see also: Leszczynski of BRHP responds to comments in Repacholi’s guest blog
commenting period for this guest blog has ended
This is the first guest blog on BRHP. The opinions expressed in it are of Mike Repacholi himself. Publication of these opinions in BRHP does not mean that BRHP agrees or endorses these opinions. However, publication of this, and subsequent guest blogs, is an attempt to start an open debate and free exchange of opinions on RF and health.
Guest Blog by Dr Mike Repacholi, Visiting Professor, University of Rome, Italy
In this Guest Blog I would like to address a few issues related to assessing health risk.
1. The relative importance of epidemiology studies
The latest review of RF fields, HPA (2012), has set the scene for the importance of in vitro studies by stating “…a cellular change does not imply an effect in the whole organism, and neither a change at the cellular level nor a change of the whole organism necessarily results in a health effect.” So we cannot extrapolate effects found in cells to whole organisms. The advantage of in vitro studies is that they allow effects in a simplified model to found, but then these effects must be investigated in vivo to determine whether they occur in the more complex whole organism. Further, the in vitro models allow mechanisms of interaction to be investigated that then should also be investigated in vivo. HPA gives a reason for this: “… the main disadvantage is that isolated cells do not experience the many interactions that would normally take place in a whole organism and hence their response to stimuli is not necessarily the same as it would be in an experimental animal or human.” This is why public health authorities rely on epidemiological studies to assess health risks. They also rely on the results of animal studies to support the epidemiology studies. In fact IARC uses as a guide, if cancer is found in two different animal species then that cancer most likely occurs in humans.
We all know the many problems associated with epidemiological studies. They are prone to many biases and have serious problems assessing a person’s exposure, especially to EMF. We are all living in a sea of EMF so it is difficult to distinguish between the exposed and control groups. Because of this, my concern is that there is an over-reliance on epidemiology studies. Given that animal studies can be conducted with high dosimetric precision public health authorities might do well to use the guide; if epidemiology studies show an effect but overwhelmingly the animal studies don’t, then the assessment should be that there is a problem with the epidemiology studies. This is the case with RF fields recently being classified by IARC as “possibly carcinogenic to humans”. In my opinion the definition that IARC uses for this classification is flawed.
2. Weight of evidence
There is widespread misunderstanding about the “weight of evidence” approach when used for health risk assessments. Weight of evidence is NOT counting the number of positive and negative studies and then concluding there are more positive study results than negative, or vice versa. A true weight of evidence approach requires that each study, both positive and negative, be evaluated for quality, similar to what was used in the systematic review of head cancers from cell phone use (Repacholi et al 2012). Quality assessment criteria for all study types (See Repacholi et al 2011; online appendix) are well known and studies can be given more or less weight, where those studies that conducted experiments correctly according to these criteria are given more weight or believability in the outcome, than those deemed low quality. All “blue-ribbon” reviews use this approach. WHO has used this approach for over 50 years and it is a very well accepted, tried and true method for assessing health risks from any biological, chemical or physical agent.
ICNIRP works closely with WHO since it is a formally recognised NGO of WHO for NIR. As part of this relationship ICNIRP uses exactly the same weight of evidence approach as WHO and other leading national public health authorities in the NIR field when conducting their literature reviews and assessing the scientific evidence on which to base their guidelines. If one assesses the quality of studies referenced in the BioInitiative report it becomes very obvious they almost all fit into the low quality category that have not been replicated. It is very apparent that the authors of the BioInitiative report do not quote leading public health authorities such as WHO or the HPA in their review because they only want to summarise any study that supports their opinion and omit studies that don’t. With this approach there is no basis for discussion between ICNIRP and the BioInitiative group. ICNIRP has to maintain high quality standards in their approach to EMF protection to keep its very high credibility with national and international authorities who use their guidelines and recommendations.
HPA (2012) Health effects from radiofrequency electromagnetic fields. Report of the independent Advisory Group on Non-ionizing Radiation. Download from: http://www.hpa.org.uk/webw/HPAweb&HPAwebStandard/HPAweb_C/1317133826368
ICNIRP See their web site at: http://www.icnirp.de
Repacholi et al (2012) Systematic review of wireless phone use and brain cancer and other head tumors. Bioelectromagnetics 33: 187-206.
Repacholi et al (2012) Online appendix:
Protocol by which all studies were assessed is given on: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/store/10.1002/bem.20716/asset/supinfo/bem_20716_sm_SupplInfData.doc?v=1&s=e9450ec8b002bf4a7fe126bd226c7602802b0ee6
Worksheets used for assessing study quality are given on: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/store/10.1002/bem.20716/asset/supinfo/BEM_20716_sm_Suppl-Appendix-Figs.pdf?v=1&s=8ffe056df9570710bc7266c16ed2e836482686da
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Parents against WiFi in schools asks “In your opinion, does the ICNIRP method for setting standards (based purely on historically ‘established’ data) favour protection for public health, or for the wireless communication industry?” ICNIRP’s methodology is the same as used by any standards setting organisation and is ONLY based on the science… not to favour any particular group; ONLY public health.
This is my last comment for the guest blog. It has been an experience for me. I do hope those with an open mind will take on board what I have said in my response to the many scientific and non-scientific questions. I’ve tried to answer to the best of my ability and as honestly as I can. I know many of you will not be satisfied, but then we are all entitled to our own opinions.
There have been so many “stories” and falsehoods about me, mostly coming from the activist newsletter MW News and some other activist web sites, that I saw this as an opportunity to set the record straight.
Thank you for taking the time to air your questions and opinions
Deborah you must know we have been exposed to RF from radio and TV for generations… why are you know shouting from the roof tops about an RF source that is more absorbed by the body that WiFi signals?
If you genuinely want to know about how ICNIRP operates, go to its web site at http://www.icnirp.de. All the information is there for everyone to see.
ICRP like ICNIRP can only provide advice based on the scientific evidence available. Its exposure limits for ionizing radiation have been lowered a few times as new evidence became available. ICNIRP has learned from its sister commission and been very conservative with its limits; so much so that the limits have remained the same for well over 15 years, even with the huge number of studies being reported.
