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EMF Studies

16 August 2015

Comments on BMJ Article: "Should All NHS Premises Provide Free Access to Wi-Fi?"

Re: Should all NHS premises provide free access to wi-fi?
Comment on BMJ article by Priyanka D. Bandara, Environmental Health Researcher/educator, Castle Hill, NSW, Australia, 15 August 2015

This article and most of the responses represent further evidence to the urgent need to inform the medical community (and the general public ) about the wide range of biological effects and adverse health effects that have been scientifically demonstrated to be associated with exposure to chronic “low level” exposure of microwaves (high power radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation or RF-EMR). The current knowledge on the RF-EMR is akin to the widespread ignorance that prevailed in the medical community about X-ray for decades (i.e. a “low dose” can’t do harm) after initial evidence of childhood cancer associated with X-ray during pregnancy was presented by Dr. Alice Stewart in the 1950s.

Today, in a world of information-overload, it is not surprising that most in public health only read the official position of the government radiation protection agencies and the WHO-EMF project and take home assurances of safety without realizing that the current safety standards used in the regulation of public exposure in the UK, US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and many other countries are flawed and outdated. Exposure standards in these countries are based on the guidelines of the NGO professional body International Commission of Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) and the Institute of the Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) which were based on short-term thermal effects of RF-EMR. The presumption that microwaves would only produce tissue heating has been proven wrong by a several thousand publications in peer-reviewed scientific literature showing biological effects induced by non-thermal levels of exposure. The Bioinitiative Report is a good collation of this literature freely available on the internet. The UK government-commissioned Stewart Report of 2000 also raised concerns about the biological effects, as well as a number of US defence medical intelligence reports.

About 40% of the world’s population have more protective standards than UK (Russia, China, Switzerland, Italy, India, Austria) due to the concerns about the adverse health outcomes of non-thermal effects. This is despite the scientific evidence indicating that even those standards are unlikely to be protective enough against chronic effects.

How many are aware that the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) appointed an expert panel to reviewed the scientific literature on cancer and RF-EMR in 2011 which classified RF-EMR as a class 2B possible human carcinogen? In fact, there has been much criticism of that decision and there are calls to upgrade that to a 2A probable carcinogen. The IARC 2011 review was missing some key studies and new evidence has emerged since. So, 2B is too lenient in my opinion. When a number of countries have taken measures to reduce exposure of the public, particularly the more vulnerable children, such as newly introduced WiFi bans for small children in France, Taiwan, Russia as well as Isreali official advice to reduce exposure of children in schools, it does not make sense and it could well be counter-productive to install WiFi in hospitals and increase the exposure of the sick to this environmental pollutant, which has been shown to have toxic biological effects. For example, a recent German study (funded by the Federal Office for Radiation Protection) showed the ability of RF-EMR to enhance the carcinogenicity of a known chemical carcinogen (doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2015.02.151) and also intriguingly it was not the highest dose of RF-EMR that had the most carcinogenic potential – supporting the previous evidence indicating that a classical dose-dependent toxicology model cannot be applied to RF-EMR.

Moreover, epidemiological evidence includes many studies showing increased cancer and neurological symptoms in populations living close to microwave transmitters like mobile base stations, radar and TV/radio transmitter towers as well as an increased risk of brain cancer associated with prolonged use of mobile and cordless phones.

Expansion of WiFi in schools and hospitals is neither an informed nor a safe decision. This is also a serious OH&S issue of this century as complaints of electro-hypersensitivity are on the increase.

Health officials and policy makers need to heed the recent International EMF Scientists’ Appeal to the UN and the WHO urging attention to this public health issue (https://emfscientist.org/).

Competing interests: No competing interests

Priyanka D. Bandara
Environmental Health Researcher/educator
P.O. Box 577, Castle Hill, NSW 1765, Australia


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