Webinar - June 14, 2023
Please note that the web pages can be translated into many languages. See the language selector at the top left side of the home page. The recordings are divided into three parts. Underneath each part are the highlights of each presentation.
Radiofrequency Radiation from Wireless Communications Sources: Are the Safety Limits Safe?
An ICBE-EMF-Sponsored Workshop held at the Royal Society of Medicine in London and online on Jun 14, 2023
Part 1 Presentation highlights
David Gee, Workshop Chairperson, welcomed everyone and made a brief presentation: “Wireless Radiation; An Emerging Hazard 1972-2003”
Mr. Gee referred to two publications entitled Late Lessons from Early Warnings: Science, Precaution and Innovation, which he co-authored with Professor Jacqueline McGlade, while she served as the Director of the European Environment Agency. He summarized the basic questions that were asked:
- When was the first plausible scientific evidence about asbestos, X-Rays, climate change …
- What happened to the knowledge as it grew, and it always does?
- As it grew, what did society do about that information?
- What were the consequences of their actions or, almost always, inaction?
- What were the Cost/Benefits?
- What were the Pros and Cons?
- Are there any lessons we can learn from the history of X-Rays or asbestos, that we can deploy so that we don’t make these mistakes again?
- The mistakes can be tragic. We are trying to avoid a similar kind of problem with radio frequency radiation today.
“Non-Ionizing Radiation Health Effects; Vulnerable Populations; Critical Role of Medical Doctor”
Medical doctors are regularly safety-trained on ionising radiation use, but have not be trained regarding similarly on non-ionising radiation. It is now known that all areas of the electromagnetic spectrum can affect biology. The focus of this lecture is primarily on the radio frequencies (RF) that can also be pulse-modulated at extremely low frequency (ELF).
Environmental toxicants can cause biological damage that can lead to acute and then chronic health effects. The public expect that safety limits protect biology, but this is not the case with exposure to radiofrequency radiation.
The voice of the medical doctor is missing. Doctors have never been trained about the health effects of non-ionizing radiation, nor have they been invited to participate in the debate, even though they play a crucial role in diagnosing and treating acute and chronic illness.
The International Commission on the Biological Effects of Electromagnetic Fields (ICBE-EMF) published a paper that challenges the validity of the assumptions made by the International Commission on Nonionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in their radiofrequency radiation exposure limits, entitled “Scientific evidence invalidates health assumptions underlying the FCC and ICNIRP exposure limit determinations for radiofrequency radiation: implications for 5G”, Melnick et.al., 2022.
This lecture focuses on two of the invalid assumptions reported in this paper by the ICBE-EMF: those relating to sensitive subpopulations.
Sensitive sub-populations (including children and those with Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity), have more variability in tolerance to radiofrequency radiation exposures. Children’s absorption has been shown to be greater and their developing systems can be affected differently. There is more time ahead for latent effects to manifest
Wireless technologies, non-ionizing electromagnetic fields, and children: Identifying and reducing health risks, by Devra Davis, et.al., 2023.
On radar and radio exposure and cancer in the military setting, by Peleg et.al., 2023
Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS) is an escalating public health issue. Estimates range in the literature up to 5% (3.5 million people) and even 10% in some countries, (UK equivalent would be 7 million people).
In 2005, the World Health Organization recognized EHS comprises symptoms within the central nervous system, reported to be triggered by exposures that are “several orders of magnitude under the limits of internationally accepted standards.”
Whilst EHS is the term used to describe acute symptoms, chronic health effects such as carcinogenesis are a well evidenced issue. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) designated RFR as a Group 2b possible Human Carcinogen in 2011 and the evidence has strengthened substantially since that time. Associated tumour types include Glioblastoma Multiforme and Schwannoma.
Dr. Mallery Blythe quotes Bernadino Ramazzini, who was a physician who founded the field of occupational medicine, saying in 1711: “It is much better to treat than to cure, and so much easier to foresee future harm and avoid it, rather than have to get rid of it after having fallen prey”. She concludes by saying “Biologically based exposure limits are urgently needed”.
Part 2 Presentation highlights
In 2019, the New Hampshire State Legislature, in the USA, passed non-partisan legislation calling for the formation of a commission to explore the health effects of wireless radiation. This is the first such Commission formed legislatively in the United States, and perhaps the world. Some of the questions this commission were asked to consider included:
- Why does the insurance industry recognize that wireless radiation is a risk but will not insure for damage caused by it?