I agree with you that mankind has committed some very stupid environmental wrongs, for which it is paying for now. However, with regard to RF, the number of studies on EMF effects is only exceeded by the number of studies on ionizing radiation… there is a very large database from which to make conclusions and recommendations on EMF.
Deborah it is true that with improved dosimetry it was found that the ICNIRP SAR could be exceeded under certain conditions. ICNIRP issued a statement noting that, but also mentioned that, because of the safety factor incorporated into the limits, there was no danger to children. ICNIRP is reviewing its guidelines on RF now.
It is well known that reflections and ‘ so called “hot spots” in RF levels occur. This is also taken into account when developing the guidelines. Your work is well known and appreciated.
Deborah I agree that anyone can criticise the standards, that is their democratic right. All I do is put forward how the standards were developed. Its quite a complicated procedure and takes years. ICNIRP does not issue its guidelines without taking considerable care and review. It also uses a large pool of scientists to develop its final exposure limits.
Your agreeing to my point that not all biological effects have health consequences is important. As I said in my original blog biological effects found in isolated cells have to be shown to occur in animals, then in humans. As it happens ICNIRP would consider effects found in animals as likely to occur in humans… this is one of their conservative assumptions, since normally effects found in animals (in mammals, not insects or other non-mammalian organisms) would have to be shown to occur in humans. Also it depends on the biological effect reported.. this has to be evaluated to determine whether such an effect could likely occur in humans… all part of the process of establishing wether a biological effects has health consequences.
Hope this helps
As I mentioned before Michael, I prefer to believe the assessment and conclusions of a multidisciplinary committee of experts that the opinion of a single person. 192 countries pay for WHO to get the best advice possible so national authorities can use this advice to make their own public health policy. WHO is able to gather the best experts in the field in committee to provide this advice.. so why not use it?
Deborah ICNIRP takes years to arrive at its conclusions about the scientific evidence. Thorough reviews of each study, assessing the evidence, finding threshold exposure levels for the earliest detectable established health effect (not biological effect as this may not have any health consequence), then assuming that the person is aligned to the RF source in such a way that the person absorbs the maximum RF, then reducing this threshold exposure by 50 for the general public exposure limit. Conservative assumptions are used during the whole process. The fact that ICNIRP assumes worst case absorption of the RF field enlarges the safety factor well above the 50 it incorporates.
All the scientific literature is evaluated, none is left out of the assessment. While not all studies are referenced, they are evaluated. Some studies are so poor, especially with respect to their dosimetry, for example by using a mobile phone as the RF source for an animal study, that they are not included.
The ICNIRP standard is based on thermal effects, especially avoiding a whole body temperature rise of more that 1 degC since in experimental animals this was found to cause changes in behaviour and reduced endurance. While our normal body temperature easily handles a 1 degC temperature change, this was used as the basis for setting the exposure limits as described above.
Desiree I know there are people out there suffering all sorts of things. My conclusions are drawn from the scientifically conducted studies that conclude that “hypersensitive” people cant detect when an EMF source is on. Therefore their afflictions are not due to EMF but to some other cause.
The Royal Adelaide Hospital administration dealt directly with WHO admin under legal contract. While its true I was an employee of RAH that did not beak the firewall.
It took a long time to get my paper published because we went over the whole of the data a few times to make sure we did nothing wrong in the study. Then it took 3 rejections from journals before it was accepted for publication. Thats how it was… nothing to do with Telstra at all.
I was asked by a government owned industry to provide details of international standards. The fees went to RAH, not me, since I was an RAH employee.
I wont keep repeating the same thing. ICNIRP is an independent scientific commission… you can believe what you want.
I found Anders Ahlbom’s withdrawal from IARC the strangest thing on grounds of a conflict of interest. He was a director of his brother’s consulting firm, unpaid. While this consulting firm could consult for the telecom’s industry, it did not. Because of the fact that his brother’s consulting firm could consult for industry, Ahlbom was deemed to have a conflict of interest… extremely strange logic. However, another on the IARC working group who had been a court witness, but it was more than 4 years ago, was not deemed to have any conflict. IARC got the classification it wanted.
I dont disrespect anyone’s right to their opinion. However, I do put more faith in scientists who know the literature and assess them in the ways I have already indicated.. through a weight of evidence approach, in the same way as WHO, ICNIRP, and all key national health authorities.
The WHO EMF Project was set up to assist those countries not having the resources to assess health risks from NIR. WHO has no legal mandate to impose standards on any country. WHO always recommends internationally accepted standards and this was what was done.
While I respect Henry’s chapter as one of the more balanced, it is his opinion on how he judges the sciences. I prefer to put more weight in the formal assessment of a multidisciplinary committee of experts.
Thank you for your questions. I hope you have at least taken on board my side of the debate. What you care to believe is entirely up to you, but I have given you honest answers.
You admitted about your funding to a Norwegian journalist already. The claim that you had a firewall like the Interphone is not accurate…because you already had connection with Adelaide hospital, since your mice study where you found cancer associated with mobile phones. You kept it for two years because of your contract with Telstra. You were also an expert witness for a cell phone company, in the court. This shows your links with the industry.
ICNIRP is not and was not independent when its members aren’t and weren’t: ICNIRP’s Anders Ahlbom and Maria Feychting have also a “firewall”
Are you claiming that ICNIRP’s Ahlbom was kicked from IARC because of his “full independence”….?
You are aware of course, of many scientists and doctors and public health people who warn against serious health damage. Starting from the Freiburg appeal, the Irish environmental doctors association, the American Academy of environmental doctors, 29 Bioinitiative scientists, join previous warnings. The Bioinitiative scientists are not the only scientists who warn against risks. You cannot just ignore all of this and say that none noticed anything
serious….The Interphone found 40% risk of brain tumors in long term, and Hardell also found long term risk. This goes in the face of your and the ICNIRP’s claims of no risk or “nothing serious”. And despite this you insist on giving free advice over the internet not to be worried and you insist telling there is nothing serious, when you know about the 40% increased risk of long term use together with Hardell’s findings. Would you want to risk in brain tumor?
Why do you disrespect the findings? why do you disrespect the people?
