Conﬂicts of Interest and Misleading Statements in
Oﬃcial Reports about the Health Consequences of
Radiofrequency Radiation and Some New
Measurements of Exposure Levels
School of Psychology, University of Auckland, Auckland 1142, New Zealand; email@example.com
Received: 29 March 2019; Accepted: 25 April 2019; Published: 5 May 2019
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.
radiofrequency radiation; RF; microwave; cellphone; smart technology; public health;
cancer; diabetes; depression; dementia
The health eﬀects of radiofrequency radiation (RF) emitted by ‘smart’ technologies have become a
topic of signiﬁcant public concern throughout the world. Oﬃcial 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 [
] 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 eﬀects.
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  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
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
History in this area begins nearly 70 years ago. Currently-entrenched oﬃcial 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 aﬀect 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 [
]. 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
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 eﬀects of RF power densities less than 10 mW/cm
as a threat to national security and shut down any lab that produced them [4–6].
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 eﬀects, and as a
result, set their exposure limit at 0.01 mW/cm
. 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
]. Internationalization of what was by now the unchallengable dogma that tissue
Magnetochemistry 2019,5, 31 3 of 13
heating was the only possible biological eﬀect 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
]. 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 aﬀairs” and ensuring that “the business sector in a pluralistic society should play an
active and eﬀective role in the formation of public policy” .
Lobby oﬃces 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 eﬀects of microwave emissions mirrored those of the tobacco industry. They included
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 diﬃcult. 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 [
one such attempt as follows:
“After my colleagues and I published in 1975 [
], 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 eﬀect 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 , who writes:
“A survey conducted by the New York based publication Microwave News in 2006
consisted of examining papers on microwave eﬀects 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 eﬀect and 42 did not. Of the 42 no-eﬀect
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 eﬀects, 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 eﬀects, the narrative was
promulgated in oﬃcial 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 eﬀect of low intensity microwaves) cancels
out one positive study (i.e., one study that does ﬁnd an eﬀect of low intensity microwaves); with
an algebraic sum of zero indicating no eﬀect [
]. 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 .
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 [
]. The relevant section of WHO
is essentially identical to ICNIRP [
]: Michael Repacholi, the founder of ICNIRP, established
the WHO International EMF Project (IEMFP) in 1996 and remained in charge of it until 2006 [
when he reportedly resigned after allegations of corruption [
] to oﬃcially become an industry
]. 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 [
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” .
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 Oﬃcial 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
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 eﬀects 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 oﬀshoot of the controversial INTERPHONE project. He reports to the committee
that INTEROCC has not found any eﬀect 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 [
]. 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 aﬀects biological
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
3. Misleading Statements in the New Zealand Government’s Interagency Committee on the
Health Eﬀects 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 eﬀect of RF ﬁelds on cancer.”
Magnetochemistry 2019,5, 31 6 of 13
The wording of this statement (“eﬀect 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
], 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 [
]. The NZ Report fails to mention a published rebuttal of the ICNIRP criticisms [
which was accepted by the journal Environmental Research on 7 September 2018 (the precise stated
cut-oﬀdate 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 diﬀerent country (Italy) by
diﬀerent investigators (the Ramanizzi Institute), involving 2248 rats and conﬁrming the results of the
NTP study .
Also mentioned but dismissed as unpersuasive is an earlier mouse study showing a facilitatory
eﬀect 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 [
]. 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 [
]. 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 insuﬃcient internal data.” [
]. This is pure nonsense. When a scientiﬁc study ﬁnds signiﬁcant
diﬀerences between an exposed group and a sham-exposed group, it is disingenuous to claim that those
diﬀerences 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 [
] to dismiss the legitimate ﬁndings reported
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 eﬀect 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 [
], the combination
of the NTP and Ramanizzi studies must be seen as lending strong support to recent calls [
] 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 eﬀects.”
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 eﬀects” of RF, the obvious question is “persuasive to whom”?
Magnetochemistry 2019,5, 31 7 of 13
The data documenting these multiple other eﬀects 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 eﬀects
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 eﬀects” of RF include:
Psychiatric problems, including depression: For a review of a large number of peer-reviewed studies
in this area, see [
]. Because inexplicable mental health issues among the young are an increasing
problem in New Zealand, this must be seen as a rather important “other eﬀect” of RF radiation.
Diabetes: Wi-Fi irradiation of young rats causes damage to the pancreas and reduced insulin
] and is thus the standard method of producing an animal model of diabetes.
Epidemiological evidence [
] 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 [
and disingenuous attempts to discredit that ﬁnding constituted the ﬁrst documented dirty tricks
campaign in the area [
]. 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
eﬀective in disrupting the BBB [
]. Because disruption of the BBB is a known contributor to
the onset and development of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia [
], 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 eﬀects 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 [
] reinforces the warning at the end of the
Reproductive damage: A review of multiple studies on the eﬀects of cell phone radiation on
male reproduction [
] 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
; and (c) does not aﬀect 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 aﬀect the
reproduction of female mice by multiple mechanisms .
Magnetochemistry 2019,5, 31 8 of 13
Oxidative stress: Oxidative stress [
] 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 aﬄicting 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 [
]), 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 eﬀects of radiofrequency radiation [
]. For a review of many more recent
studies conﬁrming that RF causes DNA damage, see .
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 eﬀects, regardless of the mechanisms that might be involved. ICNIRP
and other expert panels that have reviewed the data ﬁnd that the only eﬀects that show up
with any clarity are consistent with the eﬀects 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
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
. . .
Too many such arguments have proved too painfully wrong. Authorities must prove
their contentions like everybody else” .
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 [
]. Five times
that number—so far 242 EMF-active scientists from 42 countries—have signed the International EMF
Scientist Appeal [
], 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 eﬀects 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, eﬀects 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 [
]; i.e. between 2 and 10 mW/m
(which translates to 0.2–1
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
. 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 diﬀerent 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 diﬀerent units used by diﬀerent information sources in this ﬁeld make comparisons
extraordinarily diﬃcult, 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
. This is but a tiny fraction of the ICNRIP-based New Zealand exposure guideline of
, which translates to 10,000
. However, the 12.9
recorded at the Three
Lamps bus stop is comfortably above the recommended exposure limits of 10
Poland, Slovenia, the Ukraine, Bulgaria, Italy, Switzerland and Brazil, and considerably above the
recommended exposure limits of 4.5
in Canada, 1–10
in Paris, and 1
Lithuania and Salzburg [
]. The 12.9
recorded at the Three Lamps bus stop is also hugely
above the 0.25
that has been shown to cause oxidative stress and DNA damage in quail
] and in roughly the same ball-park as the 50–330
long-term exposure to which has
been shown to cause oxidative stress in rat brains [
]. (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 .
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
, 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 eﬀects of RF.
The ICNIRP dogma that tissue heating is the only possible biological eﬀect 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 eﬀect of interest were excessive tissue heating. However, there are now
a number of other mechanisms by which RF radiation has been proven to aﬀect 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 eﬀects, 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 [
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 eﬀects 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 eﬀects 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
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 eﬀects [
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 Eﬀects 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 eﬀects 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.
It is time to stop believing ICNIRP spin. Tissue heating is not the only biological eﬀect of
radiofrequency radiation. The thermal-only exposure limit is not safe.
Like tobacco smoke, low intensity radiofrequency radiation has multiple harmful eﬀects 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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