Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Effects of Cell Phone Use on Adolescents

On the Clear Evidence of the Risks to Children from Non-Ionizing Radio Frequency Radiation: The Case of Digital Technologies in the Home, Classroom and Society


"The level of proof required to justify action for health protection should be less than that required to constitute causality as a scientific principle” --
Professor Rainer Frentzel-Beyme MD


Abstract

Children’s health and well-being is under significant threat from everyday digital technologies, as the past 15 years have seen the proliferation of microwave non-ionizing radio frequency radiation (RFR) devices and related communication systems in the home, school and society. The safety standards for such devices—smartphones, tablets etc.—and the systems that serve them, were based on the proven thermal effects of microwave radiation in adults, not children. As comprehensive research published between 1969-1976 by the U.S. Naval Medical Research Institute indicates, scientists have long been aware of equally harmful non-thermal effects—e.g. the risks of developing cancers, neurological, neurodegenerative, and other pathophysiological problems. However, physicists and engineers have operated on the theory that non-ionizing RFR could not directly damage human DNA and lead to cancer, as it was far less powerful than ionizing radiation (x-rays, nuclear etc.). That theory has been solidly and roundly refuted, as this paper illustrates. Nevertheless, industry-funded scientists continue to hold that non-thermal effects do not exist.However, thousands of independent research studies have demonstrated that low-intensity RFR elicits a range of pathophysiological conditions in experimental animals and humans. This is why parents, educators and governments should be alarmed, be better informed,and take immediate and appropriate action. This brief research review aims to inform by presenting the findings of scientific research, in a balanced, objective manner, on the risks to children. This information is based on proven scientific theories and clear empirical evidence. The paper concludes by offering practical advice on how the risks to children, and indeed adults, can be minimised.


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Association between estimated whole-brain radiofrequency electromagnetic fields dose and cognitive function in preadolescents and adolescents

Alba Cabré-Riera, Luuk van Wel, Ilaria Liorni, Arno Thielens, Laura Ellen Birks, Livia Pierotti, Wout Joseph, Llúcia González-Safont, Jesús Ibarluzea, Amparo Ferrero, Anke Huss, Joe Wiart, Loreto Santa-Marina, Maties Torrent, Tanja Vrijkotte, Myles Capstick, Roel Vermeulen , Martine Vrijheid, Elisabeth Cardis, Martin Röösli, Mònica Guxens. Association between estimated whole-brain radiofrequency electromagnetic fields dose and cognitive function in preadolescents and adolescents. Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2020 Nov 19;231:113659. doi: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2020.113659.

Abstract

Objective: To investigate the association between estimated whole-brain radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) dose, using an improved integrated RF-EMF exposure model, and cognitive function in preadolescents and adolescents.

Methods: Cross-sectional analysis in preadolescents aged 9-11 years and adolescents aged 17-18 years from the Dutch Amsterdam Born Children and their Development Study (n = 1664 preadolescents) and the Spanish INfancia y Medio Ambiente Project (n = 1288 preadolescents and n = 261 adolescents), two population-based birth cohort studies. Overall whole-brain RF-EMF doses (mJ/kg/day) were estimated for several RF-EMF sources together including mobile and Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications phone calls (named phone calls), other mobile phone uses than calling, tablet use, laptop use (named screen activities), and far-field sources. We also estimated whole-brain RF-EMF doses in these three groups separately (i.e. phone calls, screen activities, and far-field) that lead to different patterns of RF-EMF exposure. We assessed non-verbal intelligence in the Dutch and Spanish preadolescents, information processing speed, attentional function, and cognitive flexibility in the Spanish preadolescents, and working memory and semantic fluency in the Spanish preadolescents and adolescents using validated neurocognitive tests.

Results: Estimated overall whole-brain RF-EMF dose was 90.1 mJ/kg/day (interquartile range (IQR) 42.7; 164.0) in the Dutch and Spanish preadolescents and 105.1 mJ/kg/day (IQR 51.0; 295.7) in the Spanish adolescents. Higher overall estimated whole-brain RF-EMF doses from all RF-EMF sources together and from phone calls were associated with lower non-verbal intelligence score in the Dutch and Spanish preadolescents (-0.10 points, 95% CI -0.19; -0.02 per 100 mJ/kg/day increase in each exposure). However, none of the whole-brain RF-EMF doses was related to any other cognitive function outcome in the Spanish preadolescents or adolescents.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that higher brain exposure to RF-EMF is related to lower non-verbal intelligence but not to other cognitive function outcomes. Given the cross-sectional nature of the study, the small effect sizes, and the unknown biological mechanisms, we cannot discard that our results are due to chance finding or reverse causality. Longitudinal studies on RF-EMF brain exposure and cognitive function are needed.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33221634/

Conclusion

Adolescence is a cognitive demanding stage of life, and one of the most rapid phases of human development. Therefore, it is important to identify factors that could compromise brain development at this stage and permanently impair cognitive abilities. Our results suggest that overall estimated whole-brain RF-EMF dose and specific dose from phone calls were related to lower non-verbal intelligence in preadolescents. However, our findings also indicate that whole-brain RF-EMF doses were not related to information processing speed, attentional function, visual attention, and cognitive flexibility in preadolescents or to working memory and semantic fluency in both preadolescents and adolescents. Given the cross-sectional nature of the study, the small effect sizes, and the unknown biological mechanisms, we cannot discard that our results might be due to chance finding or reverse causality. Our findings open the field to future longitudinal studies to further investigate the association between brain exposure to RF-EMF and cognitive function.

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Estimated whole-brain and lobe-specific radiofrequency electromagnetic fields doses and brain volumes in preadolescents

Alba Cabré-Riera, Hanan El Marroun, Ryan Muetzel, Luuk van Wel, Ilaria Liorni, Arno Thielens, Laura Ellen Birks, Livia Pierotti, Anke Huss, Wout Joseph, Joe Wiart, Myles Capstick, Manon Hillegers, Roel Vermeulen, Elisabeth Cardis, Martine Vrijheid, Tonya White, Martin Röösli, Henning Tiemeier, Mònica Guxens. Estimated whole-brain and lobe-specific radiofrequency electromagnetic fields doses and brain volumes in preadolescents. Environment International. 142, September 2020, 105808. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2020.105808.

Highlights

• We estimated overall and source-specific RF-EMF doses to the brain.
• Estimated overall whole-brain RF-EMF dose was 84.3 mJ/kg/day.
• Overall whole-brain or lobe-specific RF-EMF doses were not related to brain volumes.
• Whole-brain RF-EMF dose from mobile communication devices for screen activities while wirelessly connected to the internet was associated with smaller caudate volume.
• We cannot discard residual confounding, chance finding, or reverse causality.

Abstract

Objective To assess the association between estimated whole-brain and lobe-specific radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) doses, using an improved integrated RF-EMF exposure model, and brain volumes in preadolescents at 9–12 years old.

Methods Cross-sectional analysis in preadolescents aged 9–12 years from the Generation R Study, a population-based birth cohort set up in Rotterdam, The Netherlands (n = 2592). An integrated exposure model was used to estimate whole-brain and lobe-specific RF-EMF doses (mJ/kg/day) from different RF-EMF sources including mobile and Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT) phone calls, other mobile phone uses than calling, tablet use, laptop use, and far-field sources. Whole-brain and lobe-specific RF-EMF doses were estimated for all RF-EMF sources together (i.e. overall) and for three groups of RF-EMF sources that lead to a different pattern of RF-EMF exposure. Information on brain volumes was extracted from magnetic resonance imaging scans.

Results Estimated overall whole-brain RF-EMF dose was 84.3 mJ/kg/day. The highest overall lobe-specific dose was estimated in the temporal lobe (307.1 mJ/kg/day). Whole-brain and lobe-specific RF-EMF doses from all RF-EMF sources together, from mobile and DECT phone calls, and from far-field sources were not associated with global, cortical, or subcortical brain volumes. However, a higher whole-brain RF-EMF dose from mobile phone use for internet browsing, e-mailing, and text messaging, tablet use, and laptop use while wirelessly connected to the internet was associated with a smaller caudate volume.

Conclusions  Our results suggest that estimated whole-brain and lobe-specific RF-EMF doses were not related to brain volumes in preadolescents at 9–12 years old. Screen activities with mobile communication devices while wirelessly connected to the internet lead to low RF-EMF dose to the brain and our observed association may thus rather reflect effects of social or individual factors related to these specific uses of mobile communication devices. However, we cannot discard residual confounding, chance finding, or reverse causality. Further studies on mobile communication devices and their potential negative associations with brain development are warranted, regardless whether associations are due to RF-EMF exposure or to other factors related to their use.


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Delayed sleep in six-year-old children was associated with excessive use of electronic devices at 12 years

Kato T, Yorifuii T, Yamakawa M, Inoue S. National data showed that delayed sleep in six-year-old children was associated with excessive use of electronic devices at 12 years. Acta Paediatr. 2018 Aug;107(8):1439-1448. doi: 10.1111/apa.14255.

Abstract

AIM:  Cross-sectional studies have shown associations between adolescent sleep problems and the use of electronic devices, such as mobile phones, but longitudinal studies remain scarce. We explored any association between delayed bedtimes at six years old and the excessive use of electronic devices at 12 years of age. Texting was a prime focus.

METHODS:  We analysed 9607 adolescents who owned mobile phones in 2013 using the Japanese Longitudinal Survey of Newborns in the 21st Century, which started in 2001. The outcomes were daily excessive use of a mobile phone, television (TV) and video games.

RESULTS:  Delayed bedtime at the age of six years was associated with excessive texting at weekends. The adjusted odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals obtained from logistic regression analyses were 1.88 (1.14-3.10) for the 10-11 pm group and 1.98 (1.08-3.63) for the after 11 pm group, compared with the before 9 pm group. Later bedtimes were also associated with increased risks of excessive TV viewing and video game use.

CONCLUSION: Our study indicated that six-year-olds who regularly stayed up late at night used electronic devices more frequently, or for longer, at the age of 12. Parents need to be more aware of links between sleep issues and electronic devices.


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Long-Term Symptoms of Mobile Phone Use on Mobile Phone Addiction 
and Depression Among Korean Adolescents



Park SY, Yang S, Shin CS, Jang H, Park SY. Long-Term Symptoms of Mobile Phone Use on Mobile Phone Addiction and Depression Among Korean Adolescents. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019 Sep 25;16(19). pii: E3584. doi: 10.3390/ijerph16193584.
Abstract

This study aimed to compare the mean scores of mobile phone use, mobile phone addiction, and depressive symptoms at three-time points among Korean adolescents according to gender and to examine the differences in the long-term relationships among the three above-mentioned variables between Korean boys and girls in a four-year period. Data for 1794 adolescents (897 boys and 897 girls) were obtained from three waves of the second panel of the Korean Children and Youth Panel Survey. Multigroup structural equation modeling was used for data analyses. The study findings showed that at each of the three-time points, Korean girls tended to use their mobile phones more frequently and were at a higher risk of mobile phone addiction and depressive symptoms than Korean boys. Significant changes were observed in the longitudinal relationships among phone use, mobile phone addiction, and depressive symptoms in Korean adolescents across time periods, but no gender differences were found in the strengths of these relationships. These findings contribute to expanding the knowledge base of mobile phone addiction and depressive symptoms among Korean adolescents.


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Short-term longitudinal relationships between smartphone use/dependency 
and psychological well-being among late adolescents

Lapierre MA, Zhao P, Custer BE. Short-term longitudinal relationships between smartphone use/dependency and psychological well-being among late adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health (2019). DOI: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2019.06.001

Abstract

Purpose  The aim of the study was to determine the short-term longitudinal pathways between smartphone use, smartphone dependency, depressive symptoms, and loneliness among late adolescents.

