May 2011: A month in review-IARC, WHO radio frequency possible human carcinogen; PACE dangers of electromagnetic fields

May 2011.  A Month in Review.  A lot has happened during the month of May in the EMR arena. 

1. Scientists with strong Industry ties no longer tolerated as “experts” on International Panel.

It is well know that too many “experts”, who advise international agencies such as IARC  (International Agency for Research on Cancer) and ICNIRP (International Commission for Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection), have strong industry connections.  These agencies are the ones that set standards and establish what is and what isn’t harmful based on the “best available” research.  That dominance by “industry experts” is beginning to crumble ever so slowly.

A TV documentary on French television took a jab at the shenanigans that go on behind the scene.  An excellent summary is available at Microwave News.

IARC, an arm of the World Health Organization (WHO), responds to criticism that too many of its expert panel have strong industry ties.  One member, Anders Ahlbom, was removed from the RF Cancer Panel that met in Lyon France during the week of May 23, 2011.  For a list of participants click here.

Other “scientists with industry ties” have been identified as John Weigel documents in this report.  They include:

René de Seze of the Fondation Santé et Radiofréquences which is half state funded and half supported by industry.

Luc Verschaeve received a small research grant from the GSM Operators Forum on environmental effects of mobile phone base stations.

Niels Kuster is President of the Board and shareholder of Near-Field Technology AG, a holding controlling the two companies SPEAG and ZMT that are active in development of near-field measurement instruments, simulation software and medical test equipment.

Joe Elder is self-employed as a RF Bioeffects Consultant. He was employed by Motorola (until 2009) and his wife holds stocks from Motorola.

Jack Rowley is employed by the GSM Association whose member companies use RF to deliver communication services.

Mays Swicord worked as a consultant for Motorola. His participation as an observer in this IARC Monographs meeting is sponsored by the CTIA – The Wireless Association.

Prof A. Lerchl, the highest ranking German in the mobile radiation protection officer, adviser to the federal government and the representative of the German state in international bodies, was denied participation in the Monograph meeting due to his alleged close links to the industry.

An investigation of ICNIRP as well as a number of national agencies also needs to be conducted.  These agencies need to be accountable to the public and the process of standard setting should be transparent.

2.  IARC classifies Radio Frequency Radiation is a Class 2B Carcinogen “possibly carcinogenic to humans”. Click here for pdf.

This is a momentous ruling as it acknowledges that radiation from cell phones may cause an increased risk in gliomas (a malignant brain tumor) and acoustic neuromas (tumor of the acoustic nerve).  The 2B designation is not limited to cell phones.  It applies to all sources of RF radiation and that includes cordless phones, wireless baby monitors, WiFi, smart meters, cell phone antennas, broadcast and radar antennas.

Visit microwave news for a detailed account of the meeting.

With this ruling we can hope that agencies like Health Canada will revisit their guidelines and make sufficient changes to protect the public and those exposed occupationally to this radiation.

Those who manufacture equipment that emits radio frequency radiation should begin to redesign their products to minimize both the intensity and duration of radiation.  Cordless phones and wireless baby monitors that emit radiation constantly should not be sold.  In Europe voice-activated baby monitors are available yet I have not been able to find any in North America.  Wired devices do not emit this radiation and should be the first choice for those who do not want to be exposed and who do not want to expose their neighbours as this radiation extends beyond the household and is a particular problem in multi-unit dwellings.

3.  The Parliamentary Assembly Council of Europe (PACE) released a document entitled:  The potential dangers of electromagnetic fields and their effect on the environment.  Resolution 1815 (2011). Click here for link.

This report has a number of excellent recommendations that are provided here:

8. In light of the above considerations, the Assembly recommends that the member states of the Council of Europe:

8.1. in general terms:

8.1.1. take all reasonable measures to reduce exposure to electromagnetic fields, especially to radio frequencies from mobile phones, and particularly the exposure to children and young people who seem to be most at risk from head tumours;

8.1.2. reconsider the scientific basis for the present electromagnetic fields exposure standards set by the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection, which have serious limitations and apply “as low as reasonably achievable” (ALARA) principles, covering both thermal effects and the athermic or biological effects of electromagnetic emissions or radiation;

8.1.3. put in place information and awareness-raising campaigns on the risks of potentially harmful long-term biological effects on the environment and on human health, especially targeting children, teenagers and young people of reproductive age;

8.1.4. pay particular attention to “electrosensitive” persons suffering from a syndrome of intolerance to electromagnetic fields and introduce special measures to protect them, including the creation of wave-free areas not covered by the wireless network;

8.1.5. in order to reduce costs, save energy, and protect the environment and human health, step up research on new types of antennas and mobile phone and DECT-type devices, and encourage research to develop telecommunication based on other technologies which are just as efficient but have less negative effects on the environment and health;

8.2. concerning the private use of mobile phones, DECT phones, WiFi, WLAN and WIMAX for computers and other wireless devices such as baby phones:

8.2.1. set preventive thresholds for levels of long-term exposure to microwaves in all indoor areas, in accordance with the precautionary principle, not exceeding 0.6 volts per metre, and in the medium term to reduce it to 0.2 volts per metre;

8.2.2. undertake appropriate risk-assessment procedures for all new types of device prior to licensing;

