ARPANSA Report: No epiphany, just déjà vu, all over again

From time to time are published new reports, reviewing scientific evidence on possible health risks of cell phone and cell-phone-like radiation. Reading them, I do not experience epiphany feeling but, often, I experience déjà vu feeling. I often have the feeling that the authors of new reports use extensively texts and opinions of earlier reports. It means that instead of duly reviewing also older original studies they rely on the opinions of others.

This is not a good development. Reading older original studies and evaluating them in the context of new original studies, it may together bring this very welcome feeling of epiphany. Instead, authors of new review reports bring us, readers, often the feeling of déjà vu.

The just published ARPANSA report is no exception. No epiphany, just déjà vu.

However, it is necessary to mention that this is the report where authors honestly admit that the ARPANSA report is based heavily on older reports produced by ICNIRP reports and reviews, on SCENIHR report 2009, and on AGNIR report (UK HPA). To some degree the authors considered also IARC report and BioInitiative report, though there is clear feeling that they largely disagree with them both.

This was to be expected. When ARPANSA ordered review report from two experts who are members of ICNIRP, it was easy to predict what their final opinion will be – strongly biased in pro-ICNIRP direction.

In vitro and in vivo studies are numerous and form the bulk of published science on cell phone radiation. However, in the ARPANSA report this is hardly acknowledged in a 2.5 pages of text. There is no any scientific evaluation but only two tables listing numbers of studies that examined “this or that”. The author of this part of the project, Andrew Wood, comes to the conclusion that:

Clearly, the outcomes of these types of experiments continue to be mixed, with no obvious explanation of why under almost identical exposure circumstances different results are obtained in different laboratories. There is a tendency for replication studies to fail to reproduce the RF-related effects in the original study.”

This conclusion is known, like “forever”… Why, this is the question and in ARPANSA report there is no slightest attempt to find any explanation. Why? Unimportant issue?

Then, there is the conclusion drawn on the analysis of… AGNIR report (UK HPA Report), which I time ago criticized in my Washington Times Communities science blog for being biased due to “cherry-picking” the evidence:

The AGNIR review covers the period from 2003 to approximately late 2011. The cut-off for the RPS3 Annex 4 review was 2000, so in any revisions of in vitro/in vivo reviews, there will be a need to add to the numbers shown above. There are clearly new topics of research which need consideration and views formed on whether the newer evidence strengthens the summaries presented in RPS3 or otherwise. Although the reports would appear roughly balanced (47% ‘effect’; 53% ‘no effect’), this does not take into account such considerations as: publication bias; internal consistency; methodological weakness or dosimetric rigour. Most discipline-based reviews conclude thermal effects to be adequate to explain the observed data. Overall, it would seem unlikely that there would be any need to revise the conclusion that the Basic Restrictions should be based on thermal effects.”

To be exact this is conclusion of AGNIR report, not ARPANSA report…

What is really daring in ARPANSA conclusion of in vitro/in vivo studies is the last sentence of the conclusion. This seems to be ARPANSA’s own conclusion:

However, despite the growth in the body of knowledge over the last 10 years, the variability in the science supports the rationale for a precautionary approach.”

This statement can be considered as a progress in ARPANSA thinking, and thanks goes to Andrew Wood for stating that the precautionary approach is justified.

Human provocation studies were “reviewed” by another ICNIRP expert, Rodney Croft. This was also review of reviews and not review and evaluation of the original studies. Therefore, when the review was based on the opinions of ICNIRP, SCENIHR and AGNIR, one does not need much imagination to guess what the conclusions will be.

Instead of review of science we were served copy/paste conclusions of the ICNIRP (page 13), SCENIHR 2009 (page 14) and AGNIR 2012 (page 16). There is also a very brief evaluation of the opinion of BioInitiative on provocation studies ending with the following statement of lack of differences, in evaluation of provocation studies, between ICNIRP, SCENIHR, AGNIR and BioInitiative:

Thus although there are claims in the BIR that do relate to health, there is nothing concerning human provocation research that importantly contradicts the conclusions reached by ICNIRP 2009, SCENIHR 2009 or AGNIR 2012. The BIR thus does not provide any evidence that the current RPS3 limits may result in negative health consequences.”

The overall conclusion of Rodney Croft is as follows:

It is concluded that there is no human provocation evidence from ICNIRP 2009, SCENIHR 2009 or AGNIR 2012 that raises any doubt about the adequacy of the limits described in RPS3. Further, neither the BioInitiative Report (2007) nor the ARPANSA literature review provide any further evidence that mitigates against that conclusion, and to the Author’s knowledge there is no additional human provocation research that demonstrates that the RPS3 limits are inadequate for protecting humans.

