Sunday, December 19, 2021

Scientific American Created Confusion about 5G's Safety: Will They Clear It Up?

February 19, 2020 (Links to open access articles added on 12/19/2021)

In September 2019, Scientific American, the oldest, continuously published monthly magazine in the U.S., published an opinion piece on its website entitled, “5G Is Coming: How Worried Should We Be about the Health Risks? So far, at least, there’s little evidence of danger.” 

The piece was written by Kenneth Foster, an emeritus professor of bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania. Foster is a member of a committee that sets exposure limits for wireless radiation and consults for industry and government. His article discussed the controversy about the rollout of 5G based upon widespread concerns about the adverse impact of this technology on our health. Foster argued that exposure to radio frequency radiation (RFR) from 5G will be similar to, or lower than, current levels because of the deployment of many “small cell” antennas. Hence, 5G exposure will comply with current RFR exposure limits that protect against “excessive heating of tissue.” 

Although Foster admitted that research on the effects of long-term exposure to 5G millimeter waves was lacking, he restated the FDA’s position that "[t]he available scientific evidence to date does not support adverse health effects in humans due to exposures at or under the current limits.” Thus, “the request to ‘stop the distribution of 5G products appears too drastic a measure. We first need to see how this new technology will be applied and how the scientific evidence will evolve.’”

In October, Scientific American published an opinion piece which I wrote entitled, “We Have No Reason to Believe 5G Is Safe:The technology is coming, but contrary to what some people say, there could be health risks,” that rebutted Foster’s article. My piece is reprinted on my Electromagnetic Radiation Safety website. 

In the eleven years that I have been writing about the effects of RFR exposure, I anticipated that my response to Foster would provoke an attack by industry-affiliated scientists so I began my piece as follows:

“The telecommunications industry and their experts have accused many scientists who have researched the effects of cell phone radiation of "fear mongering" over the advent of wireless technology's 5G. Since much of our research is publicly-funded, we believe it is our ethical responsibility to inform the public about what the peer-reviewed scientific literature tells us about the health risks from wireless radiation.”

I laid out the evidence that rebutted many points in the Foster piece and concluded:

“We should support the recommendations of the 250 scientists and medical doctors who signed the 5G Appeal that calls for an immediate moratorium on the deployment of 5G and demand that our government fund the research needed to adopt biologically-based exposure limits that protect our health and safety.”

About two weeks later, Scientific American published an opinion piece that attacked me and my article: “Don’t Fall Prey to Scaremongering about 5G: Activists cite low-quality studies in arguing radio-frequency radiation is dangerous, but the weight of evidence shows no risk.” This piece was written by David Robert Grimes, a science writer, cancer researcher, and physicist. 

Shortly after Grimes’ piece was published, the International EMF Alliance sent a 5-page letter to the editor of Scientific American that critiqued Grimes’ flawed interpretation of the science. Subsequently, Microwave News published a story entitled, “Open Season on 5G Critics: First NY Times, Now Scientific American,” reprinted by TruePublica, that criticized Grimes’ ad hominem attacks and explained why “it’s Grimes who gets the science all wrong.” The article raised the question “Why Did Scientific American Publish Grimes’s Hit Piece?"

Scientific American originally informed me that they would not publish a rebuttal to Grimes, but in January 2020 they invited me to submit a rebuttal. Two weeks after submitting my rebuttal, Scientific American sent me the following message:

“Thanks again for your recent submission, but we’ve decided against running it. You raise some valid points, but this is clearly a field where we’re a long way from definitive answers and the editors here have agreed that continuing this point-counterpoint argument in our opinion section is not the best way to serve our readers.

What we’ve decided to do instead is to commission an independent journalist to look at all of the evidence gathered so far and give readers an objective sense of what we know, what we don’t know, why uncertainty exists, and how scientists are trying to gather the evidence that governments and consumers need to make the most informed decisions possible.”

My unpublished rebuttal to Grimes, “5G, Public Health and Uncomfortable Truths” appears below.


5G, Public Health and Uncomfortable Truths

Joel M. Moskowitz, Ph.D.
School of Public Health
University of California, Berkeley
February 19, 2020

“So there really is no research ongoing. We’re kind of flying blind here, as far as health and safety is concerned,” proclaimed U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, chastising the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in a Senate committee hearing on the future of 5G last year. This quote captures the reason why more than 270 scientists and medical doctors have signed the 5G Appeal, a petition calling for a moratorium on the deployment of 5G technology until we can establish safe exposure limits.  It is also one reason why I wrote about the status of the research and government and industry spin in “We Have No Reason to Believe 5G Is Safe.”

