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Inaccurate official assessment of radiofrequency safety by the Advisory Group on Non-ionising Radiation


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The Advisory Group on Non-ionising Radiation (AGNIR) 2012 report forms the basis of official advice on the safety of radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic fields in the United Kingdom and has been relied upon by health protection agencies around the world. This review describes incorrect and misleading statements from within the report, omissions and conflict of interest, which make it unsuitable for health risk assessment. The executive summary and overall conclusions did not accurately reflect the scientific evidence available. Independence is needed from the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), the group that set the exposure guidelines being assessed. This conflict of interest critically needs to be addressed for the forthcoming World Health Organisation (WHO) Environmental Health Criteria Monograph on Radiofrequency Fields. Decision makers, organisations and individuals require accurate information about the safety of RF electromagnetic signals if they are to be able to fulfil their safeguarding responsibilities and protect those for whom they have legal responsibility.
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Rev Environ Health 2016; 31(4): 493–503
Open Access
Sarah J. Starkey*
Inaccurate official assessment of radiofrequency
safety by the Advisory Group on Non-ionising
DOI 10.1515/reveh-2016-0060
Received September 30, 2016; accepted October 16, 2016
Abstract: The Advisory Group on Non-ionising Radiation
(AGNIR) 2012 report forms the basis of official advice
on the safety of radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic
fields in the United Kingdom and has been relied upon
by health protection agencies around the world. This
review describes incorrect and misleading statements
from within the report, omissions and conflict of inter-
est, which make it unsuitable for health risk assessment.
The executive summary and overall conclusions did not
accurately reflect the scientific evidence available. Inde-
pendence is needed from the International Commission
on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), the group
that set the exposure guidelines being assessed. This con-
flict of interest critically needs to be addressed for the
forthcoming World Health Organisation (WHO) Environ-
mental Health Criteria Monograph on Radiofrequency
Fields. Decision makers, organisations and individuals
require accurate information about the safety of RF elec-
tromagnetic signals if they are to be able to fulfil their
safeguarding responsibilities and protect those for whom
they have legal responsibility.
Keywords: AGNIR; brain; cognition; development; EEG;
electromagnetic; fertility; genotoxicity; health; ICNIRP;
immune; membranes; misleading; oxidative stress; pro-
teins; Public Health England (PHE); symptoms; tumours;
wireless; WHO.
The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation
Protection (ICNIRP) set international exposure guidelines
for radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic fields in 1998
(1). Conclusions from subsequent ICNIRP reviews have
supported the guidelines. Within the United Kingdom
(UK), Public Health England (PHE) commission scientific
reviews by the Advisory Group on Non-ionising Radiation
(AGNIR) to assess the safety of RF fields. AGNIR reviews,
along with PHE in-house assessments of exposures, form
the basis of PHE’s advice on the safety of RF signals. This
guides the UK government, organisations and decision
makers when assessing the safety of wireless devices and
infrastructure. The latest AGNIR review (2) has also been
relied upon by health protection agencies around the
world, including the Australian Radiation Protection and
Nuclear Safety Agency (3) and Health Canada (4).
The majority of the global population absorb RF radi-
ation on a daily basis from smartphones, tablet comput-
ers, body-worn devices, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth transmitters,
cordless phones, base stations, wireless utility meters
and other transmitters. For public health to be protected,
decisions need to be based on accurate information. The
AGNIR report is considered here for conflicts of interest
and scientific accuracy.
Conflicts of interest
PHE stated, “The 2012 AGNIR report considered whether
there was evidence for health effects occurring in relation
to exposures below the ICNIRP levels” (5). At the time of
writing the report, the chairman of AGNIR was also chair
of the ICNIRP standing committee on epidemiology. Cur-
rently, six members of AGNIR and three members of PHE
or its parent organisation, the Department of Health (DH),
are or have been part of ICNIRP (Table 1). When the group
charged with assessing whether there is evidence of health
effects occurring at exposures below current ICNIRP values
have members who are responsible for setting the guide-
lines, it introduces a conflict of interest. How can AGNIR
report that the scientific literature contains evidence of
harmful effects below the current guidelines when several
of them are responsible for those guidelines? PHE provide
*Corresponding author: Sarah J. Starkey, Independent Neuroscience
and Environmental Health Research, 27 Old Gloucester Street,
London WC1N 3AX, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern
Ireland, E-mail:
©2016, Sarah J. Starkey, published by De Gruyter.
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License.
494     Starkey: Inaccurate official assessment of radiofrequency safety by AGNIR
the official advice on the safety of wireless signals within
the UK, but having members in ICNIRP introduces a con-
flict of interest which could prevent them from acknowl-
edging adverse effects below ICNIRP guidelines.
PHE (the then Health Protection Agency) responded
to the report with “The Health Protection Agency welcomes
this comprehensive and critical review of scientific studies
prepared by the independent Advisory Group on Non-ionis-
ing Radiation” (6). The implication was that an independ-
ent group had produced the report and presented it to PHE.
However, at the time of writing, 43% of those in AGNIR were
from PHE or the DH (2) (Table 1). PHE had misleadingly
welcomed the report which they were involved in preparing.
Scientific accuracy
The executive summary of the AGNIR report included
Taken together, these studies provide no evidence of health
effects of RF field exposures below internationally accepted
guideline levels” [page 3 of the report (2)] and “the evi-
dence considered overall has not demonstrated any adverse
health effects of RF field exposures below internationally
accepted guideline levels” [page 4 (2)]. Accuracy 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 exposures
are based on them. These conclusions did not accurately
reflect the evidence, as described in examples below.
(a) Studies were omitted, included in other sections
but without any conclusions, or conclusions left out; (b)
evidence was dismissed and ignored in conclusions; (c)
there were incorrect statements. Terms such as ‘convinc-
ing’ or ‘consistent’ were used to imply that there was no
evidence. Some examples fall into more than one category.
