Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Call for Action to Reduce Mobile Phone Radiation

The European Environment Agency published a major report to alert governments about the need to attend to early warning signs about technology health risks, including mobile phones.

The 750-page volume, “Late Lessons from Early Warnings,” which includes twenty new case studies, has major implications for policy, science and society.  Although the report was prepared by the European Environment Agency to provide guidance to the EU nations, its implications are global. (1)

Brain tumor risk associated with cell phone use is addressed in one of the report's chapters.  (2) The World Health Organization (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer's (IARC) classification of this form of electromagnetic radiation (EMR) as "possibly carcinogenic", or cancer causing, is highlighted.

The report reviews the research that has found increased brain tumor risk associated with long term mobile phone use. The authors note that governments and industry have been slow to respond to IARC’s precautionary warnings in May, 2011, and urges policy makers to respond to early warnings more quickly.  It argues that industries that cause future harm must pay for the damage and suggests that taking early precautions "can stimulate rather than stifle innovation."

The report accuses the mobile phone industry of “inertia in considering the various studies and taking the IARC carcinogenic classification into account,” criticizes the media for not “providing the public with robust and consistent information on potential health risks,” and attacks governments for shirking “their responsibilities to protect public health from this widespread source of radiation.” 
Although the report acknowledges the many benefits of mobile phones to society, it recommends the need for precautionary actions to reduce cell phone radiation exposures to minimize the extent and seriousness of health risks to the brain and other organs of the body.

The report makes four specific recommendations about cell phones:

a.       Governments, the mobile phone industry, and the public should take all reasonable measures to reduce EMR exposure, especially from mobile phones, particularly exposure to children and young adults who are likely at greatest risk for brain and salivary gland tumors. The report recommends texting, use of hands-free devices, and improved design of phones to generate less radiation and make hands-free use more convenient.
b.      Governments should reconsider the scientific basis for the present exposure standards “which have serious limitations such as reliance on the contested thermal effects paradigm; and simplistic assumptions about the complexities of radio frequency exposures.” Bioeffects have been found for exposures considerably less than the FCC's legal limit allows.
c.       Mobile phones should be required to have effective labeling and warnings about potential risks for users. San Francisco is the first municipal government in the U.S. to adopt such legislation, but the CTIA (wireless industry association), has blocked implementation of the law in court arguing that it violates the industry's free speech rights.
d.      Adequate funding should be provided for the “urgently needed research into the health effects of phones” and base stations.  Funding could include industry grants and a small fee on the purchase and/or use of mobile phones.   A nickel a month collected on each cell phone subscription in the U.S. would generate sufficient funds to undertake the needed training and research to head off this potential epidemic.

It is time for the U.S. to end its decades of denial and assume a leadership role in adopting precautionary measures to reduce the potential harms associated with exposure to mobile phone radiation. (3)  Otherwise we may face a steep price in terms of preventable health care costs, lost productivity, reduced survival and quality of life.
 
For more information about the health risks of cell phone radiation and other forms of EMR see the new BioInitiative Report at http://www.bioinitiative.org and the news releases and commentary on this web site at http://saferemr.blogspot.com .

(1)   “The cost of ignoring the warning signs - EEA publishes ‘Late Lessons from Early Warnings, volume II’ “

New technologies have sometimes had very harmful effects, but in many cases the early warning signs have been suppressed or ignored. The second volume of Late Lessons from Early Warnings investigates specific cases where danger signals have gone unheeded, in some cases leading to deaths, illness and environmental destruction.

News Release, European Environment Agency,  Jan 23, 2013. URL: http://www.eea.europa.eu/pressroom/newsreleases/the-cost-of-ignoring-the

  
(2) Lennart Hardell, Michael Carlberg, and David Gee. “Mobile phone use and brain tumour risk: early warnings, early actions?” Chapter 21 in Part C-Emerging Issues. “Late lessons from early warnings: science, precaution, innovation.” European Environment Agency. EEA Report No 1/2013. Pp. 541-561. January 23, 2013.