While you were at the WHO you were going from government to government, with industry funding of the EMF project, to convince them to adopt the standards that allow this technology to develop fast. Otherwise ICNIRP’s limits would have never been adopted by governments, and lower limits would limit the development of this industry. Now you write that you cannot be responsible since the technology develops fast.
Your criticism of Bioinitiative:
Are you saying that Henry Lai’s chapter has only positive studies? Is this your claim?
this is ridiculous. And this is just an example. He detailed everything that was published on the subject. So did others. Why don’t you read it seriously?
This statement is baseless and unsubstantiated: ” We are all exposed to various biological, chemical and physical agents in the environment and fortunately our bodies are able to easily [?] compensate for any [really, any as in all?] effects they may produce. RF levels below the ICNIRP guideline limits is one of these agents.”
Oversimplified and unsubstantiated. We are exposed to many things that seem to do no harm and others that gradually or suddenly stress, sicken and kill us. I have seen no proof that RF exposures below the ICNIRP guideline are healthy for any living things.
How was this determined and by whom:
“ICNIRP…is an independent commission of the best scientists in the world and had a track record of scientific integrity and balanced outputs.”
On the other hand, I do recognize Mike’s parallel to ICRP, another organization whose guidelines are more or less meaningless in many aspects of application and practice in the real world. ICRP has little control over and less accountability for the havoc their recommendations and “protections” wreak upon us all and the repercussions of nuclear energy, waste, weaponry and medicine. As with nonionizing radiation so with ionizing–government and industry interests are merged, not independent of one another. Government is industry in this case and has many overt and covert interests in the “science” it supports. Overall, mankind proceeds–regardless of the consequences–and not without warning and knowledge of his limitations. We have a long history of doing foolish things and relying on further technological advances to save us. This approach is neither scientifically nor ethically sound. We have a long history of blatant disregard for our own kind and every other kind. We have a long history of avarice. Unlike the persistent mess we have made with our nuclear exploits, we are still able to decrease our nonionizing exposure now if we will just connect the dots… and wires. Clearly we must immediately stop wirelessly enmeshing every aspect of our existence to decrease our losses. As with all things, eventually we will have to pay, one way or another. But it doesn’t have to be this way. People must be fully informed of the hazards.
You say there is no biological harm produced by the radio frequency radiation but many people suffer from insomnia because of this radiation produced by DECT portable phones, wireless routers,cell phones and laptops etc. We have helped many people regain their sleeping ability by advising them to turn these products off when they sleep. I myself experienced this same effect from the wireless products. We have also helped people suffering with headaches that doctors could not help by recommending the elimination or reduction of the wireless products from their lives. There is no doubt in my mind that the radiation increases brain activity and causes problems for many people. A population with people who can’t sleep and suffers from headaches is a serious problem for society. Smart meters are now being deployed and adding more people with more ill effects from the wireless radiation especially ringing in the ears.
Having seen so many people with problems from radio frequency radiation I don’t know how anyone can say it has no impact on us.
As I asked in my first comment to Mike–and I don’t believe these questions were addressed:
How did ICNIRP arrive at any presumption or assumption of safety regarding human exposure to personal and infrastructural wireless devices when many of the early occupational and military studies indicated harm? How did that lead ICNIRP to presume/assume that uncontrolled, mass exposure would be safe or even something they could monitor?
Which studies specifically did ICNIRP accept as evidence that radio/microwave exposure is safe for humans and the environment? Were all the rest rejected? Is there an official list of those accepted and those rejected and the reasons?
“I hope you dont stop your kids using WiFi or the internet because all you will do is retard them…”
My thanks for your concern over the possible ‘retardation’ of our chidren – you will be glad to know that they are doing surprisingly well! (It is their long-term health that I am concerned about.)
With respect, in this context of physical health and RFR, your concern might be more appropriately targeted to the many mothers who unwittingly put their children at risk:
Specifically, the many unborn children in wombs who frequently share their mothers’ ‘bump’ with tablets and smart phones, and the babies I have seen whose mums store smart phones in pouches directly behind their babies heads – all perfectly safe according to ICNIRP.
Please don’t lose sight of my earnest question: “In your opinion, does the ICNIRP method for setting standards (based purely on historically ‘established’ data) favour protection for public health, or for the wireless communication industry?”
Regarding our protection of the children and the SAR, not in agreement that the SAR guidelines suffice:
In this study, we found that the basic restriction on the SAR(wb) is occasionally exceeded for children, up to a maximum of 45% in small children
. The basic restriction of whole-body SAR, set by ICNIRP, is exceeded in the smallest models ( approximately 20 kg) at the reference level of exposure, but also some adult phantoms are close to the limit. The present ICNIRP guidelines should be revised by lowering the reference levels, especially at around 2-5 GHz.
Also, exposure from multiple devices to differently oriented living things in different reflective environments–are the Guidelines protective:
Click to access 0703124.pdf
In a recent Letter [J. Phys. Soc. Jpn. 71, 432 (2002)], we reported a preliminary calculation and concluded that public exposure to mobile phones can be enhanced by microwave reflection in public spaces. In this paper, we confirm the significance of microwave reflection reported in our previous Letter by experimental and numerical studies. Furthermore, we show that “hot spots” often emerge in reflective areas, where the local exposure level is much higher than average. Such places include elevators, and we discuss other possible environments including trains, buses, cars, and airplanes. Our results indicate the risk of “passive exposure” to microwaves.
Mike, your response would be much more helpful to me if you would directly address the questions. Even if Neil Cherry had never had a peer-reviewed emf paper, he could still have had valid points about the guidelines–just as any other person can–and I think that is what Michael was asking you to address. I would also like to see those addressed. We have a right to question the standards and to have those questions addressed by those who recommended and adopted the standards that affect us all.