(a) Studies omitted, included in other sections but
without any conclusions, or conclusions left out
Only 7 studies were included in the section on reactive
oxygen species [ROS; page 94 (2); Figure 1]. These were
summarised by “production of reactive oxygen species
(ROS) were increased in some studies, but not others
[page 106 (2)]. At least a further 30 studies relevant to
ROS or the possible resulting damaging state of oxidative
stress were included throughout the report, but with no
reference to ROS or oxidative stress within the main text
for 16 of these (listed in Supplementary Information, SI)
and no mention of this subject in any other summaries
or conclusions. At least 40studies were omitted (using
AGNIR restriction to the English language; identified from
PubMed and EMF-Portal databases or references within
the papers; SI). If these had been included, 79% of studies
(61 out of 77) would have demonstrated evidence of sig-
nificantly increased ROS or oxidative stress in response to
Table 1: AGNIR in 2012 and 2016 and membership of ICNIRP, PHE or DH.
AGNIR  AGNIR 
Swerdlow A.J. (Chair)ICNIRP Chair of standing
committee on epidemiology
Swerdlow A.J. (Chair)formerly ICNIRP
Conney S.W. DH Conney S.W. DH
Coulton L.A. Coulton L.A.
Duck F.A. Duck F.A. ICNIRP
Feychting M. ICNIRP Feychting M. Vice-Chair ICNIRP
Haggard P. Haggard P.
Lomas D.J. Lomas D.
Noble D.
Maslanyj M.P. HPA Maslanyj M.P. PHE
Meara J.R. HPA Meara J.R. PHE
Peyman A. HPA Peyman A. PHE
Powers H.
Rhodes L.
Rubin G.J. Rubin G.J.
Sienkiewicz Z.J. ICNIRP, HPA Sienkiewicz Z.J. ICNIRP, PHE
Tedstone A. PHE
Young A.
PHE was formerly known as the Health Protection Agency, HPA. PHE is part of the Department of Health, DH.
Starkey: Inaccurate official assessment of radiofrequency safety by AGNIR    495
RF fields (Figure 1; SI). By only including a few of the avail-
able studies, not referring to many scattered throughout
the report and not mentioning ROS or oxidative stress in
any conclusions or the executive summary, this important
area of research was misrepresented. Oxidative stress is a
toxic state which can lead to cellular DNA, RNA, protein
or lipid damage (7, 8), is accepted as a major cause of
cancer (7), as well as being implicated in many reproduc-
tive, central nervous system, cardiovascular, immune and
metabolic disorders (7–14).
The conclusion for male fertility studies in animals
was “A substantial number of studies have investigated
the effects of RF fields on testicular function, principally
in rats, and most report large, obvious effects. However,
these results are largely uninterpretable due to inadequate
dosimetry or other shortcomings in the studies, and thus
are unsuitable for the purposes of health risk assessment.
One well-conducted study reported no effects on testicu-
lar function in rats exposed to 848 MHz CDMA signals
[page 191 (2)]. For male fertility in humans (in vivo), it
was concluded, “The evidence on the effect of RF fields
on sperm quality is still weak and the addition of the two
new studies does not allow reliable evaluation of the pres-
ence or absence of a health effect. Some suggestive posi-
tive results, although not convincing, give justification for
Number of studies
Figure 1: Comparison of the number of studies included in the
AGNIR report with those that could have been, for ROS, oxidative
stress or male fertility.
(A) studies included in the ROS section; (B) studies scattered
throughout the report on ROS or oxidative stress (but with no
summary or conclusion); (C) studies which could have been included
for ROS or oxidative stress; (D) studies included on male fertility in
the cellular studies chapter; (E) studies included on male fertility
in animal studies; (F) studies included on male fertility in humans
(invivo); (G) studies which could have been included for male fertil-
ity. Dark shading indicates evidence of significant increase of ROS
or oxidative stress, adverse effect on male fertility or altered male
testosterone concentrations in response to a radiofrequency field;
light shading indicates no significant increase of ROS or oxidative
stress, adverse effect on male fertility or altered male testosterone
concentrations. Studies are listed in SI.
further studies with improved methods. The evidence on
effects on male subfertility is very limited, and allows no
At least 22 studies on male fertility were omitted
(AGNIR restriction to the English language; identified
from PubMed or EMF-Portal databases or references
within the papers; listed in SI). Considering those iden-
tified as included throughout the report (excluding three
subsequently retracted, SI), 78% of studies (18 out of
23) described significant adverse effects on sperm, male
reproductive organs or changes in male testosterone con-
centrations (SI). If the 22 references identified as omitted
had also been included, this would have been 35 out of 45,
78% (Figure 1; SI). Isolating small samples of evidence in
chapters on cells, animals or humans (Figure 1) may have
made it easier to dismiss significant effects on male repro-
ductive health. Inaccurately, in the overall and executive
summaries, the evidence for adverse effects on male fer-
tility disappeared: “Despite many studies investigating
effects on male fertility, there is no convincing evidence
that low level exposure results in any adverse outcomes on
testicular function” [page 192 (2)] and for humans, in vivo,
The limited available data on other non-cancer outcomes
show no effects of RF field exposure” [page 4 (2)]. The term
‘convincing’ is subjective and can erroneously imply that
there is no evidence. The human data on male fertility did
not show “no effects of RF field exposure”.
Some studies, mostly those which had tested signals
from real mobile devices, were dismissed as uninterpret-
able because they had not described the dosimetry, the
process of determining internal electromagnetic quan-
tities relating to exposure in tissues, in enough detail.
