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Conflicts of Interest and Misleading Statements in Official Reports about the Health Consequences of Radiofrequency Radiation and Some New Measurements of Exposure Levels

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Abstract

Official reports to governments throughout the Western world attempt to allay public concern about the increasing inescapability of the microwaves (also known as radiofrequency radiation or RF) emitted by “smart” technologies, by repeating the dogma that the only proven biological effect of RF is acute tissue heating, and assuring us that the levels of radiation to which the public are exposed are significantly less than those needed to cause acute tissue heating. The present paper first shows the origin of this “thermal-only” dogma in the military paranoia of the 1950s. It then reveals how financial conflict of interest and intentionally misleading statements have been powerful factors in preserving that dogma in the face of now overwhelming evidence that it is false, using one 2018 report to ministers of the New Zealand government as an example. Lastly, some new pilot measurements of ambient RF power densities in Auckland city are reported and compared with levels reported in other cities, various international exposure limits, and levels shown scientifically to cause biological harm. It is concluded that politicians in the Western world should stop accepting soothing reports from individuals with blatant conflicts of interest and start taking the health and safety of their communities seriously.
magnetochemistry
Article
Conflicts of Interest and Misleading Statements in
Ocial Reports about the Health Consequences of
Radiofrequency Radiation and Some New
Measurements of Exposure Levels
Susan Pockett
School of Psychology, University of Auckland, Auckland 1142, New Zealand; s.pockett@auckland.ac.nz
Received: 29 March 2019; Accepted: 25 April 2019; Published: 5 May 2019


Abstract:
Ocial reports to governments throughout the Western world attempt to allay public
concern about the increasing inescapability of the microwaves (also known as radiofrequency radiation
or RF) emitted by “smart” technologies, by repeating the dogma that the only proven biological eect
of RF is acute tissue heating, and assuring us that the levels of radiation to which the public are
exposed are significantly less than those needed to cause acute tissue heating. The present paper
first shows the origin of this “thermal-only” dogma in the military paranoia of the 1950s. It then
reveals how financial conflict of interest and intentionally misleading statements have been powerful
factors in preserving that dogma in the face of now overwhelming evidence that it is false, using
one 2018 report to ministers of the New Zealand government as an example. Lastly, some new pilot
measurements of ambient RF power densities in Auckland city are reported and compared with
levels reported in other cities, various international exposure limits, and levels shown scientifically to
cause biological harm. It is concluded that politicians in the Western world should stop accepting
soothing reports from individuals with blatant conflicts of interest and start taking the health and
safety of their communities seriously.
Keywords:
radiofrequency radiation; RF; microwave; cellphone; smart technology; public health;
cancer; diabetes; depression; dementia
1. Introduction
The health eects of radiofrequency radiation (RF) emitted by ‘smart’ technologies have become a
topic of significant public concern throughout the world. Ocial reports prepared for governments in
the English-speaking world tend to be aimed at allaying what the report writers paint as unjustified
fears, by assuring the public and their elected representatives that scientific research in this area shows
no reason for concern about emissions that abide by current regulatory guidelines.
The present paper has three goals: (1) to document the prevalence of undisclosed conflicts of
interest, both in the original setting of regulatory guidelines and among the authors of one representative
government report [
1
] defending these; (2) to assess the accuracy of certain key statements in that
report; and (3) to provide the first publicly available raw power density readings from two specific sites
in Auckland City, as part of a pilot study on how Auckland readings compare with (i) readings in other
Western cities, (ii) the recommended limit on public exposure in New Zealand, (iii) the recommended
limits on public exposure in various other countries, and (iv) the power densities of RF shown in the
scientific literature to have harmful biological eects.
Magnetochemistry 2019,5, 31; doi:10.3390/magnetochemistry5020031 www.mdpi.com/journal/magnetochemistry
Magnetochemistry 2019,5, 31 2 of 13
2. Conflict of Interest: A History
The 2018 version of the guidelines document put out by the International Committee of Medical
Journal Editors [2] defines conflict of interest as follows:
“A conflict of interest exists when professional judgment concerning a primary interest (such
as patients’ welfare or the validity of research) may be influenced by a secondary interest
(such as financial gain).
. . .
Financial relationships (such as employment, consultancies, stock
ownership or options, honoraria, patents and paid expert testimony) are the most easily
identifiable conflicts of interest and the most likely to undermine the credibility of the journal,
the authors and science itself
. . .
. Purposeful failure to disclose conflicts of interest is a form
of misconduct.”
By this definition, conflict of interest has been a constant feature at all levels of discourse in the
area of RF exposure standards, from the original setting of the “Guidelines” now used by regulators
all over the Western world, right down to the authorship of individual government reports in the
present day.
History in this area begins nearly 70 years ago. Currently-entrenched ocial positions on safe RF
public exposure levels originated in the 1950s, during the period known as the Cold War between the
United States of America (USA) and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). At this time, the US
Department of Defense (DOD) was charged with developing radar (radio-based detection and ranging)
systems capable of detecting incoming Soviet missiles. This meant that the US military had a major
vested interest in producing radar installations that were as powerful as possible. Objections raised by
local US communities upset at the unheralded appearance of such facilities in their neighborhoods were
dismissed as a minor cost in comparison with the perceived benefit of preventing nuclear annihilation.
Thus, in terms of the above definition of conflict of interest, both of the interests that were clearly in
conflict here were perceived to be protection of the public—it is just that one of them (the one that
prevailed) was a product of military paranoia, while the other involved the much more mundane
question of everyday health and safety.