Although you did not address my questions either, you did more or less dismiss them by saying “If there was any likelihood of any adverse health effect to our children, do you really think we would not do anything to stop it?” And that is what I would like to know. Most public health officials and doctors I have spoken with have no knowledge of the body of literature pertaining to this field. It is a very narrow field, although I think health officials would certainly do us all a service by becoming more informed–esp considering the pervasive nature of the exposure. Honestly, your premise here does not hold water. Compare it to smoking. Doctors did not know it was harmful at first and some even recommended it. Although most would now agree it is harmful, some doctors, scientists, etc. still smoke. We are not always acting reasonably. But back to my communication with health officials about emf hazards: to date, my experience in the US has been that the officials only repeat the FCC mantra that their hands are tied and they have no jurisdiction. I can’t tell you why they think what they think and that isn’t the point. The point is that there is a problem, it is becoming increasingly clear, and it is being obfuscated.
We do not want to keep our children from the internet and retard their development. This is ridiculous. We want our children to use wired computers. We do not want them sitting in the nearfield of a laptop or iPad all day under a wireless router. Our children will be just as competitive if they use wires and will actually be more healthy.
I realize not all biological reactions are not indicative of a health hazard. And you must realize that some are. Even the continual need for the body to repair itself from the added stress of RF exposure can be understood to degrade one’s health.
A recognized expert in this field once explained it to me like this:
“The most plausible mechanism I am aware is via the NADH oxidase and similar targets located in in high density in the mitochondria membrane.
“Friedman et al.
( http://www.biochemjusa.org/bj/405/0559/4050559.pdf ) has shown with a GSM signal an upregulation of the NADH oxidase
( http://physrev.physiology.org/cgi/content/full/87/1/245 ) within two minutes in an exposure related manner. The upregulation leads to an increased electron transfer via the membrane border and the formation of superoxide (02 -), which is an oxygen molecule loaded with an additional (free) electron. This superoxide when not eliminated via the superoxide dismutase (SOD) will primarily join with nitrogen oxid (NO) to form peroxynitrite (ONOO-). This is called nitrosative stress and the most potent physiological chemical compound we have in our cells /body.
For further reading see: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17237348
Interestingly despite the huge amount of evidence the medical community is more or less not aware of the most important and basic issues of diseases.
“Peroxyinitrite has a long lifetime and is therefor able to interact (destroy) cell structures within a volume of about one or two cell diameters. Targets are e.g. certain metabolism reactions like those needed for energy generation in the mitochondria. The lack of energy e.g. in certain nerve cell groups explains the wide range of symptoms reported when humans are exposed to RF/MW radiation which are reported at least since 1932 (Schliephake) like: headaches, concentration difficulties, memory problems, dizziness, fatigue, nervousness, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder etc.”
From the point of philosophy of science verification is problematic in science. To use the famous example by Karl R. Popper no number of confirming observations can verify a universal generalization, such as “All swans are white”, yet it is logically possible to falsify it, as by finding only one black swan. This same applies to the present guidelines. In fact, a large number of studies has found “black swans”, i.e. adverse effects below present ICNIRP guidelines.
Mike, you write: “We are all living in a sea of EMF.”
1) Could you please state what you consider to be the three biggest health risks to mankind from living in this “sea of EMF”?
2) Do you consider yourself the man most responsible for the existence of this “sea of EMF”, and if not you, then who would be the person most responsible?
this is simply not true. Prof. Dr. Neil Cherry had peer-reviewed papers about EMF, such as:
“the larger paper of Schumann Resonance study which was peer-reviewed and slightly summarised to be published in the journal, Natural Hazard 26: 279- 331.”
Dr Neil Cherry, held the position of Associate Professor of Environmental Health at Lincoln University, and had a professional scientific background in physics, biophysics, meteorology, Agricultural and Human Biometeorology, renewable energy, energy efficiency and environmental epidemiology.
To put one of the worldwide most respected specialists in the field of EMF down to a “agricultural meteorology” specialist, is a typical example of your highly biased “research”!
Anyway, I have some important papers/books on the matter, all of them can be downloaded:
So anyone can make up his mind.
Indeed, ICNIRP uses safety factors. However, do they work?
Interphone and Hardell studies, both have shown increase of brain cancer risk after 10 years of avid use of cell phone.
All participants of these epidemiological studies used regular cell phones that meet all ICNIRP safety standards. In fact all these phones emit radiation levels that are much below the ICNIRP safety standard.
These phones were to be safe, yet the over 10 years use of them led to increased risk of brain cancer.
Question – is this a “proof” of validity of ICNIRP safety standards or rather the opposite?
I’m sorry I dont have the time to critique all papers noted above. All I can do is make some general comments.
First see my response to Phil Chadwick above for the basis on which science progresses.
I have also addressed some of your comments in my reply to Parents against wifi in schools. Since I have been retired for 7 years now and have no influence on anyone, except to maintain an interest in EMF, all I can do is refer you to more informative sources of information if you want to read them. See a few in the Parents against WiFi… response.
Michael’s comment about a critique of the ICNIRP guidelines by Neil Cherry holds little weight with me, especially as Neil never had a peer-reviewed publication in EMF and was a specialist in agricultural meteorology. Anyone is open to criticise ICNIRP but some will have much less weight than others.
ICNIRP was established in 1992 using the same criteria and procedures for evaluating the science as the now 70-year old International Commission on Ionizing Radiation (ICRP) whose members are elected exactly the same way.
EMF is not a new field, it has been studied since the early 1950s and there are over 6000 publications. So we have a huge amount of information on the effects of EMF exposure. Also it may be reassuring to some that the exposure limits have not changed since the early 1990s because there have not been any scientific studies that showed results to challenge these limits.
Susan asks what are the 3 biggest health risks from this sea of EMF. Honestly if I thought for one moment there was a risk, I would have done something long ago. The biggest risk is that parents will not allow their children to use computers and become fully educated in a mobile world. They will be left far behind the rest of the kids and not be able to compete in an ever competitive job market. Kids need all the advantages parents can give them to survive this world
Am I responsible for this sea of EMF? Hardly, technology moves so quickly it is hard to keep up. Virtually all EMF technologies expose people to many 1000s of times below the standards. Their safety is assured by any criterion one wishes to use.