Limited descriptions restrict possible interpretations,
but do not make them uninterpretable. If the question
is ‘do mobile phone signals damage male fertility?’, real
phone signals are highly relevant because they allow pos-
sible effects of the complex patterns of fields to which
humans are exposed to be investigated. ICNIRP only
accept thermal effects of RF fields and focus on average
energy absorbed. Highly controlled, simulated signals
with descriptions of overall specific absorption rates
(SARs) are suited to the assessment of temperature rises
in cells or tissues. Real signals make it more difficult to
measure average energy, but have characteristics which
controlled, simulated signals lack. The complex field
patterns, with variable peak field strengths and intervals
between transmissions, may influence biology in ways
that controlled, simulated patterns cannot, but they are
not represented by time-averaged, duty factor reductions
of described energy absorption. Responses to RF fields
can be greater for intermittent exposures than continuous
496     Starkey: Inaccurate official assessment of radiofrequency safety by AGNIR
(15, 16) and depend upon the pulse characteristics for the
same average power (17). Effects can be dependent on fre-
quency, modulation, signal strength (intensity windows),
durations of exposure and polarisation (18, 19). For the
nervous system, complex signals from real devices may
modulate neuronal activity, similar to endogenous electric
field ephaptic (non-synaptic) coupling in the brain (20).
There is evidence that endogenous electric fields feedback
to modulate neuronal activity (21). Fields with amplitudes
similar to those found in vivo, applied to neocortical brain
slices, modulated and entrained neuronal spiking activity
(21). Irregular patterns of fields with complex dynamics,
which mimicked in vivo fluctuations, entrained neuronal
activity more strongly than sine waves (21). There are valid
reasons for testing the effects of signals from real mobile
devices, and dismissing these limited and misrepresented
the evidence.
The summary for neurocognitive effects in humans
stated, “Studies of cognitive function and human perfor-
mance do not suggest acute effects of exposure to RF fields
from mobile phones and base stations” [page 226 (2)]. But
acute detrimental effects on cognition were omitted from
the report (22–25) or mentioned in different sections (26–
29). Increased errors during a memory task (26), slowed
performance (27) or decreased accuracy in a cognitive test
(28) were reported in the electroencephalogram (EEG)
section [pages 209–213 (2)]; slowed performance in cog-
nitive tests (29) were reported under sleep [page 215 (2)].
Omitting the studies which found effects in the relevant
section led to an incorrect conclusion.
For symptoms in humans, “Sufferers differ in terms
of the type of symptoms that they report, the speed with
which symptoms develop and the types of electromagnetic
field that appear to be problematic” [page 232 (2)]. Acute
provocation studies in humans expose all subjects to the
same short electromagnetic signal to see whether they
all respond with the same immediate symptoms. If the
speed with which symptoms develop and types of trigger
differ between individuals, then in a group overall a lack
of significance might be expected for identical acute
provocations, but this does not mean that some indi-
viduals cannot respond to certain fields given adequate
exposure durations, intervals between provocations
and low background electromagnetic fields, as has been
reported (30, 31). The executive summary concluded,
The evidence suggests that RF field exposures below
guideline levels do not cause acute symptoms in humans
[page 3 (2)], without explaining limitations.
Many of the longer-term observational studies
described significant associations of RF exposures with
symptoms, albeit with limitations in study designs: “While
some, though by no means all, of the studies reviewed
above appear to suggest an association between mobile
phone use and symptoms” [page 245 (2)], followed by
“almost all of the studies share a fundamental methodo-
logical problem which makes it difficult to draw any firm
conclusions from them: these studies relied upon the partic-
ipants’ own descriptions of their mobile phone usage as the
exposure variable for their analysis and on self-description
of symptoms while knowing exposure status” (2). Longer-
term studies on symptoms were omitted from the execu-
tive summary.
No mention was made of the World Health Organiza-
tion (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer
(IARC) classification of RF fields as a possible human
carcinogen in 2011, which was based on limited evidence
supporting carcinogenicity below ICNIRP guideline
values (32).
(b) Evidence dismissed and ignored in conclusions
For in vitro membrane effects, the report showed that all
studies included (seventeen (33–49); non-blood-brain
barrier (BBB)) described significant responses to RF signals
except for one, which had tested extremely high powers,
far greater than ICNIRP guidelines, that heated the tissue
[250–3600 W/kg time-averaged SAR (50); pages 102 and
103 (2)]. This heating study had reported an effect, an in
vitro recoverable decrease in population spike amplitude
in the hippocampus in response to the RF signal, but no
effect on long-term potentiation (50). The report text also
mentioned that Falzone etal. had found no changes to the
cell membrane [(51), page 101 (2)], but they had measured
markers of apoptosis, programmed cell death, not direct
effects on membranes; this paper was not included in
the table of studies on membrane effects. The membrane
studies were weakly dismissed: “In general, most studies
report finding effects on cell membranes when exposures
are made at mobile phone frequencies. However, the effects
reported are varied and, although the majority find effects,
neither is this unanimous nor does it necessarily provide
supporting evidence of a consistent effect. The variety of
cellular systems and exposures makes comparisons of the
effects on the cell membrane problematic and without inde-
pendent replication it is difficult to assess the robustness
or even the validity of the findings.” Studies had looked
at a range of effects and all, below high power heating,
reported significant changes, strengthening the validity of
the findings.
For direct effects on proteins, 15 out of 16 studies
listed found significant effects of RF fields [pages 103–105
(2); (52–67) effect; (53) no effect]. The conclusion was “In
general, most of the studies that have investigated changes
Starkey: Inaccurate official assessment of radiofrequency safety by AGNIR    497
in protein function or structure due to exposure to RF fields
have found effects. However, at the present time the effects
have not been demonstrated to be robust by independent
replication; so although the concept of a direct effect of RF
field exposure on protein structure is interesting, further
research is needed to establish if this is a real phenom-
enon.” Ninety-four percent of the studies listed on direct
effects on proteins, from 14 different groups, found sig-
nificant effects, but the conclusion was turned around to
imply that these may not be real.
