…this is a longer blog, hopefully worth your time to read to the end…
For over 20 years I have been doing hands-on research on the effects of RF-EMF on biological systems and for over 20 years I was arguing that we need better quality research to prove, or to disprove, the possibility of RF-EMF-induced health effects.
There is ample evidence suggesting the possibility, or even probability, of RF-EMF affecting human health but the ultimate proof is still missing. To me it means, and this I was arguing since my first public lecture on the subject in 2001 during the Science Days at the University of Helsinki, that there is a reason to implement precautionary approach when dealing with RF-EMF. Precautionary approach would mean implementation, in some form or shape, of the EU Precautionary Principle and simultaneous push for the targeted health-related research.
Precautionary Principle could/should be used to limit unnecessary exposures whenever and wherever it is feasible and doable and for as long as the scientific evidence is ambiguous.
Targeted research is needed to address specifically questions pertinent to human health, because not all experiments are useful or usable in designing public health policies. In fact, most of to date performed research on RF-EMF is of little use for the health policy.
As long as there is scientific uncertainty, and it is here and now, we should be precautionary and researching.
The debate over how to deal with the issue of RF-EMF and health has been taken over by two small but extremely noisy groups.
One claims RF-EMF is perfectly safe the other claims it will kill all life. Both of these extreme views are interpreting and misinterpreting science to fit their own agendas. They both do their own cherry-picking of the evidence.
In my opinion, neither of these two extreme views and opinions has enough scientific evidence to support the claims of safety or lack of safety of RF-EMF exposures.
PROPONENTS OF THE NO-HEALTH-EFFECTS OPTION, WHEN SAFETY GUIDELINES ARE OBEYED
The two of the no-health-effects option groups are of particular importance as they practically set safety guidelines that are recommended either by the WHO or by the US FCC, and then implemented in practice by the telecommunication industry.
WHO recommends what ICNIRP recommends and US FCC recommends what IEEE-ICES recommends. Both, ICNIRP and IEEE-ICES, claim their recommendations are based solely on the science and not affected by any other issues. However, trusting in these assurances is not easy.
The IEEE-ICES is a slam-dunk case for the conflict-of-interest. I have been member of IEEE-ICES for a couple of years and, after I learned how it works, I resigned in 2009 (for some reason IEEE-ICES was not happy about it because they tried to persuade me to stay).
The majority of the members of the IEEE-ICES are engineers employed by the industry. At the time when I was member, some Chairs within the IEEE-ICES were scientists from Motorola or Siemens.
Safety limits developed by IEEE-ICES are designed by engineers working for the wireless telecommunications industry. Voting in this group on proposed safety limits is just a sham because telecom engineers vote on proposal prepared by the same telecom engineers. The telecom engineers always have the majority within IEEE-ICES. So, how trustworthy are these safety limits?
In summary, IEEE-ICES safety guidelines are prepared by industry engineers and approved by industry engineers who later implement them in their own industries as reliable and solely science-based and industry-independent safety guidelines.
More difficult is to determine trustworthiness and reliability of ICNIRP. They claim complete independence of any influence, especially from the industry. Listening to them one get impression that they are “holier than the holy father”. But ICNIRP is a closed private club and with such establishments, having no oversight whatsoever, one can never be sure what is going on.
Firstly, all members of the “all mighty” Main Commission have the same general opinion that RF-EMF can’t cause any health effects if ICNIRP safety guidelines are followed. Having the same opinion by all members helps (sarcasm!) to reach consensus within ICNIRP. And ICNIRP makes no mistake of inviting any scientist who would dissent, that is certain.
However, is it really so that the ICNIRP safety guidelines provide safety? Not necessarily. Just one example. Four case-control epidemiology studies have indicated that person using cell phone for 10 years for 30 minutes every day has an increased (by 40%, by 100%, another by 100% and by 170%) risk of developing brain cancer – glioma. What is of paramount importance, but not much elaborated publicly, all persons enlisted in this research were using regular cell phones that were purchased in shops. It means that each and every phone was in compliance with the ICNIRP safety guidelines (!). However, use of such safety-guidelines-compliant cell phone led to an increased risk of developing glioma. It means that the ICNIRP safety limits do not protect form the health effects of RF-EMF emitted by the phone compliant with safety guidelines. Also necessary to mention that in its new, 2020 updated, safety guidelines ICNIRP completely dismisses the results of these case-control epidemiology studies. Simply put – these results do not exist for ICNIRP.
