Wednesday, July 27, 2016

BioEM2016 Conference: A Report by Dr. Dariusz Leszczynski

A 23-page report about BioEM2016, the joint annual meeting of the Bioelectromagnetics Society and the European Bioelectromagnetics Association, prepared by Dr. Dariusz Leszczynski is now available.

Following are some of Dr. Leszczynski's comments regarding key sessions from this conference.

National Toxicology Program (NTP) cellphone radiation-cancer study

"There are numerous misconceptions and misrepresentations of the NTP study and its outcome. However, one thing is certain, this is the best animal study that can be done with the existing technical and financial limitations. Even with the $25 million funding, scientists cannot do all what they would like and need to do, in order to thoroughly address all issues and answer all questions."
" ... the outcome of the NTP study should be considered in the context of all the evidence from the to-date performed epidemiological, animal and in vitro studies. The combination of all the elements suggests that cell phone radiation possibly (or probably) affects human health because
  •  three case-control epidemiological studies (Interphone, Hardell's group, CERENAT) have shown increased risk of developing glioma in avid, long-term users of cell phone (30 min/day for 10+ years)
  • several animal studies have shown increased health risk in exposed or co-exposed animals (e.g. Chou et al., Tillman et al, Lerchl's group, NTP-study).
Lack of the knowledge of the mechanism does not mean that a certain event doesn’t happen. In the context of the recent study by Schmid & Kuster showing that the cell culture experiments were under-exposing cells to radiation, it is probable that the majority of the in vitro studies have shown a weak effect or lack of effects because of this under-exposure. Higher doses, as suggested by Schmid & Kuster, would certainly lead to more robust effects in vitro. Replication of some of the in vitro experiments with higher exposures might bring out some evidence of mechanism(s).
Epidemiological cohort studies, like the Danish Cohort or Million Women study, are of poor quality and cannot be used as a reliable proof of no effect.
We still do not have the definite proof that cell phone radiation causes cancer or increases risk of developing brain cancer. However, combination of the evidence from the case-control and animal studies indicates that the health risk is possible or even probable. The NTP study strengthens the evidence for the 'probable health risk'.
The conclusion of the 'probable health risk' strengthens the call for the implementation of the Precautionary Principle in the use of cell phones. It seems that the human health risk might not only be possible rather probable; in the IARC classification, cell phone radiation could be upgraded from group 2B to group 2A."

New avenues in epidemiology: COSMOS, GERoNiMO, and HERMES

"Finally, there was really not much anything new presented as 'new avenues in epidemiology'."

"COSMOS study, for example, tediously collects data on numbers of performed calls and send messages, but it has no information at all on real radiation exposures. Also, wi-fi is completely excluded. So, how valuable and reliable will be the exposure data collected by COSMOS? I dare to say that it will be of very little real value. Epidemiological studies published with such data will remain unreliable and, most likely, will not show any dose dependency of exposure and health outcome. The reason is "simple" and should be obvious to anyone dealing with dosimetry.

Collecting information on the number of calls and on their length does not provide information on radiation exposure. As in studies done by the Interphone, Hardell's group, CERENAT, Danish Cohort, Million Women project, and by Chapman et al., the COSMOS and GERoNiMO also collect a surrogate of the radiation exposure. None of the epidemiological studies executed to-date collected real radiation exposure data. All of them have collected either bad or very bad surrogates of radiation exposure."

"Exposures of persons using the GSM network are dramatically higher than exposures of persons using the UMTS network. However, which network is used and when? The user does not know this. In modern phones, the switching between networks happens automatically, to keep call of good quality, without the users’ knowledge. So, the users, by reporting just minutes of calls in epidemiological studies, provide useless “surrogate” information on radiation exposure."

Tutorial on safety standards by IEEE-ICES (International Committee on Electromagnetic Safety) in USA

".. all safety standards being developed by IEEE-ICES-TC95 are, in practice, developed by the industry scientists for the use by the industry they are employed by. The industry scientists have the majority on the committee and upper-hand in any process involving democratic voting. To me this is a clear CoI [Conflict of Interest] ... While the IEEE has the excellent expertise in the area of telecom technology, the Conflict of Interest remains an unresolved issue that undermines, in my opinion, reliability of the IEEE safety standards."

Wi-Fi and health – review with unfounded conclusions:

 "Scientists from the ‘EMF Portal’ presented a review of the to-date published studies examining health effects of exposures to wi-fi. Conclusion of the study was that there is no health problem to be concerned about but, at the same time, our knowledge is still very limited. Unfortunately, scientists’ conclusion was not justified by the presented evidence ... This is the real problem: the insufficient research, the poor quality research, and lack of research studies is being interpreted as “evidence” for the lack of health effects. This is wrong."

Some excerpts from the abstract:
Is there evidence of biological effects from WLAN and comparable electromagnetic fields in everyday exposure situations? Systematic review of experimental studies. F. Gollnick, L. Bodewein, D. Graefrath, K. Jagielski, T. Kraus & S. Driessen. Research Center for Bioelectromagnetic Interaction (femu), RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany

“…We reviewed the evidence of experimental studies for biological or health effects by everyday exposure to RF fields of WLAN devices or exposures comparable to such RF fields. From 225 potentially eligible references, 65 relevant studies using exposures below, at, or slightly above the exposure limits were included.

Just over half of those 44 studies of it using exposures below or at the limits showed an effect. The large majority of these 44 studies had medium or strong methodical weaknesses. More detailed evaluations are ongoing. So far no substantial evidence of health implications is derived from the results, but the mostly poor study quality impairs the informative value of the present available scientific database…"

“…Only studies using signals in the 2.4 GHz band remained in the final review, because all of the studies using signals in the 5 GHz band (i.e., 12 of 225 potentially eligible studies) had to be excluded, mostly due to too high power levels. Only three studies on human subjects were identified among the relevant in vivo studies…”

“…Just over half of the 44 studies finally reviewed showed an effect of the real WLAN or comparable to WLAN exposure. Overall, the most affected biological endpoints from a vast variety were oxidative stress, reproductive system functions including sperm quality, and heart rate variability. Most of the studies had medium or strong methodological weaknesses…”

Summarizing our results so far, we do not derive substantial evidence of health implications from it. Nevertheless, the large amount of studies of insufficient quality discovered in this review poses a serious problem in terms of substantial health risk assessment.

Studies on human subjects with exposures to WLAN RF fields or comparable fields are so far very rare."

Closing words

"... there is seen a striking shortage in research on biological effects of EMF executed in human volunteers."

"... Gaps in the knowledge need to be filled before we can make reliable and scientifically valid conclusions concerning EMF and public health. At this point, the debate on EMF and public health is more and more resembling a “shouting competition” where two opinions, neither of them being sufficiently supported by the scientific evidence, are being presented… and the groups presenting these opinions do not even want to speak to each other. The mistrust runs deep, and only good science would be the way to resolve the problematic issues."

Dr. Leszczynski's report about BioEM2016 is available at  His "Between a Rock and a Hard Place" science blog on mobile phone radiation and health is at