Deborah implies we are undertaking a large biological experiment. It should be remembered that scientists working in the public health arena are also members of the general public, with school children who are exposed to RF fields from our ever increasing sources. If there was any likelihood of any adverse health effect to our children, do you really think we would not do anything to stop it?? We take great care to make sure people are safe from all hazards. In many cases one can only minimise the hazard, such as driving safely, keeping radon in homes to a very low level, etc. I have also reviewed the Russian standards in great detail and note that their exposure limits are well below those in the West. If you want to read more then see: Repacholi et al (2012) Scientific basis for the Soviet and Russian radio frequency standards for the general public. Bioelectromagnetics 33:623-633.
WHO accepted ICNIRP as its NGO because it is an independent commission of the best scientists in the world and had a track record of scientific integrity and balanced outputs.
It should also be remembered that not all biological effects are hazardous to health. For example your body temperature rises when we go out into the sun. This is a biological effect. Such a temperature rise only becomes harmful to health if the heat cannot compensate be for by the body. We are all exposed to various biological, chemical and physical agents in the environment and fortunately our bodies are able to easily compensate for any effects they may produce. RF levels below the ICNIRP guideline limits is one of these agents.
Finally it should be remembered that ICNIRP merely publishes its guidelines. It has no legal mandate. Its guidelines only have legal status if a country adopts the guidelines into its own legislation. ICNIRP obviously encourages this, but has absolutely no power to mandate any country to adopt its guidelines. WHO, being the international health authority of the UN, always recommends adoption of international standards, in whatever area of health they are written.
Sorry this response is so long. If it helps then I’m happy
My question was quite serious, and you have avoided it, so I will ask it again:
In your opinion, does the ICNIRP method for setting standards (based purely on historically ‘established’ data) favour protection for public health, or for the wireless communication industry?
I am very much aware that wi-fi and many other devices can operate well below the exposure limits that have been set. Nevertheless, in Australia ARPANSA has recently issued a Fact Sheet (#14) advising the Australian public on how to ‘How to reduce exposure from mobile phones and other wireless devices’, including wi-fi, and particularly for children.
I am also well-aware of the importance of SAFE technology use. It IS possible to connect to the internet without using wireless… believe it or not!
Since you mentioned it, I am also interested to know: in drawing reference to ionising radiation, are you really comparing current radiofrequency exposures with naturally-occurring RF levels?
That icnirp guidelines protect from this auditory effect is completely false. It is possible that a half century or so ago experimental provocation required higher power, but that is not so today after widespread icnirp-sanctioned exposure levels. I myself — verified by independent dosimetry – was able to tell time by the 1/4-hourly microW firings off from a wireless smart meter — these were “heard”, better, sensed, and i knew it was one of four times on the hour, to the minute.
Narrowness of attitude has been destructive of ‘science’, no more evident than re manmade emfs.
“What ICNIRP does do is incorporate huge safety factors into their limits that most people dont realise. Your WiFi signals are many thousands of times below these already safe limits.”
Not only icnirp but many claim such incorporation, even Bioinitiative authors. What is your justification for use of the adjective, ‘huge’?
How are all multiplied-in purported safety factors not effectively arbitrary, and thus giving false & misleading assurance?
When consideration of & experience from long term cumulative effect of “low” level exposures is at the heart of opposition to icnirp et al, thus “non -thermal” effects also at the heart, how is an incorporated safety factor relevant at all?
I understand your concerns and all I can do is pass you onto the WHO fact sheets that address your concerns:
Mobile phones: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs193/en/index.html
Base stations: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs304/en/index.html
Hope this help
I understand your concern. However, RF is treated in the same way as any other physical agent, including ionizing radiation, which we know is dangerous and is also ubiquitous in our environment. ICNIRP is an independent commission of the top scientists in the world who have nothing to do with industry. Their guidelines are based purely on the science. What ICNIRP does do is incorporate huge safety factors into their limits that most people dont realise. Your WiFi signals are many thousands of times below these already safe limits. Further, the signals you receive from TV and FM radio are absorbed much more by the body that WiFi or base station signals. I hope you dont stop your kids using WiFi or the internet because all you will do is retard them in a technological age where use of computers is now essential if they are to compete with all the other kids.
Henry the early studies that established the 4W/kg limit are diverse. John deLorge used apes and the replications were done in rodents. If you would like to see the replication and confirmation studies refer to Table 20 in WHO’s EHC 137 in Table 20. You can download the doc free from: http://www.inchem.org/documents/ehc/ehc/ehc137.htm#SubSectionNumber:7.3.4
Patricia the RF pulsed levels that produce the microwave auditory effect are used as the threshold for developing the exposure limits for RF fields in the ICNIRP guidelines. So the ICNIRP limits will not permit people to hear MW fields.
However, I think your concern is more in the realm of hypersensitivity. This has not been shown to occur with EMF fields. You can download the report from the UK HPA that I reference in my initial blog for more information.
Hi Phil I seemed to have opened a can of worms with my blog, but I dont mind if people take what I say as an honest attempt to explain how science is assessed to determine if there is truly a health effect. I know some people wont agree and feel aggrieved that their position is not fully accounted for, especially as they may have some affliction that seems to have no cause or a genuine belief that their health is truly at risk. RF fields, being ubiquitous in our environment is a logical culprit. However, science only progresses based on substantiated facts, and this means independent replication of all studies before they become part of our knowledge. No-one believed William Herschel when he claimed to have discovered the new planet Uranus in the late 18th century until key astronomers had seen it for themselves. The Royal Society in the UK, that boasts membership of scientists from Newton, Hooke, Boyle, Banks, Herschel and Einstein, had as their moto “Nullius in verba” meaning “nothing upon another’s word”. This principle is a foundation for scientific progress today.
As I said in my initial blog, and I merely quoted from the HPA (2012) report, I know what happens when conducting health risk assessments. In vitro studies are still important, as I said before, to seek effects that could occur in whole animals, but the assumption cannot be made about such effects until they are found in vivo. Similarly, health risk assessment principles suggest effects found from animals cannot be assumed to occur in humans. This is where I disagree because animal studies, specifically on rodents or other mammals, can be conducted with exceptional precision and high quality study results should be assumed to occur in humans. Animal studies should be given equal weight with the epidemiological studies in health risk assessments.
Regarding your question about RF, SAR is a reasonable metric; as you know its merely the rate of energy absorption per unit mass. Other metrics may be more applicable, but we first need to get reproducible effects that can be investigated for both the metric and the mechanism before we change.