 The full 750 page report is available at:
 http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/late-lessons-
 

(3)  Joel M. Moskowitz. "Comments on the 2012 GAO Report: 'Exposure and Testing Requirements for Mobile Phones Should Be Reassessed.'” http://saferemr.blogspot.com/2013/01/commentary-gao-2012-report-on-mobile.html




Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Drs. Oz & Gupta Caution About Cell Phones

Dr. Mehmet Oz, in a recent episode of his popular TV program, "The Dr. Oz Show," and his guest, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a neurosurgeon and chief medical correspondent for CNN, discussed cell phone radiation health effects.  Dr. Gupta issued important precautionary messages about cell phone use.

Both Dr. Oz and Dr. Gupta should be commended for their continued work in reporting about the health risks associated with cell phone radiation and for issuing precautionary warnings to the public.

Dr. Gupta provided some misinformation in this interview which I address in my comments below.

 

Are Cellphones Dangerous for Your Health?

The Dr. Oz Show, Original air date: Jan 15, 2013

Are cell phones a serious health risk on par with tobacco and asbestos? Dr. Oz and Sanjay Gupta separate fact from fiction on this hotly contested issue. Plus, the medical reason why you should wait to give your child a cell phone.

5 minute video clip: http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/are-cellphones-dangerous-your-health


Episode Summary and My Comments

Gupta: "I think both groups you just mentioned, people who say it's absolutely safe and people who say it's absolutely dangerous, they don't know. And that's the important point here."

My comment:  Very few health scientists or medical professionals argue either that cell phones are "absolutely safe" or "absolutely dangerous."  Most now recognize that cell phone radiation is biologically active and agree we need more research to determine in what ways it can be harmful to our bodies and how best to reduce risks.  Many scientists and health professionals recommend precautionary measures to the public. Some others who have conflicts of interest or interpret the data more conservatively tell their family members to take precaution.

Gupta: "We need 30 years of data to know for sure."

My comment:  Although scientific consensus takes a long time, Dr. Gupta's contention that we need 30 years of data is speculative. 

We have had evidence of harm to humans from exposure to low intensity microwave radiation for about 40 years. Allan Frey reported in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences in 1975 that 1900 MHz microwaves pulsed at certain modulations induce blood-brain barrier leakage in humans. 

We now have evidence of increased brain tumor risk associated with cell phone use from multiple case-control studies. We have also begun to see increased incidence of certain brain tumors in some countries. There is now considerable evidence of sperm damage in humans and some evidence of increased male infertility associated with cell phone use.

To put this in perspective, in 1912 a monograph documenting a strong link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer was published.  Fifty two years later, in the 1964 report to the Surgeon General smoking was recognized to cause lung cancer in men and probably cause it in women. 

Given how widespread cell phone use is and the fact that many children, teenagers, and pregnant women now use cell phones, it would be irresponsible for us to wait for scientific consensus that we have conclusive evidence of harm to humans before adopting precautionary measures.

Gupta: The Interphone Study found an increase in one type of brain tumor after 10 years.

My comment: The 13-nation Interphone Study paper reported an increase in glioma, a malignant brain tumor, for those who used cell phones for 1,640 or more hours in their lifetime. Many of these people used cell phones for less than 10 years. The paper also found a dose-response effect in terms of the number of years since the cell phone was first used (see Appendix 2).  Lennart Hardell's research in Sweden has obtained similar results.

Gupta: Fact: "Cell phone radiation is regulated by the government."  The government was looking at people who used their cell phones once a week for 6 months. Not a good standard for people who were more regular cell phone users.  It applied to adults.

My comment: This is incorrect. Although the government regulates cell phone radiation, the FCC's regulatory standard was developed by industry and does not assume once a week cell phone use. See my critique of the GAO Report for a discussion of how the standard was developed, and why it is inadequate.

Gupta: Fact: "In your cell phone instructions, there's a warning to keep the phone a certain distance from your body."  There are very specific warnings about minimum distance, e.g. the Blackberry is about 3/4 of an inch. 

