Dr. Christopher Portier, Fmr. Director of the US CDC, calls for invoking the Precautionary Principle for RF-EMF

Recently, the draft program of the forthcoming BioEM2015 was published. One of the most important opinions, presented in the program, is that on the Precautionary Principle by Dr. Christopher Portier.

I fully agree with Chris’ opinion as presented in abstract of his forthcoming talk [bold red text  by DL]:


The Precautionary Principle Should be Invoked for RF-EMF

Christopher Portier; Research Consultant, Thun, Switzerland

Biographical sketch

Dr. Portier is an expert in the design, analysis, and interpretation of environmental health data and has contributed to the development of national and international risk assessment guidelines. He has directed or contributed significantly to numerous scientific reviews including those for dioxins, aflatoxins, electromagnetic fields, diesel particle emissions and climate change. Dr. Portier has served on US NAS committees, has served on USEPA’s Science Advisory Board and USEPA’s Science Advisory Panel, and numerous other scientific committees. He has received numerous awards including the Spiegelman Award from the APHA and the Outstanding Practitioner of the Year Award from the International Society for Risk Analysis. Until 2013, Dr. Portier was the Director of the US National Center for Environmental Health and the US Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Prior to CDC, Dr. Portier was the NIEHS Associate Director and Associate Director of the National Toxicology Program and has over 250 scientific publications.

Abstract of the Plenary Presentation

One of the most widely accepted definitions for the Precautionary Principle is from the Rio Conference in 1992 where Principle 15 states: “Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.” A key aspect of invoking the Precautionary Principle is what, if any, actions that should be taken. For example, in California, the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act (Proposition 65) is invoked if “an Authoritative Body” declares a chemical to have sufficient evidence for carcinogenicity (in animals and/or humans). When invoked, the chemical is added to the Prop 65 list and warnings are required to protect the general public. If RF EMF were a chemical, then California would require labeling of RF EMF devices for a possible cancer risk because IARC “is designated as authoritative for the identification of chemicals as causing cancer (Section 25306(m)).” In the EU, the February 2000 Communication from the Commission on the

Precautionary Principle states that “Recourse to the precautionary principle presupposes that potentially dangerous effects deriving from a phenomenon, product or process have been identified, and that scientific evaluation does not allow the risk to be determined with sufficient certainty.” In addition, they state that action should be “proportional to the chosen level of protection” and “In some cases, the right answer may be not to act or at least not to introduce a binding legal measure.” Thus, invoking the precautionary principle does not immediately mean actions should be taken. In my support for the resolution, I will demonstrate that a careful review of the scientific literature demonstrates there are potentially dangerous effects from RF EMF and that the data is insufficient to allow the risk to be determined with certainty.


I have been myself speaking for many years (since my letter published in The Lancet in 2001) that the Precautionary Principle should be invoked in case of RF-EMF exposures; most recently in my lecture in Switzerland in March 2015.

I have proposed, to the organizers of BioEM2015, to organize seminar on the Precautionary Principle, where representatives of ICNIRP, BioInitiative and MMF would present their opinions. Unfortunately, my proposal was not accepted. However, I will be presenting poster on this subject, and below is the abstract of it. As you can clearly see, there are strong similarities of opinion between Chris and myself.


Wireless Communication and the Precautionary Principle

Dariusz Leszczynski

Dept. Biochemistry and Biotechnology, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

There is an ongoing debate, whether the Precautionary Principle, as defined by the European Union in 2000, should be implemented to mitigate the possible health risks of exposure to cell phone radiation. In order to consider the use of the PP, the first necessary step is the evaluation of the scientific evidence. In respect to cell phone radiation, this first step was executed in 2011 when the Working group of 30 experts meet at the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France, and classified cell phone radiation as a possible human carcinogen (Group 2B).

After completion of evaluation of the scientific evidence, there are several pre-conditions that need to be fulfilled before debating the implementation of the PP, in accordance with the EU PP document of 2000. All of these preconditions are fulfilled:

Pre-condition: PP can be implemented when the scientific information is insufficient, inconclusive, or uncertain

IARC classification of cell phone radiation as a possible carcinogen has clearly shown that the information on health effects of cell phone radiation is “insufficient, inconclusive, or uncertain”

Pre-condition: PP can be implemented when there are indications that the possible effects on human health may be potentially dangerous

IARC classification of cell phone radiation, based on the evidence from epidemiological case-control studies, has pointed out that avid long-term cell phone users are at an increased brain cancer risk – this is a potential danger to over 7 billion of cell phone users

Pre-condition: PP can be implemented when the current situation is inconsistent with the chosen level of protection

IARC classification pointing out to an increased brain cancer risk is based on epidemiological studies where subjects used regular cell phones meeting current safety standards; this means that the current safety standards are insufficient to protect users.

Implementation of the Precautionary Principle does not equal prevention of the use of wireless technologies. This policy can help in curbing the current rampant and uncontrolled deployment of wireless networks anywhere and everywhere. The claims that the implementation of the Precautionary Principle will cause economic harm are not justified. Implementation of the Precautionary Principle will create new knowledge through research aimed at resolving the issue of health risk and developing communication technologies with lower radiation emissions. It will, in turn, create new jobs and new economic opportunities in research and technology.

Final conclusion: The IARC review of the scientific evidence and obtained classification of possible carcinogenicity of cell phone radiation, permit implementation of the Precautionary Principle measures, in order to protect the population from the potentially hazardous effects of exposure to radiation emitted by the wireless communication devices. Concomitantly with the implementation of the protective measures, aimed at reduction of exposures of human population, scientific research should continue to resolve the contradictions of the scientific evidence.



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