Where replications have been undertaken they do not
support the original findings. This continued lack of robust
evidence makes the possibility of an effect of RF fields on
cells more unlikely” [page 105 (2)]. An effect on cells is not
unlikely when there were significant effects in all of the
relevant studies on membranes (excluding BBB), all of the
studies except one on direct protein effects, the majority
of the studies on oxidative stress or male fertility, all of the
included in vitro genotoxicity studies on epithelial cells
[see c; page 84 (2)] and 47% of in vitro genotoxicity studies
which could have been included in the report (see c; SI).
Studies on cell membranes and direct effects on pro-
teins mostly found effects of RF field exposure. However, no
conclusions can be made as there are no common patterns
of exposure conditions or types of effects caused by the
exposure” [page 106 (2)]. Out of 33studies on direct effects
on proteins or cell membranes, 32 described significant
effects of RF signals below high power heating, but these
disappeared in the conclusions.
By the end of the report, the conclusion on cellular
studies had incorrectly become “There are now several
hundred studies in the published literature that have looked
for effects on isolated cells or their components when
exposed to RF fields. None has provided robust evidence for
an effect” [page 318 (2)].
A summary for human brain EEG recordings stated,
the EEG studies published since 2003 do provide some
evidence that RF fields could influence brain function, and
this should remain an area of interest” [page 226 (2)]. Many
EEG studies (awake or asleep subjects) reported changes
in electrical field potential oscillations, evoked responses
or interhemispheric coupling, but these were dismissed:
it remains unclear whether these RF effects, if they exist,
are material to human health or not”. Electrical field
potential oscillations can synchronise activity of local
networks (21) or propagate signals over large regions, con-
trolling brain developmental processes, including neu-
rogenesis, apoptosis, neuronal migration, differentiation
and network formation (68). Oscillations have been linked
with active processing or inhibition of cognitive functions
(69) and cyclic modulations of neuronal excitability (21).
References available at the time of the report describing
behavioural problems (70–72) and changed psychomotor
performance (73) associated with pre-natal or childhood
RF exposures, cell death and reduced cell numbers in the
brain (74–83) and cognitive inhibition (22–29, 78, 79, 84–
88) supported the possibility that RF-induced changes in
electrical activity could contribute to altered brain devel-
opment or cognition.
The executive summary included “There has been no
consistent evidence of effects on the brain, nervous system
or the blood-brain barrier, on auditory function, or on fer-
tility and reproduction” [page 3 (2)]. The term ‘consistent’
dismissed areas for which the majority of studies had
found adverse effects, such as male fertility. Of the studies
included in the report on pregnancy and development,
which quantified effects of pre-natal or early neonatal RF
exposures on neuronal cell numbers in the developing
brain [pages 184–187 (2)], four found significant decreases:
pyramidal cells in the rat hippocampus (74), granule cells
in the rat dentate gyrus (75), Purkinje cells in the mouse
cerebellum (76) and a transient increase in neurogenesis
of the subventricular zone following 8h of RF exposure
over 2days, but a long-lasting decrease in neurogenesis
following a 24 h exposure over 3days (77), measured from
proliferating cells in the rat rostral migratory stream. One
study described no effect on neuronal numbers in the
mouse hippocampus (89). Whilst not all reported effects,
the studies supported RF exposures decreasing neuronal
numbers in the brain during pre-natal and early neonatal
development at least in some circumstances (74–77). The
executive summary misleadingly implied that because not
all studies reported the same effects, RF signals have no
The AGNIR report suggested that symptoms in
humans may be caused by people’s perception of being
exposed, rather than the actual electromagnetic fields
[page 246 (2)]. Imagining a signal to be present is unlikely
to explain all responses, particularly symptoms reported
in response to RF signals under blind or double-blind
conditions (30, 31, 90). Many other studies support bio-
logical responses being related to the electromagnetic
signal, including evidence from cultured cells, in vitro
preparations, animals, plants or asleep humans, none
of which reacted with significant changes because they
imagined that RF signals were present. That living things
can respond to low power RF signals is now supported by
a large body of research.
(c) Incorrect statements
For child development [page 260 (2)], maternal mobile
phone use during pregnancy was associated with
498     Starkey: Inaccurate official assessment of radiofrequency safety by AGNIR
behavioural problems in children at the age of 7 (70, 71)
and lower psychomotor performance was described for
children of mothers who had the highest mobile phone
use during pregnancy (73). The report said, “these results
are only suggestive of an effect, rather than being conclu-
sive evidence of one”. Increased conduct problems were
reported in 8–17-year-olds with the highest quartile of
RF exposures (72) [page 250 (2)]. As studies suggested
an effect on child development, the executive summary
incorrectly stated, “data on other non-cancer outcomes
show no effects of RF field exposure” [page 4 (2)].
For risks of brain tumours or acoustic neuromas in
humans, “the similar results of all investigators except
the Hardell group, with no methodological inferiorities
in these other investigatorsstudies overall, suggest that
the results of the Hardell group are the problematic ones
[page 308 (2)]. However, some significantly increased
risks of brain tumours or acoustic neuromas were
described in Hardell and non-Hardell studies [pages
282–306 (2), (91)], although non-Hardell significant data
were omitted from the data tables and only mentioned
in the text. For example, for gliomas with an ipsilateral
mobile phone use of    1640 cumulative hours (ages
30–59), the international Interphone study reported
a significant odds ratio (95% confidence interval) of
1.96 (1.223.16) and Hardell etal. reported a significant
odds ratio of 2.32 (1.14–4.73) (91). Had the data tables
included results for ipsilateral exposures, duration of
use and more detail of the pooled Interphone studies,
it would have been clearer that significantly increased
risks had been reported. “With no methodological infe-
riorities in these other investigators’ studies” was incor-
rect. The Interphone study did not take cordless phone
use into account in the analysis for mobile phones (91);
the Danish cohort study misclassified corporate mobile
phone users as non-users, as well as those who took
subscriptions out after 1995 (92).