- Why have the many hundreds of peer-reviewed studies showing harm from wireless radiation been ignored by the ICNIPR and the FCC?
- Why have ICNIRP/FCC guidelines been based solely on thermal effects when non-thermal effects have been documented?
- Why did the Word Health Organization classify wireless radiation as a possible human carcinogen, and why is that fact being ignored by ICNIRP and the FCC?
U.S. government regulatory agencies (including FDA, EPA, and OSHA) were invited, but did not attend, and did not respond to questions. All outside experts who presented, except one, provided clear evidence that wireless radiation poses a threat to human health and the environment. The one person who did not acknowledge health risks was from the telecommunications industry and was the only one paid to make a presentation.
The radiofrequency radiation guidelines set by ICNIRP and the FCC for lifetime exposures are based on studies lasting less than an hour; a single endpoint attributed to heating effect; a small sampling of animals (8 rats and 5 monkeys); and an arbitrary safety factor.
The Commission found that wireless radiation poses a threat to human health and the environment; electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) is an illness caused by wireless radiation; this is not a scientific issue. it is a political/economic issue; and, until FCC radiation and policies are changed (1996 Federal Telecommunications Act), protections available to municipalities will be limited.
The International Commission on the Biological Effects of Electromagnetic Fields (ICBE-EMF) published a paper, Cell Phone Radiation Exposure Limits and Engineering Solutions, Heroux et.al, 2023, that can make cell phones safer to use that can be done at very low cost by the telecommunications industry.
Part 3 Presentation highlights
See: IEEE MICROWAVE MAGAZINE, JUNE 2023 RF HEALTH SAFETY LIMITS AND RECOMMENDATIONS, by James C. Lin, Electrical Engineer and professor at the University of Chicago, IEEE life member, and former ICNIRP Board Member.
Dr. Lin gave an overview of the Electromagnetic Spectrum and a history of exposure limit development since 1966. The health effects of microwave and radiofrequency (RF) fields have been the subject of scientific research for 70 years. Guidelines have been promulgated for 50+ plus years.
Why are we still talking about setting standards or guidelines? Are there health hazards?
The answer is YES. There is consensus that acute, high intensity, high absorption rates can produce thermal effects in tissue.
There is controversy that arises about the effects of repeated or long-term exposures (over 6 minutes i.e., cell phone use, or over 30 minutes, i.e., environmental exposure to cell towers)
There are possibly delayed effects at low levels of exposure, e.g., cancer.
The current guidelines or standards, are based on thermal effects for “safe” human exposure to radiofrequency adiation (the IEEE International Commission on Electromagnetic Safety (ICES) guidelines, last revised in 2019; and the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), last revised in 2020.
ICBE-EMF was established in 2021. Hopefully, their activities will lead to improved approaches to setting exposure limits.
There are certain anomalies and inconsistencies: ICNIRP deleted its 1998 restrictions on pulsed exposures contrary to recent 5G and persistent concerns. ICES and ICNIRP exposure limits are revised to convey strong conviction for RF heating.
Current standards are based on a whole-body temperature increase of 1 degree Centigrade; local tissue temperatures of 2 degrees to 5 degrees Centigrade; short-term exposures of 6 to 30 minutes; aside from lack of millimeter-wave data, new criteria (5 degree Celsius) for 5G (6 GHz to 300 GHz) is concerning. Local tissue temperature of 5 degree Celsius would induce tissue temperature to increase from a nominal 37 degree Celsius to a hyperthermic 42 degree Celsius.
Hyperthermic tissue temperature of 42 degrees Celsius is cytotoxic – well known that it can produce exponential cell kills. Hyperthermia therapy for treatment of cancer is the medical foundation for treatment of malignant tumors, Oei et.al. 2021.
At both the molecular and physiological levels, there are different working mechanisms responsible for the additive and synergistic interactions of hypothermia with biological systems. Hyperthermia acts as a radio sensitizer for ionizing radiation, basically, as well as a chemosensitizer both in terms of genotoxic effects such as DNA strand breaks, activation of stress proteins and, at the physiological level, for example, cell proliferation. And these phenomenon increases at low hyperthermal levels as an additive effect all the way to a synergistic effect at a higher temperature elevation, to 42 or 43 degrees Celsius.