Re your question about ELF fields, here is an example where the epidemiology studies are consistently giving an OR of 2 for childhood leukaemia for exposures of 0.4uT but the animal studies are uniformly negative. This to me suggests strongly that there is something amiss in the epidemiology studies. In fact many epidemiologists are looking for alternative explanations such as viral infection during pregnancy. Because there is a problem here, WHO has recommended many measures to reduce people’s exposure in its EHC on ELF fields.
Yes, it is unfortunate the EU has chosen to follow the ICNIRP guidelines. Instead, It could also follow the BioInitiative guidelines. Ultimately the choice is political.
” to my knowledge it does not have a role in the international law.”
It’s the official advisor to the European Commission. You will find that ICNIRP’s 1998 guidelines underlie the product safety limits and standards that are mandatory in the EU.
I totally agree with you!
A few days ago I experienced one of my worst days of my electro sensitive (ES) life, when I was admitted into our local hospital in the evening for sleep aponea testing. Within an hour I was walking out of the hospital after discharging myself from the hospital as the room they expected me to sleep in was immersed in extreme non-ionised Wi Fi radiation from and internal Wi Fi network, and electrical fields (ELF) from a source unknown.
The hospital’s Wi Fi network that covered all corners of the hospital radiating hallways, walkways, and wards for the sake of 21st Century peer pressure lifestyle to provide the so-called “benefits” of Wi Fi wireless communications for demanding patients, and a form of profit-making market that supposedly keeps demanding people keep in touch with the world at their fingertips, without any consideration of other people and the health risks involved from long-termed and prolonged non-ionised radiation, even after many warnings of the dangers and the World Health Organisation (WHO) sheepish classification of mobile phones as “2B” probable carcinogenic.
The Swedish government is the first country of the world to recognise electro hypersensitivity (EHS) as a legitimate functional handicap caused by prolonged and long-termed non-ionised radiation from wireless technology that is a health risk. One of the fundamental issues facing EHS sufferers is any access to safe medical facilities, because of extreme radiation within those facilities, such as medical centres and hospitals by the lack of control of wireless technology within their environs.
In 2007, a Swedish organisation for EHS patients surveyed the different regions of their country to see how accommodations within hospitals were progressing. They produced an English-language document compiling the responses they received, which lists only a total of eight Swedish hospitals that provide facilities suitable for EHS patients, and Sweden has a population of eight million.
The document: “Hospital Accommodations of Electrically Hypersensitive Patients in Sweden” can be found at:
Click to access HospitalAccommodationsOfEHSPatientsInSweden.pdf
While I was in the reception area of the hospital, walking down walkways and passageway to the sleep aponea ward, and standing in the room that I was required to sleep in, the Wi Fi non-ionised radiation was pulsating from 2.5 to 40 mW/w2 (the room radiation was between 20 to 40 mW/w2), which meant that I would have to try and sleep through torturing and tormenting radiation for the sake of medical science. The medical staff was not aware of the extreme radiation in their workplace that was already: affecting my breathing; causing extreme agitation and tinnitus; burning and tingling sensations all over the exposed parts of my body; extreme nausea and stomach pain; weakness and light-headed; heart palpitations; and extreme stress and anxiety.
When I entered the hospital at the reception to be admitted, there was a large sign: ‘TURN MOBILE PHONES OFF AS THEY MAY AFFECT MEDICAL EQUIPMENT”! And directly behind this sign was a Wi Fi transmitter that was emitting more radiation than a mobile phone. How in the world can any hospital believe they can heal cancer sufferers, when the very radiation that is radiating them in a recovery wards, and possibly put them there in the first place, when WHO has classified wireless technology as “2B”, possible carcinogenic.
When we think back to the days of secondhand smoke study that had been widely criticized as a health risk, and the asbestos saga, and all was claim to be harmless for many decades. Even the British Medical Association at the time, the publisher of the journal that printed the flawed studies, described the research as being “fundamentally flawed”, that the misuse of data and flawed methodology were the two very significant faults in the study.
Many epidemiologists have long time been aware of the baleful effects of contradictory findings reported in the media, which confuse the public about what threats to health are worth worrying about; and we now find that prominent epidemiologists have begun to critically examine their own discipline and to speak out about the “false positives” – initial findings that later prove to be wrong – that are latched onto by the media, the public, advocacy groups, and regulatory agencies misleading the public into a false sense of security, when there is so much doubt.
How safe is safe?
It’s sad that the greed is so easily confused with making those “itchy ears” feel comfortable to the simplicity of gadgets and gimmicks, which seem to be the answer to all things, through the philosophy of misinformation, lies, and empty deceit by those greedy people who prey on the gullible and unsuspecting people.
While the specific pathways to cancer are not fully understood, it is scientifically unacceptable to deny the weight of the evidence regarding the increase in cancer cases in humans that are exposed to high levels of microwave non-ionised radiation.
The statement that there is no established mechanism by which a radio wave could induce an adverse effect on human tissue other than by heating is incorrect, and reflects a lack of awareness and understanding of the scientific literature on the subject. In fact, there is a thousand studies conducted on low intensity, high frequency, non-ionising radiation, going back at least fifty years, show that some biological mechanisms of effect do not involve heat. This radiation sends signals to living tissue that stimulate biochemical changes, which can generate various symptoms and may lead to diseases such as cancer.
We all know the catch phrase: “rather be safe than sorry”, but we are already experiencing further apparent adverse health effects since the force introduction of the “smart meter” and exposure to their radiation, 24/7, which is further exacerbating the symptoms of EHS sufferers. And with the introduction of “smart appliances”, in 2012, that also use Wi Fi communications are now becoming the-norm-of-the-day, and further increasing the unwarranted non-ionised radiation exposure.
To date, there have been few independent studies of the health effects of such sources of more continuous but lower intensity microwave non-ionised radiation. However, we know after decades of studies of hazardous chemical substances, that chronic exposure to low concentrations of microwaves can cause equal or even greater harm than an acute exposure to high concentrations of the same microwaves.
