Horizon Europe: IPBS is involved in the projects GOLIAT and ETAIN

GOLIAT and ETAIN are two of the 15 projects (selected from 83 proposals) funded by the European Commission’s Horizon Europe programme in the field of Environment and Health, under the heading “Living and working in a health-promoting environment ». The team headed by Dr Marie-Pierre Rols at the IPBS-Toulouse1 is participating in these projects, which aim to evaluate the impact of exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) on human, ecosystem and global health, in order to inform current policy and regulatory frameworks.The two projects have a total funding of nearly M€15 and will run for five years.

Digital technologies and electronic communication services are a critical enabler for achieving the sustainability goals of the European Green Deal in many different sectors. The use of the next generation radio-communication networks, e.g. 5G (fifth generation of mobile phone technology), promises higher data transfer rates and increased network capacity compared with previous generations. While digitalisation presents new opportunities, e.g. remote monitoring of air and water pollution and health outcomes, it also presents potential health risks. Europe needs a digital sector that puts sustainability at its heart: when deploying new technologies, potential risks related to human health should also be assessed, in addition to the significant benefits.

There has been an exponential increase in the use of personal wireless communication devices (mobile phones, WiFi or Bluetooth-enabled devices etc.) by almost all citizens in private and professional settings and in supporting infrastructures. The number of other applications using EMF has also increased, such as security scanners, smart meters and medical equipment. This has resulted in an increase in man-made electromagnetic radiation in our environment.

Despite the rapid growth in new wireless technology applications, relatively little is known about their potential impacts on health. Both the GOLIAT and ETAIN projects will contribute to a better understanding of these impacts.

Involving 13 European academic and private partners, ETAIN (Exposure To electromAgnetic fIelds and plaNetary health) aims to develop and validate approaches to assess the impact of existing and novel communication technologies from a global health perspective, while exploring options to reduce exposure. Researchers will interact with the general public and stakeholders to raise awareness of RF-EMF exposure levels and possible associated risks, including the development of an application for quantifying RF-EMF absorbed by individuals.

Involving 22 European academic and private partners, GOLIAT (5G expOsure, causaL effects, and rIsk perception through citizen engAgemenT) aims to monitor RF-EMF exposure, in particular from 5G, to provide novel information on its potential causal health effects, and to understand how exposures and risks are perceived and better communicated through citizen engagement, throug an integrative and transdisciplinary pan-European approach. In particular, researchers will develop next-generation exposure assessment methods to identify sources and estimate doses of RF-EMF that may affect the whole body and organs in young people, as well as how they may affect brain function, thermoregulation, and radical stress using in vitro, in vivo, human, and in silico experiments. The expected results will serve as a basis for developing guidelines for the prevention and reduction of exposure to next-generation radio-communication networks, including the Internet.

The “Cellular Biophysics” group led by Marie-Pierre Rols from the IPBS-Toulouse will play a key role in the determination of the causal biological effects of RF-EMF. As the skin is the main target of the 5G technologies which use the RF ranges 3.5 and 26 GHz, the group will address the possible short- and long-term effects of RF-EMF exposure in vitro in 2D and 3D-cell culture models of human keratinocytes and fibroblasts, and in engineered reconstructed epidermis and skin. They will determine if radical stress and ROS production can impact the cell viability and functionality, the intracellular organelles (especially mitochondria and nucleus), the metabolome and the extracellular matrix structures.

Horizon Europe: IPBS is involved in the projects GOLIAT and ETAIN