Many independent authorities have reviewed the available scientific evidence on the potential health risks associated with exposure to radiofrequency fields and issued reports, statements or safety standards. In September 2008, the Electromagnetic Fields Committee of the Health Council of the Netherlands provided an overview of the process used to conduct scientific reviews:
‘Scientific advisory reports are usually the result of a process in which a group of experts, using the current state of science, extensively discusses a topic until a consensus is reached. The group is made up of independent experts from the various areas of expertise relevant to the topic. In the case of electromagnetic fields, for example, this would be biologists, epidemiologists, technical experts, physicians and in some cases also psychologists and risk experts. This procedure is followed by bodies such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Health Council, as well as organisations involved in drafting proposals for exposure limits, such as the International Commission on Non-ionizing Radiation Protection(ICNIRP) and the International Commission (sic) for Electromagnetic Safety (ICES) of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). The various experts and the interactions between them, combined with a review of all relevant scientific information, ensure that a balanced judgement on the latest scientific knowledge can be reached. It is of importance that this process is transparent. This multidisciplinary weight-ofevidence method leads to a scientifically sound judgement that is as objective as possible.’
International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection, ICNIRP Statement on the “Guidelines for limiting exposure to time-varying electric, magnetic, and electromagnetic fields (up to 300 GHz)”, Health Physics, 97(3):257-258, September 2009.
‘However, it is the opinion of ICNIRP that the scientific literature published since the 1998 guidelines 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.’ (p. 257) ‘With regard to non-thermal interactions, it is in principle impossible to disprove their possible existence but the plausibility of the various non-thermal mechanisms that have been proposed is very low. In addition, the recent in vitro and animal genotoxicity and carcinogenicity studies are rather consistent overall and indicate that such effects are unlikely at low levels of exposure. Therefore, ICNIRP reconfirms the 1998 basic restrictions in the frequency range 100 kHz-300 GHz until further notice.’ (p. 257)
Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) - Health Effects of Exposure to EMF, adopted on 19 January 2009.’It is concluded from three independent lines of evidence (epidemiological, animal and in vitro studies) that exposure to RF fields is unlikely to lead to an increase in cancer in humans. However, as the widespread duration of exposure of humans to RF fields from mobile phones is shorter than the induction time of some cancers, further studies are required to identify whether considerably longer-term (well beyond 10 years) human exposure to such phones might pose some cancer risk.’ (p. 4) Therefore, the conclusion that scientific studies have failed to provide support for an effect of RF fields on self-reported symptoms still holds. Scientific studies have indicated that a nocebo effect (an adverse non-specific effect that is caused by expectation or belief that something is harmful) may play a role in symptom formation. As in the previous opinion, there is no evidence supporting that individuals, including those attributing symptoms to RF exposure, are able to detect RF fields.’ (p. 4)
International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) – World Cancer Report 2008. ‘The evidence for the carcinogenicity of radiofrequency fields is even less clear. A few epidemiological studies in occupational settings have indicated a possible increase in the risk of leukaemia or brain tumours, while other studies indicated decreases. These studies suffer from a number of limitations. The experimental evidence is also limited, but suggests that radiofrequency fields cannot cause DNA mutations. The lack of reproducibility of findings limits the conclusions that can be drawn.’ (p. 172)
Health Council of the Netherlands, BioInitiative Report, publication no. 2008/17E., 2 September 2008. With radiofrequency fields, information is being transferred by modulation. Some experimental studies found indications that certain biological effects may occur upon exposure to a modulated signal, but not, or to a lesser extent, with exposure to an unmodulated signal. As yet, there is no sufficient scientific evidence to confirm this. It is not known whether such effects may lead to health effects. The suggestion that some of the observed biological effects may lead to reduced wellbeing, disease, or even death lacks scientific basis. (p. 3)
Statens stralskyddsinstitut - SSI (Sweden) Recent Research on EMF and Health Risks: Fifth annual report from SSI’s Independent Expert Group on Electromagnetic Fields, Revised edition 15 April, 2008.
“The few studies that have been published on health risks among populations living near transmitters have had major methodological shortcomings. However, the exposure to the general population that results from transmitters is very weak and one would not expect such exposure to produce a health risk as discussed in the previous report. Indeed, one would assume that if RF exposure at low levels is associated with a health risk it would be considerably easier to detect it in studies of mobile phone users, or highly exposed occupational groups. The overall conclusion is that exposure from transmitters is unlikely to be a health risk.” (p. 54)
The consensus of the many expert reviews to date is that no adverse health consequences have been established from exposure to RF fields at levels below the international guidelines on exposure limits published by ICNIRP. The WHO has explained that:
The ICNIRP guidelines were developed to limit human exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF) under conditions of maximum absorption of the fields, which rarely occurs, and the limits incorporate large safety factors to protect workers and even larger safety factors to protect the general public, including children. Thus, the limits in the ICNIRP guidelines are highly protective and are based on all the available scientific evidence.’