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EU law may hamper MRI science

A directive to protect workers from radiation could also hamper clinical and basic research

Stephen Pincock(Stephen.pincock@journalist.co.uk)

European Union legislation designed to limit workers' exposure to electromagnetic radiation will seriously hinder research involving the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), leading investigators warned the British government on Tuesday (September 20).

The Physical Agents (Electromagnetic Fields) Directive sets legal limits on electromagnetic radiation exposure across a range of frequencies, including those used in MRI. In a letter to Patricia Hewitt, Britain's secretary of state for health, twelve scientists and clinicians argue those limits "are huge extrapolations from largely hypothetical possible conditions and are an over-cautious interpretation of very limited experimental data."

The result will limit the use of MRI in diagnosis, treatment and research, which could have potentially disastrous impacts on both the lab and the clinic, they say. "This has implications across all applications of MRI, right through from clinical ones to clinical research and basic research," said Stephen Keevil, a signatory to the letter...

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