Thus the Author concludes that based on the human provocation research, there is no evidence of a need for the reconsideration of the exposure limits in RPS3.”

It is clear that, as long as Rodney is considered, there is no problem at all and safety standards take excellent care of all users of wireless technology.

Review of dosimetry was prepared by Andrew Wood and, as expected, the only factor considered were thermal effects. If temperature does not rise more than one degree Celsius, there is no problem:

While recent advances in numerical dosimetry have confirmed the conservatism of current exposure limits in most circumstances, the inclusion of a wider range of body sizes has produced strengthening evidence that the Reference Levels may not be providing the intended safety margins at some frequency ranges for certain body sizes. Further, there is also the question of whether the Basic Restrictions continue to be an accurate indicator of local rise in temperature, particularly in the limbs under resonant conditions and hence the degree of protection against protein denaturation and other adverse thermal effects. The Rationale and other sections of RPS3 could be revised to reflect the current state of knowledge in this area.”

There seems to be complete lack of any interest in explaining how it is possible that many in vitro studies show effects at exposure levels well below thermal levels of exposure.

What is even worse, there is no any attempt to consider replacing model of the brain considered by dosimetry as “plastic bucket filled with water, sugar and salt” with more realistic model where ions are not moving freely but are pumped against gradients to keep electric potentials there where they should be. Seems like nobody cares that the model being basis of our dosimetry and exposure safety standards is a bucket avec…!

“Review” of the epidemiology by Geza Benke seems to focus on IARC 2011 evaluation and Interphone studies. What is very symptomatic of bias in the ARPANSA review is the complete lack of reference, in any form, to Hardell studies. However, there are some interesting sentences:

When dealing with incidence and distribution of disease in human populations, if the dose-response relationship is weak then epidemiology is limited in its usefulness.”

Despite many international collaborative efforts (Interphone, 2010), a clear dose-response relationship for the most important of the carcinogenic effects, brain cancer, has not been described.”

The heavily criticised Danish cohort study has been the largest and most extensive of these, but has not shown an association between mobile phone exposure and a range of cancers (Frei, 2011).”

In addition to the inconsistent descriptive study results, there have not been any significant increases in the population rates for brain cancer in recent years (Larjavarra et al., 2011). It is reasonable to contend that it may yet be too early, given the long latency period for brain cancer, for an increase to be observed. However, the world population exposure has increased exponentially since the late 1990s and if RF exposure from mobile phones is carcinogenic then increased population rates should be observed in the very near future.”

These sentences show that the author wanted to be considered unbiased and honestly presenting the evidence… However, then comes the final conclusion that has nothing to do with the evidence:

Although the epidemiology in the past decade has improved our understanding of the limitations of exposure assessment and likely extent of RF exposure to humans, it has not progressed with any dose-response relationships regarding carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic effects which would warrant significant changes to the current Standard.”

Again, no problem at all and IARC classification of cell phone radiation as a possible carcinogen is of no importance.

Why?

Because the industry said so, just after the IARC presented classification in 2011. The result of classification, saying that cell phone radiation is a possible carcinogen was a complete surprise for the industry. Industry expected that the RF will be classified in group 3. When this did not happen the industry turned the things up-side-down. Instead of recognizing that the IARC Working Group classified cell phone radiation as a possible carcinogen, the industry presented this fact as “IARC Working Group was unable to classify RF as carcinogen because they did not find enough of scientific evidence to do so. RF is therefore not a carcinogen. No problem”. This was and is quite a “nice” spin-way to put it…

In conclusion, ARPANSA got what it ordered. By asking ICNIRP experts to prepare review of the science they got series of copy/paste opinions from ICNIRP, SCENIHR and AGNIR.

Lastly, I expect that the ARPANSA report will be also heralded as yet another proof of consensus among the scientists. This is not the truth.

THERE IS NO CONSENSUS.

Claim of the scientific consensus is bogus, propagated by WHO, ICNIRP and industry alike. The vast majority of scientists do not say openly what their opinion is because they are afraid that their funding will vanish. So, nobody knows anything about how close or how far scientific community is from the consensus.

Confirmation of the lack of consensus is in the recent press release from the CREAL in Spain. When the new European project Geronimo was launched, CREAL wrote the following (red bold emphasis is mine):

At present, there is lack of consensus among scientists concerning health effects of electromagnetic fields (EMF). Though wireless devices and technologies make our lives increasingly easier, results of studies to date are inconsistent and no sound conclusion can be drawn about whether EMF emitted by new technologies and devices may impact our health….”

NO CONSENSUS, just a single-sided ARPANSA Report.

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