In an opinion piece that attacks my article, David Robert Grimes, a physicist, claims the research that finds radio-frequency radiation (RFR) is harmful is based on “low quality studies,” and that the weight of the evidence shows “no risk.” He repeats the mantra I have heard from other physicists in the ten years I have been studying the effects of cell phone radiation: “there is no known plausible biophysical mechanism of action for harm.” Grimes argues that my article “pivots on fringe views and fatally flawed conjecture, attempting to circumvent scientific consensus with scaremongering.”

Grimes’ arguments suffer the same biases he projects onto others (e.g., cherry-picking). His narrow perspective on the “mechanism of action for harm” seems shaped by a physics paradigm that can explain health risks from ionizing radiation (e.g., X-rays), but not from RFR (e.g., microwaves or cell phone radiation) which is non-ionizing. However, biologists have proposed various mechanisms that explain RFR effects. If not for his gaslighting and misrepresentations of published data, I might be charitably inclined to appreciate this debate. But Grimes aims to deny reality and discredit the preponderance of peer-reviewed science which finds low-intensity RFR can be harmful to our health.

The differences between the physicist’s and biologist’s perspectives could have been resolved decades ago had military and Telecom industry interests not interfered to ensure that RFR would be minimally regulated by policy makers. Microwave News has reported about these influences on scientific and policy developments since 1981. A recent Harvard monograph exposes how industry controls the FCC, the agency responsible for regulating RFR exposure from wireless technology in the U.S.

It is untrue, as Grimes argues, that RFR from cell phones cannot harm us because there is no mechanism. Numerous scientific studies provide evidence about mechanisms by which low-intensity RFR causes biological effects, including DNA damage in humans as well as animal models. For example, scientists who study RFR acknowledge that oxidative stress, an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants, is a common mechanism by which RFR harms living cells. The uneven number of oxygen-containing electrons in free radicals allows them to react easily with other molecules. A review of 100 experimental studies on the oxidative effects of low-intensity RFR found that in 93 of these peer-reviewed studies “RFR induces oxidative effects in biological systems” leading to “cancer and non-cancer pathologies.” The review concluded, “the oxidative stress induced by RFR exposure should be recognized as one of the primary mechanisms of the biological activity of this kind of radiation.”

In an ideal world, I would agree with Grimes that “science is not conducted by petition or arguments to authority; it is decided solely on strength of evidence.” However, health authorities and policy makers have for decades relied upon industry-funded scientists who provide them with biased analyses that dismiss the peer-reviewed evidence unless it supports their sponsors. This is why independent scientists have sanctioned collective action.

More than 240 scientists from over 40 countries have signed the International EMF Scientist Appeal, a petition that raises concerns about the public health impacts of non-ionizing electromagnetic fields (EMF), especially from wireless technology. All have published peer-reviewed research on EMF and biology or health – totaling over 2,000 papers and letters in professional journals. Based upon solid evidence of harmful effects, these global experts urge public health leadership organizations, such as the World Health Organization (WHO), to establish more protective EMF guidelines and precautionary measures, and perform public education about health risks, particularly to children and developing fetuses.

Grimes cites the WHO’s current position that “no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use.” Setting aside the politics and limitations of that specific WHO declaration, note that the WHO’s own cancer research agency, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), classified RFR as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” in 2011. Last year, an IARC advisory group of 29 scientists examined the peer-reviewed research for RFR cancer risk published during the previous eight years and prioritized RFR for re-review. Hence, the IARC will likely upgrade the carcinogenic classification of RFR in the next five years.

Cited by Grimes is the one major cell phone radiation study conducted in the U.S. since the 1990’s. In 1999, the FDA recommended that the National Toxicology Program (NTP) research the carcinogenicity of cell phone radiation. The results of this $30 million study were published in 2018 after extensive peer review by EMF and toxicology experts. The NTP found “clear evidence” that cell phone radiation caused heart cancer and “some evidence” that it caused cancer in the brains and adrenal glands of male rats. The study also found significantly increased risk of DNA damage in rats and mice of both sexes exposed to cell phone radiation.

Whereas, most toxicologists consider the NTP methods the “gold standard,” Grimes erroneously implies that the NTP study’s “methodology and low power” would increase the likelihood that the study obtained spurious results. Statistically, a “low power” study has the opposite effect. Low statistical power means a study would be less likely to detect a real effect, not more likely to yield spurious effects. Grimes has thus repeated an industry-promoted canard about the study which reflects a complete misunderstanding of this basic statistical concept.

