote. What is "reasonable" depends on the nature and magnitude of the risk that is being mitigated, they wrote. More information on this open-access article is available here.

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