Methods A two-wave longitudinal survey was used using adolescents between the ages of 17 and 20 years. The interval between wave 1 and wave 2 was between 2.5 and 3 months. Using convenience sampling, the total number of participants who completed both waves of data collection was 346. Validated measures assessed smartphone dependency, smartphone use, depressive symptoms, and loneliness. The longitudinal model was tested using path modeling techniques.

Results Among the 346 participants (33.6% male, mean [standard deviation] age at wave 1, 19.11 [.75] years, 56.9% response rate), longitudinal path models revealed that wave 1 smartphone dependency predicted loneliness (β = .08, standard error [SE] = .05, p = .043) and depressive symptoms (β = .11, SE = .05, p = .010) at wave 2, loneliness at wave 1 predicted depressive symptoms at wave 2 (β = .21, SE = .05, p < .001), and smartphone use at wave 1 predicted smartphone dependency at wave 2 (β = .08, SE = .05, p = .011).

Conclusions Considering the rates of smartphone ownership/use among late adolescents (95%), the association between smartphone use and smartphone dependency, and the deleterious effects of loneliness and depression within this population, health practitioners should communicate with patients and parents about the links between smartphone engagement and psychological well-being. 


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Night-time screen-based media device use and adolescents' sleep 
and health-related quality of life

Mireku MO, Barker MM, Mutz J, Dumontheil I, Thomas MSC, Roosli M, Elliott P, Toledano MB. Night-time screen-based media device use and adolescents' sleep and health-related quality of life. Environ Int. 2019 Mar;124:66-78. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2018.11.069

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: The present study investigates the relationship between night-time screen-based media devices (SBMD) use, which refers to use within 1 h before sleep, in both lit and dark rooms, and sleep outcomes and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) among 11 to 12-year-olds.

METHODS: We analysed baseline data from a large cohort of 6616 adolescents from 39 schools in and around London, United Kingdom, participating in the Study of Cognition Adolescents and Mobile Phone (SCAMP). Adolescents self-reported their use of any SBMD (mobile phone, tablet, laptop, television etc.). Sleep variables were derived from self-reported weekday and/or weekend bedtime, sleep onset latency (SOL) and wake time. Sleep quality was assessed using four standardised dimensions from the Swiss Health Survey. HRQoL was estimated using the KIDSCREEN-10 questionnaire.

RESULTS: Over two-thirds (71.5%) of adolescents reported using at least one SBMD at night-time, and about a third (32.2%) reported using mobile phones at night-time in darkness. Night-time mobile phone and television use was associated with higher odds of insufficient sleep duration on weekdays (Odds Ratio, OR = 1.82, 95% Confidence Interval, CI [1.59, 2.07] and OR = 1.40, 95% CI [1.23, 1.60], respectively). Adolescents who used mobile phones in a room with light were more likely to have insufficient sleep (OR = 1.32, 95% CI [1.10, 1.60]) and later sleep midpoint (OR = 1.64, 95% CI [1.37, 1.95]) on weekends compared to non-users. The magnitude of these associations was even stronger for those who used mobile phones in darkness for insufficient sleep duration on weekdays (OR = 2.13, 95% CI [1.79, 2.54]) and for later sleep midpoint on weekdays (OR = 3.88, 95% CI [3.25, 4.62]) compared to non-users. Night-time use of mobile phones was associated with lower HRQoL and use in a dark room was associated with even lower KIDSCREEN-10 score (β = -1.18, 95% CI [-1.85, -0.52]) compared to no use.

CONCLUSIONS: We found consistent associations between night-time SBMD use and poor sleep outcomes and worse HRQoL in adolescents. The magnitude of these associations was stronger when SBMD use occurred in a dark room versus a lit room.


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Prolonged mobile phone use is associated with depressive symptoms in Chinese adolescents

Liu J, Liu C, Wu T, Liu BP, Jia CX, Liu X. Prolonged mobile phone use is associated with depressive symptoms in Chinese adolescents. J Affec Disord. 12(259):128-134. Aug 2019. DOI: 10.1016/j.jad.2019.08.017.

Abstract

Background: Prolonged screen time has negative impacts on health and well-being. This study examined the association between the duration of mobile phone use (DMPU) and depressive symptoms in a large sample of Chinese adolescents.

Methods: 11,831 adolescent students participated in the baseline Shandong Adolescent Behavior and Health Cohort (SABHC) survey in Shandong, China in 2015. A self-administered questionnaire was used to measure DMPU on weekdays and the weekend, sleep, mental health, and family environment. The Centre for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) and Youth Self-Report (YSR) depression scales were used to assess depressive symptoms.

Results: The mean age of participants was 15.0 (SD = 1.5) and 51% were male. The prevalence of depressive symptoms increased with prolonged DMPU. After adjusting for adolescent and family covariates, DMPU ≥ 2 h/day on weekdays (OR = 1.78, 95%CI = 1.48-2.15) and ≥ 5 h/day on the weekend (OR = 1.67, 95%CI = 1.41-1.98) was associated with increased risk of depressive symptoms as assessed by CES-D. The DMPU-depression association was found to be partially mediated by short sleep duration or insomnia. Similar associations were observed for depression as assessed by YSR.

Study Limitation: This is a cross-sectional survey. Mobile phone use and depressive symptoms were measured by self-report.

Conclusions: Prolonged mobile phone use of ≥ 2 hours on weekdays and ≥ 5 hours on the weekend is associated with an increased risk of depressive symptoms. The association appears to be partially mediated by sleep disturbances.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31450134

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Problematic cell phone use, depression, anxiety & self-regulation: 
3-year longitudinal study from adolescence to emerging adulthood

Coyne SM, Stockdale L, Summers K. Problematic cell phone use, depression, anxiety, and self-regulation: Evidence from a three year longitudinal study from adolescence to emerging adulthood. Computers in Human Behavior. 96:78-84. July, 2019.

Highlights

• Problematic cell phone use is stable between adolescence and emerging adulthood.
• Self-regulation and problematic cell phone use are not longitudinally related.
• Early problematic cell phone use is moderately associated with later depression.

Abstract

For a small percentage of cell phone users, cell phone use becomes problematic or addictive, characterized by excessive time spent on the cell phone, interference with social relationships and responsibilities, and difficulty disengaging from cell phones. Researchers have argued that depression, anxiety, and self-regulation may be risk factors or outcomes of problematic cell phone use, but there are few longitudinal studies on problematic cell phone use, making it unclear if these behaviors are predictors or outcomes of problematic cell phone use. The current study examined these factors during late adolescence and the transition to emerging adulthood. Participants included 385 individuals between the ages of 17 and 19 who completed a series of questionnaires once a year over a three year period. Problematic cell phone use, anxiety, depression, and self-regulation were all moderately associated at the cross-sectional level. Early problematic cell phone use predicted later depression when these variables were examined longitudinally, as opposed to the converse. There were no longitudinal associations between problematic cell phone use and anxiety or self-regulation. In sum, problematic cell phone use was fairly stable across the transition from adolescence to emerging adulthood and was associated with depression in the future.


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Social media use and adolescent mental health: Findings From the UK Millennium Cohort Study

Kelly Y, Zilanawala A, Booker C, Sacker A. (2019) Social media use and adolescent mental health: Findings from the UK Millennium Cohort Study. EClinicalMedicine. 10.1016/j.eclinm.2018.12.005. 2019. (In press)

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Evidence suggests social media use is associated with mental health in young people but underlying processes are not well understood. This paper i) assesses whether social media use is associated with adolescents' depressive symptoms, and ii) investigates multiple potential explanatory pathways via online harassment, sleep, self-esteem and body image.

METHODS: We used population based data from the UK Millennium Cohort Study on 10,904 14 year olds. Multivariate regression and path models were used to examine associations between social media use and depressive symptoms.

FINDINGS: The magnitude of association between social media use and depressive symptoms was larger for girls than for boys. Compared with 1–3 h of daily use: 3 to < 5 h 26% increase in scores vs 21%; ≥ 5 h 50% vs 35% for girls and boys respectively. Greater social media use related to online harassment, poor sleep, low self-esteem and poor body image; in turn these related to higher depressive symptom scores. Multiple potential intervening pathways were apparent, for example: greater hours social media use related to body weight dissatisfaction (≥ 5 h 31% more likely to be dissatisfied), which in turn linked to depressive symptom scores directly (body dissatisfaction 15% higher depressive symptom scores) and indirectly via self-esteem.

INTERPRETATION: Our findings highlight the potential pitfalls of lengthy social media use for young people's mental health. Findings are highly relevant for the development of guidelines for the safe use of social media and calls on industry to more tightly regulate hours of social media use.

FUNDING: Economic and Social Research Council.

Excerpt

Among 14-year olds living in the UK, we found an association between social media use and depressive symptoms and that this was stronger for girls than for boys. The magnitude of these associations reduced when potential explanatory factors were taken into account, suggesting that experiences of online harassment, poorer sleep quantity and quality, self-esteem and body image largely explain observed associations. There was no evidence of differences for girls and boys in hypothesised pathways between social media use and depressive symptoms. Findings are based largely on cross sectional data and thus causality cannot be inferred.

Open access paper: http://iris.ucl.ac.uk/iris/publication/1621800/1

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Telecommunication devices use, screen time and sleep in adolescents

Cabre-Riera A, Torrent M, Donaire-Gonzalez D, Vrijheid M, Cardis E, Guxens M. Telecommunication devices use, screen time and sleep in adolescents. 171:341-347. Apr 2019. DOI: 10.1016/j.envres.2018.10.036

Highlights

• Telecommunication and other screen devices use was collected in adolescents
• Both subjective and objective sleep measures were assessed
• Tablet use and mobile phone dependency were associated with poorer sleep
• Frequency of cordless phone calls was associated with poorer sleep
• Public health recommendations on telecommunication devices use should be a priority

Abstract

Purpose To investigate the association between telecommunication and other screen devices and subjective and objective sleep measures in adolescents at 17–18 years.

Methods Cross-sectional study on adolescents aged 17–18 years from a Spanish population-based birth cohort established in Menorca in 1997–1998. Information on devices use was collected using self-reported questionnaires. Mobile Phone Problematic Use Scale was used to assess mobile phone use dependency. Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index was used to assess subjective sleep (n=226). ActiGraph wGT3X-BT for 7 nights was used to assess objective sleep (n=110).

Results One or more cordless phone calls/week was associated with a lower sleep quality [Prevalence Ratio PR 1.30 (95%CI 1.04; 1.62)]. Habitual and frequent problematic mobile phone use was associated with a lower sleep quality [PR 1.55 (95%CI 1.03; 2.33) and PR 1.67 (95%CI 1.09; 2.56), respectively]. Higher tablet use was associated with decreased sleep efficiency and increased minutes of wake time after sleep onset [β −1.15 (95%CI −1.99; −0.31) and β 7.00 (95%CI 2.40; 11.60) per increase of 10 minutes/day of use, respectively]. No associations were found between other devices and sleep measures.

Conclusions Tablet use, mobile phone use dependency, and frequency of cordless phone were related to an increase of subjective and objective sleep problems in adolescents. These results seem to indicate that sleep displacement, mental arousal, and exposure to blue light emission might play a more important role on sleep than a high RF-EMF exposure to the brain. However, more studies are needed assessing personal RF-EMF levels to draw conclusions.
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Cohort study of adolescents' memory performance & brain dose of microwave radiation from wireless EMF

Foerster M., Thielens A., Joseph W., Eeftens M., Röösli M. A prospective cohort study of adolescents' memory performance and individual brain dose of microwave radiation from wireless communication. Environmental Health Perspectives.126(7):077007. 2018. DOI: 10.1289/EHP2427.