Characterizing the Interphone study among “large and robust trials, with careful controls and large sample groups” Grimes nevertheless misrepresents the study’s results. Careful reading of Interphone reveals a statistically significant increased risk of glioma and acoustic neuroma  among long-term heavy cell phone users. The researchers found that the excess glioma risk held up when the data were subjected to many different analyses (Appendix 1). Additional analyses that corrected for a bias in the study demonstrated a dose-response relationship between glioma risk and mobile phone use (see Appendix 2). 

Followup papers using the Interphone study data found that the excess tumors were primarily located on the side of the head where people held their phones, and in the part of the brain where cell phone radiation exposure was greatest, the temporal and frontal lobes.

Although three sources of case-control data  have found an association between ten years of heavy mobile phone use and glioma risk, glioma incidence may no longer be the best potential correlate of increased mobile phone use as Grimes implies. Long-term heavy mobile phone use is associated with various head and neck tumors in case-control studies including acoustic neuroma, meningioma, and tumors of the thyroid and parotid glands. In some countries glioma rates have increased in certain subgroups (e.g., older age groups, specific types of tumors or anatomic locations), if not overall. In many countries, including the U.S., thyroid tumor incidence has increased in recent years, and two case-control studies provide evidence that cell phone use may be responsible.

Bigger is not necessarily better. Besides the large Interphone study, Grimes cites the Danish cohort study as evidence that cell phone use is safe. However, this study has serious methodologic problems due to a wholly inadequate exposure assessment. Hence, the results from this study are not reliable.

The Telecom industry claims that their cellular technology is safe; yet, there are no safety studies on exposure to 4G or 5G cell phone radiation. Moreover, the weight of research evidence regarding exposure to 2G and 3G radiation finds harm including sperm damage in males, reproductive harm in females, neurological disorders, DNA damage and increased cancer risk.

There is room to disagree about the implications and quality of scientific studies, but it is disingenuous to disparage other scientists and employ industry talking points in the process, as Grimes does. The public has a right to know about the health risks of RFR. As Senator Blumenthal argued: “I believe that Americans deserve to know what the health effects are, not to pre-judge what scientific studies may show, and they also deserve a commitment to do the research on outstanding questions.”

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Health Effects of Cellphone & Cell Tower Radiation: Implications for 5G Webinar

Speaker: Joel M. Moskowitz, PhD
University of California, Berkeley

November 3, 2021

The Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (COEH) is one of 18 regional Education and Research Centers (ERC), funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The ERC supports traineeships at three University of California campuses: UC Berkeley, UC Davis and UCSF.

This presentation summarized the research on biologic and health effects from exposure to radio frequency radiation emitted by cell phones and cell towers along with the implications of this research for 5G, the fifth generation of cellular technology. The inadequacy of current national and international radio frequency exposure limits to protect environmental and public health was also discussed.

Indicative of the widespread interest in this public health issue, the webinar was attended by 660 people from 40 states and 30 countries. About 20% of attendees were from California and 19% from foreign countries. More than 100 people submitted questions; however, there was only enough time to answer a handful.

Webinar video: (1 hour 22 minutes; starts 5 minutes in)


Speaker: Joel M. Moskowitz, PhD

Joel M. Moskowitz, PhD, has directed the Center for Family and Community Health in the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley since 1993. Dr. Moskowitz has published research on disease prevention for 40 years. In 2009 he served as the senior author on a hallmark paper reviewing research on mobile phone use and tumor risk published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Last year he updated this meta-analysis in a paper published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. This year he co-authored a paper on electrohypersensitivity published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences.

Since 2013 he has translated and disseminated research on the biologic and health effects of wireless radiation through his website ( In 2017, with legal representation from the UC Berkeley Environmental Law Clinic, he won a lawsuit against the California Department of Public Health for suppressing its own scientists' cell phone safety guidance for eight years. This resulted in the Department finally publishing cell phone health warnings. He serves as an advisor to Physicians for Safe Technology and to the International EMF Scientist Appeal which was signed by over 240 scientists who published more than 2,000 papers and letters in professional journals on electromagnetic fields and biology or health.

Webinar video: (1 hour 22 minutes; starts 5 minutes in)


Sunday, August 15, 2021

Part I: Why We Need Stronger Cell Phone Radiation Regulations--Key Testimony Submitted to the FCC

On August 8, 2019, the FCC published a news release in which Ajit Pai, the FCC chairperson, issued a proposal that the FCC not change its existing radiofrequency (RF) exposure limits. He also proposed to gather public comment on rules to determine compliance with the exposure limits and establish uniform guidelines to ensure compliance.

