On Wednesday, September 12, 2012, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health published a report: “Low-level radiofrequency electromagnetic fields – an assesment of health risks and evaluation of regulatory practice” (full report; English summary).
The 204-pages long report is written in Norwegian and, therefore, I was not able to read detailed scientific evaluation of the analyzed studies. However, list of references used in this report suggest that some kind of “selectivity”. For example, yet again and similarly to HPA report published earlier this year, research from my research group at STUK does not exist – no single reference to any of our numerous studies was used.
It is deeply disturbing and it seriously undermines reliability of this and other reports when the authors omit without justification some of the well known scientific studies.
The English summary of the reports goes along the common mantra: there are no health effects, the health effects are unlikely, we are all well protected by the current safety standards and there is no need for precautionary principle.
For certain, the conclusions of the report concerning risk of cancer go strongly against the 2011 IARC classification of cell phone radiation as a possible carcinogen.
Based on the English summary, one might get an impression that everything is fine. No problem at all. I certainly disagree with many scientific conclusions presented in the English summary as seen in my postings on this science blog.
But then there are “puzzling” recommendations for the industry, which are contradictory to the general notion of the report that there is no problem at all.
” 1.9.5 Recommendations for the industry’s obligations
Personal mobile phone use accounts for the relatively highest exposure to the general public. Individuals can choose to easily reduce exposure. Mobile providers could equip all phones with hands-free kits and provide information about the SAR value for exposure and the importance of using hands-free. Dealers should have information about the SAR value for all new mobile phones available to the customer…” [underlining DL]
If the authors of the report believe, as they say in the report that there is no problem at all then why to suggest to customers to reduce exposures, why to recommend to industry to provide hands-free kits and why to oblige dealers to provide SAR information on new phones to customers? If there is no problem then all such recommendations should be useless.
The other inconsistency, this time between the report and the press release is the following:
the report says:
“1.9.6 Recommendations for research and professional follow-up
The Norwegian research environments should contribute to and monitor international research about possible health effects of exposure to electromagnetic fields. The authorities should take into account the need for research funding in this area. The development of cancer incidence over time should be followed in cancer registries. WHO has presented recommendations on priority areas in the field.” [underlining DL]
It means that the scientists who prepared the report agree that there is need for further research, with priorities set by the WHO, and that Norwegian authorities should fund such research.
However, one of the headlines in the press release from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health clearly states that:
“Little benefit from more research“.
Does it mean that the scientists’ recommendation for Norwegian authorities is to fund more research even when they know that it will be of “little benefit”? Or is it just a “spin” inserted into the press release?
Even WHO, ICNIRP and ICES all agree that there are gaps in the knowledge and the research should be continued. Especially, because the latency period for brain cancer is counted in tens of years and the epidemiological studies that evaluated risk of brain cancer in their results relied on only small groups of people that used cell phones for more than 10 years and well below 20 years.
It seems that the authors of the Norwegian report self-contradict and either mislead by overstating their scientific conclusions of “no problem” or mislead by overstating the recommendations for the industry. They would like to have it both ways.