In one of my blogs ‘Is ICNIRP reliable enough to dictate meaning of science to the governmental risk regulators?’ I wrote this opinion on ICNIRP:
In my opinion the major problems of ICNIRP are:
- it is a “private club” where members elect new members without need to justify selection
- lack of accountability before anyone
- lack of transparency of their activities
- complete lack of supervision of its activities
- skewed science evaluation because of the close similarity of the opinions of all members of the Main Commission and all of the other scientists selected as advisors to the Main Commission
I have suggested that the similarity of scientific opinions expressed by the Main Commission members will lead to skewed evaluation of science and I wrote: “…Every expert has opinion. With this opinion he/she comes to work in expert committee. This applies to ICNIRP members too. I hope you are not suggesting that only the scientists of the Main Commission of ICNIRP are able to leave their opinions behind and evaluate the science for its merits alone. However, there is difference between the committee where work scientists with diverse opinions and with the committee where work scientists with very similar opinions. Scientists are humans and act as humans, with all ballasting baggage of pre-existing feelings and opinions. It is certain that the absolute “forgetting” of the pre-appointment opinions is not possible. Thus, scientists with no-effect opinion will easier accept no-effect studies and will look more closely for shortcomings in yes-effect studies. And the same will happen with the scientists having yes-effect opinion. They will easier accept studies showing yes-effect and look more closely for shortcomings in no-effect studies. Here is the problem. If all members of the Main Commission are of the same opinion, the scientific debate will be limited and likely skewed…”
What is strange and disturbing, is that the European States meekly follow whatever advice they receive from the ICNIRP, blindly trusting group of self-appointed to ICNIRP experts, without critically evaluating what kind of NGO it is, what are its interests and Conflicts of Interests and what is its accountability.
This is a very strange way of dealing with the risk assessment from the seasoned bureaucrats and politicians of the European Union.
The big question remains: how reliable are safety guidelines prepared by IEEE-ICES and ICNIRP?
I do not know what IEEE-ICES thinks of their own guidelines, but the current Chair of the ICNIRP, Eric van Rongen, gave a very unconvincing answer. When van Rongen was asked whether the users should trust ICNIRP opinion or the opinion of the 220 scientists who wrote 5G Appeal to the UN, disagreeing with ICNIRP opinion, the Chairman of ICNIRP did not defend at all the validity and correctness of the ICNIRP’s evaluation of science. Instead, Eric van Rongen stated that people can choose what opinion on science they prefer, the opinion of ICNIRP or the opinion of the 220 scientists who signed the 5G Appeal to the UN (video available here).
Fun Fact: guess whom telecom industry has chosen to trust…
What is more, some of the ICNIRP members of the Main Commission would like to have it both ways, “agree with ICNIRP and somewhat disagree in order to be OK with their own consciousness”. In recent tweet, the recently elected to the Main Commission Martin Röösli agreed that we should be precautionary because science is never certain, what clearly disagrees with ICNIRP opinion.
PROPONENTS OF THE PROVEN HEALTH EFFECTS, ALSO BELOW SAFETY GUIDELINES
The other side of the debate, the other small but, similarly to ICNIRP and IEEE-ICES, noisy group, are the anti-5G activists. They take any smallest shred of evidence suggesting any remote possibility of health effects as proven health effects that in due time will kill all life on earth. This is a mistake as the scientific evidence is available to anyone and their claims can, and are, easy to be fact checked.
Two of the most frequently used examples of the negative health effects of RF-EMF are:
- Claimed proven damage to the DNA
- Claimed proven damage to the immune response
While there exists evidence indicating a possibility/probability for such effects, the proof that such effects are indeed induced in cell phone users is still missing.
In my numerous lectures, as recently as in my talk in Nelson, New Zealand, I have presented a slide showing that DNA effects are not proven:
The both, DNA damage and impairment of the immune response rely on the evidence suggesting that RF-EMF causes oxidative stress in cells. However, simply observing increased oxidative stress in tissues and increased levels of short-lived free radicals is not sufficient to prove human health effect.
Cells are not just balls uniformly filled with viscous liquid. They are extensively compartmentalized and movement of molecules between various compartments is very strictly regulated. The oxidative stress needs to appear in a cellular compartment that will allow certain kind of effect. For example, in order to damage DNA, the very-short-living and very-short distance-acting free radicals need to be generated inside the cell nucleus and in close proximity to the DNA molecule. This might be not so easy spatially because access to DNA molecule is limited by the coat of proteins. So, before claiming that RF-EMF damages DNA we also need to show that, at least, the free radicals are indeed generated within the nucleus.
The other problem is the level of the RF-EMF-induced oxidative stress. Is the level comparable with oxidative stress induced by other mediators? Is the level of the oxidative stress sufficient to cause changes to normal physiology? As long as we just know that oxidative stress is induced but we do not know enough about where and how much, claiming that RF-EMF surely damages DNA and surely affects immunity is premature. We can suspect such effects and we should be precautionary but no more than that. For more, we need research.
However, some “scientists” make short-cut and using inadequate scientific evidence claim very far reaching effects. Those “scientists” have done unimaginable damage to the legitimate science-based attempts to push for more targeted research and to push for more science-based safety guidelines that would replace the current ICNIRP & IEEE-ICES safety guidelines that are based on misinterpreted and misrepresented science.
Martin L. Pall and Arthur R. Firstenberg, to name just two very prominent “scientists”, have made claims that are not science based, that are based on misrepresentation of science and are nothing less but conspiracy theories.
Martin L. Pall claims (Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry and Basic Medical Sciences,; the Washington State University, Pullman, Washington, USA must be so proud [sarcasm!]):
“5G will produce widespread in most cases universal or near-universal impact:
- A rapid and irreversible crash in human reproduction to close to zero, based mainly but not solely on the impacts on male reproduction.
