Implementation of the Physical Agents (Electromagnetic Fields) Directive 2004/40/EC in all Member States could effectively halt the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), an important tool in cancer diagnosis, treatment, and research, a scientist told a press conference at the European Cancer Conference (ECCO 14) (Monday September 24). The Directive is due to be implemented across Europe by April 2008. The Directive was drafted by DG Employment, with the aim of minimising workers' exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF). Currently eight million MRI patient examinations per year are carried out in Europe, said Professor Dag Rune Olsen, who works in experimental radiation therapy at the Norwegian Radiation Hospital, Oslo, Norway, and is chairman of the physics committee of the European Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ESTRO). "But these are likely to have to stop, since the Directive sets limits to occupational radiation exposure which will mean that anyone working or moving near MRI equipment will breach them, thus making it possible for them to sue their employers. Even those maintaining or servicing the equipment may be affected," he said.
"Slovakia has already implemented the directive, on the grounds that it was based on the assumption that the limits which it sets would have no effect. This would appear to mean that it is now illegal to carry out MRI scanning in the country."