by EMR Stop: June 2011
The WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, IARC, recently dropped well known bioelectromagnetics scientist Anders Ahlbom from their panel, for fears of conflict of interest. Ahlbom’s brother owned a company which consults to telecom companies, and Anders Ahlbom is a director. Soon thereafter, Ahlbom filed with IARC an amended declaration of “potential conflicts of interest”. Fresh on the heels of that news came this classification from the group who met in Lyon, France for the past week, and it made front page news across the globe.
There is robust scientific evidence that electromagnetic radiation is a Ubiquitous Universal
Genotoxic Carcinogen. If this understanding was applied to the data available in 1982,
when IARC declared benzene a Human Carcinogen, then the level of data for RF/MW
radiation being a human carcinogen was considerably stronger than that for benzene. A
large body of laboratory experiments and epidemiological studies now confirm the
-Dr. Neil Cherry, "Health Effects in the vicinity of Radio/TV towers and mobile phone base
Finally, IARC gets to the point where it makes an acknowledgement of what a significant body of scientific literature and experts have articulated for quite some time now: non-thermal levels of EMR, as experienced by users in the operation of a mobile phone, can actually lead to cancer. IARC has given mobile / cell phone radiation a 2B classification indicating that it is “possibly carcinogenic to humans”.
The substantial body of evidence on non-thermal biological effects of EMR has been ignored in a now decades long tradition, and bodies such as WHO’s ICNIRP have cemented the industry protectionism that is wholly against the interests of public health. It has been an industry convenience to ignore these non thermal effects, using this dichotomy of thermal/non-thermal as a convenient barrier from which to adopt a demarcating line of refusal to see, having the effect of allowing industry to maintain high levels of population exposures to wireless technologies. It’s an appalling situation driven by politics and, above all, the economic gain of vested interests.
Of course, if the users of phones were to take seriously the assessment by IARC, this would undoubtedly lead to reduced revenue of the wireless telecommunications sector. As could be expected the industry reaction, by groups such as CTIA, has been to try to throw the ‘rug of uncertainty’ back over this decision by IARC.
Regrettably, the IARC 2B classification is altogether too easy for industry to belittle and obfuscate, and the press—be they gullible, complicit, or just plain lazy—seem quite willing to assist in the task. Industry and others involved in damage control against the IARC classification state that substances such as coffee and pickles (of course which are likely to be seen as highly benign by the population) are also on the list of 2B substances. To be less mendacious in their statement they should have acknowledged other substances that are on the list, such as Aflatoxins, Chloroform, DDT, lead, methyl mercury, diesel fumes and gasoline. Australian media was most notable in its simple regurgitation of these industry damage control statements (e.g., the Sydney Morning Herald) whilst at least the New York Times exhibited a better standard of journalism in giving a clear picture about the 2B list and the industry’s bias in focussing upon pickles & coffee.
So this very serious issue of electromagnetic radiation and health is dumped into a less serious light by its 2B classification. It is a start, but it is wholly inadequate to really address the EMR problem. To reiterate, the literature is warning us that modern pulsed microwave EMR is a far more dire toxin than the natural foodstuffs that industry is so keen for us to see as synonymous with their toxic emissions.
In this EMR issue, the cliché of uncertainty and “more studies required” is usually pronounced whenever those in positions of intellectual or institutional authority are questioned about scientific evidence demonstrating that mobile phones can cause cancer. Given the literature to the contrary, this is pure collective mendacity, and when spoken by those with perceived authority it lends to a psychological inertia about doing anything precautionary. Nevertheless, even on the basis of this facade, it would be thought that in the face of such “uncertainty”, that the precautionary approach would be a strongly advised course of action. However, many in the business of scientific or institutional decision-making seem to view the precautionary approach as quite unfashionable. One notable comment was from Siemiatycki, the head of epidemiological research of IARC, who stated “If we had applied it 2000 years ago, we’d still be in caves, making fires by rubbing sticks together”. Given the indications of harm from EMR, if we had mobile phones back when we were in caves, indeed we might have gone the way of dinosaurs by now—making the point mute. One part of the literature which points specifically at this is the teratogenic effect of radiation on the lifelong quota of ova present in young girls. Exposed to EMR from a young age, these girls might look forward to using an ovum “for practical purposes” later in life that had genetic damage from EMR. This genetic damage would be carried to her offspring and all further offspring down the family line thereafter, as long as the genetic line survived. This fact provoked UK ex-military scientist Dr Barrie Trower to state that it was one of the most disconcerting of things for him in the whole spectrum of harmful effects from “low-level” EMR exposure.
The caveat that has broadly followed from the IARC announcement in the mass media is to use speakerphone, headsets, and limit the use of mobile phones. But this is all just too little and too weak, given the known mechanisms of operation of EMR upon biological systems. Disruption of the blood brain barrier, membrane and metabolic disruption of cells and neurones, and heat shock protein formation by bodily cells are but a few key elements of the evidence that should be causing enormous alarm in the arena of public health—and indeed they would be if the wireless industry was not allowed to subvert the priorities of government. The disturbances of cell metabolism and neural communications that are evident because of EMR are indicated to be not dose-responsive or linear in nature, and operate in windows of function which are not simply variant with amplitude (or frequency, for that matter). No, cellphone industry scientists, this does not mean that the phenomenon does not exist. It is just not properly understood. The damage is still clearly there.
Heat shock proteins are liberated by cells at very low amplitudes of EMR, perhaps even millions of times lower than current guidelines for tower exposure (let alone mobile phone SAR assessment). The potential for cancer or other chronic disorder as a long term effect of constantly stressed cells is clear. This indicates that we are being way too flippant with our approach to the EMR toxin, and many will suffer the consequences of this appallingly uncaring attitude.
COROLLARY OF THE IARC DECISION
The ramifications of this announcement by IARC, as weak and tardy as it is, are profound. It is a step in the right direction from a collective establishment that has engaged in economic interests before public health for way too long. Public health policy and absurdly ineffectual guidance levels set out by entities such as WHO’s ICNIRP, must be completely revised.
Mobile phones pressed to the head are just the first in a long litany of EMR insanities that should be curtailed for prudent precautionary action. EMR is a toxic accumulant. This is a point that seems to be lost on the legislators. When you dig deep enough into the interphone study (actually, the appendix is where you first come across it) it shows a positive correlation for glioma (in 190 cases, OR=2.18, 95%CI 1.43 – 3.31) and meningioma. The “heaviest users” are those who are most accumulated with EMR, and most likely to manifest the increased rates of glioma. They don’t have enough longitudinal data to make assumptions about other groups. Given that toxic accumulation is a factor in the biological expression of EMR, we are creating some very heavy lifetime exposures in the making. Far less emphasis should be placed upon the short term dosage per unit time experienced by individuals, as it obfuscates the danger.
Critical implications of this relate not just to mobile phones, but also to DECT phone base stations and their constant emissions, mobile phone towers and computer wireless networks. Presently, children everywhere—who arguably constitute the most vulnerable members of our community with respect to pulsed microwave electromagnetic radiation (and EMR more generally), are nevertheless exposed for many hours per day to these emissions via wholly unnecessary sources such as the frequent installation of mobile phone towers adjacent to schools, and/or the installation of wireless LANs within the schools themselves. The cumulative exposure of these children across each year, when calculated out and compared against the amounts of EMR that are known to cause damage, is potentially leading us into a public health debacle and tragedy beyond belief in its magnitude. How can such culpability in public health governance and the regulation of wireless technologies exist?
Given the recent IARC classification (and despite its uncertainty) such culpability can be tolerated no longer. It is something we need to proclaim our concerns about more loudly than ever before.