The comment in the executive summary, “the accu-
mulating evidence on cancer risks, notably in relation to
mobile phone use, is not definitive, but overall is increas-
ingly in the direction of no material effect of exposure
[page 4 (2)], was misleading. Significant risks were most
common for ipsilateral exposures, latencies of 10years
or more since first use or the highest cumulative hours
of use (2), (91). If anything, as use increased, the evi-
dence increasingly pointed towards possible risks.
The executive summary stated for cells in vitro: “In
particular, there has been no convincing evidence that RF
fields cause genetic damage or increase the likelihood of
cells becoming malignant” [page 3 (2)] and in the chapter
on cellular studies: “Results from studies using other cell
types are also contradictory. Epithelial cells exposed to …
[page 86 (2)]. However, all in vitro studies included on
epithelial cells [four, one retracted, page 84 (2), (93–95)],
from more than one laboratory, found damage to DNA or
chromosomal aberrations in response to RF signals. Forty-
six percent of genotoxicity studies identified as included
in the report (36 out of 78; SI) described evidence for geno-
toxicity in response to RF fields, but at least 40 genotoxic-
ity studies were omitted (SI). If these had been included,
52% (61 out of 118) of genotoxicity studies overall and 47%
of in vitro (36 out of 76) would have described evidence
for genotoxicity (SI; AGNIR restriction to the English
language; identified from PubMed and EMF-Portal data-
bases). AGNIR found the genotoxicity evidence uncon-
vincing, but a more accurate conclusion could have been
that RF signals appear to be genotoxic under certain cir-
cumstances, but not others.
For the immune system [page 174 (2)], a Russian
study was included (96), which mostly replicated
earlier Russian studies and a French one which did not
(97). The conclusion was “it is clear that the results of
the original Soviet studies have not been confirmed”. It
was not clear, as the report also referred to the Russian
study with “These results do not appear to be identical
to the original, although they do show the same tendency.
Results of ELISA reinforced this conclusion. Grigoriev and
colleagues also reported that very few pregnant animals
receiving serum from exposed animals gave birth to live
animals (4 out of 12), which is also supportive of the previ-
ous results”.
The report described cognitive performance of RF-
exposed and sham-exposed Alzheimer’s disease-like
transgenic mice (98) [pages 144147 (2)]. However, there
were no shams in the study, as controls were housed in a
separate room without a Faraday cage; exposed mice (two
1 h exposures per day, 918MHz, SAR 0.25 W/kg) were con-
tinuously housed within a Faraday cage for up to 9months
(98). Cognitive improvements in the exposed groups com-
pared to controls may have been the result of long-term
protection from environmental electromagnetic fields by
the Faraday cage. Because background man-made elec-
tromagnetic fields may alter experimental results and are
often present in experimental environments, they ought
to be described in the Methods section for all biological
studies, but are often omitted, as in this paper. The AGNIR
report conclusions [page 318 (2)] described this as a well-
performed study, whilst other effects of RF signals on cog-
nition were dismissed as inconsistent. Varied responses
might indicate dependency upon physiological or experi-
mental conditions and do not automatically justify ignor-
ing evidence.
Starkey: Inaccurate official assessment of radiofrequency safety by AGNIR    499
Decisions about involuntary, continuous and widespread
RF exposures in schools, hospitals, workplaces and public
and private spaces in the UK and around the world have
been made based upon inaccurate conclusions of the
AGNIR report. Published in 2012, it continues to be used
to justify RF exposures and dismiss concerns about possi-
ble adverse effects on health, well-being or development.
The denial of the existence of adverse effects of RF
fields below ICNIRP guidelines in the AGNIR report con-
clusions is not supported by the scientific evidence.
Studies have, as described as examples in this review,
reported damage to male reproductive health, proteins
and cellular membranes, increased oxidative stress, cell
death and genotoxicity, altered electrical brain activity
and cognition, increased behavioural problems in chil-
dren and risks of some cancers. For future official RF
reports, it is important to check that conclusions accu-
rately reflect available evidence before decisions which
impact on public health are made based on the executive
summary and overall conclusions.
The involvement of ICNIRP scientists in the mislead-
ing report calls into question the basis and validity of
the international exposure guidelines. To protect public
health, we need accurate official assessments of whether
there are adverse effects of RF signals below current inter-
national ICNIRP guidelines, independent of the group
who set the guidelines.
The anticipated WHO Environmental Health Crite-
ria Monograph on Radiofrequency Fields, due in 2017, is
being prepared by a core group and additional experts
(99), with 50% of those named, being, or having been,
members of AGNIR or ICNIRP (Table 2). Considering the
importance of the Monograph for worldwide public health
and the inaccuracies described here, independence from
AGNIR would increase confidence in the report findings.
Independence from ICNIRP is necessary to remove the
conflict of interest when effects below ICNIRP exposure
guidelines are being assessed.
Schools, hospitals, employers, organisations and
individuals have legal responsibilities to safeguard the
health, safety, well-being and development of children,
employees and members of the public. But they are unable
to fulfil their legal responsibilities when they have been
provided with inaccurate information and the evidence of
possible harm has been covered up.
Individuals and organisations who/that have made
decisions about the often compulsory exposures of others
to wireless RF communication signals may be unaware of
the physical harm that they may have caused, and may
Table 2: Named contributors to the WHO Environmental Health
Criteria Monograph on Radiofrequency Fields [(99), in preparation]
and membership of ICNIRP or AGNIR.
Core group
Feychting M. Vice-Chair ICNIRP, AGNIR
Oftedal G. ICNIRP
van Rongen E. Chair ICNIRP
Scarfi M.R.