- A rapid (albeit somewhat slower than in 1) crash in our collective brain function produced by massive impacts on human brain structure and function.
- Very early-onset Alzheimer’s dementia also caused by the human brain impact seen in 2.
- Autism and ADHD caused primarily by perinatal 4G/5G exposures
- Massive deterioration in the human gene pool, caused by the DNA effects in human sperm and possibly also on human eggs.
- Widespread sudden cardiac death in all age ranges caused by the EMF impacts on the pacemaker cells in the sino-atrial node of the heart.
According to Pall, the 5G is already responsible for (when asked he was unable to provide proof of these claims):
- suicides of ambulance staff in UK
- fires in South Korea
- outbreak of coronavirus in Wuhan
- …and many other “effects”
What is more, the schedule of Pall’s ‘doomsday’ was predicted already in 2018, when he stated that the deterioration of human kind will happen within the next 5 – 7 years…”
Arthur R Firstenberg goes even further than the coronavirus-Wuhan 5G connection championed by Martin L. Pall.
Firstenberg, in his recently distributed writing “IS THE SKY REALLY FALLING?”, claims to have proven that not only coronavirus was caused by the 5G in Wuhan but that also the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918 was not caused by virus but by EMF (!).
This kind of pseudo-scientific ideas propagated by Pall and Firstenberg and avidly disseminated by their followers, led some activists to act against the wireless infrastructure most visible to everyone, the masts.
This is wrong development.
WARNINGS THAT WERE IGNORED
For years I was warning activists that their claims should be well science based because if not then the other side of the debate will easily poke holes in their arguments and show their incompetence. My latest warning was in my blog published on March 5, 2020 ‘Sounding alarm for activists: To be seriously considered you need to present real science, not ‘fake science’’.
Sadly, at that time I was already well aware of what Martin L. Pall and Arthur R. Firstenberg claim and I was expecting a storm…
… and the storm has come with the news media full of writings condemning the deranged theories of anti 5G activists claiming that the coronavirus is either caused by 5G or that there is no virus at all and people are sick of 5G alone. This, in turn is being used as an easy way to dismiss once and for all (?) any claims that there might be a legitimate health effects caused by the 5G-emitted radiation.
As one of the legitimate scientists involved in push for precaution and for better research on 5G radiation, Joel Moskowitz wrote recently (regretfully he did not act earlier):
“…Those who promote 5G-coronavirus theories based on weak evidence undermine the credibility of scientists and medical doctors who have expressed concerns about 5G safety based on strong evidence (e.g., the 5G Appeal)[this is another 5G Appeal, not the one authored by Firstenberg].
Moreover, during this public health crisis, the Telecom industry can exploit these actions to convince mainstream news media to publish industry propaganda that 5G is safe…”
And telecom industry really exploits this possibility that was provided for them, freely and without asking, by the pseudo-scientists and their followers.
I responded to Joel M. Moskowitz as follows:
“…Joel, it is time to look in the mirror. Pall did what he did because people like yourself or Davis and many others, did not say a word to stop Pall from fearmongering. He was encouraged. I stood up and I was ignored and threatened and trolled and insulted. But I was right. Sadly, we all pay now a heavy price. By association, we all are portrayed as wackos. Read my blogs and wonder why nobody else dared to stand up to Pall speaking utter nonsense. Dariusz…” [i did not receive any response]
I also tweeted:
Besides these two noisy groups there is a large group of the ‘Silent Majority’. Scientists and people interested in the issue but who prefer to be silent and see what happens. The reasons for this silence might be many, and here is no place to elaborate. However, the involvement of the ‘Silent Majority‘ would certainly help in the debate.
In 2013 while working as Visiting Professor at the Swinburne University of Technology in Hawthorn/Melbourne, Australia, I have proposed a Round-Table Initiative to discuss the differences of opinion between ICNIRP and BioInitiative and to, hopefully, come up with a consensus opinion.
In my opening blog post, on the Round-Table Initiative website, I wrote:
“…It is time to stop squabbling who is better expert in reviewing and interpreting science. It is time to reach consensus what the scientific evidence tells us. It is time to agree on international scale whether and how the Precautionary Principle should be implemented. It is time to stop misleading and confusing the general public…”
Sadly, the initiative failed because BioInitiative refused to talk to ICNIRP and because ICNIRP said it didn’t need any advice from BioInitiative. Mike Repacholi and Henry Lai thought it was a good idea… The industry washed their hands by saying they follow ICNIRP and WHO recommendations… (for detailed e-mails see the few posts available on the website).
In the end, when called, everyone involved defended their own sand-box.
That was in 2013… Now, in 2020 things did not get better. In fact they got far worse. Militant pseudo-scientific opinions dominate the debate.
If the industry imagines that their current avalanche of publications claiming 5G safety will silence activists, then they will be sadly mistaken.
The first and the foremost reason being that neither side of the debate has solid science-based arguments to dismiss the claims of the other side.
We need consensus. We need research. We do not need squabble.
ARE WE GROWN UP ENOUGH TO DO IT IS ANOTHER MATTER