The press release makes the following claims:
“The FCC sets radiofrequency limits in close consultation with the FDA and other health agencies. After a thorough review of the record and consultation with these agencies, we find it appropriate to maintain the existing radiofrequency limits, which are among the most stringent in the world for cell phones,” said Julius Knapp, chief of the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology.
As Jeffrey Shuren, Director of the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, wrote to the FCC, “[t]he available scientific evidence to date does not support adverse health effects in humans due to exposures at or under the current limits…” and “[n]o changes to the current standards are warranted at this time.”
Unfortunately, these assertions do not reflect the state of the scientific literature regarding RF health effects, nor do they adequately reflect the public comment received by the FCC over the years regarding RF exposure limits for Proceeding Number 13-84.

The FCC has no health expertise and relies upon Federal health agencies, especially the FDA, for advice about RF exposure limits. However, these agencies have lacked the requisite expertise to provide this guidance because their RF health experts retired or took industry jobs. In the past decade, these agencies have failed to monitor the vast and growing body of peer-reviewed research that documents adverse health effects from low-intensity exposure to radiofrequency radiation. Rather, the Federal government has increasingly relied upon advice from lobbyists and engineers and scientists affiliated with the telecommunications or wireless industry.

Following is an index of key submissions to the FCC regarding RF exposure limits and RF health effects from June 2012 through September 2019.

Many of the links below no longer work because the FCC made recent changes to its website.

November 1, 2019 

Selected FCC Submissions re: 

"Reassessment of Federal Communications Commission Radiofrequency 

Exposure Limits and Policies" (Proceeding Number 13-84)

Part I: Key Testimony Submitted to the FCC

Last revision: October 1, 2019

The FCC received more than 1,200 submissions regarding its cell phone radiation regulations. These documents reveal what we know about wireless radiation health effects, and why we need to strengthen regulations and provide precautionary warnings to the public.
In response to the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) request for input regarding its radiofrequency radiation regulations adopted in 1996, individuals and organizations submitted thousands of documents, testimonials, research papers and scientific publications that are now available to the public. 
These documents reveal what we know about wireless radiation health effects, and why we need to strengthen regulations and provide precautionary warnings to consumers.

Although more than fifteen countries have issued precautionary health warnings about cell phone radiation and recommendations about how to reduce risks, the wireless industry in the U.S. has opposed precautionary warnings and wants to weaken cell phone radiation standards.
In all, the FCC received more than 1,200 submissions between June 25, 2012 and October 1, 2019. Many submissions include multiple documents. The preponderance of submissions call on the FCC to adopt stronger exposure limits on radiofrequency radiation.
Hundreds of individuals submitted statements that document their personal health problems and diseases experienced from exposure to radiofrequency radiation. These and other submissions can be viewed or downloaded by clicking on Proceeding Number 13-84 on the FCC web site.
The FCC's obsolete RF exposure limits are 23 years old. The current request for public input is six years old. The FCC never reported on or acted upon a similar request for public input issued in 2003.
In 2015, a Harvard publication exposed how industry captured the FCC, "As a captured agency, the FCC is a prime example of institutional corruption. Officials in such institutions do not need to receive envelopes bulging with cash. But even their most well-intentioned efforts are often overwhelmed by a system that favors powerful private influences, typically at the expense of public interest."
Obviously, updating RF regulations and testing procedures has not been a priority for the FCC even though the U.S. General Accountability Office recommended this in 2012.
Although there is a search engine on the FCC web site, one cannot easily find important documents. Hence, I constructed several indices.
Part I which appears below contains key submissions to the FCC regarding cell phone radiation and its health effects, and cell phone testing procedures and regulatory standards.

The submissions are organized under the following categories:

(1) Scientific Expert Resolutions Calling for Stronger Regulations
(2) Expert Comments in Support of Stronger Regulations
(3) Expert Comments that Support Weaker Regulations
(4) Consumer, Environmental and Health Organizations
(5) Government Agencies
(6) Wireless Industry Corporations and Associations
(7) Miscellaneous Other 
Not indexed below are submissions from individuals without organizational or institutional affiliations.  Many of these submissions discuss electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) (see Part IV).
Part II contains a list of key research papers that can be downloaded from the FCC web site. (updated Aug 11, 2019)
Part III lists 98 scientific experts from 23 nations who have signed resolutions between 2002 and 2014 that call for stronger regulations on wireless radiation, especially cell phone radiation.
In 2015, scientists who published peer-reviewed research on the health effects of electromagnetic fields (EMF) submitted a petition to the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and all world leaders calling for stronger regulations on exposure to radiofrequency radiation than current national and international exposure limits allow. The International EMF Scientist Appeal was also submitted to the FCC.
The Appeal has been signed by more than 240 scientists who have published peer-reviewed research on electromagnetic fields and biology and health. These scientists representing over 40 nations have published more than 2,000 papers and letters on EMF in professional journals. This petition was recently submitted to the United Nations Environment Programme. 
Part IV summarizes the responses of 184 persons with self-reported electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) who submitted comments to the FCC and reported either their symptoms or the sources of their problematic exposure to radio frequency radiation.