My comment:The manufacturers' warnings vary from 5/8 of an inch (15 mm) to 1 inch (25 mm). More importantly, these minimum distances are inadequate as they assume that the only harm from cell phones is due to heating tissue which is not true. Furthermore, the standard is based on large males and is not adequate for others, especially women and children.

Gupta: The amount of radiation absorbed by a child is more. He showed Om Gandhi's slide comparing absorption in users of different ages. 

My comment:  Excellent point. The testing procedures established by the FCC employ a simulated head from a 6 foot 2 inch, 220 pound male. Most people's heads absorb far more radiation.  Moreover, individuals with metal fillings or braces on their teeth and those who wear metal eyeglass frames will be exposed to more radiation.

Gupta: Fiction: "Cell phones emit the same kind of radiation as X-ray machines." Non-ionizing radiation is like a microwave oven.  You don't want to hold a microwave oven by your head.  

My comment: This is not a good analogy as the radiated power of a cell phone is much less than a microwave oven.  Moreover, the harm from cell phone radiation exposure is not likely due to heating tissue but through sub-thermal mechanisms.

Oz: We don't have long-term data. There are flaws in studies. What should we do?

Gupta: I always use a wired earpiece. I think about not giving my kids cell phones. If you're having a hard time hearing, the phone emits more radiation, make the call another time.

My comment: These are good, basic precautionary messages. Other messages should include: 1) turn off your phone when not using; 2) never put the phone to your ear - use a headset, especially a corded device, or other hands-free method such as a speakerphone or text; 3) keep away from the head, eyes, salivary glands and reproductive organs – never in your pants pockets; and 4) use by pregnant women, children and teenagers should be extremely limited.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

GAO 2012 Mobile Phone Report to the Congress

"Comments on the 2012 GAO Report:
'Exposure and Testing Requirements for Mobile Phones Should Be Reassessed'”

By Joel M. Moskowitz, Ph.D.
Director, Center for Family and Community Health
School of Public Health
University of California, Berkeley
 Introduction

U.S. General Accountability Office (GAO). Exposure and Testing Requirements for Mobile Phones Should Be Reassessed. GAO-12-771. Washington, DC: General Accountability Office. http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-771 .


The GAO Report selectively reviewed scientific literature that supports the FCC’s claim that cell phones which comply with the federal standards are safe. The GAO did not consider the methodologic limitations of this research or the alternative interpretations of the results from these studies. The GAO Report did not review the scientific evidence that strongly suggests the FCC standards which control only for thermal effects do not adequately protect the public from harm due to non-thermal effects of long-term exposure to cell phone radiation.

Although we do not have conclusive proof that cell phone radiation is harmful to humans, the FCC certainly cannot prove its claim that cell phones that comply with current federal standards are safe. The claim relies on many assumptions about the science.
A critical review of the science—as opposed to simply “weighting the evidence”— reveals that these assumptions have dubious validity, and that there is sufficient evidence to require the development of a stronger, biologically-based standard that protects against sub-thermal exposures.


Comments (11 pp.) available at:  http://bit.ly/SneysY.

BioInitiative 2012 Report



Commentary on BioInitiative 2012 Report

Joel M. Moskowitz, Ph.D.

"BioInitiative 2012: A Rationale for Biologically-based Exposure Standards for Low-Intensity Electromagnetic Radiation" updates the 2007 BioInitiative Report. The 2012 report was written by 29 authors from ten countries including ten MDs and 21 PhDs. Authors include three former presidents and five members of the Bioelectromagnetics Society. One author is Chair of the Russian National Committee on Non-Ionizing Radiation, and another is Senior Advisor to the European Environmental Agency.

Critics of the report have argued that it is not published in a peer-reviewed journal, and it is biased. It is true that the report was prepared independent of governments, existing bodies and industry professional societies. The critics of this report, many of whom suffer from serious conflicts of interest, ignore a large and growing body of scientific literature that demonstrates biologic activity and harmful health effects from exposure to low (i.e., sub-thermal) levels of electromagnetic radiation (EMR).

The critics of this report only recognize EMR effects caused by heating tissue (i.e., thermal effects).  As such, the critics have upheld the outdated EMR safety standards which their professional organizations established in the early 1990’s. 

