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The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) held a Workshop "15 years on: Reviewing the past and looking forward" to critically review its strategy and philosophy for the development of international guidelines on non-ionizing radiation (NIR) protection on 15-16 September 2008 in Prague, Czech Republic. It is intended to publish a summary of the main topics debated at the workshop in a Journal.

Scope and aim: Following its founding stages as a Working Group and then the International NIR Committee of the International Radiation Protection Association (IRPA), ICNIRP was chartered by IRPA as an independent Commission at its 1992 meeting in Montreal. ICNIRP's charter was based on the highly successful model of the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) that develops guidance on protection for ionizing radiation.

ICNIRP was chartered for the purpose of advancing NIR protection for the benefit of people and the environment, and in particular:
- to independently develop scientific protection criteria based on science
- to provide scientific guidance and recommendations on protection from NIR exposure
- to carry out scientific seminars and educational conferences
- to publish scientific reports on protection against NIR, and
- to inform the scientific community and the general public about protection against NIR.

After 15 years, ICNIRP guidelines have now been accepted by a large number of countries around the world. ICNIRP has been working closely with the World Health Organization and other international agencies to achieve the highest standards of health risk assessment from which sound, science based NIR exposure limits can be developed.

With the EMF technology revolution continuing unremittingly, leading to increasingly complex NIR exposure situations, it is difficult for researchers to conduct studies fast enough for their results to be relevant to the latest technological advances and exposure situations. Assessing health risks is increasingly difficult because of scientific uncertainty, leading to concerns that more precautionary approaches are needed. Social impact on radiation protection philosophies is increasing and there seems to be a need to reconsider basic principles for standard setting in comparison with other environmental risk factors such as ionising radiation.

Now is an appropriate time for ICNIRP to review its achievements, strategy, philosophy and challenges for the future to be relevant to an ever-changing world. The program of the Workshop will allow considerable scope for participants to provide their insights on how a 21st century ICNIRP should function.

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