Mobile phone health risk policy in Germany: the role of the federal government and the Federal Office for Radiation Protection

Glob Public Health. 2012;7(5):535-49. doi: 10.1080/17441692.2011.614626. Epub 2011 Sep 19.


In order to establish a regulatory framework for a given technology important to society, the government must make decisions in the face of existing unknowingness. In the last decade, health risks originating from electromagnetic fields of mobile telecommunication transmitting stations and devices have become a regulation policy issue in Germany. This article investigates the role of the government and the Federal Office for Radiation Protection in regard to policy-making by analysing publications and Federal Parliament reports, hearings and debates. The government and Federal Parliament perceived the research situation in 2001 as insufficient in the absence of hard evidence for health impairment. Against this background, the government struck a compromise with mobile telecommunication network operators, who did not want to integrate stricter limit values for transmission stations as precautionary measures. The network operators' voluntary self-commitment included financing half the budget of the German Mobile Telecommunication Research Programme (2002-2008) under the lead management of the Federal Office for Radiation Protection, which concluded that it was not required to change the position taken in 2001. The results of this programme provided the basis to continue the agreement of that year. With regard to health issues and all the other interests involved, this agreement was an acceptable and remarkably stable compromise.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Phone*
  • Consumer Product Safety*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Electromagnetic Fields / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects
  • Federal Government*
  • Germany
  • Health Policy
  • Humans
  • Radiation Monitoring / statistics & numerical data*
  • Radiation Protection*
  • Risk Assessment