Zmirou D.
Additional experts
Aicardi G.
Challis L. Formerly AGNIR
Curcio G.
Hug K.
Juutilainen J. ICNIRP
Lagorio S.
Loughran S. ICNIRP
Marino C. ICNIRP
McNamee J.
Naarala J.
Peyman A. AGNIR
Röösli M. ICNIRP
Rubin G.J. AGNIR
Schoemaker M.
Selmaoui B.
de Sèze R. ICNIRP
Sienkiewicz Z.J.ICNIRP, AGNIR
Simko M.
Zeni O.
still be causing, because they have not been accurately
informed of the risks. This has been a safeguarding failure
and the health of some children or adults may have been
damaged as a result. To prevent further possible harm,
restrictions on exposures are required, particularly for
children, pregnant women and individuals with medical
conditions. All children in schools and care environments
need protection from the potential harmful effects of RF
exposures and not, as is now often the case, a compulsory
use of wireless devices in the classroom. Children may
unjustly face losing their human right to an education if
they do not want to absorb RF fields every day at school
and no alternative environments are available. Attention
also needs to be given to the provision of safe working
environments for employees and safe public spaces, par-
ticularly where exposures are involuntary.
PHE and AGNIR had a responsibility to provide
accurate information about the safety of RF fields.
Unfortunately, the report suffered from an incorrect and
misleading executive summary and overall conclusions,
500     Starkey: Inaccurate official assessment of radiofrequency safety by AGNIR
inaccurate statements, omissions and conflict of inter-
est. Public health and the well-being of other species in
the natural world cannot be protected when evidence of
harm, no matter how inconvenient, is covered up.
Conflict of interest statement: The author states no con-
flict of interest.
Ethical approval: The conducted research is not related to
either human or animal use.
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Supplementary Material: The online version of this article
(DOI:10.1515/reveh-2016-0060) offers supplementary material,
available to authorized users.
... An important factor may be the influence on politicians by individuals and organizations with inborn conflicts of interests (COIs) and their own agenda in supporting the no-risk paradigm (4,5). The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) has repeatedly ignored scientific evidence on adverse effects of RF radiation to humans and the environment. ...
... In the last 11 years since its previous ICNIRP 2009 statement (7), ICNIRP has not managed to conduct a novel evaluation of health effects from RF radiation. However, as shown in Table I, several of the present ICNIRP members are also members of other committees, such as the EU Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR), the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) and the WHO, thus creating a cartel of individuals known to propagate the ICNIRP paradigm on RF radiation (4,5,22,51). In fact, six of the seven expert members of the WHO, including Emelie van Deventer, were also included in ICNIRP (5,7). ...
... Notably, on February 27, 2020, two weeks before the ICNIRP publication, the WHO Team on Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health issued a statement on 5G mobile networks and health: 'To date, and after much research performed, no adverse health effect has been causally linked with exposure to wireless technologies' (56). This statement is not correct based on current knowledge (4,5,(9)(10)(11)17,19) and was without a personal signature. The lack of research on 5G safety has been previously discussed (19). ...
Full-text available
The fifth generation, 5G, of radiofrequency (RF) radiation is about to be implemented globally without investigating the risks to human health and the environment. This has created debate among concerned individuals in numerous countries. In an appeal to the European Union (EU) in September 2017, currently endorsed by >390 scientists and medical doctors, a moratorium on 5G deployment was requested until proper scientific evaluation of potential negative consequences has been conducted. This request has not been acknowledged by the EU. The evaluation of RF radiation health risks from 5G technology is ignored in a report by a government expert group in Switzerland and a recent publication from The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection. Conflicts of interest and ties to the industry seem to have contributed to the biased reports. The lack of proper unbiased risk evaluation of the 5G technology places populations at risk. Furthermore, there seems to be a cartel of individuals monopolizing evaluation committees, thus reinforcing the no-risk paradigm. We believe that this activity should qualify as scientific misconduct. © This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) License.
... The ICNIRP (2010, 2020) limits are thousands of times above the levels where effects are recorded for both extremely low frequency and RF man-made EMF and account only for thermal effects, whereas the vast majority of recorded effects are non-thermal. These existing guidelines for public health protection only consider the effects of acute intense (thermal) exposures and do not protect from lower level long-term exposures (Israel et al., 2011;Yakymenko et al., 2011;Blank et al., 2015;Starkey, 2016;Belpomme and Irigaray, 2022). The exposure duration is crucial to assess the induced effects. ...
... A growing number of scientists have been calling internationally on governments to raise their safety standards for RF-EMF (Blank et al., 2015;Hardell and Nyberg, 2020;Frank, 2021). Thus, there is an urgent need to adopt the Precautionary Principle and impose more restrictive levels (Zinelis, 2010;Yakymenko et al., 2011;Blank et al., 2015;Starkey, 2016). ...
The objective of this work was to perform a complete review of the existing scientific literature to update the knowledge on the effects of base station antennas on humans. Studies performed in real urban conditions, with mobile phone base stations situated close to apartments, were selected. Overall results of this review show three types of effects by base station antennas on the health of people: radiofrequency sickness (RS), cancer (C) and changes in biochemical parameters (CBP). Considering all the studies reviewed globally (n = 38), 73.6% (28/38) showed effects: 73.9% (17/23) for radiofrequency sickness, 76.9% (10/13) for cancer and 75.0% (6/8) for changes in biochemical parameters. Furthermore, studies that did not meet the strict conditions to be included in this review provided important supplementary evidence. The existence of similar effects from studies by different sources (but with RF of similar characteristics), such as radar, radio and television antennas, wireless smart meters and laboratory studies, reinforce the conclusions of this review. Of special importance are the studies performed on animals or trees near base station antennas that cannot be aware of their proximity and to which psychosomatic effects can never be attributed.