A further complication during this historical period was that microwaves were widely used in
diathermy, a then popular medical treatment for a number of conditions thought to be improved by
tissue heating. Hence, it was convenient for both military and medical circles in the US to ignore early
scientific indications to the contrary and choose to believe uncritically the hypothesis that the only way
in which microwave radiation could aect biological organisms was by heating them. Interestingly
however, when it came to the setting of standards regulating the level of microwave radiation to
which people could safely be exposed, the medical profession was deemed to have too much vested
interest in diathermy to participate, while the obvious conflict of interest involved in making the
military responsible for setting acceptable microwave power limits was ignored [
3
]. By 1960, all three
branches of the US military had concluded, on the basis of one man’s calculations and some minimal
experimentation (involving disruption of food-motivated behavior in irradiated laboratory animals)
that 10 mW/cm
2
was a safe power density limit to prevent excessive tissue heating, and after some
debate, this figure duly became the basis of the first IEEE/ANSI C95.1 microwave standard in 1966.
Thereafter, the DOD treated all reports of biological eects of RF power densities less than 10 mW/cm
2
as a threat to national security and shut down any lab that produced them [46].
In contrast, the Soviets whose imagined missiles the DOD was charged with detecting and
destroying concentrated on following up early reports of sub-thermal microwave eects, and as a
result, set their exposure limit at 0.01 mW/cm
2
. This thousand-fold stricter limit posed a serious
problem for US military planners—if any of America’s western European allies were tempted to
adopt it, deployment of American radar installations in Europe would be jeopardized. Therefore,
concurrent with the space/arms race, an RF standards race was played out in various international
organizations, such as WHO (the World Health Organization) and NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization) [
3
]. Internationalization of what was by now the unchallengable dogma that tissue
Magnetochemistry 2019,5, 31 3 of 13
heating was the only possible biological eect of RF was achieved by the simple expedient of embedding
individuals committed to the thermal-only narrative in WHO and NATO. In 1971, Sol Michaelson, the
American who had been most instrumental in the adoption of the thermal-only standard by ANSI
C95.1, was appointed to a committee called the Task Group on Environmental Health Criteria for
Radiofrequency and Microwaves, jointly convened by WHO and the International Radiation Protection
Agency (IRPA). The founding chairman of IRPA was Michael Repacholi, an Australian also committed
to the thermal-only dogma. In 1992, IRPA morphed into ICNIRP (the International Commission on
Non Ionizing Radiation Protection), with Repacholi still as the chair. And in 1998, ICNIRP brought out
the Guidelines document which still enshrines the ANSI thermal-only dogma as the basis of national
standards throughout the English-speaking world.
Meanwhile, back in the USA, a second strand of activity in support of the thermal-only dogma was
quietly emerging. In the early 1970s, a growing popular environmental movement and the consequent
espousal by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of a precautionary approach to a great many
potential health hazards were seen by corporate interests as a threat to the foundations of industrial
society [
7
]. The challenge for industry was cast as how best to respond to legislative restrictions on the
activities of corporations—and in particular to the science that led to those restrictions. One major
response to this challenge was the establishment in 1972 of a ‘Business Roundtable’ consisting of many
of America’s CEOs, for the express purpose of promoting “less unwarranted intrusion by government
into business aairs” and ensuring that “the business sector in a pluralistic society should play an
active and eective role in the formation of public policy” [7].
Lobby oces were established in Washington, and a number of industry-backed think tanks
created to come up with strategies applicable to all industries. Measures adopted with respect to
the biological eects of microwave emissions mirrored those of the tobacco industry. They included
the following:
Creation of an air of uncertainty about the science: Given that biological organisms are formidably
complex and that science by its nature rarely involves complete certainty, this should perhaps
not have proved too dicult. But just to make sure, a concerted campaign of disinformation
was launched anyway. Basically, whenever a piece of science inimical to industry or Air Force
interests appeared, contractors were hired to discredit it by apparently repeating the experiments,
but actually changing critical factors to produce more funder-friendly results. Frey [
6
] describes
one such attempt as follows:
“After my colleagues and I published in 1975 [
8
], that exposure to very weak microwave
radiation opens the regulatory interface known as the blood brain barrier (BBB), a critical
protection for the brain, the Brooks AFB group selected a contractor to supposedly
replicate our experiment. For 2 years, this contractor presented data at scientific
conferences stating that microwave radiation had no eect on the BBB. After much
pressure from the scientific community, he finally revealed that he had not, in fact,
replicated our work. We had injected dye into the femoral vein of lab rats after exposure
to microwaves and observed the dye in the brain within 5 min. The Brooks contractor
had stuck a needle into the animals’ bellies and sprayed the dye onto their intestines.
Thus it is no surprise that when he looked at the brain 5 min later, he did not see any
dye; the dye had yet to make it into the circulatory system.”
The continuing nature of such campaigns is suggested by Maisch [3], who writes:
“A survey conducted by the New York based publication Microwave News in 2006
consisted of examining papers on microwave eects on DNA that were published in
peer-reviewed journals since 1990. A total of 85 papers on the topic were identified.
43 of the papers reported finding a biological eect and 42 did not. Of the 42 no-eect
papers, 32 were identified as having been funded by either the U.S. Air Force or industry.
Magnetochemistry 2019,5, 31 4 of 13
With the 43 papers that reported eects, only 3 were identified as being funded by Air
Force or industry. This survey thus suggests that the source of funding has a strong
influence on the outcome of research”.
Adoption of an algebraic model of evidence assessment: Once approximately equal numbers of papers
had been installed in the scientific literature concluding that sub-thermal levels of microwaves on
the one hand do, but on the other hand do not, have harmful biological eects, the narrative was
promulgated in ocial circles that “weight of evidence” is the important thing to consider in such
matters. The implicit model behind this narrative involves an unstated presumption that each
negative study (i.e., each study that does not find any eect of low intensity microwaves) cancels
out one positive study (i.e., one study that does find an eect of low intensity microwaves); with
an algebraic sum of zero indicating no eect [
9
]. Any inconvenient remainder is then dealt with
by impugning the validity and/or the significance of particularly convincing postive studies: as,
for example, in Section 4.2 and Appendix A of the NZ Government Interagency Report 2018 [1].
Population of regulatory bodies by industry insiders: The above strategies certainly served to convince
time-strapped politicians that all is fine, but to an unbiased scientist, they appear decidedly dicey.
