BioEM2017 – just a routine, no exciting studies and no breakthrough studies

BioEM2017 was held in the West Lake Villa near the West Lake scenic area in Hangzhou, China. The city of Hangzhou is one of the Seven Ancient Capitals of China, and shares with Suzhou the ultimate fame of the “Paradise on Earth”.

Local Organizing Committee was chaired by Zhengping Yu and Zhengping Xu. The day-to-day routines were arranged by Guangdi Chen.

The BioEM2017 conference consisted of plenary, platform and poster sessions, workshops and tutorials.

Technical Program Committee that prepared scientific content of the conference was chaired by Luc Martens (EBEA) and Joachim Schüz (BEMS).

Plenary sessions – presentations invited by the Technical Program Committee:

  • Plenary 1: Epigenetics and EMF – current status of research
  • Plenary 2: mHealth – New horizons for prevention implementation and for research using mobile technology
  • Plenary 3: New challenges in tissue ablation clinical applications based on electroporation
  • Plenary 4: Current knowledge of biological effects above 6 GHz
  • Plenary 5: Bridging research disciplines and how EMF research can learn from other disciplines: the example of nanotechnology
  • Plenary 6: Optogenetics: involving light to control cells

Platform sessions – presentations selected from the submitted abstracts. Each session consisted of 6 presentations. Numbers in square brackets show how many presentations concerned RF/Microwaves.

  • Session 1: In vivo [0/6]
  • Session 2: Dosimetry-measurements 1 [4/6]
  • Session 3: Epidemiology [4/6]
  • Session 4: Dosimetry-computational 1 [2/6]
  • Session 5: Clinical [1/6]
  • Session 6: Behavioural [2/6]
  • Session 7: In vitro [2/6]
  • Session 8: Dosimetry-computational 2 [4/6]
  • Session 9: Electroporation [0/6; electroporation never uses RF…]
  • Session 10: Mechanistic/Theoretical [1/6]
  • Session 11: Standards / Public Health Policy [2/6]
  • Session 12: Human [3/6]
  • Session 13: Dosimetry-measurements 2 [6/6]

In two poster sessions were presented total of ca. 245 posters (few were withdrawn and few did not show up). In poster session A, out of 133 posters, 27 dealt with RF/Microwaves. In poster session B, out of 112 posters, 14 dealt with RF/Microwaves.

Workshops and Tutorial were selected from the proposals by EBEA and BEMS members:

  • Workshop 1: Computational models for Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation
  • Workshop 2: 5G and IoT exposure: RF-EMF Exposure assessment and novel devices
  • Workshop 3: Utilities Threshold Initiative Consortium – Experimental Responses in Humans exposed to High ELFs Fields and Impact on Standards and Guidelines
  • Workshop 4: Is the Evaluated In Vivo Exposure Level in a Reverberation Chamber Reliable?
  • Tutorial: Bridging disciplines in an EMF project: ARIMMORA

The ‘Report from BioEM2017‘ will be published shortly on ‘BRHP – Between a Rock and a Hard Place’. It will present what I, personally, found most interesting at the BioEM2017. Other participants will certainly have their own ideas on what was interesting and exciting…

Last year, at the BioEM2016 in Ghent, scientific excitement was caused by the presentation of the results from the NTP study… No such excitement this year at the BioEM2017…

Just as a tease, below are some examples (not all) of what I found interesting at the BioEM2017. Of course, it doesn’t automatically mean that I agree with the conclusions of the authors. Sometimes I do sometimes I don’t.

  • Excellent introduction to epigenetics, presented by Primo Schär – was a very welcome new direction for research of EMF effects. EMF exposures are low but are more and more ubiquitous part of human environment. Alone, because of the low energy, EMF effects might be difficult to find and replicate. But there might be solutions to this problem that will be presented in the Report. Interestingly, a single epigenetics experimental study, from Bordeaux group, was presented at the meeting.
  • Commercialization and spread of mHealth, in form of various apps on smart phones, helps to improve health services, especially in remote and undeveloped areas, as pointed out in two plenary presentations by Emilie van Deventer of the WHO EMF Project and by Valerie McCormack of the IARC. However, as pointed out by Jim Lin, Editor of the Bioelectromagnetics journal, how the WHO and its agency IARC, consider advocating spread of smart phones when IARC has classified radiation emitted by them as a possible carcinogen. It needs to be looked at, as with any other use of radiation, the balance of possible health risks and possible health benefits.
  • New 5th generation technology for wireless communication (5G) and the internet of things (IoT) are fast developed by the industry. However, only in two ways “humans” are currently considered in this technological development – as users of the technology and as factor causing disturbance (due to absorption of the millimeter waves). As of now, there is no consideration for possible human health hazard. No ant program for systematic research. The only answer from the industry, Joe Wiart,  to my question whether the industry considers in any way human health when developing 5G and IoT, was: this is a very low energy… Indeed, but does it mean that, at this point, it is assumed that the low energy of 5G is “automatically” harmless… But the same story was about cell phones, when US FDA gave it ‘low power exclusion’ that permitted commercialization of the cell phone technology without prior testing for health hazard. Story repeats? Because at this point we have no slightest idea how human largest organ, skin, will be affected by the 5G-emitted millimeter waves. Research has not been done yet.
  • The problem of replicability of scientific studies is very common and it doesn’t concern only bioelectromagnetics. However, not often researchers attempt to find, in systematic scientific studies, explanations why results obtained in ne lab do not replicate in another. Two students of Frank Barnes, Yanyu Xiong (Univ. Colorado/Boulder) and Lucas Portelli (currently IT IS/Zürich), presented two interesting studies looking for reasons for lack of replicability in studies on ELF-EMF. Some of their work could be applied to any EMF study.
  • The issue of sensitivity to EMF was presented in three studies. In all of them Rodney Croft was the senior author. One of the studies was an international effort with a list of well-known EHS researchers: Adam Verrender, Sarah Loughran, Vitas Anderson, Lena Hillert, G. James Rubin, Gunnhild Oftedal & Rodney Croft.
  • Epidemiology session had a presentation from the COSMOS study. As often mentioned, this study collects cell phone radiation exposure data as minutes of use of cell phone. This approach does not take into consideration that the proximity of the user to cell tower has significant impact on the exposure. Data collected as minutes of use are not showing radiation exposure and will mask any possible effects.

All the above topics and many more will be presented more thoroughly in the full ‘Report from the BioEM2017’.

Check BRHP blog for updates or confidentially register your e-mail to get automatic update when the Report is ready.



One thought on “BioEM2017 – just a routine, no exciting studies and no breakthrough studies

  1. Seeing Emilie van Deventer/WHO EMF-project in the mobile marketing dept. is absolutely no surprise to me. That IARC is also, does however surprise me a bit.

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