With minor variations, these EMR standards were adopted by the U.S. and other Western nations in the mid-1990's. At that time, exposure of the general population to sources of EMR, especially in close proximity to the body (e.g., cell and cordless phones, wi-fi), was quite minor as compared to the present day.

The 2012 BioInitiative Report presents the scientific evidence why we need to adopt much stronger, biologically-based standards. The report presents a solid scientific and public health policy assessment that is evidence-based. 

Read the report and judge for yourself which side of this decades-long debate you believe.


BioInitiative 2012 Report Issues New Warnings on Wireless and EMF
www.bioinitiative.org

Press Release, Business Wire, Jan 3, 2013

Rensselaer, N.Y., A new report by the BioInitiative Working Group 2012 says that evidence for risks to health has substantially increased since 2007 from electromagnetic fields and wireless technologies (radiofrequency radiation). The Report reviews over 1800 new scientific studies. Cell phone users, parents-to-be, young children and pregnant women are at particular risk.
“There is a consistent pattern of increased risk for glioma (a malignant brain tumor) and acoustic neuroma with use of mobile and cordless phones.”
“There is a consistent pattern of increased risk for glioma (a malignant brain tumor) and acoustic neuroma with use of mobile and cordless phones,” says Lennart Hardell, MD at Orebro University, Sweden. “Epidemiological evidence shows that radiofrequency should be classified as a human carcinogen. The existing FCC/IEE and ICNIRP public safety limits and reference levels are not adequate to protect public health.”

A dozen new studies link cell phone radiation to sperm damage. Even a cell phone in the pocket or on a belt may harm sperm DNA, result in misshapen sperm, and impair fertility in men. Laptop computers with wireless internet connections can damage DNA in sperm.

Based on strong evidence for vulnerable biology in autism, EMF/RFR can plausibly increase autism risk and symptoms.

"While we aggressively investigate the links between autism disorders and wireless technologies, we should minimize wireless and EMF exposures for people with autism disorders, children of all ages, people planning a baby, and during pregnancy,” says Martha Herbert, MD, PhD.

Wireless devices such as phones and laptops used by pregnant women may alter brain development of the fetus. This has been linked in both animal and human studies to hyperactivity, learning and behavior problems.

According to David O. Carpenter, MD, co-editor:

“There is now much more evidence of risks to health affecting billions of people world-wide. The status quo is not acceptable in light of the evidence for harm.”

This study covers EMF from powerlines, electrical wiring, appliances and hand-held devices; and from wireless technologies (cell and cordless phones, cell towers, ‘smart meters’, WI-FI, wireless laptops, wireless routers, baby monitors, and other electronic devices). Health topics include damage to DNA and genes, effects on memory, learning, behavior, attention, sleep disruption, cancer and neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s disease. New safety standards are urgently needed for protection against EMF and wireless exposures that now appear everywhere in daily life.

The BioInitiative 2012 Report is available at: www.bioinitiative.org


"In twenty-one technical chapters of this 2012 update, the contributing authors discuss the content and implications of about 1800 new studies. Overall, there is reinforced scientific evidence of risk where there is chronic exposure to low-intensity electromagnetic fields and to wireless technologies (radiofrequency radiation including microwave radiation).”

“There is more evidence in 2012 that such exposures damage DNA, interfere with DNA repair, evidence of toxicity to the human genome (genes), more worrisome effects on the nervous system (neurology) and more and better studies on the effects of mobile phone base stations (wireless antenna facilities or cell towers) that report lower RFR levels over time can result in adverse health impacts. There has been a big increase in the number of studies looking at the effects of cell phones (on the belt, or in the pocket of men radiating only on standby mode) and from wireless laptops on impacts to sperm quality and motility; and sperm death (fertility and reproduction).”