Thus, the most vital of all the strategies implemented by Big Wireless has been the appointment to
regulatory roles of people who are, or used to be, members of the industries they are now charged
with regulating. Arguably the most important regulatory body in the world is ICNIRP, whose 1998
Guidelines document is still the basis of the national standards adopted by the governments of most
English-speaking nations. ICNIRP is a self-selected, private (non-governmental) organization,
populated exclusively by members invited by existing members. The organization is very
concerned to project the image that it is composed of disinterested scientists—indeed all ICNIRP
members are required to post on the organization’s website detailed declarations of interest (DOIs).
However, a closer inspection of these DOIs reveals that a good many of the sections of a good many
of the forms remain unfilled, and a detailed list of undeclared conflicts of interest among ICNIRP
members has been published by a group of concerned citizens [
10
]. The relevant section of WHO
is essentially identical to ICNIRP [
11
]: Michael Repacholi, the founder of ICNIRP, established
the WHO International EMF Project (IEMFP) in 1996 and remained in charge of it until 2006 [
3
],
when he reportedly resigned after allegations of corruption [
12
] to ocially become an industry
consultant [
13
]. In 2004, Repacholi stated in a conference presentation that the IEMFP was able
to “receive funding from any source through Royal Adelaide Hospital; an agency established
through WHO Legal Department agreement to collect funds for the project”—an arrangement
that reportedly enabled receipt of annual payments of $150,000 from the cellphone industry [
3
,
14
].
Thus, in spite of their stated rules and protestations to the contrary, there have been persistent
allegations that both ICNIRP and the relevant section of WHO are riddled with undeclared
conflicts of interest. In the USA, the Federal Communications Commission, whose function it is to
regulate the wireless industry in that country, has been openly characterized by the Edmond J.
Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University as “a captured agency” [15].
On a much smaller scale, the New Zealand government’s Interagency Committee’s 2018 Report to
Ministers, which is discussed in the next section of the present paper, does not specify the identities of its
authors. In early 2019, a request under New Zealand’s Ocial Information Act for the Ministry of Health
to supply these names produced only a statement from someone styled “Deputy Director-General
Population Health and Prevention” that “The Ministry does not usually release names as these often
change, and the members represent their organisation (unlike most committees where the person is
there for their specific expertise).” Fortunately however, an earlier OIA request for meeting minutes
had (eventually) been more successful, yielding notes for the minutes of the 9 August 2018 meeting of
the InterAgency Committee—the last meeting before the Committee’s Report was released.
These notes are recorded as having been taken by the committee’s acting secretary, Martin Gledhill.
As well as being MOH’s representative on the Committee, Martin Gledhill derives a significant portion
of his income by providing RF measurement services to all the Telcos operating in New Zealand,
Magnetochemistry 2019,5, 31 5 of 13
through an independent consultancy called EMF Services. Email correspondence between the author
and Mr. Gledhill failed to reveal the precise methodology by which these measurements are made, on
the grounds that the report in which this is presumably detailed is owned by SPARK (a major Telco
in New Zealand), and although Mr. Gledhill asked SPARK if he could send it to the present author,
they refused to release it. The EMF Services website describes Martin Gledhill as New Zealand’s
representative to the WHO EMF Project—the same WHO project started by Michael Repacholi, as
detailed above—and a member of the IEEE International Committee on Electromagnetic Safety—the
same committee that enshrined the first thermal-only standard in 1966. Thus, at least this core
member of the NZ InterAgency Committee has a massive vested interest in retaining thermal-only
regulatory limits.
The other members of the NZ InterAgency Committee recorded as being present at the
August 9 meeting included three university scientists, four overt representatives of the wireless
and telecommunications industries, and six bureacrats representing various government departments.
Of the scientists, one was an epidemiologist from the University of Otago, who has never published
on the health eects of RF and according to the notes contributed only by repeatedly assuring the
Committee that in his opinion, the benefits of technology outweigh the risks. The second scientist was
an epidemiologist from Massey University, one of whose many research projects involves participation
in the multinational MOBI-kids project; she is noted as reporting to the committee that design problems
make the results of this project inconclusive. The third scientist was another epidemiologist from
Massey University, one of whose many research projects involves participation in the multinational
INTEROCC project, an oshoot of the controversial INTERPHONE project. He reports to the committee
that INTEROCC has not found any eect of occupational RF exposure on meningiomas and is winding
down; according to the meeting notes, he fails to make any mention of the methodological controversy
generated by this negative finding [
16
19
]. No laboratory scientist—no physiologist, neuroscientist,
biochemist or biophysicist, whose professional expertise might have enabled them to discuss the
many scientific publications now available on the specific mechanisms by which RF aects biological
organisms—was present.
No member of the committee makes any declaration about the existence or absence of individual
conflicts of interest. No mention is made anywhere of the fact that the current New Zealand government,
having campaigned against the TransPacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) before the last election and
then signed a renamed version of it (CPTPPA) as soon as they got into power, is seriously constrained
by a realistic fear of being sued under the CPTPPA for passing any law that impacts the profits
of any of the multinational corporations that promote such agreements, with the suit being settled
under the investor state dispute mechanisms of the CPTPPA by a three-person international court
consisting of two judges nominated by the organization that brings the suit and one by the New
Zealand government.
3. Misleading Statements in the New Zealand Government’s Interagency Committee on the
Health Eects of Non-Ionizing Fields Report to Ministers 2018
This report to Ministers of the New Zealand Government could serve as a textbook example of
ICNIRP spin. Almost the entire reference list consists of papers written by ICNIRP members—none of
the papers cited in Section 3.2 below is cited. The report’s conclusion—that the 1998 ICNIRP Guidelines
document on which the current New Zealand guidelines are based is still the gold standard in the field,
its thermal-only recommended exposure limit providing adequate protection for the public—gives
every indication of having been predetermined. And in support of this conclusion, the report makes a
number of seriously misleading statements.
Four of these statements are discussed below.
3.1. Misleading Statement One (p. 2)
“Animal studies do not suggest an eect of RF fields on cancer.”