Abstract

BACKGROUND: The potential impact of microwave radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) emitted by wireless communication devices on neurocognitive functions of adolescents is controversial. In a previous analysis, we found changes in figural memory scores associated with a higher cumulative RF-EMF brain dose in adolescents.

OBJECTIVE: We aimed to follow-up our previous results using a new study population, dose estimation, and approach to controlling for confounding from media usage itself.

METHODS: RF-EMF brain dose for each participant was modeled. Multivariable linear regression models were fitted on verbal and figural memory score changes over 1 y and on estimated cumulative brain dose and RF-EMF related and unrelated media usage (n=669–676). Because of the hemispheric lateralization of memory, we conducted a laterality analysis for phone call ear preference. To control for the confounding of media use behaviors, a stratified analysis for different media usage groups was also conducted.

RESULTS: We found decreased figural memory scores in association with an interquartile range (IQR) increase in estimated cumulative RF-EMF brain dose scores: −0:22 (95% CI: −0:47, 0.03; IQR: 953 mJ=kg per day) in the whole sample, −0:39 (95% CI: −0:67, −0:10; IQR: 953 mJ=kg per day) in right-side users (n=532), and −0:26 (95% CI: −0:42, −0:10; IQR: 341 mJ=kg per day) when recorded network operator data were used for RF-EMF dose estimation (n=274). Media usage unrelated to RF-EMF did not show significant associations or consistent patterns, with the exception of consistent (nonsignificant) positive associations between data traffic duration and verbal memory.

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings for a cohort of Swiss adolescents require confirmation in other populations but suggest a potential adverse effect of of RF-EMF brain dose on cognitive functions that involve brain regions mostly exposed during mobile phone use. 

Conclusion

We found preliminary evidence suggesting that RF-EMF may affect brain functions such as figural memory in regions that are most exposed during mobile phone use. Our findings do not provide conclusive evidence of causal effects and should be interpreted with caution until confirmed in other populations. Associations with media use parameters with low RF-EMF exposures did not provide clear or consistent support of effects of media use unrelated to RF-EMF (with the possible exception of consistent positive associations between verbal memory and data traffic duration). It is not yet clear which brain processes could be potentially affected and what biophysical mechanism may play a role. Potential long-term risk can be minimized by avoiding high brain-exposure situations as occurs when using a mobile phone with maximum power close to the ear because of, for example, bad network quality.

Note: The original study appears below (Schoeni et al., 2015).

Open access paper: https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/EHP2427/

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Decreases in sleep duration among U.S. adolescents 2009-2015 & association with new media screen time

Twenge JM, Krizan Z, Hisler G. Decreases in self-reported sleep duration among U.S. adolescents 2009-2015 and association with new media screen time. Sleep Med. 2017 Nov;39:47-53. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2017.08.013.

Highlights

• More adolescents in 2015 (vs. 2009) slept less than 7 h a night on most nights.
• Electronic device and social media use also increased in 2009–2015.
• Electronic device and social media use increases the odds of short sleep duration. 
• Smartphones may be the cause of the increase in self-reported short sleep duration.

Abstract



STUDY OBJECTIVES: Insufficient sleep among adolescents carries significant health risks, making it important to determine social factors that change sleep duration. We sought to determine whether the self-reported sleep duration of U.S. adolescents changed between 2009 and 2015 and examine whether new media screen time (relative to other factors) might be responsible for changes in sleep.

METHODS:We drew from yearly, nationally representative surveys of sleep duration and time use among adolescents conducted since 1991 (Monitoring the Future) and 2007 (Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System of the Centers for Disease Control; total N = 369,595).

RESULTS: Compared to 2009, adolescents in 2015 were 16%-17% more likely to report sleeping less than 7 h a night on most nights, with an increase in short sleep duration after 2011-2013. New media screen time (electronic device use, social media, and reading news online) increased over this time period and was associated with increased odds of short sleep duration, with a clear exposure-response relationship for electronic devices after 2 or more hours of use per day. Other activities associated with short sleep duration, such as homework time, working for pay, and TV watching, were relatively stable or reduced over this time period, making it unlikely that these activities caused the sudden increase in short sleep duration.

CONCLUSIONS: Increased new media screen time may be involved in the recent increases (from 35% to 41% and from 37% to 43%) in short sleep among adolescents. Public health interventions should consider electronic device use as a target of intervention to improve adolescent health.


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The effects of EMF on the endocrine system in children and adolescents

Sangün Ö, Dündar B, Çömlekçi S, Büyükgebiz A. The effects of electromagnetic field on the endocrine system in children and adolescents. Pediatr Endocrinol Rev. 2015 Dec;13(2):531-45.

Abstract


Children are exposed to various kind of non-ionizing radiation in their daily life involuntarily. The potential sensitivity of developing organism to the effects of radiofrequency (RF) signals, the higher estimated specific absorption rate (SAR) values of children and greater lifetime cumulative risk raised the scientific interest for children's vulnerability to electromagnetic fields (EMFs). In modern societies, children are being exposed to EMFs in very early ages. There are many researches in scientific literature investigating the alterations of biological parameters in living organisms after EMFs. Although the international guidelines did not report definite, convincing data about the causality, there are unignorable amount of studies indicating the increased risk of cancer, hematologic effects and cognitive impairment. Although they are less in amount; growing number of studies reveal the impacts on metabolism and endocrine function. Reproductive system and growth look like the most challenging fields. However there are also some concerns on detrimental effects of EMFs on thyroid functions, adrenal hormones, glucose homeostasis and melatonin levels. It is not easy to conduct a study investigating the effects of EMFs on a fetus or child due to ethical issues. Hence, the studies are usually performed on virtual models or animals. Although the results are conflicting and cannot be totally matched with humans; there is growing evidence to distress us about the threats of EMF on children.

http://1.usa.gov/1QhY253


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Does exposure to environmental RF EMF cause cognitive & behavioral effects in 10-year-old boys?

Calvente, I., Pérez-Lobato, R., Núñez, M.-I., Ramos, R., Guxens, M., Villalba, J., Olea, N. and Fernández, M. F. (2016), Does exposure to environmental radiofrequency electromagnetic fields cause cognitive and behavioral effects in 10-year-old boys?. Bioelectromagnetics, 37: 25–36. doi: 10.1002/bem.21951.

Abstract


The relationship between exposure to electromagnetic fields from non-ionizing radiation and adverse human health effects remains controversial. We aimed to explore the association of environmental radiofrequency-electromagnetic fields (RF-EMFs) exposure with neurobehavioral function of children.

A subsample of 123 boys belonging to the Environment and Childhood cohort from Granada (Spain), recruited at birth from 2000 through 2002, were evaluated at the age of 9–11 years. Spot electric field measurements within the 100 kHz to 6 GHz frequency range, expressed as both root mean-square (S
RMS) and maximum power density (SMAX) magnitudes, were performed in the immediate surrounds of children's dwellings. Neurocognitive and behavioral functions were assessed with a comprehensive battery of tests. Multivariate linear and logistic regression models were used, adjusting for potential confounders.

All measurements were lower than reference guideline limits, with median S
RMS and SMAX values of 285.94 and 2759.68 μW/m2, respectively. Most of the cognitive and behavioral parameters did not show any effect, but children living in higher RF exposure areas (above median SRMS levels) had lower scores for verbal expression/ comprehension and higher scores for internalizing and total problems, and obsessive-compulsive and post-traumatic stress disorders, in comparison to those living in areas with lower exposure. These associations were stronger when SMAX values were considered.

Although some of our results may suggest that low-level environmental RF-EMF exposure has a negative impact on cognitive and/or behavior development in children; given limitations in the study design and that the majority of neurobehavioral functioning tasks were not affected, definitive conclusions cannot be drawn.


http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/bem.21951/abstract

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November 19, 2015

Two recently published studies on adolescents report harmful effects of mobile phone use. A cross-sectional study found that adolescents who were awakened by a mobile phone at least once a month during the night were more likely to report tiredness, rapid exhaustibility, headache and physical ill-being. A prospective cohort study found that greater wireless radiation exposure predicted lower memory test performance.

Symptoms & cognitive functions in adolescents in relation to mobile phone use

Schoeni A, Roser K, Röösli M. Symptoms and cognitive functions in adolescents in relation to mobile phone use during night. PLoS One. 2015 Jul 29;10(7):e0133528. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0133528.

Abstract

Many adolescents tend to leave their mobile phones turned on during night, accepting that they may be awakened by an incoming text message or call. Using self-reported and objective operator recorded mobile phone use data, we thus aimed to analyze how being awakened during night by mobile phone affects adolescents' perceived health and cognitive functions.

In this cross-sectional study, 439 adolescents completed questionnaires about their mobile phone use during night, health related quality of life and possible confounding factors. Standardized computerized cognitive tests were performed to assess memory and concentration capacity. Objective operator recorded mobile phone use data was further collected for 233 study participants. Data were analyzed by multivariable regression models adjusted for relevant confounders including amount of mobile phone use.

For adolescents reporting to be awakened by a mobile phone during night at least once a month the odds ratio for daytime tiredness and rapid exhaustibility were 1.86 (95% CI: 1.02-3.39) and 2.28 (95% CI: 0.97-5.34), respectively. Similar results were found when analyzing objective operator recorded mobile phone use data (tiredness: 1.63, 95% CI: 0.94-2.82 and rapid exhaustibility: 2.32, 95% CI: 1.01-5.36). The cognitive tests on memory and concentration capacity were not related to mobile phone use during night. Overall, being awakened during night by mobile phone was associated with an increase in health symptom reports such as tiredness, rapid exhaustibility, headache and physical ill-being, but not with memory and concentration capacity.

Prevention strategies should focus on helping adolescents set limits for their accessibility by mobile phone, especially during night.

Conclusion

Among Swiss adolescents, we have observed that nocturnal mobile phone use was associated with an increase in health symptom reports such as tiredness, rapid exhaustibility, headache and physical ill-being, but not with memory and concentration capacity. More studies to investigate these associations are necessary and education in sleep behaviour may be inevitable since the mobile phone is now the most familiar lifestyle factor for adolescents.

Public Health prevention strategies should focus on helping adolescents set limits for their accessibility by mobile phone, especially during night.

Open Access Paper: http://1.usa.gov/1NeP2lJ

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Memory performance, wireless communication & RF EMF exposure: Prospective cohort study in adolescents

Schoeni A, Roser K, Röösli M. Memory performance, wireless communication and exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields: A prospective cohort study in adolescents. Environ Int. 2015 Oct 13;85:343-351. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2015.09.025.

Highlights

• This is a prospective cohort study with approx. one year of follow-up.
• Self-reported and operator recorded mobile phone use data were collected.
• The cumulative RF-EMF dose for the brain and for the whole body was calculated.
• Associations were stronger for RF-EMF dose than for use of wireless devices.
• RF-EMF exposure might impair memory performance in adolescents.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: The aim of this study is to investigate whether memory performance in adolescents is affected by radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) from wireless device use or by the wireless device use itself due to non-radiation related factors in that context.

METHODS: We conducted a prospective cohort study with 439 adolescents. Verbal and figural memory tasks at baseline and after one year were completed using a standardized, computerized cognitive test battery. Use of wireless devices was inquired by questionnaire and operator recorded mobile phone use data was obtained for a subgroup of 234 adolescents. RF-EMF dose measures considering various factors affecting RF-EMF exposure were computed for the brain and the whole body. Data were analysed using a longitudinal approach, to investigate whether cumulative exposure over one year was related to changes in memory performance. All analyses were adjusted for relevant confounders.