This is why so many scientists and medical experts urgently recommend that measures following the Precautionary Principle be applied immediately, such as using cable communications to reduce biologically inappropriate microwave non-ionised radiation exposure. We are not advocating the abolishment of RF technologies, only the use of common sense and the development and implementation of best practices in using these technologies in order to reduce exposure and risk of health hazards.
Regarding the weight of evidence approach you say that “WHO has used this approach for over 50 years and it is a very well accepted, tried and true method for assessing health risks from any biological, chemical or physical agent…”: RFR should NOT be treated like ‘any’ other biological, chemical or physical agent: it is an extraordinary agent because it has become omnipresent, exposing every population and every age group, without pause, at an increasing rate.
The approach taken by ICNIRP for developing standards seem to be ideally suited for guaranteeing exposure for an unspecified and indefinitely extended period of time for the entire population. The “wait-for-undeniable-evidence” method leaves no room for precaution and is extraordinarily lacking in plain common sense. It denies people any right to limit their/their children’s exposures where exposures are mandated, for example in schools.
In your opinion, who/what does the ICNIRP method for setting standards protect more: people or the wireless communication industry?
“Research that has ‘not been replicated’ is of ‘low quality’”?! !
Scientific progress has never been based on replication. What counts is the consistency in results. Different experiments using different methodologies and investigating different endpoints ended up with similar conclusion is the best proof of a phenomenon. Research on non-ionizing electromagnetic field using different approaches does point to the conclusion that exposure to low-intensity EMF can adversely affect human health. This is the most important conclusion of the BioInitiative Report.
There is another more troubling concern that has puzzled me for years. The results of the DeLodge et al experiments, carried out in the 1970s, based on which the ‘4 W/kg’ standard was formulated by these ‘blue ribbon’ organizations to set the radiofrequency-exposure standards, have never been independently replicated. Are the DeLodge et al studies ‘low quality’?
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Mike, you write: “We are all living in a sea of EMF.”
1) Could you please state what you consider to be the three biggest health risks to mankind from living in this “sea of EMF”?
2) Do you consider yourself the man most responsible for the existence of this “sea of EMF”, and if not you, then who would be the person most responsible?
Wondering why the Microwave Auditory effect that is established, has been denied verification by the established authorities. It is more than an annoyance. It is stronger now than when it first started back in 1993. When the smart meters were installed on our homes it only amplfied the feelings of the peripheral nervous system. The psychological torment of researching the documents to find a way to get scientist or health experts to acknowledge what has been going on is unblievable. All I seem to be able to hope for is that someday, someone will get a backbone and come clean.
I am sorry but it has truly left me suffering.
I do have to thank you Dr. Repacholi, from what I have read of your work you have been consistant on mentioning the auditory phernomena, where ever you have gone, so I am thankful that. It would be a very good thing to propose new research into this phenomena because alot of us are suffering. It brings out a very aggressive and I could say a dangerous hormonal effect.
Mike, thanks for your blog here. Good to see someone taking the time to engage in a constructive way.
I’m interested in your ideas about epi vs benchtop studies; you say “; if epidemiology studies show an effect but overwhelmingly the animal studies don’t, then the assessment should be that there is a problem with the epidemiology studies”
I can see what you mean, but given that we don’t have a good mechanistic model for any RF/EMF effects is it not possible that we’re not using the right exposure metric in the animal/cell stuff ? I’m thinking of that OR of 2 @ 0.4 uT result that seems to pop up right across the ELF epi, across decades. It seems a pretty robust result and I think I’d struggle to say there is really, definitely no issue there.
I would like to question the legitimacy of ICNIRP itself. While its guidelines are widely followed, to my knowledge it does not have a role in the international law. It is a non-governmental organization of which origin and structure are not clear and which is suspected of having close links with the industry.
“I don’t accept your terms. What right have you to set them for me and to say the rest of us–most of us unwitting–must accept changes to our biology unless we can prove we are being harmed”
The ICNIRP assessment of effects, ICNIRP (1998) has been review and found to seriously and fatally flawed, with a consistent pattern of bias, major mistakes, omissions and deliberate misrepresentations.
Adopting it fails to protect public health from known potential and actual health effects and hence is unlawful according to the requirements of the Resource Management Act. Public health protection should be the objective of this process and this should be based on the identification of the Lowest Observed Adverse Effect Level, (LOAEL) and a reasonable safety factor to take into account the uncertainties and vulnerable members of the community.
Epidemiology currently identifies the LOAEL for RF/MW as 0.06mW/cm2 for cancer and reproductive effects, and 0.0004mW/cm2 (0.4nW/cm2) for sleep disruption, learning impairment and immune systems suppression, for example. Hence the scientifically identified LOAEL is lower than the majority of the New Zealand population is currently exposed.
The ICNIRP guideline is based on the frequently stated claim that there are no adverse health effects unless a person is heated by more than 1°C, setting a level at which adverse effects can be avoided between 4 and 8 W/kg. This claim has been repeated in many statements and documents of ICNIRP, IRPA, WHO, NRL, ARL, and NRPB. It has also been stated publicly by the leaders of these bodies. A leading proponent of this position is Dr Michael Repacholi, WHO official and former chairperson of ICNIRP, IRPA and the Australasian RF standards committee.
Click to access icnirp-cherry-critics-en.pdf
It is as easy as this, the above PDF (60 pages):
CRITICISM OF THE PROPOSAL TO ADOPT THE ICNIRP GUIDELINES FOR CELLSITES IN NEW ZEALAND ICNIRP GUIDELINE CRITIQUE
Dr Neil Cherry Lincoln University
Is all you need to look through the so called “weight of evidence” of Mike Repacholi, with his self created club “ICNIRP e.V.” (e.V. == registered club), don’t be fooled by the name, anyone in Germany can open up whatever club he likes and give it some name he wants (not already used/protected). That is just a cheap trick to fool people into thinking there would be a valuable meaning behind “ICNIRP”! It is all just a smoke screen! ;-(
I can not understand the reasoning you are using to justify this large biological experiment, Mike. It is unethical. All of this is a rat chasing its tail, it is all after the fact, certainly not the framework for an exposure that can be quickly corrected should something serious arise as you suggest in your comment above.