Magnetochemistry 2019,5, 31 6 of 13
The wording of this statement (“eect on cancer”) is somewhat ambiguous, but the clear intent is to
convey the idea that animal studies do not suggest that RF fields can cause cancer.
The only evidence cited in support of this statement is a relatively long section devoted to
acknowledging the existence, but attempting to minimize the significance, of a recent study by the
National Toxicology Program (NTP) of the US Department of Health which clearly demonstrates
that RF fields do cause cancer. According to the 19-member peer review panel that examined this
study [
20
], its results provide “clear evidence”—the highest standard of proof—that RF fields cause
schwannomas (malignant tumors of the Schwann cells that sheath all myelinated nerves) in the hearts
of male rats. The NTP study also reports less clear evidence that RF causes various other tumors
(gliomas in the brain, pheochromocytomas in the adrenal gland, and tumors of the prostate and
pancreas). The relevant section of the NZ Interagency Report notes these facts, but concludes by citing
a non-peer-reviewed ICNIRP note criticizing the methodology and minimizing the significance of the
NTP study [
21
]. The NZ Report fails to mention a published rebuttal of the ICNIRP criticisms [
22
],
which was accepted by the journal Environmental Research on 7 September 2018 (the precise stated
cut-odate for publications cited by the NZ Report). The NZ Interagency Report ignores altogether
a second major rodent study (available online 18 March 2018), done in a dierent country (Italy) by
dierent investigators (the Ramanizzi Institute), involving 2248 rats and confirming the results of the
NTP study [23].
Also mentioned but dismissed as unpersuasive is an earlier mouse study showing a facilitatory
eect of lifelong exposure to RF on the development of lung, liver, kidney, and blood cancers caused
by in utero administration of the chemical carcinogen ethyl nitrosourea [
24
]. The authors of that study
specifically comment on the fact that this result is not dose-related with respect to RF; which actually
accords well with the unexpected finding of a counterintuitive, inverted-U-shaped dose–response
curve in relation to RF damage of the blood–brain barrier reported much earlier [
25
]. However, none
of the scientists involved comments on this correspondence with earlier work: instead, the absence
of the ‘expected’ dose–response relationship is taken as a reason for dismissing the facilitation study,
by a research group who also make statements like “exposed groups were compared only to the
sham-exposed control group
. . .
in a carcinogenesis study, it is essential to compare results to the
negative control group and to in-house historical data and/or to published database(s) in the case of no
or insucient internal data.” [
26
]. This is pure nonsense. When a scientific study finds significant
dierences between an exposed group and a sham-exposed group, it is disingenuous to claim that those
dierences are meaningless because there was no group of animals that was completely unexposed.
Sham controls are universally acknowledged to be more rigorous than negative controls. However,
since no laboratory scientist who could have pointed this out sits on the NZ InterAgency Committee,
their report is able to use the untenable claims made in [
26
] to dismiss the legitimate findings reported
in [24].
The least that can be said about all this is that the existence of two major rodent studies, both of
which report clear evidence that RF directly causes malignant cardiac tumors, renders incorrect and
misleading the statement “animal studies do not suggest an eect of RF fields on cancer”. Indeed,
given that a relative lack of animal evidence for carcinogenicity was the main stated reason for the
IARC/WHO classification of RF as only a Group 2B (“possible”) carcinogen in 2011 [
27
], the combination
of the NTP and Ramanizzi studies must be seen as lending strong support to recent calls [
28
,
29
] for the
upgrading of the IARC/WHO classification to Grade 1: “carcinogenic to humans”.
3.2. Misleading Statement Two (p. 2)
“RF research is continuing in a number of areas, but data currently available provides no
clear and persuasive evidence of any other eects.”
This extraordinary statement hangs, in notably legalistic fashion, on the words “clear and
persuasive evidence”. Given that there are now over 2,000 peer-reviewed papers in the scientific
literature documenting multiple “other eects” of RF, the obvious question is “persuasive to whom”?
Magnetochemistry 2019,5, 31 7 of 13
The data documenting these multiple other eects clearly were found persuasive by the peer reviewers
of the reputable scientific journals in which they are published. If the authors of this report did not
find any of this evidence persuasive, one might reasonably ask “why not?”
In the absence of any alternative explanation, it seems likely that the answer to this question
is simply, “because ICNIRP (and/or WHO and/or the wireless industry employers of many of the
committee members) said so”. Since all three of these entities have been shown to be massively invested
in finding “unpersuasive” any and all reports that sub-thermal levels of RF have any biological eects
at all, this answer can hardly be taken as a valid reason for ignoring and/or dismissing such a large
volume of evidence; some of which is documented and briefly discussed below.
Demonstrated “other eects” of RF include:
Psychiatric problems, including depression: For a review of a large number of peer-reviewed studies
in this area, see [
30
]. Because inexplicable mental health issues among the young are an increasing
problem in New Zealand, this must be seen as a rather important “other eect” of RF radiation.
Diabetes: Wi-Fi irradiation of young rats causes damage to the pancreas and reduced insulin
secretion [
31
,
32
] and is thus the standard method of producing an animal model of diabetes.
Epidemiological evidence [
33
] shows statistically significant increases in pre-diabetic blood
markers in human children attending a school near a cell tower, as compared with an otherwise
identical group of children whose school is further from a cell tower. These findings suggest that
(a) cell towers should not be built near schools and (b) Wi-Fi in schools should be replaced with
cabled internet connections, accessed by multiple jack points for convenience.