... To address the concern of the potential harm of EVs, several researchers have measured EMF levels and compared these measures to the limits set by regulatory agencies. Predominately, the most commonly used regulations are those of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) [9,10] and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) [11], but other agencies [12][13][14][15] have different limits due to differences in opinion and scientific deduction [16,17]. For example, the BioInitiative Working Group [17] argued that the ICNIRP limits were obtained using anatomical models and thus may not reflect the real human body. ...
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This study aimed to evaluate the direct current (DC) and alternating current (AC) electromagnetic field (EMF) intensity and distribution of an electric vehicle (EV). The results revealed that the EV generated DC and AC EMFs, which differed depending on the operation (resting, idling, and driving at speeds of 40 and 80 km/h). A correlation was established between the AC and DC components of the EMF, which was approximately 0.5 when idling and 0.8 at speeds of 40 and 80 km/h. The results obtained were below the harmful limit set by regulatory agencies, specifically the International Commission on Non‐Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). To further contribute to this field of study, the various measurement equipment used in the literature are summarized according to their parameters.
... Given the level of conflict of interest between the health sciences and the financial and political spheres [113][114][115][116], as well as the enormous military interests added to decades of research on weather modification techniques, could it be that solar geoengineering by SAI, able to change the weather and trigger serious environmental and health effects, is also tainted? ...
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According to most scientific studies, media and governments, the white trails that can be seen behind aircraft in flight, corresponding to condensation mixed with engine particulate emissions, only persist under specific atmospheric conditions. They are called condensation trails, and cirrus contrails when they remain for hours to reach several kilometers wide. The fact that they have gradually filled the skies over the last twenty years would be due to the increase in air traffic. However, other official documents link these persistent trails to a weather modification technology called solar geoengineering by stratospheric aerosol injection (SAI). These sprays would be mainly composed of metallic particles (Al, Ba, Sr, Fe, nanoparticles) and sulfur, which would considerably increase air, soil and water pollution. Many of the current environmental and health problems are consistent with those described in the literature on solar geoengineering by SAI if this method was employed. For example, metal particles used are well known environmental contaminants, ozone layer depletion, cardiorespiratory diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, sunburn. The observations (whiter skies, less solar power) also correspond to the same risks as those described in the solar geoengineering works. Patents show that this weather modification technology has been known and mastered for a long time. In addition, some scientific papers as well as policy documents suggest that solar geoengineering by SAI has been used for many years. The amount of official information presented in this review is intended to open new ways of investigation, free of conflicts of interest, about the growing global pollution of persistent aircraft trails and their possible links with solar geoengineering by SAI.
... Industry-funded research, especially occupational and environmental health research, has been a topic of concern for decades, because it has often been found to be biased to support industry interests, according to numerous peer-reviewed papers, e.g., [8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19]. Moreover, several peer-reviewed papers have raised concerns about bias in industryfunded research on the effects of exposure to radio frequency radiation [20][21][22][23][24]. ...
... This includes also regulatory agencies and policy makers. Even agencies aimed at setting exposure guidelines may include pro-industry and biased scientists that obscure the true risks [87,88]. ...
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Some historical aspects on late lessons from early warnings on cancer risks with lost time for prevention are discussed. One current example is the cancer-causing effect from radiofrequency (RF) radiation. Studies since decades have shown increased human cancer risk. The fifth generation, 5G, for wireless communication is about to be implemented world-wide despite no comprehensive investigations of potential risks to human health and the environment. This has created debate on this technology among concerned people in many countries. In an appeal to EU in September 2017, currently endorsed by more than 400 scientists and medical doctors, a moratorium on the 5G deployment was required until proper scientific evaluation of negative consequences has been made ( That request has not been taken seriously by EU. Lack of proper unbiased risk evaluation of the 5G technology makes adverse effects impossible to be foreseen. This disregard is exemplified by the recent report from the International Commission on non-ionizing radiation protection (ICNIRP) whereby only thermal (heating) effects from RF radiation are acknowledged despite a large number of reported non-thermal effects. Thus, no health effects are acknowledged by ICNIRP for non-thermal RF electromagnetic fields in the range of 100 kHz-300 GHz. Based on results in three case-control studies on use of wireless phones we present preventable fraction for brain tumors. Numbers of brain tumors of not defined type were found to increase in Sweden, especially in the age group 20-39 years in both genders, based on the Swedish Inpatient Register. This may be caused by the high prevalence of wireless phone use among children and in adolescence taking a reasonable latency period and the higher vulnerability to RF radiation among young persons.
After the introduction into the nanoworld, the investigation will now focus on the lifespan of the nanoparticles generated by the biodegradative activity of Staphylococcus aureus cells operated on polyurethane dental prostheses, in a typical environment (a tissue) where bacteria are active and cause inflammation and infection. The process illustrated in Fig. 1, where a macroscopic object as bulk polyurethane is related to the micro- and the nano-domain, describes the possible dynamics that nanoparticles generated from the biodestruction process as well as nanoparticles with totally different origin naturally present in biological structures could undergo. In order to avoid a reductionist approach, a variety of tools available from different areas of science is required.
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Oxygen derived species such as hydrogen peroxide, superoxide anion radical, hydroxyl radical (OH-), and singlet oxygen are well known to be cytotoxic and have been implicated in the etiology of a wide array of human diseases, including cancer. Various carcinogens may also partly exert their effect by generating reactive oxygen species (ROS) during their metabolism. Oxidative damage to cellular DNA can lead to mutations and may, therefore, play an important role in the initiation and progression of multistage carcinogenesis. ROS influences central cellular processes such as proliferation, apoptosis, and senescence which are implicated in the development of cancer. Understanding the role of ROS as key mediators in signaling cascades may provide various opportunities for pharmacological intervention.