“In other new studies of the fetus, infant and young child, and child-in-school – there are a dozen or more new studies of importance."
TABLE OF CONTENTS

Preface
Table Of Contents
Summary For The Public And Conclusions
Statement Of The Problem
The Existing Public Exposure Standards
Evidence For Inadequacy Of The Standards
Evidence For Effects On Gene And Protein Expression
Evidence For Genotoxic Effects – RFR And ELF DNA Damage
Evidence For Stress Response (Stress Proteins)
Evidence For Effects On Immune Function
Evidence For Effects On Neurology And Behavior
Effects Of EMF From Wireless Communication Upon The Blood-Brain Barrier
Evidence For Brain Tumors And Acoustic Neuromas
Evidence For Childhood Cancers (Leukemia)
Evidence For Effects On Melatonin: Alzheimer’s Disease And Breast Cancer
Evidence For Breast Cancer Promotion
Evidence For Disruption By The Modulating Signal
Plausible Genetic And Metabolic Mechanisms For Bioeffects Of Very Weak ELF Magnetic Fields On Living Tissue
Evidence Based On EMF Medical Therapeutics
Fertility And Reproduction Effects Of EMF
Fetal And Neonatal Effects Of EMF
Findings In Autism Consistent With EMF And RFR
Mobile Phone Base Stations: Well-being And Health
Precaution In Action - Global Public Health Examples Since Bioinitiative 2007
The Precautionary Principle
Key Scientific Evidence And Public Health Policy Recommendations
List Of Participants And Affiliations
Glossary Of Terms And Abbreviations
Appendix
Acknowledgements

Conference: 2013 Electrosmog Abstracts



The 9th National Congress of Electrosmog

Bern, Switzerland, April 20, 2013 

 
Speeches

1) Abstract: Mortality by neoplasia and cellular telephony base stations in Belo Horizonte, Brazil

Adilza Condessa Dode, PhD, MSc


One of the greatest environmental problems of the twenty-first century is pollution caused by electromagnetic fields (EMFs) of radiofrequencies (RF) generated by the telecommunication system. The purpose of this research was to verify the existence of spatial correlation between base stations (BS) clusters and cases of deaths by neoplasia in the Belo Horizonte municipality, Minas Gerais state, Brazil, from 1996 to 2006 and to measure the human exposure levels to EMF where there is major concentration of cellular telephone transmitter antennas.

Through an ecological-epidemiological approach, using georeferencing, a descriptive spatial analysis of the BSs and the cases of death by neoplasia identified in the municipality was performed. The database employed in the survey was composed of three data banks: 1. death by neoplasia documented by the Health Municipal Department; 2. BSs documented in ANATEL (Brazil’s ‘Telecommunications National Agency’); and 3. census and demographic city population data obtained from official archives provided by IBGE (‘Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics’).

The results show that approximately 856 BSs were installed through December 2006. Most (39.60%) of the BSs were located in the “Centro-Sul” (‘Central-Southern’) region of the municipality. Between 1996 and 2006, 7191 deaths by neoplasia occurred and within an area of 500 m from the BS, the mortality rate was 34.76 per 10.000 inhabitants. Outside of this area, a decrease in the number of deaths by neoplasia occurred. The greatest accumulated incidence was 5.83 per 1000 in the Central-Southern region and the lowest incidence was 2.05 per 1000 in the „Barreiro“ region. During the environmental monitoring, the largest accumulated electric field measured was 12.4 V/m and the smallest was 0.4 V/m. The largest density power was 40.78 W/cm², and the smallest was 0.04 W/cm².



2) Abstract: Use of mobile phones and cordless phones is associated with increased risk for glioma and acoustic neuroma

Lennart Hardell, MD, PhD

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) at WHO evaluation of the carcinogenic effect of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) on humans took place during a 24 – 31 May 2011 meeting at Lyon in France. The Working Group consisted of 30 scientists and categorised the RF-EMFs from mobile phones, and from other devices that emit similar non-ionising electromagnetic fields, as Group 2B, i.e. a ‘possible’, human carcinogen. The decision on mobile phones was based mainly on the Hardell group of studies from Sweden and the IARC Interphone study.