Breakdown of the blood–brain barrier (BBB): Double-blind studies done as long ago as 1975 showed
that RF causes abnormal leakage of fluorescein dye from the blood of rats into their brain tissue [
8
],
and disingenuous attempts to discredit that finding constituted the first documented dirty tricks
campaign in the area [
6
]. Honest attempts to replicate the 1975 experiments proved hard to interpret,
until it was realized that a counterintuitive, inverted-U-shaped dose–response curve held—at
which point it became clear that the parameters involved in mobile phone use are particularly
eective in disrupting the BBB [
25
]. Because disruption of the BBB is a known contributor to
the onset and development of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia [
34
,
35
], at least
two public health conclusions might reasonably be drawn from these findings. First, it would be
prudent to advise the increasing population of elderly citizens to avoid cell phones, smart meters,
and Wi-Fi. But perhaps more importantly, chronic exposure of the young to RF now starts in
the womb and continues throughout babyhood (wireless baby monitors), childhood (wrist-worn
child locators), and adolescence (smart phones, Wi-Fi). Because the biological eects of RF are
known to be cumulative, urgent steps should be taken to reduce the exposure of babies, children,
and teenagers to radiofrequency radiation, to avoid an epidemic of early-onset dementia starting
in middle age.
Death of hippocampal neurons: The neurophysiological mechanisms of memory are presently
ill-understood, but one thing that is known for sure is that a properly functioning hippocampus is
essential for the laying down of new memories. Hence the demonstrated loss of hippocampal
neurons in teenaged rats exposed to RF [
36
] reinforces the warning at the end of the
preceding subsection.
Reproductive damage: A review of multiple studies on the eects of cell phone radiation on
male reproduction [
37
] reveals that exposure to RF (a) increases oxidative stress and decreases
sperm count and motility in rodents; (b) increases oxidative stress, decreases motility, and causes
morphometric abnormalities of human spermatozoa
in vitro
; and (c) does not aect morphology
but does cause decreased concentration, motility, and viability of sperm in men using mobile
phones, with these abnormalities being directly related to duration of phone use. Fewer studies
have been done on female reproduction, but cell phone radiation is reported also to aect the
reproduction of female mice by multiple mechanisms [38].
Magnetochemistry 2019,5, 31 8 of 13
Oxidative stress: Oxidative stress [
39
] is a condition arising when free radicals (atoms or molecules
that have developed unpaired electrons, which make the molecule unstable and highly reactive),
outnumber antioxidants (compounds that neutralize free radicals by donating electrons to them).
An excess of free radicals, also known as oxidative stress, is implicated in virtually all of the
degenerative diseases aicting humankind: atherosclerosis, heart disease, cancer, inflammatory
joint disease, asthma, diabetes, dementia, and degenerative eye disease to name some of them.
Oxidative stress also lowers immune function, which impacts the development of infectious
diseases. Because low-intensity radiofrequency radiation is now an accepted cause of oxidative
stress (for a review of multiple individual studies showing this see [
40
]), at least some role
in the development of all of the above health problems might reasonably be attributed to the
radiofrequency radiation in which virtually everyone on Earth is now bathed on a daily basis.
DNA damage: DNA damage caused by non-thermal exposure of cultured cells to RF was one of
the earliest reported eects of radiofrequency radiation [
41
]. For a review of many more recent
studies confirming that RF causes DNA damage, see [42].
3.3. Misleading Statement Three (p. 53)
“The ICNIRP limits used in the [New Zealand] standard are based on a review of all relevant
research on health eects, regardless of the mechanisms that might be involved. ICNIRP
and other expert panels that have reviewed the data find that the only eects that show up
with any clarity are consistent with the eects of heat stress and occur at exposure levels at
which absorption of RF energy in the body (as heat) exceeds the body’s ability to dissipate
that heat”.
In philosophical terms, this is known as an argument from authority. Carl Sagan’s view of
arguments from authority is: “One of the great commandments of science is "mistrust arguments from
authority".
. . .
Too many such arguments have proved too painfully wrong. Authorities must prove
their contentions like everybody else” [43].
The authority in this case is ICNIRP, a small, self-selected, non-governmental organization with
known ties to the industry whose expansion it is charged with regulating. The truth of the matter is
that at most a few dozen scientists continue to defend the thermal-only paradigm [
44
]. Five times
that number—so far 242 EMF-active scientists from 42 countries—have signed the International EMF
Scientist Appeal [
45
], which calls on WHO, the United Nations, and all member nations to issue health
warnings about the risks of EMF exposure and to adopt much stronger exposure guidelines to protect
humans and other species from sub-thermal levels of EMF.
3.4. Misleading Statement Four (p.39)
“While there is sometimes public concern over the presence of industry representatives on the
Committee, in practice they have never attempted to influence the Committee’s conclusions
on the health eects research and generally see the Committee as a means for them to stay
abreast of recent developments. In addition, they are able to bring to the Committee’s
attention forthcoming developments in their industries that may have policy implications
for our Government.”
This statement is apparently inserted in an attempt to show that there is no conflict of interest
involved in committee deliberations. Unfortunately however, the meeting notes referred to above
show that there is no need for industry representatives to influence the committee’s conclusions about
health research, because the committee is already so compromised that the science is massaged to favor
industry interests as a matter of course. The following exerpt from the meeting notes illustrates this:
“Martin Gledhill spoke to his paper on 5G deployment and highlighted the need to ensure
that reliable information about the deployment of 5G infrastructure, eects on exposures to
Magnetochemistry 2019,5, 31 9 of 13
RF fields and health be available ahead of time. Peter Berry [representative of the Electricity
Engineers’ Association] commented that government and the industry need to work together
on this. The Ministry of Health is seen as a credible source of information and should prepare
information on health and have this on its website. If the issue develops then ways to
communicate more proactively could be investigated.”
This underlines the fact that the New Zealand Ministry of Health is, in fact, not presently a
credible source of information. On the contrary, this government department appears to be firmly
and unshakably committed to the ICNIRP thermal-only dogma, exactly because that dogma allows
unbridled expansion of the wireless and telecommunications industries.
4. Some Hard Numbers: Preliminary Results on Ambient RF Power Densities in Auckland
At present, no raw measurements of ambient RF power density in New Zealand are publicly
available. The Telco-funded reports posted on the Ministry of Health website show only percentages
of the limits recommended by NZS2772.1:1999, an ICNIRP-inspired Guidelines document which can
be purchased from the Standards New Zealand website for $129 +GST. In an attempt to remedy this
situation, preliminary measurements were made by the present author in the city center of Auckland,
New Zealand in April 2019, using a hand-held Cornet Electrosmog Meter Model EDT 88TPlus.
The results largely fell within the ranges shown for the city centers of Canberra, Sydney, Los Angles,
and Addis Ababa in Figure 3 of [
46
]; i.e. between 2 and 10 mW/m
2
(which translates to 0.2–1
µ
W/cm
2
).
However, two specific hot spots gave cause for concern.
First, the peak reading on the street at the Three Lamps bus stop in Ponsonby Rd at 10:05 on Friday
5 April 2019 was 129 mW/m
2
. Readings in this location (as with others in the central city) fluctuated
rapidly and wildly in time, to the extent that no specific frequency could be recorded. This is perhaps not
surprising, considering that the map of cell tower locations available at https://gis.geek.nz/celltowers/
shows three cell towers housing a total of six transmitters, operating at 2100, 700, 850, 1800, 900, and
1800 MHz (a dierent telco), within 50 m of the bus stop in question, with a further two cell towers
housing another four transmitters inside a 100 m radius.
The plethora of dierent units used by dierent information sources in this field make comparisons
extraordinarily dicult, but a number of online calculators on the web (for example, the one at
https://www.compeng.com.au/field-strength-calculator/) reveal that a reading of 129 mW/m
2
translates
to 12.9
µ
W/cm
2
. This is but a tiny fraction of the ICNRIP-based New Zealand exposure guideline of
10 mW/cm
2
, which translates to 10,000
µ
W/cm
2
. However, the 12.9
µ
W/cm
2
recorded at the Three
Lamps bus stop is comfortably above the recommended exposure limits of 10
µ
W/cm
2
used by
Poland, Slovenia, the Ukraine, Bulgaria, Italy, Switzerland and Brazil, and considerably above the
recommended exposure limits of 4.5
µ
W/cm
2
in Canada, 1–10
µ
W/cm
2
in Paris, and 1
µ
W/cm
2
in
Lithuania and Salzburg [
47
]. The 12.9
µ
W/cm
2
recorded at the Three Lamps bus stop is also hugely
above the 0.25
µ
W/cm
2
that has been shown to cause oxidative stress and DNA damage in quail
eggs [
48
] and in roughly the same ball-park as the 50–330
µ
W/cm
2
long-term exposure to which has
been shown to cause oxidative stress in rat brains [
49
]. (To the present author’s knowledge, no studies
on power densities lower than this have been done on whole animals).
A conservative conclusion from these figures suggests that it would be unwise to spend any
significant period of time in the vicinity of the Three Lamps bus stop—or indeed in any area of the
Auckland central business district, if you consider the quail egg study [48].
The second somewhat disconcerting measurement made in the present, very preliminary study of
ambient RF power densities in Auckland was taken immediately outside the door of the microwave
oven in the kitchen of the Auckland Council service center in Ostend, Waiheke Island, while the oven
was operating. This measurement, which fluctuated between 5.5 and 8.8
µ
W/cm
2
, did not quite exceed
the safety limits used in most of Eastern Europe, but probably would have been illegal in Canada and
Lithuania – and also in Paris and Salzburg. Apparently individual cities can set their own limits on
allowable radiation exposure levels. Given that the limits set out in the ICNIRP-inspired New Zealand
Magnetochemistry 2019,5, 31 10 of 13
standard are not enshrined in New Zealand law, it would also presumably be possible for Auckland
City to enforce lower guidelines than those specified in NZS2772.1:1999.
5. Which is Worse: Sharp Spikes of RF or Continued Low Level Exposure?
One of the many debatable questions in this area is whether prolonged exposure levels or brief
spikes of power are more important in determining the biological eects of RF.
The ICNIRP dogma that tissue heating is the only possible biological eect of RF radiation—which
dogma has now been conclusively disproved by several thousand studies, and thus can no longer
be considered even a viable hypothesis, let alone a scientific fact—leads to the specification that brief
spikes should be ignored and RF measurements should be averaged over 6 min. This approach would
indeed be reasonable, if the only eect of interest were excessive tissue heating. However, there are now
a number of other mechanisms by which RF radiation has been proven to aect biological organisms,
at much lower power densities than those needed to heat tissue.
Probably the most important of these mechanisms is overproduction of free radicals, which leads
to a cascade of further eects, including DNA damage. In the scientific sense of the term, a free radical
is a molecule that has lost one of its electrons and thus become unstable and highly reactive [
39
].
The mechanism by which RF creates a free radical is likely to involve a single, discrete collision between
the molecule in question and a beam of RF. Once created, the free radical can be neutralized again
by contact with an antioxidant molecule, which gives back its lost electron; however, if that does not
happen immediately, the free radical is capable of producing downstream eects such as damage to
DNA, cell membranes, and various other biological entities whose continued function is essential to
the organism. This means that RF damage can be mitigated by health-promoting behaviors such as the
consumption of antioxidants (vitamin C, fruit and vegetables, dark chocolate). However, it also means
that if too many free radicals are created for the natural protective mechanisms of the organism to cope
with—or if any given free radical does irreparable damage to some vital biological structure before
being neutralized—the eects of RF are cumulative. This analysis leads to the conclusion that both of
the factors artificially set in opposition by the question at the start of this section are important. Sharp
spikes of RF produce free radicals. Continued sharp spikes of RF produce more free radicals. If enough
free radicals are allowed to build up in the body, health impacts become more or less inevitable.
Continued, relentless, sharp spikes of RF are exactly the environmental condition involuntarily
imposed on any citizen with the misfortune to live and/or work near one cell tower, let alone five.
And oxidative stress of the sort caused by sharp spikes of RF has been shown to contribute to all
of the disease states underpinning the increasing number of "epidemics" reported by the media in
New Zealand.