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Oxidative stress is implicated in the pathophysiology of many reproductive complications including infertility, miscarriage, pre-eclampsia, fetal growth restriction and preterm labour. The presence of excess reactive oxygen species can lead to cellular damage of deoxyribonucleic acids, lipids and proteins. Antioxidants protect cells from peroxidation reactions, limiting cellular damage and helping to maintain cellular membrane integrity. There is overwhelming evidence for oxidative stress causing harm in reproduction. However, there is sparse evidence that supplementation with commonly used antioxidants (mostly vitamins C and E) makes any difference in overcoming oxidative stress or reversing disease processes. There may be potential for antioxidant therapy to ameliorate or prevent disease, but this requires a thorough understanding of the mechanism of action and specificity of currently used antioxidants.
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Sperm is particularly susceptible to reactive oxygen species (ROS) during critical phases of spermiogenesis. However, the level of seminal ROS is restricted by seminal antioxidants which have beneficial effects on sperm parameters and developmental potentials. Mitochondria and sperm plasma membrane are two major sites of ROS generation in sperm cells. Besides, leukocytes including polymer phonuclear (PMN) leukocytes and macrophages produce broad category of molecules including oxygen free radicals, non-radical species and reactive nitrogen species. Physiological role of ROS increase the intracellular cAMP which then activate protein kinase in male reproductive system. This indicates that spermatozoa need small amounts of ROS to acquire the ability of nuclear maturation regulation and condensation to fertilize the oocyte. There is a long list of intrinsic and extrinsic factors which can induce oxidative stress to interact with lipids, proteins and DNA molecules. As a result, we have lipid peroxidation, DNA fragmentation, axonemal damage, denaturation of the enzymes, over generation of superoxide in the mitochondria, lower antioxidant activity and finally abnormal spermatogenesis. If oxidative stress is considered as one of the main cause of DNA damage in the germ cells, then there should be good reason for antioxidant therapy in these conditions.
Evidence came out showing that oxidative stress has a pivotal role in development and maintenance of inflammation and aberrant immune responses. Biomarkers of oxidative stress may define the proportion of oxidative damage underlying pathological conditions, and also foresee and monitor the possible efficacy of therapeutic strategies designed to control these pathologies. New compounds, which can be used as biomarkers, have been identified, and among them advanced oxidation protein products (AOPPs), formed mainly by chlorinated oxidants resulting from activity of myeloperoxidase. Our paper is aimed to review clinical evidences concerning the valuable potential of AOPPs as biomarkers of oxidative injury in development and progression of diseases and chronic conditions related to inflammatory status and immune dysregulation. These pathologies include metabolic syndrome, obesity, immune-mediated inflammatory diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, and cancer. Due to the heterogeneity of pathologies reported to be characterized by AOPP accumulation, it is evident that AOPPs are not merely a marker of neutrophil activation, but at the same time AOPPs cannot always be disease determinants. The data reported in this review corroborate the opinion that AOPPs can be successfully used to in vitro confirm the diagnosis of inflammatory and immune-mediated diseases, but at the same time evidence that, very likely due to the way through which AOPPs are formed as well as the effect they can contribute to induce, AOPP values cannot be clearly reflective of their involvement in the pathogenesis and in the evolution of a specific disease.f.
Oxidative stress is a pathological feature common to a multitude of neurological diseases. The production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) is the main mechanism underlying this cellular redox imbalance. Antioxidants protect biological targets against ROS, therefore, they have been considered as attractive potential therapeutic agents to counteract ROS-mediated neuronal damage. However, despite encouraging in vitro and preclinical in vivo data, the clinical efficacy of antioxidant treatment strategies is marginal and most clinical trials using antioxidants as therapeutic agents in neurodegenerative diseases have yielded disappointing outcomes. This might in part be due to the need of adjustment in concentrations and time parameters between preclinical studies and clinical settings. Moreover new efficient delivery methods need to be investigated, particularly taking into account that a successful therapeutic agent for neurological diseases should readily cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB). In that sense, the use of compounds that cross the BBB and boost the endogenous antioxidant defense machinery, by activating for instance the Nrf2 pathway, or compounds that are able to modulate ROS production, such as NOX enzyme inhibitors, seems to represent a more promising approach to combat oxidative stress in the CNS. Here we present a brief overview of the main players in oxidative stress and outline evidences of their involvement in Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, Huntington's disease and multiple sclerosis. Finally, we review and critically discuss the potential of antioxidants as therapeutics for central nervous system disorders with a special focus on emerging novel therapeutic strategies.
Increased body weight and metabolic disorder including insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular complications together constitute metabolic syndrome. The pathogenesis of metabolic syndrome involves multitude of factors. A number of studies however indicate, with some conformity, that oxidative stress along with chronic inflammatory condition pave the way for the development of metabolic diseases. Oxidative stress, a state of lost balance between the oxidative and anti-oxidative systems of the cells and tissues, results in the over production of oxidative free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS). Excessive ROS generated could attack the cellular proteins, lipids and nucleic acids leading to cellular dysfunction including loss of energy metabolism, altered cell signalling and cell cycle control, genetic mutations, altered cellular transport mechanisms and overall decreased biological activity, immune activation and inflammation. In addition, nutritional stress such as that caused by high fat high carbohydrate diet also promotes oxidative stress as evident by increased lipid peroxidation products, protein carbonylation, and decreased antioxidant system and reduced glutathione (GSH) levels. These changes lead to initiation of pathogenic milieu and development of several chronic diseases. Studies suggest that in obese person oxidative stress and chronic inflammation are the important underlying factors that lead to development of pathologies such as carcinogenesis, obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases through altered cellular and nuclear mechanisms, including impaired DNA damage repair and cell cycle regulation. Here we discuss the aspects of metabolic disorders-induced oxidative stress in major pathological conditions and strategies for their prevention and therapy.