RESULTS: The kappa coefficients between cumulative mobile phone call duration and RF-EMF brain and whole body dose were 0.62 and 0.67, respectively for the whole sample and 0.48 and 0.28, respectively for the sample with operator data. In linear exposure-response models an interquartile increase in cumulative operator recorded mobile phone call duration was associated with a decrease in figural memory performance score by -0.15 (95% CI: -0.33, 0.03) units. For cumulative RF-EMF brain and whole body dose corresponding decreases in figural memory scores were -0.26 (95% CI: -0.42, -0.10) and -0.40 (95% CI: -0.79, -0.01), respectively. No exposure-response associations were observed for sending text messages and duration of gaming, which produces tiny RF-EMF emissions.

CONCLUSIONS: A change in memory performance over one year was negatively associated with cumulative duration of wireless phone use and more strongly with RF-EMF dose. This may indicate that RF-EMF exposure affects memory performance.

http://1.usa.gov/1M6BCHW


Excerpts

... From a public health point of view potential effects of chronic exposure are more relevant, which needs to be investigated with epidemiological studies. So far there has only been one community-based epidemiological study investigating effects of mobile phone use on adolescents' memory. Abramson et al. (2009) showed in a cross-sectional analysis of 317 seventh grade students from Australia that mobile phone use was associated with faster and less accurate response on a number of tasks involving the memory. Since similar associations were found in relation to the number of SMS (short text messages), which produces negligible RF-EMF exposure, they speculated that these behaviours may have been learned through the frequent use of a mobile phone and may not be the consequence of mobile phone radiation. In a follow-up investigation one year later, in 236 of these students, an increase in mobile phone use was associated with a reduction in response time in one out of three tests involving the memory (Thomas et al., 2010). This study relied on self-reported mobile phone use only, which has been shown to be inaccurate. Adolescents tend to substantially overestimate their amount of mobile phone use (Aydin et al., 2011; Inyang et al., 2009).

Regular mobile phone use may affect adolescents in various ways. Thus, the main challenge for research consists in differentiating between RF-EMF radiation effects and other non-RF-EMF related effects from mobile phone use. For instance, frequent texting or gaming on a mobile phone may facilitate cognitive processes (Abramson et al., 2009). It was also observed, that calling and sending texts during night was associated with poor perceived health symptoms such as tiredness, rapid exhaustibility, headache and physical ill-being (Schoeni et al., 2015; Van den Bulck, 2007). Other studies showed that frequent mobile phone use was associated with anxiety (Jenaro et al., 2007), unhealthy lifestyle (Ezoe et al., 2009), depression (Yen et al., 2009) and psychological distress (Beranuy et al., 2009). Thus, to address RF-EMF effects of wireless communication devices, the development of a RF-EMF dose measure, which incorporates all exposure relevant factors, is inevitable.


Memory performance was assessed with a standardized, computerized cognitive test battery (IST, Intelligenz-Struktur-Test 2000R (Liepmann et al., 2006)). Verbal and figural memory was measured with the subtest of the IST. In the verbal memory task, word groups have to be memorized in one minute time. After 1 min the study participants give an account of the word groups that have been memorized. In total 10 points can be achieved by remembering the correct word groups. In the figural memory task, pairwise symbols have to be memorized in one minute time. After 1 min one part of the pairwise symbols is shown and the matching part has to be found. A total of 13 points can be achieved. For both the verbal and figural tests, 2 min is given to complete the test. Memory performance is considered as the right number of remembered word groups or symbols, respectively. For the statistical analyses of verbal and figural memory the continuous test score values
were used as outcome. Every test was conducted once at baseline and once at follow-up investigation.

In this study we considered objectively recorded data on mobile phone use collected from the Swiss mobile phone operators as well as self-reported data on wireless communication devices usage obtained from a written questionnaire referring to the 6 months period prior to each examination. In terms of RF-EMF related exposure measures we inquired about call duration with own or any other mobile phone (referred to as duration mobile phone calls), call duration with cordless (fixed line) phone and duration of data traffic on the mobile phone, e. g. for surfing and streaming. The duration of gaming on computers and TV and number of all kind of text messages (SMS, WhatsApp etc.) are not, or only marginally relevant for RF-EMF exposure and were thus inquired to be used as negative exposure control variables in the analyses.

Informed consent to obtain objectively recorded mobile phone use data from the mobile phone operators was given by 234 out of 439 study participants and their parents. This included duration of each call and on which network (GSM or UMTS) it started, number of SMS (text messages) sent per day and amount of volume of data traffic (MB/day). Data were obtained for up to 18 months, 6 months before baseline until follow-up investigation.

A particular strength of this study is the longitudinal design. To the best of our knowledge this is the first longitudinal study on memory performance in adolescents using not only mobile phone call duration as an exposure proxy, but calculating RF-EMF dose measures derived from objectively recorded operator data and propagation modelling. Compared to a cross-sectional design where changes over time cannot be assessed andwhere reverse causality is of concern, longitudinal studies allow for more robust conclusions.

.. Most relevant contributors for the brain dose are calls on the GSM network (on average 93.3% for the whole sample based on self-reported data and 58.7% for the sample with operator data using operator recorded information) followed by calls with the cordless phones (4.2% and 21.0%, respectively). For the whole body dose, calls on the GSM network (on average 66.9% for the whole sample and 19.5% for the sample with operator data), the use of computer/laptop/tablet connected to WLAN (12.0% and 29.1%, respectively) and data traffic on mobile phones over WLAN (8.1% and 22.3%, respectively) counted for the most part. Less important for the dose measures were exposure from radio and TV broadcast transmitters (brain dose: 0.1% and 0.4%, respectively; whole body dose: 0.3% and 0.9%, respectively) and mobile phone base stations (brain dose: 0.6% and 3.5%, respectively; whole body dose: 2.0% and 4.8%, respectively).

... media usage measures which are not, or only marginally associated with RF-EMF were not associated with figural memory performance (e.g. sending text messages, playing games, and duration/volume of data traffic on the mobile phone). On the other hand, mobile and cordless phone use,which involves RF-EMF exposure, tended to be negatively correlated, although not statistically significant, whereas the dose measures were significantly correlated in many models. The relative high correlation between dose measures and self-reported and objectively recorded mobile phone call duration respectively, limits the possibility to disentangle effects due to RF-EMF exposure or due to other factors associated with mobile phone use.

Since we found stronger associations between RF-EMF doses and figural memory but not verbal memory, one could speculate that this might be due to different brain areas involved in the verbal and figural memory tasks. The type of information being processed determines the brain activity during encoding and retrieval and as a consequence brain activity patterns during figural memory tasks differ fromthose observed during verbal memory tasks. During figural memory processes, encoding elicits bilateral prefrontal activity and retrieval increases the activity in bilateral or right-sided temporal regions and in bilateral prefrontal regions (Beason-Held et al., 2005; Roland and Gulyas, 1995; Wagner et al., 1998). During verbal encoding increases in prefrontal and temporal brain activity in the left hemisphere can be seen (Heun et al., 2000; Iidaka et al., 2000; Reber et al., 2002; Strandberg et al 2011) and during verbal retrieval the activity in bilateral or rightsided prefrontal regions, bilateral or left-sided temporal regions and the anterior cingulate are increased (Beason-Held et al., 2005; Buckner et al., 1998; Cabeza et al., 1997). Stronger overall effects observed for figural memory processes predominantly involving the right hemisphere compared to the verbal memory tasks mostly involving the left hemisphere is compatible with the fact that 81.2% of the study participants reported at follow-up to mainly use mobile phones on the right side but only 18.8% on the left side or with no laterality preference. Strikingly, our laterality analyses indicated indeed stronger associations for right side users for the figural memory task whereas the reverse pattern was seen for the verbal task. However, the sample size of the laterality analysis was small for the subgroup with left side or no side preference for mobile phone use (n= 80).

We considered a number of potential confounders and adjusted model estimates were relatively similar to the crude model estimates, which indicates that confounding seems not to have a substantial impact on the results. Nevertheless, we cannot exclude that we have missed a relevant confounder ....

Conclusion

The observed striking pattern with more consistent associations for RF-EMF dose measures compared to usage measures and no indications of associations for negative control exposure variables may indicate that RF-EMF exposure affects the figural memory of adolescents. However, given the complex correlation structure for various exposure measures and the uncertainty in the RF-EMF dose calculation, the observed associations need to be interpreted with caution.

Friday, November 20, 2020

5G and Health (Netherlands Health Council)


This report prepared for the President of the House of Representatives of the Netherlands by the Health Council of the Netherlands was written by the committee on electromagnetic fields. The committee is composed of university and government scientists and consulting experts.

Eric van Rongen, one of the two Scientific Secretaries for the Health Council of the Netherlands, is the former Chair and current Vice Chair of the ICNIRP. It is unclear if he had any role in preparing this report.

The Health Council made four recommendations based upon the committee's review of the scientific literature:

 (1) ... "exposure should be monitored before, during and after the rollout of the 5G systems." 

 (2) "The committee recommends doing more research" especially on 5G frequencies. The committee is concerned about potential health effects from long-term exposure of individuals to multiple radio frequencies.

 (3) The committee is especially concerned about the potential health risks from long-term exposure to millimeter waves. "The committee recommends not to use the 26 GHz frequency band for 5G for as long as the potential health risks have not been investigated." 

 (4) Although the committee recommends adhering to the latest ICNIRP exposure guidelines, "the committee recommends to take a cautious approach and keep exposures as low as reasonably achievable" (ALARA). 

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Committee of the Health Council of the Netherlands. 5G and health. Health Council of the Netherlands. 2020, Advisory report 2020/16e: 1-33.
"Executive Summary 

The latest standard for mobile telecommunications (5G) is faster and more reliable and can process more data at the same time. 5G was developed to cope with the increasing demand for mobile telecommunications and to make new applications possible such as self-driving cars and remote surgery. The advent of 5G networks is, however, resulting in societal concerns about the potential influence of 5G on health. That is why the House of Representatives of the Dutch parliament has asked the Health Council of the Netherlands to analyse what is known about this from a scientific perspective. The Council’s Standing Committee on Electromagnetic Fields has looked into this issue. 

Effects of 5G frequencies on health not yet fully examined 

To a certain extent, 5G uses the same frequencies as previous generations of mobile telecommunication such as 3G and 4G. In addition, it will use new frequency bands. The rollout of 5G networks has only just begun. Therefore, there are no studies as yet into the health effects of (long-term) exposure to electromagnetic fields with the frequencies that are reserved for 5G. However, applications have been examined that use frequencies very close to the new 5G frequencies. These include 2G, 3G and 4G, as well as Wi-Fi and radar. 

No actual health risks known 

This report is a first step in the analysis of possible health effects of 5G frequencies. As yet, the committee is unable to answer the question of whether exposure to 5G frequencies actually poses risks to human health. There are two reasons for that. The first is that such a statement requires knowledge of the level of exposure that can cause health damage to humans. That requires a more detailed analysis of the scientific data than the committee was able to carry out. The World Health Organization (WHO) is currently performing such an analysis and it is anticipated that it will be completed in 2022. Secondly, it requires knowledge of what the actual exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields will be after the introduction of 5G. That is not yet known, because the use of 5G, as stated earlier, has only partially started. 

Relations between 5G frequencies and health damage not demonstrated but cannot be excluded for a number of conditions 

Therefore, the committee has investigated whether there are indications that electromagnetic fields with the frequencies of 5G have the potential to harm health. It has reviewed whether relations are known between exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields on the one hand and the occurrence of diseases and conditions on the other. According to the committee, it cannot be excluded that the incidence of cancer, reduced male fertility, poor pregnancy outcomes and birth defects could be associated with exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields. However, the committee deems the relation between exposure and these and other diseases or conditions neither proven nor probable. 

The committee has also examined the possible relation between exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields and changes in biological processes. It is probable that changes in electrical activity in the brain are associated with exposure, but it is not known whether that is favourable or unfavourable in health terms. For the majority of other biological processes it has neither been demonstrated nor is it probable that changes in them are associated with exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields, although this cannot be excluded. Only for changes in the immune system and hormone levels, no relation was found. There has been almost no research into the effects of exposure to frequencies around 26 GHz. 

The committee’s recommendations 

The committee has made four recommendations to Parliament. 

 1. Because the lower frequency bands for 5G (up to 3.5 GHz) have already been used for telecommunications applications and Wi-Fi for years without resulting in any proven adverse health effects, the committee sees no reason to stop or restrict the use of these frequency bands. It does however recommend that the exposure should be monitored before, during and after the rollout of the 5G systems. This will show to what extent exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields changes as a result of the introduction of 5G and any long-term health risks can then be estimated better. The WHO analysis can also be used in estimating the risks. 

 2. The committee recommends doing more research: 

 • epidemiological research into the relation between exposure to the 5G frequencies used and the incidence of cancer, reduced male fertility, poor pregnancy outcomes and birth defects. An ongoing international study into the use of mobile telephones, in which the Netherlands is participating, can play a role in this.

 • experimental research into the health effects of exposure to electromagnetic fields in the 26 GHz frequency band. 

 • scenario studies to get a picture of the exposure of individuals as a result of wireless communications systems (3G, 4G and 5G). 

 3. The committee recommends not to use the 26 GHz frequency band for 5G for as long as the potential health risks have not been investigated.

 4. Finally, the committee recommends using the latest guidelines from the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) as the basis for exposure policy in the Netherlands. Because it cannot be excluded that exposure under the latest ICNIRP standards also has the potential to affect health, the committee recommends to take a cautious approach and keep exposures as low as reasonably achievable."
The report can be downloaded at: 

Sunday, November 1, 2020

ICNIRP’s Exposure Guidelines for Radio Frequency Fields


Health risks from radiofrequency radiation, including 5G, should be assessed by experts with no conflicts of interest

Lennart Hardell, Michael Carlberg, Health risks from radiofrequency radiation, including 5G, should be assessed by experts with no conflicts of interest. Oncol Lett. 2020 Oct;20(4):15. doi: 10.3892/ol.2020.11876.

Abstract

The fifth generation, 5G, of radiofrequency (RF) radiation is about to be implemented globally without investigating the risks to human health and the environment. This has created debate among concerned individuals in numerous countries. In an appeal to the European Union (EU) in September 2017, currently endorsed by >390 scientists and medical doctors, a moratorium on 5G deployment was requested until proper scientific evaluation of potential negative consequences has been conducted. This request has not been acknowledged by the EU. The evaluation of RF radiation health risks from 5G technology is ignored in a report by a government expert group in Switzerland and a recent publication from The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection. Conflicts of interest and ties to the industry seem to have contributed to the biased reports. The lack of proper unbiased risk evaluation of the 5G technology places populations at risk. Furthermore, there seems to be a cartel of individuals monopolizing evaluation committees, thus reinforcing the no-risk paradigm. We believe that this activity should qualify as scientific misconduct.


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The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection: Conflicts of interest, corporate capture and the push for 5G
June 2020


This 98 page report was commissioned, coordinated and published by two Members of the European Parliament – Michèle Rivasi and Klaus Buchner. The report was written by Hans van Scharen with editing by Erik Lamberand additional research support from Tomas Vanheste. 

The Greens/EfA group in the European Parliament financed the preparation of this report.

Excerpts

This report deals with an issue of which the importance cannot be overrated: the possible health effects of Radiofrequency Radiation (RfR) or electro magnetic fields (EMF). It deals more specifically with how the scientific debate has been hijacked by corporate interests from the Telecom industry.

“The findings of this report (‘The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection: Conflicts of interest and the push for 5G’) give us an uncomfortable déjà-vu: many facts and processes that lead to the actual situation whereby European authorities – from the European Commission to most of the member states – simply close their eyes for real scientific facts and early warnings. We have seen exactly the same scenario in the debate on Tobacco, asbestos, climate change and pesticides.

Also in its latest guidelines from March this year, ICNIRP assures the world that there is no scientific evidence of adverse health effects from the radiation that comes with the new communication technologies, within the limits it proposes. But at the same time a growing number of scientists and also citizens are worried that EMFs do cause health problems. ICNIRP pretends to be scientifically neutral, and free from vested interests of the Telecom industry. We show with this study that this is ‘playing with the truth’ or simply a lie.”

In the debate on EMF and possible health effects, terms like ‘corporate capture’ of scientific research and war game science’ are often used, and references to the tactics of the tobacco industry are often made. According to several authors, these tactics also influence organisations like ICNIRP and WHO’s International EMF Project….”

“This appears to be a global issue. US researcher, Norm Alster, in his report ‘Captured Agency’ describes what this kind of corporate capture can lead to by referring to the workings of the FCC (Federal Communications Commission), which is the main official US institution that deals with Telecom issues, and is sometimes mentioned in critiques of ICNIRP: “That is a term that comes up time and time again with the FCC. Captured agencies are essentially controlled by the industries they are supposed to regulate. A detailed look at FCC actions—and non-actions—shows that over the years the FCC has granted the wireless industry pretty much what it has wanted”.

“As a result, consumer safety, health, and privacy, along with consumer wallets, have all been overlooked, sacrificed, or raided due to unchecked industry influence. (…) Most insidious of all, the wireless industry has been allowed to grow unchecked and virtually unregulated, with fundamental questions on public health impact routinely ignored. (…) Industry control, in the case of wireless health issues, extends beyond Congress and regulators to basic scientific research. And in an obvious echo of the hardball tactics of the tobacco industry, the wireless industry has backed up its economic and political power by stonewalling on public relations and bullying potential threats into submission with its huge standing army of lawyers. (…) Industry behaviour also includes self-serving public relations and hyper aggressive legal action. It can also involve undermining the credibility of, and cutting off funding for, researchers who do not endorse cellular safety. It is these hardball tactics that recall 20th century Big Tobacco tactics.”

Conclusion

“ICNIRP presents itself, and is described by the European Commission and in the media, as an independent international commission that gives advice based on scientific evidence. We believe that there are various reasons to question this (self)-image.

The composition of ICNIRP is very one sided. With only one medically qualified person (but not an expert in wireless radiation) out of a total of 14 scientists in the ICNIRP Commission and also a small minority of members with medical qualifications in the Scientific Expert Group, we can safely say that ICNIRP has been, and is still, dominated by physical scientists. This may not be the wisest composition when your remit is to offer advice on human health and safety to governments around the world.

As one can read in the 45 portraits of the members of the ICNIRP commission and of the Scientific Expert Group (SEG), they all share the same position on the safety issues: non-ionising radiation poses no health threats and the only effects it has are thermal. ICNIRP says "non-ionising radiation poses no health threats if it does not heat the tissue by more than 1 °C", by which it admits that there are possible health effects, but only if exposure levels to strong radiation are too high”.

Over the past years, and on many platforms, various EMF-experts have stated that ICNIRP is wrong to continue dismissing certain scientific studies showing adverse health effects – like the American NTP-study - and is mistaken in its almost dogmatic conviction that “non-ionising radiation poses no health threats and the only possible health effects it has are thermal in case of strong radiation”.

Even after much criticism from members of the global scientific community, ICNIRP still adheres to the paradigm that the only proven effects (on health) are thermal. “ICNIRP appears to take into account only the warming of tissue and uncontrolled muscle contractions, although they claim in the most recent advice, that they also evaluated other mechanisms”, writes Dutch Professor Hans Kromhout, who is currently leading a long-term study (in the Netherlands) into the effects of mobile phone use on human health, and who is chairman of a special committee on Electromagnetic Fields of the leading Dutch Health Council, which advises the Dutch government.

It seems that “a closed circle of like-minded scientists” has turned ICNIRP into a self-indulgent science club, with a lack of bio-medical expertise, as well as a lack of scientific expertise in specific risk assessments. Thereby, creating a situation which might easily lead to “tunnel-vision” in the organisation’s scope. Two leading experts, Hans Kromhout and Chris Portier, confirmed to us that ICNIRP is a closed, non-accountable and one-sided organisation.

As many scientists and critical observers have pointed out, it seems that ICNIRP members are either oblivious to, or are ignoring, scientific studies that find possible adverse health effects in the absence of heating. Even though some ICNIRP-members have themselves acknowledged that industry-funded scientific research tends to produce less findings showing adverse health effects of EMF, whereas publicly funded studies – like the NTP-study – do find significant links between EMF and adverse health effects, this does not seem to influence one iota the views of ICNIRP-members.

The majority of ICNIRP-scientists have done, or are doing, research partly funded by industry. Is this important? As we argue in the introduction, we believe it is. Scientific publications, co-authored by two ICNIRP-scientists – Anke Huss and Martin Röösli, confirm the importance of funding. In 2006 and 2009 they did a systematic review of the effects of the source of funding in experimental studies of mobile phone use on health, and their conclusion was that, industry-sponsored studies were least likely to report results suggesting (adverse health) effects”. And theirs is not the only study that showed this, as there have been numerous studies of the differences in reporting from industry-funded research versus publicly-funded research that suggest a strong funding bias on the results.

In addition to the fact that certain members of ICNIRP, are simultaneously members of the International Committee on Electromagnetic Safety (ICES) of the US-registered Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), we have seen further evidence of a close cooperation between ICNIRP and ICES, an organisation in which many people from the media and telecom industries, as well as from the military, are actively and structurally involved. During the current leadership of ICNIRP, these ties have become even closer “with the goal of setting internationally harmonized safety limits for exposure to electromagnetic fields”. This must surely be considered as a situation in which conflicts of interest are a real possibility.

It is clear from ICES minutes that ICNIRP worked very closely with IEEE/ICES on the creation of the new RF safety guidelines that were published in March 2020. And this implies that large telecom-companies such as Motorola and others, as well as US military, had a direct influence on the ICNIRP guidelines, which are still the basis for EU-policies in this domain ….

Despite ICNIRP positioning itself, during the last 25 years, as the sole purveyor of scientific truth when it comes to possible relation between EMF and adverse health effects, it would not be right to hold this scientific NGO solely accountable if, one day, it were to become undisputed that EMF do cause health problems. National governments, as well as the European Commission, which is, after all, the ‘Guardian of the Treaty’, have a duty of care and protection of their citizens, and therefore should also take the legally binding ‘precautionary principle’ into account.

We think that the call for more independent scientific assessment in this area is, for all the arguments mentioned above and in what follows, fully justified.

That is the most important conclusion of this report: for really independent scientific advice we cannot rely on ICNIRP. The European Commission and national governments, from countries like Germany, should stop funding ICNIRP. It is high time that the European Commission creates a new, public and fully independent advisory council on non-ionizing radiation. The funds currently allocated to ICNIRP could be used to set up this new organisation. And given the overall rise in R&D funding via Horizon Europe, with a foreseen budget (for 2021-2027) of between 75 and 100 billion euros, funding should in no way constitute an insurmountable hurdle to setting up this new, truly independent, body.”

Open Access Report: https://bit.ly/icnirpCOIreport

P.S. Dr. Christopher Portier, while the Director of the CDC National Center for Environmental Health, represented the U.S. government on the expert working group convened in 2011 by the International Agency for Research on Cancer of the World Health Organization to review the carcinogenic classification of radio frequency radiation. 

See also: 

5G : l’impartialité du comité qui guide l’Europe pour protéger la population des ondes en question

Un rapport de deux députés européens accuse la commission internationale de protection contre les rayonnements non ionisants d’être trop proche de l’industrie des télécoms.
Stéphane Mandard, Le Monde, 19 juin 2020

==
The Lies Must Stop Disband ICNIRP: Facts Matter, Now More Than Ever

Louis Slesin (Editor), Microwave News, April 9, 2020

Excerpts:
"... science has taken a back seat to politics. The failure to separate fact from fiction has made the battle against the coronavirus far worse, especially in the U.S. Much the same can be said of how governments and scientific committees have addressed electromagnetic health risks. 
The public has been fed lies and half-truths about the health effects of RF/microwave radiation ... since the 1970s. The campaign has created a culture of confusion, especially with respect to cell phones and cancer. In this environment, why would anyone be surprised that sensational conspiracy theories about 5G have found a footing?
The Microwave News website is chock-full of articles describing how the public has been misled time and time again. Here are two current examples from those who are supposed to serve as the world’s experts and to protect us from EMF/RF hazards: the members of the International Commission of Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection, ICNIRP for short. 
The first is from Eric van Rongen of The Netherlands, the current chairman of ICNIRP... Two minutes into his PowerPoint narration you can hear him say, “There is no evidence from all [this] scientific information for the induction of cancer by radiofrequency fields” ...
Anyone who has been paying any attention at all knows that ...The U.S. National Toxicology Program has found “clear evidence” that exposure to RF radiation can lead to cancer.
... the NTP study is only one of many that show an RF–cancer link. It’s the most important and the most persuasive, but hardly the only one.
ICNIRP may not agree with the NTP finding, but that is what the $30 million animal study showed. Its members want you to think that they know better and that the NTP results are untrustworthy....
The second example comes from a[n annual] report prepared for the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority by a nine-member panel of experts ... Van Rongen and Switzerland’s Martin Röösli, who is also on ICNIRP, are members of this panel....
... the NTP warning was the most important RF–health development not only of 2018, but of the decade and most likely of the new millennium. Yet the expert panel chose to ignore it.
... That was the headline news of 2018. “Clear evidence” was a game changer; leaving it out of the annual update is a sure sign of bias ... it could well have been the title of the panel’s 2018 update. But van Rongen, Röösli and the others ignored it.
This cannot go on. The first step is for ICNIRP ... to be disbanded. The Swedish panel should also be dissolved and reconstituted with a more balanced membership. Indeed, all expert committees should be broadened to include those who allow that more than RF tissue heating may be at work.
But most important: The lies and distortions must stop. Otherwise, confusion and conspiracy theories will continue to run rampant. The net result is that the entire RF research enterprise will lack credibility, which, unfortunately, is the objective of many of the leading players.
To read the full article: https://microwavenews.com/news-center/time-clean-house

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March 11, 2020

New Guidelines Adopted by the International Commission on Non‐Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) 
Protect Us Only from Thermal or Heating Effects

The ICNIRP issued a media release today to announce the publication of its new human exposure guidelines for non-ionizing radiation (100 KHz to 300 GHz) in the journal Health Physics. The guidelines address radio, WiFi, and Bluetooth in addition to 3G, 4G, and 5G cell phones and cell towers.

According to ICNIRP Chairman, Eric van Rongen, "We know parts of the community are concerned about the safety of 5G and we hope the updated guidelines will help put people at ease."

However, ICNIRP's new guidelines are likely to have the opposite effect and increase public concerns about wireless technology because the guidelines were designed to protect us only from short-term heating (or thermal) effects. The guidelines fail to protect us from non-thermal effects, especially from long-term exposure to wireless radiation because ICNIRP continues to dismiss the many hundreds of peer-reviewed studies that have found biologic and health effects from exposure to low-intensity, radio frequency radiation including many human as well as animal studies. The preponderance of the research has found evidence of increased cancer incidence, oxidative stress, DNA damage, and infertility from exposure to wireless radiation.


ICNIRP. Guidelines for limiting exposure to electromagnetic fields (100 kHz to 300 GHz). Health Phys 118(00):000–000; 2020. Pre-print. DOI: 10.1097/HP.0000000000001210. https://www.icnirp.org/cms/upload/publications/ICNIRPrfgdl2020.pdf





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January 1, 2020

ICNIRP's Revised RF Exposure Limits Will Ignore Expert Opinions of Most EMF Scientists

According to Eric van Rongen, chairman of the International Commission on Non-ionizing Research Protection (ICNIRP), in August or September the ICNIRP plans to publish its revised guidelines regarding safe human exposure limits to radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic fields (EMF) (100 kHz - 300 GHz).

On April 17, 2019, Van Rongen made a presentation about the revised guidelines to the French National Frequency Agency. The ICNIRP guidelines will still be based only on thermal or heating effects. The Commission continues to ignore the many hundreds of peer-reviewed studies that have found bioeffects and health effects from exposure to low intensity, non-thermal levels of RF radiation.

Van Rongen made the following claims (see slide 8 of the presentation):
  • "No evidence that RF EMF causes such diseases as cancer
    •  Results of NTP, Falcioni studies (animals, lifetime exposure) not convincing (statement on ICNIRP website)
  • No evidence that RF EMF impairs health beyond effects that are due to established mechanisms of interaction"
The 13 commissioners of the ICNIRP strongly disagree with more than 240 EMF scientists who signed the International EMF Scientist Appeal. These scientists who have published over 2,000 papers in professional journals on EMF and biology or health stated:
"The various agencies setting safety standards have failed to impose sufficient guidelines to protect the general public, particularly children who are more vulnerable to the effects of EMF.  The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) established in 1998 the “Guidelines For Limiting Exposure To Time-Varying Electric, Magnetic, and Electromagnetic Fields (up to 300 GHz)” . These guidelines are accepted by the WHO and numerous countries around the world. The WHO is calling for all nations to adopt the ICNIRP guidelines to encourage international harmonization of standards. In 2009, the ICNIRP released a statement saying that it was reaffirming its 1998 guidelines, as in their opinion, the scientific literature published since that time “has provided no evidence of any adverse effects below the basic restrictions and does not necessitate an immediate revision of its guidance on limiting exposure to high frequency electromagnetic fields. ICNIRP continues to the present day to make these assertions, in spite of growing scientific evidence to the contrary. It is our opinion that, because the ICNIRP guidelines do not cover long-term exposure and low-intensity effects, they are insufficient to protect public health."
During the public consultation period, about 120 contributors provided the ICNIRP with more than 1,000 comments regarding the draft guidelines. 

How many contributors called for RF exposure guidelines that protect humans and other species from health risks due to exposure to low-intensity or non-thermal levels of RF radiation?  Did the ICNIRP seriously consider the public input in revising the guidelines? Will the ICNIRP publish these comments?

The slides from the van Rongen presentation (marked "Draft -- Do Not Cite or Quote") are available at: https://www.anfr.fr/fileadmin/mediatheque/documents/expace/workshop-5G/20190417-Workshop-ANFR-ICNIRP-presentation.pdf

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==

February 12, 2019 (Updated January 9, 2020)

The "ICNIRP Cartel" and "The 5G Mass Experiment"

 "... it could also harm your health. Europe's governments ignore the danger."

As part of a project called, “The 5G Mass Experiment,” Investigate Europe, a team of investigative journalists from the European Union (EU), examined the risks of deployment of 5G, the fifth generation of mobile phone technology, and the adequacy of electromagnetic field (EMF) safety guidelines promoted by the International Commission for Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).
To date, the team has published 22 articles in major newspapers and magazines in eight countries: France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, and the United Kingdom.
Investigate Europe alleges the existence of an “ICNIRP cartel.” The journalists identified a group of fourteen scientists who either helped create, or defend, the EMF exposure guidelines disseminated by ICNIRP, a non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Germany. ICNIRP’s self-selected members and advisors believe that EMF safety guidelines need to protect humans only from heating (or thermal) effects due to acute EMF exposure. ICNIRP scientists argue that the thousands of peer-reviewed studies that have found harmful biologic or health effects from chronic exposure to non-thermal levels of EMF are insufficient to warrant stronger safety guidelines. The journalists argue that the cartel promotes the ICNIRP guidelines by conducting biased reviews of the scientific literature that minimize health risks from EMF exposure. These reviews have been conducted for the World Health Organization (WHO) and other government agencies. By preserving the ICNIRP EMF exposure guidelines favored by industry, the cartel ensures that the cellular industry will continue to fund health effects research. Besides these fourteen scientists, perhaps several dozen EMF scientists in the EU and other countries actively defend the ICNIRP exposure guidelines.
In contrast to the dozens of EMF scientists who support the ICNIRP EMF exposure guidelines, more than 240 EMF scientists from 42 nations who published peer-reviewed research on EMF and biology or health totaling over 2,000 papers have signed the International EMF Scientist Appeal. The Appeal calls on the WHO, the United Nations and all member nations to adopt much stronger EMF exposure guidelines that protect humans and other species from sub-thermal levels of EMF exposure and to issue health warnings about the risks of EMF exposure.
The 5G Mass Experiment and the ICNIRP Cartel

A compilation of the information gathered by Investigate Europe about the ICNIRP Cartel members and the health agencies that the Cartel affected can be downloaded at: 

                          http://bit.ly/ICNIRPcartel-031519

The information on these pages was extracted from “The ICNIRP Cartel: Who’s Who in the EMF Research World,” an interactive graphic developed by Investigate Europe which can be found at https://www.kumu.io/Investigate-Europe/whos-who.
For more information see:
Investigate Europe (2019). The 5G Mass Experiment. https://www.investigate-europe.eu/publications/the-5g-mass-experiment/.  (Google Translate is a useful tool for translating these articles into other languages.)

Investigate Europe (2019). How Much is Safe? https://www.investigate-europe.eu/publications/how-much-is-safe/

Investigate Europe (2019). Mobile phones and health: Is 5G being rolled out too fast? https://www.computerweekly.com/feature/Mobile-phones-and-health-is-5G-being-rolled-out-too-fast
  Countries are deploying 5G at breakneck speed to gain a competitive edge, but scientists have concerns about effects on public health and are calling for a precautionary approach.
Nov 1, 2018

THE EMF CALL: Scientists and NGO's call for better protection from Exposure to Radiation from Wireless Technology
Press-Release Nov 1, 2018
157 scientists and medical doctors together with 86 non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) from all over the world are calling for more protective limits for exposure to radiofrequency radiation from wireless technologies. In a joint statement, THE EMF CALL, they conclude that the ICNIRP guidelines are unscientific and do not protect against harmful health effects including cancer.
The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) issued draft Guidelines on 11th July 2018 for limiting exposure to electric, magnetic and electromagnetic fields (EMF) (100 kHz to 300 GHz). The guidelines are inadequate to protect humans and the environment, as they only protect against acute thermal effects from very short and intense exposure. They do not protect against cancer, reproductive harm, or effects on the nervous system, although the preponderance of the peer-reviewed research has found adverse effects from chronic exposure at intensities below the ICNIRP limits.
In May, 2011, the World Health Organization’s cancer agency, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), concluded that radiofrequency radiation in the frequency range 30 kHz–300 GHz is a “possible” human carcinogen (Group 2B). However, the ICNIRP ignores this as well as the increasing evidence in recent years for carcinogenicity. 
The scientists and the NGO’s demand the development and adoption of new medical guidelines that represent the state of medical science and that are truly protective of human health and the environment.  The scientists and medical doctors, selected to review the scientific literature and propose new radiofrequency radiation safety guidelines, must be free of conflicts of interest including direct and indirect ties to industry.
                                                                                            
Professor David Carpenter, Director at the Institute for Health and the Environment, University of Albany, USA notes that:

-   The evidence for harm from both 50/60 Hz EMFs and radiofrequency exposures is strong in both human and animal studies.  There are associations between increasing exposure not only with cancer, but also with adverse reproductive outcomes in both males and females, adverse effects on cognitive function and behavior and increased risk of development of the syndrome of electro-hypersensitivity.  We must find ways of reducing human exposure in order to reduce the incidence of human disease.

