by Annelie Fitzgerald, truepublica.org.uk, 17 October 2018
most censored stories in Britain. One story that never made it into the mainstream media or even any independent media outlets in the UK at the time was the disbanding of the UK Advisory Group on Non-Ionising Radiation (AGNIR) in May 2017. This followed the revelation in December 2016 that AGNIR’s latest assessment of the science on the health impacts of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMFs)—the type emitted by modern wireless technologies—was inaccurate and subject to conflicts of interest, a story that elicited no media interest in the UK either.
AGNIR’s role was to provide Public Health England with objective, science-based recommendations and advice on safe public exposure levels to man-made RF-EMFs. PHE is the agency from which the devolved UK nations take their advice, and other public health agencies from around the world also referred to AGNIR’s recommendations.
In 2012 AGNIR published what turned out to be its last report: Health Effects from Electromagnetic Fields (RCE-20).
The report’s executive summary included the following definitive-sounding statement on RF-EMF safety: ‘Taken together, these studies provide no evidence of health effects of RF field exposures below internationally accepted guideline levels.’
While this conclusion might appear to justify the dissolution last year of AGNIR, close examination reveals that the final AGNIR report was a partial one—in every sense of the word.
In December 2016 UK neuroscientist Dr Sarah J. Starkey published a peer-reviewed paper, ‘Inaccurate official assessment of radiofrequency safety by the Advisory Group on Non-Ionising Radiation’, roundly criticising the AGNIR report.
Accuracy, Starkey pointed out, ‘is vital when most people only read the executive summary and overall conclusions from a 348-page report and national and international public health decisions and exposure levels are based on them’ (p. 494).
In reality, as Starkey demonstrates, the conclusions drawn by AGNIR did not accurately reflect the scientific evidence available: the report contained ‘incorrect and misleading statements’ and omitted significant quantities of relevant research.
Annelie Fitzgerald is a member of the Safe Schools Information Technology Alliance. SSITA recently sent an open letter to Education Secretary Damian Hinds on the subject of AGNIR’s inaccurate conclusions about the safety of RF-EMF exposure, particularly as they relate to children’s health and well-being.