Scientific Expert Resolutions Calling for Stronger Regulations  
Catania Resolution (2002; 16 signees)

Benevento Resolution (2006; 52 signees)
Seletun Scientific Panel (2009); 7 signees)
Health Canada Safety Code 6 Declaration  (Jul 9, 2014; 54 signees)
The International EMF Scientist Appeal (May 11, 2015; 200 signees)
The International EMF Scientist Appeal (Aug 25, 2019; 250 signees)
The 5G Appeal (2017 moratorium; signed by 245 scientists and doctors)

Expert Comments in Support of Stronger Regulations
Omer Abid, MD, MPH

David Adams, PhD
Norm Alster ("FCC captured agency")
Frank Barnes, PhD

BioInitiative Working Group (29 contributing authors)
Martin Blank, PhD
David O. Carpenter, MD

Neil Cherry, PhD
Richard H. Conrad, PhD

Devra L. Davis, PhD, MPH
Devra Davis PhD MPH, Alvaro de Salles PhD, Susan Downs MD, Gunnar Heuser MD PhD, Anthony Miller MD. Lloyd Morgan BSEE, Yael Stein MD. Elihu Richter MD MPH (rebuttal of CTIA's claims)

Alan H. Frey

Om Gandhi, PhD

Livio Giulani, PhD

Lennart Hardell, MD, PhD
Martha Herbert, MD, PhD
Isaac Jamieson, PhD
Toril Jeter, MD, FAACP
Olle Johansson, PhD
Suleyman Kaplan, PhD
Henry C. Lai, PhD

Victor Leach / Simon Turner   
Dariusz Leszczynski, PhD
B. Blake Levitt

De-Kun Li, MD, PhD, MPH

James C. Lin, PhD
Don Maisch, PhD
Lloyd Morgan, BSEE

Joel M. Moskowitz, PhD
Martin Pall, PhD
Jerry L. Phillips, PhD
Ronald M. Powell, PhD
William J. Rea, MD
Cindy Lee Russell, MD
Cindy Sage, Lennart Hardell, MD & Martha Herbert, MD, PhD

Cindy Sage & David O. Carpenter, MD

J. Bertel Schou, PhD & Diane Schou, PhD

Miriam D. Weber, MD

Grace Ziem, MD, MPH, DrPH

Expert Comments that Support Weaker Regulations
Joe A. Elder, PhD

Consumer, Environmental and Health Organizations

American Academy of Environmental Medicine

Center for Electrosmog Prevention

Electromagnetic Safety Alliance, Inc.
EMF Safety Network

Environmental Health Trust
Environmental Working Group
Environmental Working Group (petition w/ 26,000 signatures):
Global Union Against Radiation Deployment from Space

Pharmacists Planning Service Inc (PPSI)

Stop Smart Meters New York

Wireless Education Action

Government Agencies

Cities of Boston, Massachusetts and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Environmental Protection Agency
FCC Office of the Chairman (Response to Sen. Blumenthal & Rep. Eshoo)
FCC Office of Engineering Technology Bureau
Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
International Agency for Research on Cancer, World Health Organization

Los Angeles Unified School District

Town of Hillsborough, California
Montgomery County, Maryland 
National Cancer Institute & National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences 
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

City of Portland, Oregon

City and County of San Francisco

Radiation Protection Division, Environmental Protection Agency
Radiofrequency Interagency Working Group (Federal)
City of Tucson and County of Pima, Arizona Resolution

U.S. Department of Labor

Wireless Industry Corporations and Associations

Alarm Industry Communications Committee

ARRL, the National Association for Amateur Radio

Fixed Wireless Communications Coalition

GSM Association

IEEE International Committee on Electromagnetic Safety (ICES) 
Medtronic Inc
MMWave Coalition 
Momentum Dynamics Corporation and Oak Ridge National Laboratory

National Association of Broadcasters

National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors

PCIA-The Wireless Infrastructure Association and The HetNet Forum

Telecommunications Industry Association
Richard Tell Associates

American Association for Justice
Austrian Medical Association 
California Medical Association
Council of Europe - Resolution 1815
Senator Bill Galvano (Florida)
Green Swan, Inc.
National Assn. of Telecommunications Officers, National League of Cities, National Assn of Counties, & U.S. Conference of Mayors
North America's Building Trade Unions