In 2011, The International Agency for research on Cancer (IARC) classified RF Radiation as a “possible carcinogen in humans”, based on epidemiological reports, but only partial data for animal experiments. In 2018, the National Toxicology Program (NTP) reported clear evidence of radiofrequency radiation exposure causing development of malignant tumors in rats (schwannoma) at 6 w/kg (which does not cause the body temperature to rise more than 1 degree Celsius). Both the NTP and the Ramazzini Institute, whose animal study, also published in 2018, confirmed the NTP study. NTP and Ramazzini Institute animal reports logically and scientifically support IARC’s classification.
Currently, the revised exposure limits regarding IARC classification and animal studies are not applicable. The revised exposure limits did not apply the results from the animal studies, claiming that they were due to chance or a rise in a body temperature of 1 degree Celsius. The exposure limits totally ignored the independent variable for the animal experiments – RF exposure.
Other issues that were raised are that the revised limits do not provide any adjustments for effects due to long-term human exposure (greater than 6 to 30 min.). There is a total lack of appreciation of scientific knowledge on chronic toxicology, genotoxicity, and carcinogenicity regarding RF exposure below the basic restrictions promulgated by the exposure limits. There is an outdated characterization of the SAR (Specific Absorption Rate), as it does not account for averaging mass and exposure duration dependencies.
There is a direct correlation between the exposure duration as an average mass that really should not be stated as 10 grams or 1 gram when we examine the biological effects of RF exposure for shorter duration versus the long-term exposures. This is an example of the shortcomings of the currently published guidelines.
In conclusion, Dr. Lin stated that mobile phones and wireless technologies have demonstrated benefits to people in modern society. But, in evaluating the risk to the health and safety of humans who are unnecessarily being subjected to high levels of RF exposure over prolonged durations or even over lifetimes, THE JURY IS IN.
Epidemiological studies and animal investigations are consistent in indicating RF exposures as probably carcinogenic to humans. Dr Lin recommends The principle of ALARA – as low as reasonably achievable – ought to be adopted as a strategy for RF health and safety protection.
In the global rollout of 5G systems, that’s currently underway, the system is proliferating without any significant health and environmental safety research which has some independence from industry. There are proprietary issues to this technology, and it may be difficult for independent scientists to obtain the details of MIMO (multiple input-multiple output), pulsing and the various beamforming arrays that are now part of many 5G transmission systems, all of which could be expected, on basic biological grounds, to have different effects on living organisms. So, now what we have is a system well on its way to implementation.
We now have emerging research findings from previous generations (i.e., 2G, 3G, and 4G) on radiofrequency telecoms technology, suggesting there are worrisome biological effects, certainly in the lab and, increasingly, in vivo evidence in living human populations and some evidence in plant populations. But it takes longer to establish these effects through large epidemiological studies where you follow tens of thousands of people over many years.
That is not entirely unexpected as the effects that are most dramatic are delayed in their onset by decades, in some cases. That is a very long time for anyone to see a causal relationship. You have heard about two cancers identified by Dr. Mallery-Blythe.
There is solid evidence published in peer-reviewed journals, particularly by Lennart Hardell, but others as well, that major global and many national regulatory agencies have been captured by vested interests, particularly Big Telecom, and that the current safe exposure limits are outdated, inadequate, and not current with scientific knowledge. This is a situation that is unprecedented in recent years but is extremely familiar to those of you who know the history of occupational hazards as David Gee does, such as asbestos.
In Britain, the U.K., the U.S. and in Canada, my homeland, at least, the federal agency capture by vested interests has gone much further to subvert the local planning process in deciding on the siting of transmission masts. These vested interests legislatively preempt local planning groups from even considering health environmental health concerns at the local level by alleging that this can only be handled by experts at the federal level.
The only way to oppose a proposal to site a local mast, even by the edge of a school playground, is dutiful communications with local community members, particularly residents nearby, to attend a local hearing and get petitions signed.
Marcellus, the guard in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, famously said something’s rotten in the state of Denmark. If we substitute the phrase: the current telecommunications innovation strategy, you don’t need to be imaginative to know that something’s not quite right.
Dr. Frank concludes with a quote from Margaret Mead, who once said “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world, indeed, it is the only thing that has”.