Dr. Lennart Hardell, Swedish oncologist with long-term research in this area says:
-   The roll-out of 5G, the fifth generation of telecommunication technology will substantially increase exposure to radiofrequency radiation. Thus, in addition to the urgent need for new guidelines on current exposure a moratorium on the roll-out of 5G should be implemented.
Dr Joel Moskowitz, from the School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, USA points out that the EMF CALL re-iterates the concerns raised by the scientific community in the International EMF Scientist Appeal about the harm caused by chronic exposure to low-intensity EMF: 

         -   The Appeal, which has been signed by more than 240 scientists who have published over 2,000 peer-reviewed papers on EMF and biology or health, calls for strengthening of EMF guidelines, especially to protect children and pregnant women. For more information about the Appeal, see https://emfscientist.org.
 
According to Dr Gerd Oberfeld, from the Salzburg Public Health Department, Austria, the world has too long relied on incomplete EMF exposure guidelines:

-    The body of scientific evidence for detrimental health effects from EMF exposure is overwhelming. There is now even no need to call the precautionary principle into play to take action. It is the duty of scientists to inform the public and the duty of the public to force governments to apply new truly protective EMF exposure guidelines as well as to educate the society how to reduce EMF exposures.

Contacts: 
David Carpenter, email: dcarpenter@albany.edu
Lennart Hardell, email:  lennart.hardell@environmentandcancer.com
Joel Moskowitz, email:  jmm@berkeley.edu
Gerd Oberfeld, email:    gerd.oberfeld@salzburg.gv.at

See THE EMF CALL and all signatories at:  www.emfcall.org

Swedish Radiation Protection Foundation
How the Mobile Communication Industry Deals with Science as Illustrated by ICNIRP versus NTP 

Franz Adlkofer, Pandora Foundation for independent research, Oct 26, 2018

The development of mobile communication technologies starting with 1G up to now 5G is a success story rarely heard of previously. It has only been possible because industry experts in charge of the technology assumed that radiofrequency (RF) radiation and its modulations – similar to visible light – are biologically harmless. They believed in safety limits that reliably protect people only from the acute thermal effects of RF radiation inherent in the system. Biological effects below the safety limits were categorically ruled out because their existence allegedly contradicted the laws of physics.

So, the technical use of RF radiation in mobile communication has experienced hardly any limitation. Doubts about the harmlessness of this radiation, just as old as the technique itself, have been countered by the mobile communication industry as wrong and without basis. Compliant scientists, whose preferred opinion was more important than their qualifications, were generously supported and, by using political connections, placed in national and international advisory and decision-making bodies.

A milestone in putting through the interests of the mobile communication industry was the establishment of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) in 1992. It is a non-governmental organization. Michael Repacholi, then head of the WHO’s EMF Project, managed to get official recognition for this group by the WHO as well as the EU and a series of its member states, among them Germany. Repacholi, first ICNIRP chairman and later emeritus – member, left the WHO after allegations of corruption in 2006 and found a new position as a consultant to an American electricity provider. ICNIRP’s most important task is the establishment of safety limits for non-ionizing radiation including RF radiation. Its decisions are of utmost importance for the mobile communication industry’s economic and strategic planning. The ICNIRP, whose members are convinced of the harmlessness of RF radiation, has never changed its attitude despite all research progress made in this field since 1992. To guarantee that the mobile communication industry can permanently rely on ICNIRP, the succession of a member who leaves is regulated by statute. The remaining members select the new one on the basis of mutual understanding. Together with the other groups mentioned above ICNIRP has ensured that mobile communication industry is not only dominating the technical research to which it is entitled to, but also the biological research – this at the expense of the human health.




Excerpts

"There is no doubt that the evaluation of the NTP Study results by the invited panel members met all scientific criteria. This is also proven by the fact that the scientists responsible for the NTP Study have been confronted with numerous mistakes and other flaws, which could have been avoided with a better planning and implementation. However, these mistakes and flaws are by far not enough to question the most important result of the NTP Study, the evidence of carcinogenicity from mobile communication radiation."

"From the NTP Study it must be concluded that the safety limits established by ICNIRP are unable to guarantee the intended purpose, which is the protection of people from harmful effects of the mobile communication radiation, and that therefore time has come for IARC to adjust the classification of RF radiation from “possibly carcinogenic for humans” (Group 2B) to “probably carcinogenic to humans” (Group 2A) or even “carcinogenic to humans” (Group 1). Casting doubt on the NTP results, which threaten the business model of the mobile communication industry, as done by ICNIRP, is betrayal of science. If any further proof that ICNIRP is a public relations organization of the mobile communication industry would have been necessary, its Note on recent animal carcinogenesis studies (2) quoted above has finally adduced it. [See below.]

ICNIRP argues that the NTP Study has no reliable basis to revise the current safety limits for RF radiation. Since its guidelines are solely based on acute thermal effects of the radiation, believing that other effects do not exist, the argument is not without logic to them. However, the NTP Study has clearly shown that this stand is absolutely unfounded, because the RF radiation unfolds its harmful effects also within the safety limits, when the exposure time is long enough. The NTP Study, up to now certainly the most ambitious and the most convincing one, has proven this with “clear evidence” (3,5). At the same time, it has refuted the reliability of the current safety limits. As always in such cases the robot-like answer by ICNIRP is that many questions must be answered until causality can finally be acknowledged. 

ICNIRP wants the perfect study. The fact that this is impossible because of the nature of biological research, can obviously not be imparted to its members. So they show either incompetence in regard of their scientific qualifications or, most probably, the intention to help the mobile communication industry in a difficult situation. It looks as if ICNIRP is once again used by this industry to enforce its interests, and this time with a method copied from the tobacco industry. By sowing doubt for decades, the tobacco industry succeeded in keeping people unsure about the already certain fact that smoking causes lung cancer. Now the mobile communication industry uses the same tactic, and this with even more dire consequences: the addiction might be comparable, but the number of addicts is by far much higher."


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Sep 12, 2018

US Scientist Criticizes ICNIRP’s Refusal to Reassess Cell Phone Radiation Exposure Guidelines 
after US National Toxicology Program Studies Show Clear Evidence of Cancer 

Ronald L. Melnick, Ph.D., has issued a scientific critique of ICNIRPs dismissal of the cell phone radiation studies conducted by the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP).

On September 4, 2018, ICNIRP issued a “Note on Recent Animal Studies” that concluded the $28 million NTP study did “not provide a reliable basis” for changing the over two decades old guidelines on radio frequency- cell phone and wireless – radiation. 

In response, Dr. Melnick addressed 15 concerns raised by the ICNIRP about the NTP studies. He presented data to show that the ICNIRP document contains “numerous false and misleading statements" and concluded by questioning who the ICNIRP is protecting:
"Based on numerous incorrect and misleading claims, the ICNIRP report concludes that “these studies (NTP and Ramazzini) do not provide a reliable basis for revising the existing radiofrequency exposure guidelines.” The data on gliomas of the brain and schwannomas of the heart induced by cell phone radiation are suitable for conducting a quantitative risk assessment and subsequent re-evaluation of health-based exposure limits. The ‘P’ in ICNIRP stands for Protection. One must wonder who this commission is trying to protect – evidently, it is not public health."
Dr. Melnick was a Senior Scientist in the National Toxicology Program, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health. He served as a toxicologist for over 28 years before retiring in 2009. In 2007 he received the American Public Health Association’s David P. Rall Award for science-based advocacy in public health.

Melnick RL. Critique of the ICNIRP Note of September 4, 2018 Regarding Recent Animal Carcinogenesis Studies. Environmental Health Trust. Sep 12, 2018. Open access document: http://bit.ly/MelnickICNIRP9-12-2018

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Comments about the ICNIRP evaluation of the NTP and Ramazzini Institute studies 
by the Ramazzini Institute 

In recent days, the International Commission for the Protection of Non-Ionizing Radiation (ICNIRP) has dismissed the results of the studies conducted by the Ramazzini Institute (RI) and the National Toxicology Program (NTP) on cell phone radiation as "unconvincing
Following are the observations of Dr. Fiorella Belpoggi, director of the "Cesare Maltoni" cancer research center of the Ramazzini Institute.
1. Both the NTP and the RI studies were well performed,and no bias affected the results. The ICNIRP confirms this conclusion.

2. Schwannomas are tumors arising from the Schwann cells. They are peripheral glial cells which cover and protect the surface of all nerves diffused throughout the body; so vestibular (acoustic nerve) and heart schwannomas have the same tissue of origin: ICNIRP seems to ignore that.

3. In rats, increases in malignant heart schwannomas, malignant glial tumors of the brain and Schwann Cell Hyperplasia (a pre-malignant lesion) are rare yet these lesions were observed in exposed animals in both laboratories, at thousands of kilometers distance, in a wide range of radiofrequency radiation exposures studied. These findings could not be interpreted as occurring “by chance”.
4. We are scientists. Our role is to produce solid evidence for hazard and risk assessment. Underestimating the evidence from carcinogen bioassays and delays in regulation have already proven many times to have severe consequences, as in the case of asbestos, smoking and vinyl chloride. This position of ICNIRP represents its own responsibility toward citizens and public health.
5. ICNIRP is not a public health agency that routinely evaluates carcinogens. On the other hand, an independent agency that has evaluated over 1000 agents, IARC, as early as 2011 classified radio freqency radiation as a possible carcinogen on the basis of limited evidence in humans and limited evidence in animals. The studies of the RI and NTP will certainly contribute to the burden of evidence that IARC and other public health agencies can draw upon as a solid base for the re-evaluation of RFR carcinogenicity.
http://bit.ly/RI-ICNIRP

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ICNIRP Critique of the National Toxicology Program and Ramazzini Institute
Animal Studies of the Carcinogenicity of Long-Term Exposure to Cell Phone Radiation

ICNIRP. ICNIRP Note on Recent Animal Carcinogenesis Studies. Munich, Germany. Sep 4, 2018. https://www.icnirp.org/cms/upload/publications/ICNIRPnote2018.pdf

Introduction

Two recent animal studies investigating the carcinogenic potential of long-term exposure to
radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (EMFs) associated with mobile phones have been released: one by the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP 2018a, b) and the other from the Ramazzini Institute (Falcioni et al. 2018). These studies, among others, have been taken into account during revision of the ICNIRP radiofrequency exposure guidelines. However, both studies have inconsistencies and limitations that affect the usefulness of their results for setting exposure guidelines, and both need to be considered within the context of other animal and human carcinogenicity research. Overall, based on the considerations outlined below, ICNIRP concludes that these studies do not provide a reliable basis for revising the existing radiofrequency exposure guidelines.

<snip>

Conclusion

Although the NTP (2018a, b) and Falcioni et al. (2018) studies used large numbers of animals, best laboratory practice, and exposed animals for the whole of their lives, consideration of their findings does not provide evidence that radiofrequency EMF is carcinogenic. NTP reported that their strongest findings were of increased malignant cardiac schwannoma in male rats, however that is not consistent with the results of Falcioni et al. (2018), is not consistent with the NTP female rat nor male or female mouse results, and is not consistent with the radiofrequency EMF cancer literature more generally. While results from epidemiological studies suggest vestibular schwannoma is an outcome of interest,
this is not true for malignant cardiac schwannoma. NTP found no increase in schwannoma overall or for vestibular schwannoma. Further, as multiple comparisons were not controlled for in the NTP study, there is no indication that the increased incidence of malignant cardiac schwannomas in male rats was more than what would be expected by chance alone. ICNIRP considers that the NTP (2018a, b) and Falcioni et al. (2018) studies do not provide a consistent, reliable and generalizable body of evidence that can be used as a basis for revising current human exposure guidelines. Further research is required that addresses the above limitations.