6. Discussion
A group of investigative journalists known as Investigate Europe allege the existence of an
‘ICNIRP cartel’: a group of 14 core scientists plus a couple of dozen supporters who act to promote and
defend the ICNIRP dogma that the only confirmed harms caused by RF are acute thermal eects [
44
].
This cartel is alleged to preserve the EMF exposure guidelines favored by industry by conducting
biased reviews of the literature, which minimize health risks from exposure to EMF power densities
lower than those which cause thermal harm.
The multiple citations to papers and reviews written by ICNIRP members and the many references
to ICNIRP beliefs in the text of the report to ministers of the New Zealand government 2018 from the
Interagency Committee on the Health Eects of Non-Ionizing Fields reveal that the authors of this
report are, for whatever reason, firmly committed to the ICNIRP view. In the service of this view,
thousands of papers reporting adverse eects of less-than-thermal RF power densities are simply
ignored. When the occasional study is too widely known to be ignored, its significance is minimized
and its methodology questioned; but questioned in such a way that no specific, answerable objections
Magnetochemistry 2019,5, 31 11 of 13
are raised. The conclusion is now inescapable that ICNIRP and its followers are so firmly committed to
the thermal-only dogma that no amount of evidence will change their minds.
7. Conclusions
It is time to stop believing ICNIRP spin. Tissue heating is not the only biological eect of
radiofrequency radiation. The thermal-only exposure limit is not safe.
Like tobacco smoke, low intensity radiofrequency radiation has multiple harmful eects on
human health. Unlike secondhand smoke, secondhand radiation is fast becoming inescapable.
The present situation is thus worse than Big Tobacco redux.
Elected politicians should stop accepting biased reports from individuals with blatant conflicts of
interest and start taking seriously the health and safety of their constituents; or at least of their
own children and grandchildren.
The unchecked expansion of Big Wireless permitted by ICNIRP’s thermal-only guidelines is
actively harmful to all biological inhabitants of planet Earth. Further expansion to 5G technology
will inevitably involve yet more radiation exposure. The fact that this exposure will not breach
the ludicrously high ICNIRP-based standard is no defense at all.
Funding: No funding has been received from any source for preparation of this paper, or for related work.
Conflicts of Interest: The author declares no conflict of interest.
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2019 by the author. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access
article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution
(CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
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This paper argues that the prevailing official narrative in New Zealand concerning the relationship between public health and the radio frequency emissions (RF) from cellphone technology, WiFi and electricity smart meters is scientifically and ethically flawed. The main regulatory document in the area, NZS2772.1:1999, is 20 years out of date and ignores existing laboratory evidence disproving its core assumption that the only biological effect of non-ionising radiation is tissue heating. This and further laboratory evidence for harmful effects of RF continues to be ignored, nominally on the contradictory grounds that (a) cellphone manufacturers say their products now emit less RF than early models, so early lab studies exposed tissue to RF levels higher than those now relevant (b) given the lack of actual data on population exposures either then or now, all laboratory evidence is unconvincing anyway. The offical narrative further opines that since there exist both laboratory and epidemiological studies concluding that RF is not biologically harmful, as well as studies concluding that RF is harmful, the appropriate response is to count up the number on each side, declare the "weight of evidence" to be such that "causation is not proven" and, pending unspecified further studies, continue exposing to unmonitored levels of RF the entire population of the country, none of whom has given informed consent to participate in the experiment. This approach is obviously unethical. It is also unacceptable scientifically. First, the algebraic model is flawed: studies that do find a harmful effect of RF are not invalidated by differently constructed studies that fail to find an effect. Secondly, while causation is relatively easy to study in the laboratory, it is difficult if not impossible to prove epidemiologically, given that (1) the very narrative under discussion has ensured that there is now no unexposed control group and (2) interpretation of timeline correlation studies is hampered by changes in the way new cancer registrations have been recorded over the years and the perennial problem of multiple possible causal factors. The present paper concludes that a precautionary approach is justified, and ends with a number of specific suggestions on how to start implementing such an approach.
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The National Toxicology Program (NTP) conducted two-year studies of cell phone radiation in rats and mice exposed to CDMA- or GSM-modulated radiofrequency radiation (RFR) at exposure intensities in the brain of rats that were similar to or only slightly higher than potential, localized human exposures from cell phones held next to the head. This study was designed to test the (null) hypothesis that cell phone radiation at non-thermal exposure intensities could not cause adverse health effects, and to provide dose-response data for any detected toxic or carcinogenic effects. Partial findings released from that study showed significantly increased incidences and/or trends for gliomas and glial cell hyperplasias in the brain and schwannomas and Schwann cell hyperplasias in the heart of exposed male rats. These results, as well as the findings of significantly increased DNA damage (strand breaks) in the brains of exposed rats and mice, reduced pup birth weights when pregnant dams were exposed to GSM- or CDMA-modulated RFR, and the induction of cardiomyopathy of the right ventricle in male and female rats clearly demonstrate that the null hypothesis has been disproved. The NTP findings are most important because the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified RFR as a "possible human carcinogen" based largely on increased risks of gliomas and acoustic neuromas (which are Schwann cell tumors on the acoustic nerve) among long term users of cell phones. The concordance between rats and humans in cell type affected by RFR strengthens the animal-to-human association. This commentary addresses several unfounded criticisms about the design and results of the NTP study that have been promoted to minimize the utility of the experimental data on RFR for assessing human health risks. In contrast to those criticisms, an expert peer-review panel recently concluded that the NTP studies were well designed, and that the results demonstrated that both GSM- and CDMA-modulated RFR were carcinogenic to the heart (schwannomas) and brain (gliomas) of male rats.