When was there ever an indication of safety before the mass deployment and marketing of wireless devices? The Russian Occupational Hygiene studies of the 1970’s indicated harm. The same harm we are reporting now. And that studies are increasing showing.
The US military studies indicated harm. The same harm as above.
Now you want to mince words that biological changes may not equal harm to the biological living system. And we should continue to wait and study and see while wireless exposure becomes even more pervasive than it already is. We should continue to study, yes, but should we continue our exposure in the meantime and indeed increase the exposure to schools and hospitals, society at large, etc? Is that logical or ethical?
What about my terms for my own life and that of my family? I don’t accept your terms. What right have you to set them for me and to say the rest of us–most of us unwitting–must accept changes to our biology unless we can prove we are being harmed? And when we show you we are being harmed and back that up with studies that corroborate our symptoms, you still say there is no proof.
I have read your footnotes, but what level of proof are you requiring? Why don’t the increasing numbers of sick people matter to you–they are the serious indicators you say the WHO and ICNIRP would respond to quickly.
Why should ICNIRP be the advisor to WHO instead of a Health focused NGO?
Right response is long overdue. Based on our knowledge before the mass deployment, this should never have happened.
Finally, please provide a link to all of the studies ICNIRP, IEEE and WHO have considered and based the current guidelines upon. I wrote to FCC and with a FOIA request and they would not answer my question. We all deserve to know which studies specifically are considered, why they meet your standards and the others do not.
I would like to see you specifically address the points Devra made instead of dismissing them because you disagree with something you say you read in her book. Please take her points seriously and reply scientifically. Don’t use an ad hominem attack to dismiss them.
Please speak to the important point in the paper by Barnes?
Also, the work by Kaiser Permanente and Yale?
Devra there will always be new studies and they will all assessed by ICNIRP, WHO and the top National Health Authorities on a continuing basis. If there is something serious these authorities can act quickly. Anyway how can I take you seriously when you made up the story, and printed it in your book, that I had Dr Brundtland sacked as director general of WHO. I was three admin levels below the DG. Not remotely likely…
I’d really like to take a measurement where Mike Repacholi lives, I guess he is enjoying magnitudes lower radiation as most other people have to face thanks to his industry “limits”?
Measurements from Mumbai, show radiation of more then 1.000.000 µW/m² 24/7, and people die from cancer, well all inside ICNIRP (e.V. – meaning it has the same legal standing as any rabbit breeder club in Germany!)
I really have now words, today I have once again faced the unbearable radiation of LTE and had only pain! Repacholi is responsible for more harm..OK, don’t get me outraged, I hope he has one day to face the creator!
First I was not asked to step down as director of the EMF Project, I reached the mandatory retirement age for UN staff so I had no option.
The EMF Project was initially part funded by industry, in the same way as the Interphone study, the RF projects funded by the EU, many of the natiional EMF research projects etc etc, and ALL using a firewall so the funders had no contact with project managers or researchers. All absolutely above board.
I never denied that the project was part industry funded, thats another story made up about me. The first announcement of industry funding was made to the EMF Project’s International Advisory Committee and noted in the minutes at that meeting; its still on the WHO web site.
Another “fairy tale” from Slesin was that I personally received funding from industry. I never did and if that happened I would have been fired from WHO immediately. WHO has no second chance on that and certainly it would never have been worth it for me to lose my job for that.
I complain of bias in the BioInitiative report because they ONLY quote positive low quality studies while a proper review assesses both positive and negative studies, as I described.
IARC, while being a specialized agency of WHO, acts independently on scientific matters, so WHO HQ, where the EMF Project is based, has no influence on the outcome of any IARC Working Groups. WHO attends their meetings as part of the secretariat. I hope you are interested in my honest responses. I’m glad you asked these questions because I try to put the record straight at every opportunity.
The guest writing by Mike Repacholi sounds like another postponement strategy to me. The recent report by the European Envinronment Agency ‘Late lessons from early warnings: science, precaution, innovation’ (http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/late-lessons-2) reviews some past public health threats. The report comes to the conclusion that it has been costly that the decisions makers have not taken heed of the early warnings. They also point to present issues, mentioning electromagnetic radiation specifically as an issue in which the precautionary principle should be applied.
To Mike Repacholi, is it true you were asked to step down as director of WHO’s EMF Project in 2006 due to your industry ties? Louis Slesin has reported in Microwave News that you admit that as much as half of the funds raised for your EMF Project for WHO came from industry. How can you complain about bias from BioInitiative when you at first denied that your EMF Project was influenced by industry, yet in an interview with Resource Strategies you admit that up to half of your funds for the EMF Project came from industry? Do you think this extraordinary bias delayed IARC’s recognition of RF – EMF as a 2b carcinogen? Had you taken money only from independent sources, do you think WHO would have classified RF – EMF as a 2b carcinogen long before May 2011?
The important new paper from the team led by Frank Barnes shows the importance of controlling for the earth’s electromagnetic field In in vitro studies of any phenomenon. In fact a number of researchers have long controlled for this effect. To assume that all in vitro study should be dismissed because many have not controlled for this common Con founder, is a disservice to those such as Igor Belyaev whose team has consistently controlled for this for more than a decade. In fact there are growing numbers of epidemiologic observations that are not related to cancer including the pioneering work from Kaiser Permanente panel studies conducted by De Kun Li showing that prenatal and early life exposures have profound effects on behavior and brain development of children.
The focus on cancer has been unproductive because it is let us to ignore the growing evidence of neurological and developmental effects. Thus the work from Dr. Hugh Taylor chairman of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale University shows prenatal impacts on the developing brain structure and behavior in mice. Studies conducted in Finland as well as of the national Institute of drug abuse have shown effects on Glucose metabolism in the brain after just 50 minutes of exposure.
Completely ignored from public discussions thus far on the biological impacts of pulsed digital microwave radiation is the growing use of such radiation to treat disease. It makes no sense to argue that amplitude modulated signals affect post mitotic spindle formation For glioblastoma cells ( see the video on the website of the company novocure.com)and then insist that there are no negative biological effects Only positive therapeutic ones against brain tumors
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