An overview of current epidemiological evidence for an increased risk for brain tumours including a meta-analysis of the Hardell group and Interphone results for mobile phone use will be presented. Results for cordless phones are lacking in Interphone. Regarding mobile phone use the meta-analysis gave for glioma and acoustic neuroma a statistically significant increased risk in contrast to the results for meningioma. Also use of cordless phones increased the risk for glioma and acoustic neuroma in the Hardell group studies. Results from an on-going new study on brain tumours will also be presented. Some studies show increasing incidence of brain tumours whereas other studies do not.

It is concluded that one should be careful using incidence data to dismiss results in analytical epidemiology. The IARC carcinogenic classification does not seem to have had any significant impact on governments’ perceptions of their responsibilities to protect public health from this widespread source of radiation.


3) Abstract: The Italian Supreme Court recognized that mobile phone use may induce head tumours

A. Levis, PhD

During 2010-2011 we carried out a close examination of the protocols and results of epidemiological studies on head tumour risks for mobile phone (MP) users, and for each study we identified the elements necessary for evaluating its reliability. We also performed new meta-analyses of the literature data limited to subjects with MP latency time compatible with the progression of the examined tumours, and with analysis of the laterality of tumour localization corresponding to the laterality of MP use.

Blind protocols, free from errors, bias and financial conditioning factors reveal a cause-effect relationship between MP use or latency and statistically significant increases (up to a doubling) of ipsilateral head tumour risk, with biological plausibility. Non-blind protocols, which instead are affected by errors, bias and financial conditioning factors, give systematic underestimate of such risks (up to an apparent, implausible protecting effect).

Recently the Italian Supreme Court - Labour Section - Sentence (n.17438: 3-12.10.2012) recognized for the first time - with the support of the above results given by the plaintiff consultants, the neurosurgeon Dr. G. Grasso and myself - the association between professional MP use and the development of a trigeminal nerve neurinoma, leading to the compensation for the suffering of an 80% physical impairment.


4) Abstract: Influence of electromagnetic waves on the behaviour of honeybees

Daniel Favre, Dr. phil. nat.

In recent years, reports of a global loss of honey bees have risen owing to increased colony collapse disorder (CCD), which results in the extreme and sudden break down of colonies with no previous evidence of disease or parasitic infestation. CCD has serious implications for the production of many fruits and vegetables, which rely on insect pollination. Mites, pesticides, reduced immunity, bacterial and viral infections, genetically modified agricultural products and farming practices are suspected of playing a role in the disappearance of entire colonies.

According to reports in scientific journals and the media at large it is possible that mobile phones may also be contributing to this threat, since bees have difficulty in finding home when base stations for cordless phones are installed near colonies. Microwaves could therefore be partially responsible for the CCD syndrome.

The potential effects of the electromagnetic fields of conventional mobile phones for honeybees were consequently tested. Case studies showed that bees felt disturbed by the signals of actively communicating mobile phones when users were encouraged to send beeps. These observations suggest that the bees are sensitive to pulsed electromagnetic fields. Above all, loss of bee colonies is observed in those parts of the world (North America, Europe, Australia, South Brazil, Taiwan and Japan) where mobile phone use is widespread. This raises the question of whether the relationship between CCD and an intensive use of mobile phones can still be regarded as pure speculation (DOI: 10.1007/s13592-011-0016-x).


5) Abstract: 1000km of new high-voltage lines in Switzerland 

Hans-U. Jakob

Effects on our health and our landscape and the opportunities for laying these new lines underground.

Why do we need high voltage grids? What type of magnetic fields do power lines generate? How far do these magnetic fields extend and under what circumstances? And what is their potentiality to affect the health of human beings?

Plans are underway for 1,000 km of new high-voltage power lines in Switzerland, partly due to the ageing of the existing grid and partly to ensure the necessary energy transition. In order to protect the health of humans and animals and to preserve Switzerland‘s beautiful landscapes and historical heritage sites new power lines should be laid underground. The current methods of subterraneous installation are described and it is shown by how much they reduce magnetic fields. We will also show how power companies fight subterraneous installations employing every possible means to protect their profits. In two cases, Switzerland‘s High Court has already upheld two plaintiffs‘ demands for subterranean lines. These court cases are also highlighted.

For more information: