Researchers from across the European Union are to be invited to participate in a series of joint studies, one of which will examine whether the electromagnetic fields created by mobile telephones are damaging human health.
The subject has been identified as a new "action", designated for international cooperation and subsidy by the Committee of Senior Officials for Scientific and Technical Research (Cost).
Following a meeting in Brussels, Cost has launched nine such projects, on subjects including telecommunications and information technology, transport, the environment, agriculture, food technology and chemistry.
Cost is an international body that coordinates European universities and institutes in the creation and support of joint research projects. It funds and organises scientific exchanges and publications, although the core costs of research projects are usually met from national budgets.
Cost's new actions include: n Electromagnetic Fields and Health: Emerging Information and Communication Technologies. The project will attempt to gain "a better understanding of possible health impacts of emerging technologies, especially related to communication and information technologies, that may result in exposure to electromagnetic fields"
- Channel Modelling and Propagation Impairment Mitigation for Millimetre Wave Radio Systems. The project aims to improve the design and planning of millimetre wave broadband telecommunications systems
- Applied Biocatalysis: Stereoselective and Environmentally Friendly Reaction Catalysed by Enzymes
- Integrative Computational Chemistry, which aims to increase the power and scope of computational chemistry to "provide tools for the European chemical research community".
Other studies will focus on the surveillance of food-borne animal illnesses such as foot-and-mouth disease, molecular breeding for crop improvement, modelling plant-soil interactions, pollution indicators for ground-water reserves, and the environmental impact of transport projects.
The committee also agreed to the participation by non-EU universities and research establishments in a number of ongoing projects.
These will include the universities of Dallas and Illinois and the Russian and Ukrainian science academies joining studies into lanthanide chemistry for diagnostics and therapy, and the University of Concordia, Montreal, participating in work on the impact of wind and storms on city life and on the built environment.
Institutions seeking further information can contact the Cost Secretariat at 00 32 2 285 6896 or 00 32 2 285 7914.