8.2.3. introduce clear labelling indicating the presence of microwaves or electromagnetic fields, the transmitting power or the specific absorption rate (SAR) of the device and any health risks connected with its use;

8.2.4. raise awareness on potential health risks of DECT-type wireless telephones, baby monitors and other domestic appliances which emit continuous pulse waves, if all electrical equipment is left permanently on standby, and recommend the use of wired, fixed telephones at home or, failing that, models which do not permanently emit pulse waves;

8.3. concerning the protection of children:

8.3.1. develop within different ministries (education, environment and health) targeted information campaigns aimed at teachers, parents and children to alert them to the specific risks of early, ill-considered and prolonged use of mobiles and other devices emitting microwaves;

8.3.2. for children in general, and particularly in schools and classrooms, give preference to wired Internet connections, and strictly regulate the use of mobile phones by schoolchildren on school premises;

8.4. concerning the planning of electric power lines and relay antenna base stations:

8.4.1. introduce town planning measures to keep high-voltage power lines and other electric installations at a safe distance from dwellings;

8.4.2. apply strict safety standards for sound electric systems in new dwellings;

8.4.3. reduce threshold values for relay antennas in accordance with the ALARA principle and install systems for comprehensive and continuous monitoring of all antennas;

8.4.4. determine the sites of any new GSM, UMTS, WiFi or WIMAX antennas not solely according to the operators’ interests but in consultation with local and regional government officials, local residents and associations of concerned citizens;

8.5. concerning risk assessment and precautions:

8.5.1. make risk assessment more prevention oriented;

8.5.2. improve risk-assessment standards and quality by creating a standard risk scale, making the indication of the risk level mandatory, commissioning several risk hypotheses and considering compatibility with real life conditions;

8.5.3. pay heed to and protect “early warning” scientists;

8.5.4. formulate a human rights oriented definition of the precautionary and ALARA principles;

8.5.5. increase public funding of independent research, inter alia through grants from industry and taxation of products which are the subject of public research studies to evaluate health risks;

8.5.6. create independent commissions for the allocation of public funds;

8.5.7. make the transparency of lobby groups mandatory;

8.5.8. promote pluralist and contradictory debates between all stakeholders, including civil society (Aarhus Convention).

4.  Research at Queen’s University in Kingston documents that cell phone use may lead to low sperm quality and a decrease in male fertility.

Click here for article in Science Daily; and article in mobiledia.

Cell phone use may reduce male fertility
(Queen’s University Press Release, May 19, 2011)

Men who have been diagnosed with poor sperm quality and who are trying to have children should limit their cell phone use. Researchers have found that while cell phone use appears to increase the level of testosterone circulating in the body, it may also lead to low sperm quality and a decrease in fertility.

“Our findings were a little bit puzzling,” says Rany Shamloul, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology and lead researcher on the project. “We were expecting to find different results, but the results we did find suggest that there could be some intriguing mechanisms at work.”

The research team discovered that men who reported cell phone use had higher levels of circulating testosterone but they also had lower levels of luteinizing hormone (LH), an important reproductive hormone that is secreted by the pituitary gland in the brain.

The researchers hypothesize that electromagnetic waves (EMW) emitted by cell phones may have a dual action on male hormone levels and fertility. EMW may increase the number of cells in the testes that produce testosterone; however, by lowering the levels of LH excreted by the pituitary gland, EMW may also block the conversion of this basic circulating type of testosterone to the more active, potent form of testosterone associated with sperm production and fertility.

More in-depth research is needed to determine the exact ways in which EMW affects male fertility.

So it is not only cancers we need to be concerned about but reproduction as well.  If cell phones can damage sperm image what a laptop computer in WiFi mode is doing to sperm and possibly to egg cells.  Important to heed these warnings.

This is confirmed by new studies showing that radiation from cell phones damages DNA, brain and sperm.  Read more here and here about effects on rats mice and rabbits, abstract for rabbit study; rats and the blood brain barrier; spatial memory in mice.

5.  Cell phone radiation causes piping (swarming) in bees.

Daniel Favre’s research on bees may explain why some bee colonies are empty.  After exposing a bee hive to cell phones the bees in the hive began to make a different sound that is called piping.  This piping is a message for the colony to swarm or leave the hive. Although there are probably several reasons for the global colony collapse disorder, radiation from cell towers is a good candidate especially in hives that are empty.  Click here to read Favre’s article “Mobile phone-induced honeybee worker piping”.

6.   Scientists who speak out about the harmful effects of electromagnetic radiation are harassed.

Scientists who participated in Canada’s House of Commons Standing Committee on Health  (HESA) meetings in April 2010 continue to be harassed.

Dr. Olle Johansson, who works at the Karolinska’s Department of Neuroscience, in a recent email message stated, “Due to unforeseen circumstances I am now being evicted from my premises.”

Dr. Dimitris Panagopoulos, a biophysicist at the University of Athens was reassigned a windowless workspace the size of a toilet cubicle after he testified in Canada.

Dr. Annie Sasco, an epidemiologist with the University of Bordeaux had her office taken away from her.

Read more here.

This unfortunately is not new.  Other scientists who have made discoveries that document the harmful effects of electromagnetic radiation are threatened, their labs or offices are taken away; their funding is cut; they are threatened with legal action; and some are fired.

The playing field is not level and the rules change depending on who has the most money but the truth will come out.  It already is.