Medical staff will not be prevented from using MRI scanners, but will benefit from other protections, a key European Parliament committee made it clear in Brussels this week.
Glenis Willmott confirmed that, despite eurosceptic scare stories, the use of MRI scanners would not be banned under new rules relating to electro-magnetic fields voted by the Parliament’s Environment Committee today.
Leading on the issue for her political group, the Socialists & Democrats, Glenis explained: “There have been a number of stories in some of the British newspapers that the rules agreed in 2008 would effectively ban the use of MRI machines because medical staff would not be allowed near enough to the machines to operate them properly.”
“MRI is absolutely vital for diagnosing and treating many diseases, as well as being important for research purposes. It is much safer than x-rays and the amount of radiation is already strictly controlled. Workers need to be able to get close to the source of radiation to assist children and other vulnerable patients inside the machines.
“For this reason, MEPs proposed exempting MRI workers from the maximum exposure limits so as to allow current practices to continue.
“However, it is very important that people working with the machines are properly protected. Employers will therefore have to carry out risk assessments, workers will have to be properly informed about the short term effects of electro-magnetic fields, and they will have the right to medical surveillance.
“Almost everyone is exposed to some level of electro-magnetic radiation; it is emitted from mobile phones, computers and other electrical equipment. However, some jobs bring more exposure than others, with welders, for example, being exposed to a lot. We have to therefore make sure there are sensible provisions to stop accidents in the workplace – electro-magnetic radiation can make you dizzy so a welder shouldn’t be put up a ladder, for example.
“People are understandably worried about the possible long term effects of electro-magnetic fields, and there are often stories about the effects of mobile phones, power masts and so on. We have therefore asked for more research into possible long term effects, and if anything new comes to light we have asked for an immediate revision of these new rules.