Sense about Science ? equipping people to make sense of science and evidence
Physical Agents Directive
In 2004 scientists and researchers objected to an EU Directive, planned to be incorporated into UK law in 2008, that set limits on occupational exposure to electromagnetic fields which would have made many procedures using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) illegal.
Sense About Science, the Royal College of Radiologists, the Institute of Physics, the British Institute of Radiologists and the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine, campaigned with scientists to repel the directive. We ran briefing sessions in Parliament, gave evidence to government enquiries and the Commons Science and Technology Committee and raised awareness of the issue in the media. There is a timeline of the campaign below. In October 2007 the implementation of the directive was delayed for four years, pending further research.
Tracey Brown, Managing Director, Sense About Science: “When scientists approached us with their frustrations at the lack of response to their concerns about the legislation, we were surprised that no-one involved in the policy had considered the public impact - not only the unnecessary threat to healthcare and research, but also the likely confusion about the relative risks of different types of scans. The scientific reasoning was largely absent but there was a lot of resistance to changing a directive already passed. The repeal of the Directive shows that, armed with scientific reasoning, scientists were able to convince individuals in parliament and government, and eventually the Commission, that the problem needed to be sorted out. It’s a victory for scientific reasoning over obstinacy.”
Professor Peter Jezzard, Centre for Functional MRI in the Brain, University of Oxford; Co-Director, Oxford Centre for Clinical Magnetic Resonance Research: “Clearly there is still work to be done in convincing the Commissioner of the safety of MRI, given that the problem is only defered, but the delay does at least provide the scientific community with an opportunity to assemble further evidence supporting the assertions that we have made all along.”