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EMF Studies

01 December 2015

United States: Government Failure to Address Wireless Radiation Risks

(Image selected by Editor of
"Towards Better Health")
Government Failure to Address Wireless Radiation Risks
saferemr.com, 30 November 2015

For more than two decades, Federal health agencies have argued that we don't have conclusive evidence of harm from exposure to non-ionizing electromagnetic fields (EMF) emitted by wireless devices, including cell phones, cordless phones, baby monitors, and wireless wearables. Yet, we do not have any compelling evidence that our everyday exposure to EMF from wireless devices is safe.

Today Microwave News published an exposé about the failure of the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) to report the results of a $25+ million project to assess the cancer risk of wireless radiation in laboratory animals. The study was proposed by the National Toxicology Program in 2001. Preliminary results have been released to industry, but not to the press or the public. NIEHS has refused to release project documents under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

In June, journalist Norm Alster published an exposé that provides insight into how the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Federal agency that regulates wireless radiation, became a victim of regulatory capture by the industry it is supposed to regulate. He discusses the implications for our health and safety of the wireless industry's corrupting influence on the FCC.

Current national and international EMF exposure limits are based upon the belief that wireless radiation can only harm us by heating tissue (i.e., thermal exposure), but many scientists and thousands of studies have found harmful bio-effects from chronic, non-thermal exposures. Moreover, the latest human studies have found increased brain tumor risk among long-term wireless phone users and increases in brain tumor incidence in many countries including the U.S.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has not behaved responsibly as its International EMF Project relied heavily on industry funding for many years. The WHO's radio frequency guidelines are established by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection. ICNIRP is a private organization composed of 14 members, many of whom have conflicts of interest according to the Asociacion Vallisoletana de Afectados por las Antenas de Teclecomunicaciones (AVAATE).

Concerned about the WHO's recalcitrance and the widespread global adoption of wireless technology, more than 200 EMF scientists from 40 countries submitted a petition in May to the United Nations, the WHO, and world leaders requesting them to update EMF safety limits in light of the latest research and warn the public about the risks from EMF exposure. For more information about the International EMF Scientist Appeal, see EMFscientist.org.

What constitutes a safe level of exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF)?
The U.S. has not only failed to fund the research necessary to answer this critical question, it has not participated in the international cell phone safety studies.

Earlier research in the U.S. was primarily sponsored by industry and has dubious value for answering the crucial public health questions related to current wireless technologies.

When the industry-funded studies produced evidence of biologic harm from exposure to low intensity wireless radiation, industry funding dried up. Absent funding, there are few EMF researchers left in this country.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the agency that regulates wireless radiation, is not a public health agency and must rely on Federal health agencies for guidance in reviewing the government's obsolete safety standards adopted in 1996. The safety limits for wireless radiation were developed in the early 1990's by industry scientists even though the EPA warned the FCC at the time that the regulations were inadequate to protect us from the harm caused by non-thermal exposure to wireless radiation.

Congress ended the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's research on the effects of cell phone radiation in the 1990's due to lobbying from the military and defense industry. Since then, the U.S. government has provided little support for such research. Federal health agencies and other health organizations keep stating we need more research prior to taking precautionary action.

It's no wonder that, in 2013, the cities of Boston and Philadelphia accused the Federal government of a "pass-the-buck attitude" with regard to cell phone radiation and health.

In the U.S., the one ongoing, federally-sponsored study of mobile phone radiation effects has been conducted by the National Toxicology Program (NTP). First proposed in 2001, the laboratory studies on mice and rats examine exposure to frequencies centering around 900 megahertz and 1900 megahertz, as well as the two 2G (second generation) modulations used for voice transmission—CDMA and GSM. Unfortunately, the study is seriously behind schedule.

At a Senate hearing in 2009, Dr. John Bucher, Associate Director of the National Toxicology Program of the National Institutes of Health, made the following apologetic statement regarding the aforementioned $25+ million NTP research project:

"The pilot studies are nearly complete. Subchronic studies will begin early next year and the chronic toxicology and carcinogenicity studies will start in late 2010, finish in 2012, with peer review and reporting in the 2013-2014 time frame."
To date, not a single paper has been published. By the time the NTP results are released, it is likely that the second-generation cell phone technologies under investigation will be obsolete because cell phone companies in the U.S. are planning to adopt 4G LTE for voice transmission.

The research on 3G and 4G suggests these technologies, in spite of their lower power densities, may be even riskier for human (as well as other species') health than 2G.

In June, the City Council in Berkeley, California unanimously adopted a cell phone "right to know" ordinance. This model law which requires cell phone retailers to provide customers with simple safety information has attracted worldwide media attention.

It is time for the U.S. and other governments to adopt the recommendations of the International EMF Scientist Appeal with regard to electromagnetic fields:

- children and pregnant women be protected;
- guidelines and regulatory standards be strengthened;
- manufacturers be encouraged to develop safer technology;
- utilities responsible for the generation, transmission, distribution, and monitoring of electricity maintain adequate power quality and ensure proper electrical wiring to minimize harmful ground current;
- the public be fully informed about the potential health risks from electromagnetic energy and taught harm reduction strategies;
- medical professionals be educated about the biological effects of electromagnetic energy and be - provided training on treatment of patients with electromagnetic sensitivity;
- governments fund training and research on electromagnetic fields and health that is independent of industry and mandate industry cooperation with researchers;
- media disclose experts’ financial relationships with industry when citing their opinions regarding health and safety aspects of EMF-emitting technologies; and
- white-zones (radiation-free areas) be established.Reference

Microwave News. "Institute of Environmental Health Secrets: NIEHS Mum on $25 Million RF Animal Project." Nov 30, 2015. http://bit.ly/govtfailwireless

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