Article
Epidemiology studies (case-control, cohort, time trend and case studies) published since the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) 2011 categorization of radiofrequency radiation (RFR) from mobile phones and other wireless devices as a possible human carcinogen (Group 2B) are reviewed and summarized. Glioma is an important human cancer found to be associated with RFR in 9 case-control studies conducted in Sweden and France, as well as in some other countries. Increasing glioma incidence trends have been reported in the UK and other countries. Non-malignant endpoints linked include acoustic neuroma (vestibular Schwannoma) and meningioma. Because they allow more detailed consideration of exposure, case-control studies can be superior to cohort studies or other methods in evaluating potential risks for brain cancer. When considered with recent animal experimental evidence, the recent epidemiological studies strengthen and support the conclusion that RFR should be categorized as carcinogenic to humans (IARC Group 1). Opportunistic epidemiological studies are proposed that can be carried out through cross-sectional analyses of high, medium, and low mobile phone users with respect to hearing, vision, memory, reaction time, and other indicators that can easily be assessed through standardized computer-based tests. As exposure data are not uniformly available, billing records should be used whenever available to corroborate reported exposures.
Article
This commentary addresses the paper by Vila et al. entitled "Occupational exposure to high-frequency electromagnetic fields and brain tumor risk in the INTEROCC study: An individualized assessment approach" that is published in Environment International. The authors have examined the link between occupational exposures to radiofrequency (RF) and intermediate frequency (IF) electromagnetic fields (EMF) and glioma and meningioma brain tumor risk in the INTEROCC multinational population-based case-control study. This study showed no clear association with exposure to RF or IF EMFs and the risk of glioma or meningioma brain tumors. Recent studies show that in many cases there are large errors and/or major shortcomings in the studies claiming no link between mobile phone and brain cancer. Although the paper by Vila et al. is well-structured and can be considered as a significant contribution to this field, there are several items that merit further attention and are not fully addressed. These include the selection bias, confounding factors other than age, sex, region and country, and criteria used in this study for considering exposures as occupational.
Article
Introduction: In 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic fields (EMF) as possibly carcinogenic to humans (group 2B), although the epidemiological evidence for the association between occupational exposure to RF-EMF and cancer was judged to be inadequate, due in part to limitations in exposure assessment. This study examines the relation between occupational RF and intermediate frequency (IF) EMF exposure and brain tumor (glioma and meningioma) risk in the INTEROCC multinational population-based case-control study (with nearly 4000 cases and over 5000 controls), using a novel exposure assessment approach. Methods: Individual indices of cumulative exposure to RF and IF-EMF (overall and in specific exposure time windows) were assigned to study participants using a source-exposure matrix and detailed interview data on work with or nearby EMF sources. Conditional logistic regression was used to investigate associations with glioma and meningioma risk. Results: Overall, around 10% of study participants were exposed to RF while only 1% were exposed to IF-EMF. There was no clear evidence for a positive association between RF or IF-EMF and the brain tumors studied, with most results showing either no association or odds ratios (ORs) below 1.0. The largest adjusted ORs were obtained for cumulative exposure to RF magnetic fields (as A/m-years) in the highest exposed category (≥90th percentile) for the most recent exposure time window (1-4 years before the diagnosis or reference date) for both glioma, OR = 1.62 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.86, 3.01) and meningioma (OR = 1.52, 95% CI: 0.65, 3.55). Conclusion: Despite the improved exposure assessment approach used in this study, no clear associations were identified. However, the results obtained for recent exposure to RF electric and magnetic fields are suggestive of a potential role in brain tumor promotion/progression and should be further investigated.
Article
Exposure to low frequency and radiofrequency electromagnetic fields at low intensities poses a significant health hazard that has not been adequately addressed by national and international organizations such as the World Health Organization. There is strong evidence that excessive exposure to mobile phone-frequencies over long periods of time increases the risk of brain cancer both in humans and animals. The mechanism(s) responsible include induction of reactive oxygen species, gene expression alteration and DNA damage through both epigenetic and genetic processes. In vivo and in vitro studies demonstrate adverse effects on male and female reproduction, almost certainly due to generation of reactive oxygen species. There is increasing evidence the exposures can result in neurobehavioral decrements and that some individuals develop a syndrome of "electro-hypersensitivity" or "microwave illness", which is one of several syndromes commonly categorized as "idiopathic environmental intolerance". While the symptoms are non-specific, new biochemical indicators and imaging techniques allow diagnosis that excludes the symptoms as being only psychosomatic. Unfortunately standards set by most national and international bodies are not protective of human health. This is a particular concern in children, given the rapid expansion of use of wireless technologies, the greater susceptibility of the developing nervous system, the hyperconductivity of their brain tissue, the greater penetration of radiofrequency radiation relative to head size and their potential for a longer lifetime exposure.
Article
Free radicals are generated in our body by several systems. A balance among free radicals and antioxidants is an important matter for appropriate physiological function. If free radicals become greater than the ability of the body to control them, a case known as oxidative stress appears, as a result of that, a number of human diseases spread in the body. Antioxidants can contribute in facing this oxidative stress. The present review provides a brief overview on free radicals, oxidative stress, some natural antioxidants and the relationship between them.
Article
Purpose: There is a great concern regarding the possible adverse effects of electromagnetic radiation (EMR). This study investigated the effects of EMR induced by Wi-Fi (2.45GHz) on insulin secretion and antioxidant redox systems in the rat pancreas. Materials and methods: Adult male Sprague-Dawley rats in the weight range of 230 to 260 g were divided into control, sham, Wi-Fi exposed groups. After long term exposure (4 h/day for 45 days) to Wi-Fi electromagnetic radiation, plasma levels of glucose and insulin during intraperitoneal glucose tolerance test were measured. Islet insulin secretion and content, lipid peroxidation and antioxidant status in pancreas of rats were determined. Results: Our data showed that the weight gain in the WI-FI exposed group was significantly lower than the control group (p<0.05). Wi-Fi (2.45 GHz) exposed group showed hyperglycemia. Plasma insulin level and glucose-stimulated insulin secretion from pancreatic islet were significantly reduced in the Wi-Fi exposed group. EMR emitted from Wi-Fi caused a significant increase in lipid peroxidation and a significant decrease in GSH level, SOD and GPx activities of the pancreas. Conclusion: these data showed that EMR of Wi-Fi leads to hyperglycemia, increased oxidative stress and impaired insulin secretion in the rat pancreatic islets.