Dariusz Leszczynski, PhD, DSc, Adjunct Professor of Biochemistry, University of Helsinki, Finland
Wireless communication devices and its infrastructure, emitting man-made modulated radio-frequency electromagnetic radiation (RF-EMF), is omnipresent in our lives and environment.
This technology, developed for the US military, was not tested for human health hazard before it was commercially deployed. The US Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) justified permission for such deployment by the “low-power exclusion rule” – the radiation was assumed to be unable to affect human health.
However, afterwards, epidemiological case-control studies and studies examining the sleep EEG have provided a compelling, though indirect, evidence that this low-power radiation affects human physiology.
In 2011, epidemiological case-control studies, together with animal studies, were the basis for the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) to classify low-power RF-EMF emitted by the wireless communication devices as a possible human carcinogen.
Because the appropriate scientific studies in human volunteers remain to be not executed (!) we do not know the biophysical mechanism how low-power RF-EMF elicits physiological responses.
In the vast majority of the human volunteer studies the study subjects were acutely exposed to low-power RF-EMF and either already during, or shortly after the exposure, asked to describe their feelings; including whether they recognized when the RF-EMF exposure was on or off. Such a set-up of experiments is too crude and biased, by the potential emotional stress of the study subjects, to prove or disprove the existence of any physiological effect. Furthermore, such studies do not provide any answers about delayed responses or outcomes of chronic exposures.
The lack of the acute effects does not automatically mean that low-power RF-EMF has no impact on human physiology. Only studies examining changes in the biochemistry of human body, in response to low-power RF-EMF exposure, will provide scientifically valid information on the potentially affected physiological processes.
It is very likely that individual sensitivity to low-power RF-EMF affects part of the population. The unanswered question is, what is this RF-EMF power level?
Epidemiological case-control studies indicate that the current safety limits for the radiation emitted by the wireless communication devices do not protect all users. Results of these studies are based on experimental data where people used cell phones that were in full compliance with the current safety limits. However, avid use of such cell phones has been shown to increase risk of developing brain cancer.
This means that the safety limits, set by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection and by the International Committee on Electromagnetic Safety, are insufficient to protect all users and need to be revised.
The new 5th generation technology for wireless communication (5G) and the internet of things (IoT) are being fast developed by the industry. Again, technology is to be implemented without knowledge of its impact on human health. There is a complete lack of biomedical research on effects, if any, of the 5G radiation (millimetre-waves) on humans. Industry’s only justification for such hasty and premature deployment of 5G and IoT is that it will emit only low-power radiation.
But we know, from the past experience when the US FDA permitted deployment of untested for human health hazard RF-EMF emitting devices, the low-power emissions alone is an insufficient reason to justify deployment.
Concluding, in the current situation of scientific uncertainty, shown by the 2011 IARC carcinogenicity classification, the Precautionary Principle, as defined by the European Union, should be invoked for the currently deployed wireless communication technology: “…Whether or not to invoke the Precautionary Principle is a decision exercised where scientific information is insufficient, inconclusive, or uncertain and where there are indications that the possible effects on environment, or human, animal or plant health may be potentially dangerous and inconsistent with the chosen level of protection…”.
Furthermore, the lack of research on the biological effects of radiation emitted by the 5G and IoT technologies should be the reason for a temporary moratorium on the preparations for the massive deployment of 5G and IoT and for urgent setting up research projects to examine biological effects of 5G- and IoT-emitted radiation on humans.