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Jul 23, 2018

ICNIRP requests public input on its radio frequency radiation exposure guidelines

The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) has recently announced that it wants public input regarding a new draft of its guidelines on limiting radio frequency (RF) fields (i.e., electromagnetic fields [EMF] from 100 kilohertz to 300 Gigahertz).

“The main objective of this publication is to establish guidelines for limiting exposure to EMFs that will provide a high level of protection for all people against known adverse health effects from direct, non-medical exposures to both short- and long-term, continuous and discontinuous radiofrequency EMFs.”

The new publication replaces the 1998 RF exposure guidelines which have influenced RF exposure standards in many nations including the guidelines adopted by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

ICNIRP is an association with a scientific mission that is registered in Germany as a nonprofit organization. It is “formally recognized as an official collaborating non-governmental organization (NGO) by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO). ICNIRP is linked to many organizations engaged in non-ionizing radiation protection worldwide and consults with the European Commission.”

ICNIRP’s new draft safety guidelines dismiss the research on the effects of chronic exposure to non-thermal levels of RF radiation. In its latest health risk assessment, ICNIRP concludes that there are no “substantiated” adverse effects of RF radiation on human health. See Appendix B: Health Risk Assessment Literature and a summary of the findings which appears below.

Following is ICNIRP’s justification for ignoring most of the EMF research in its health risk assessment:

"ICNIRP bases its guidelines on substantiated adverse health effects. This makes the difference between a biological and an adverse health effect an important distinction, where only adverse health effects require limits for the protection of humans." (ICNIRP Guidelines: Guidelines for Limiting Exposure to Time-Varying Electric, Magnetic and Electromagnetic Fields [100 kHz TO 300 GHz]. July 11, 2018 draft. p. 2)

“These guidelines specify quantitative EMF levels for safe personal exposure. Adherence to these levels is intended to protect people from all known harmful effects of radiofrequency EMF exposure. To determine these levels, ICNIRP first identified published scientific literature concerning effects of radiofrequency EMF exposure on biological systems, and established which of these were both harmful to human health, and scientifically substantiated. This latter point is important because ICNIRP considers that, in general, reported effects need to be independently replicated, be of sufficient scientific quality and explicable more generally within the context of the scientific literature, in order to be taken as ‘evidence’ and used for setting exposure restrictions. Within the guidelines, ‘evidence’ will be used within this context, and ‘substantiated effect’ used to describe reported effects that satisfy this definition of evidence. (ICNIRP Guidelines: Guidelines for Limiting Exposure to Time-Varying Electric, Magnetic and Electromagnetic Fields [100 kHz TO 300 GHz].”  July 11, 2018 draft. p. 2)

Public consultation on ICNIRP RF exposure guidelines

If you choose to provide public input to ICNIRP, the draft documents consist of RF exposure guidelines and two appendices. Appendix A reviews dosimetry, and Appendix B summarizes the health risk assessment.

The consultation process which began on July 11 ends on October 9, 2018. ICNIRP members will review public comments prior to finalizing the RF exposure guidelines. ICNIRP will not reply to comments.

To provide comments on the draft documents, complete the form on the ICNIRP website or the template available at https://www.icnirp.org/en/activities/public-consultation/consultation-1.html

Files for download



My editorial comments

To date, 242 scientists who have published peer-reviewed research on EMF and biology or health have signed the EMF Scientist Appeal. Collectively, these scientists from 41 nations have published more than 2,000 papers on EMF. The Appeal calls on the WHO and the United Nations including its member states to adopt more protective exposure guidelines for EMF including RF radiation in the face of increasing evidence of health risks since these exposures are a rapidly growing form of worldwide environmental pollution.

In a recently published, peer-reviewed paper, “Thermal and non-thermal health effects of low intensity non-ionizing radiation: An international perspective,Belpomme and his colleagues (2018) criticize the WHO due to its reliance upon ICNIRP and its members for expert advice. The paper claims that ICNIRP and its advisors have “close associations with industry,” and “conflicts of interest.” According to the authors, ICNIRP and its advisors have been engaged in decades of “denial of serious non-thermal effects of RF-EMFs in spite of overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary.” 

Moreover, Belpomme and his colleagues criticize ICNIRP’s safety limits:

“The specific absorption rate (SAR)-based ICNIRP safety limits were established on the basis of simulation of EMF energy absorption using standardized adult male phantoms, and designed to protect people only from the thermal effects of EMFs. These assumptions are not valid for two reasons. Not only do they fail to consider the specific morphological and bioclinical vulnerabilities of children, but also they ignore the effects known to occur at non-thermal intensities….”

Finally, Belpomme and his colleagues (2018) provide a summary of the peer-reviewed scientific literature that arrives at very different conclusions than ICNIRP's health risk assessment:
"It is urgent that national and international bodies, particularly the WHO, take this significant public health hazard seriously and make appropriate recommendations for protective measures to reduce exposures. This is especially urgently needed for children and adolescents. It is also important that all parts of society, especially the medical community, educators, and the general public, become informed about the hazards associated with exposure to EMFs and of the steps that can be easily taken to reduce exposure and risk of associated disease."
The rules that ICNIRP applies for a study to be included in its health risk assessment seem overly stringent. If other official bodies (e.g., the International Agency for Research on Cancer or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) were to adopt such rules, I suspect that very few chemicals would be classified as toxins or carcinogens. By its own admission, ICNIRP is not concerned about protecting animal or plant life from the adverse effects of EMF exposure, and it is arguable that they are truly concerned about protecting humans.

If the claims of some EMF scientists and scientific organizations (e.g., the European Cancer and Environment Research Institute and the Russian National Committee on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection) are true that ICNIRP’s members and scientific advisors are selected because they are biased toward industry, then it is fruitless to engage in ICNIRP’s public consultation process (see my posts from May 1 through June 27, 2017.)

Since the credibility of ICNIRP depends heavily upon its association with the WHO, a more fruitful activity for the EMF scientific community might be to convince the WHO and governments not to rely on ICNIRP for EMF guidelines and no longer consult ICNIRP’s advisors.

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Summaries from ICNIRP’s Draft Appendix B: Health Risk Assessment Literature


“ICNIRP bases its guidelines on substantiated adverse health effects. This makes the difference between a biological and an adverse health effect an important distinction, where only adverse health effects require limits for the protection of humans.” (p. 2)

Brain electrical activity and cognitive function

“In summary, there is no substantiated experimental or epidemiological evidence that exposure to radiofrequency EMF affects higher cognitive functions relevant to health.” (p. 3)

Symptoms and wellbeing

“In summary, no reports of adverse effects on symptoms and wellbeing have been substantiated, except for pain, which is related to elevated temperature at high exposure levels. Thresholds for these have not been clearly identified, but the best estimate is within the vicinity of 10 and 20 mA for indirect contact currents, for children and adults respectively, and 12.5 kW m-2 for  direct millimeter-wave exposure.”  (pp. 3-4)

Other brain physiology and related functions

“In summary, there is no evidence of effects of radiofrequency EMF on physiological processes or eye pathology that impair health in humans. Some evidence of superficial eye damage has been shown in rabbits at exposures of at least 1.4 kW m-2, although the relevance of this to humans has not been demonstrated.“ (p. 4)

Auditory, vestibular and ocular function

“In summary, no effects on auditory, vestibular, or ocular function relevant to human health have been substantiated.” (p. 5)

Neuroendocrine system

“In summary, the lowest level at which an effect of radiofrequency EMF on the neuroendocrine system has been observed is 4 W kg-1 (in rodents and primates), but there is no evidence that this translates to humans or is relevant to human health. No other effects have been substantiated.” (p. 6)

Neurodegenerative diseases

 “In summary, no adverse effects on neurodegenerative diseases have been substantiated.” (p. 6)

Cardiovascular system, autonomic nervous system and thermoregulation

“In summary, no effects on the cardiovascular system, autonomic nervous system, or thermoregulation that compromise health have been substantiated for exposures with whole body average SARs below approximately 1 W kg-1, and there is some evidence that 4 W kg-1 is not sufficient to alter body core temperature in hamsters. However, there is strong evidence that whole body exposures in rats that are sufficient to increase body core temperature by several degrees centigrade can cause serious adverse health effects in rats.” (p. 7)

Immune system and haematology

“The few human studies have not indicated any evidence that radiofrequency EMF affects health in humans via the immune system or haematology.” (p. 7)

Fertility, reproduction and childhood development

“In summary, no adverse effects of radiofrequency EMF exposure on fertility, reproduction or development relevant to human health have been substantiated.” (p. 8)

Cancer    

“In summary, no effects of radiofrequency EMF on cancer have been substantiated.” (pp. 8-9)

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June 19, 2017

International EMF Expert Group to Counter ICNIRP
ECERI Newsletter. No. 6, June 2017
"Following a recent meeting with WHO representatives in Geneva, members of this ECERI group have decided to publish their own data in the form of a scientific consensus paper on the effects of non-thermal EMFs on behalf of the ECERI. Finally, since several ECERI scientists believe that environmental pollution may in fact be a cause of cancer and other diseases such as Alzheimer disease and autism, ECERI has proposed to create another international group comprising scientists and jurists to discuss the possibility that intentional massive pollution could be recognized by the International Criminal Court (ICC) as a true crime against health. This proposal will be discussed at the next ECERI Executive Committee and General Assembly in Brussels.
Following the meeting with WHO in Geneva on March, the 3rd, it was proposed to create an ECERI-related working group to oppose ICNIRP (International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection), that might be termed “International commission of scientific expertise on non-thermal radiation effects (ICSENTRE). The members of this group so far are: Dominique Belpomme (France), Igor Belyaev (Slovakia), Ernesto Burgio (Italy), David Carpenter (USA), Lennart Hardell (Sweden), Magda Havas (Canada), SMJ Mortazavi (Iran), André Vander Vorst (Belgium) and Gérard Ledoigt (France). If you wish to join this group, please contact Christine Campagnac (sg.eceri@gmail.com)."
ECERI – European Cancer and Environment Research Institute, Square de Meeus 38-40, 1000 Brussels; Tél :0032 24 01 87 75 or 0033 1.45.78.53.52   sg.eceri@gmail.com
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July 10, 2015

CONFLICT OF INTEREST EXISTING AT THE INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION ON NON-IONIZING RADIATION (ICNIRP)

AVAATE (VALLISOLETANA ASSOCIATION OF AFFECTED BY  MOBILE PHONE ANTENNAS), July 10, 2015

SUMMARY

This paper has been prepared in order to demonstrate the existence of numerous conflicts of interest among the members of the international organization ICNIRP (International Commission on Non Ionizing Radiation Protection. In Castilian, the International Commission for Non-ionizing radiation), that despite its private nature, is recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as reference entity to set limits of exposure for people of non-ionizing radiation in order to prevent such radiation affect your health.

The fact that the members of the organization engage in various conflicts of interest, being related to companies interested in the development of telecommunications and new technologies, undermines the impartiality that should govern the regulation of limits on non-ionizing radiation people.

It’s incomprehensible that an international organization such as WHO, which has numerous and qualified public resources to establish adequately these limits, has delegated to a private organization issues affecting public health of all humanity.

The information contained in the work presented below was obtained from searches of reliable publicly available sources on the Internet, which can be checked by anyone who has an interest in this topic.

It would be very interesting by any natural or legal person interested in this topic assumes as its own this report (AVAATE authorized fully to do so) and send it to the authorities of the United Nations, of the International Labor Organization and of the World Health Organization of the Health.