on the International Conference: ‘Mobile
Communications and Health: Medical, Biological and Social Problems’, Sept 20-22, 2004, Moscow, Russia
Abstract: This conference
report summarizes the research, views, disagreements, recommendations and
conclusions of the above conference, with the author’s comments on the apparent
editing and changing of the final press release compared to what was stated or
agreed at the conference.
Section I: WHO
gets the final say?
Section II: The Conference Notes
Section III: Recommendations: An
oversight committee is needed
Section IV:The final conference
gets the final say?
In late September last year I attended the
International Conference: ‘Mobile Communications and Health: Medical,
Biological and Social Problems’, which took place Sept 20 – 22, in Moscow,
After that meeting I compiled my notes into an
informal report on the proceedings, dated October 10, 2004.
This report has since been updated to include my concerns over what has been
reported in the final conference statement, received on December 10th from a
member of the Russian scientific community.
On September 22, the final day of the
conference, Yuri Grigoriev, the Russian conference chairman as well as chairman
of the RNCNIRP, stated the firm view that the conference committee organisers
would draft a final conference statement that specifically addressed the
Russian concerns on potential hazards to children from their mobile phone use.
Representatives from three out of the four conference organisers expressed this
concern at the conference. These were:
1. The Russian National Committee on
Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (RNCNIRP).
2. The Russian Academy
of Science (RAS)
3. The Russian Academy
of Medical Science (RAMS).
(Note: The fourth organiser, who did not share
the others’ concerns, was the World Health Organisation (WHO), represented by
Dr Michael Repacholi)
Yuri Grigoriev was very insistent on the
importance of putting out at the conclusion of the conference a statement on
children and mobile phone use. On October 2nd I sent an email to
Eugenia Bichelday, the conference secretary, asking if a statement had been
made “specifically about the issue of children and mobile phone use”. On
October 22nd she replied stating that, “Yes, the statement was agreed and accepted”
but that it was in Russian only. I replied with a request for the Russian
version but by then she had left for other employment without managing to send
Edited version of events
On December 10th when I received the
final statement on the conference (page 18-19) it immediately was apparent from
my reading of the statement that it departed substantially from what actually
transpired at the conference. It does not
represent the vast difference of scientific viewpoint between ‘East’ and ‘West’
in regards to RF standard setting that was clearly expressed at the conference.
This can be seen by comparing Section II and IV below. Instead we read in the
‘final statement' several ‘encouraging’ statements about justifying actions
toward harmonization (see below, under Second Day, section 11b). As the WHO was
one of the conference organisers it may be surmised that they had a hand in the
editing of the final version, which is also posted on the WHO website.
The overall structure and wording of the final
conference statement (pages18-19) is very similar to press statements
previously produced by the WHO/ICNIRP (International Commission on Non-Ionising
Radiation) and in my opinion mainly represents the viewpoints expressed by
these organisations, not what was also stated by speakers from RNCNIRP, RAS and
We have some cheery statements about
precautionary actions that fail to include the words of ICNIRP’s Paulo Vecchia
at the conference when he said that “Precautionary actions… constitutes a
health detriment and should be prevented as other adverse effects of EMF”(page
15). So much for precautionary actions!
Even though much of the conference was about
Russian concerns over children’s use of mobile phones, absolutely nothing is
mentioned about this in the final statement. Yuri Grigoriev’s hope for a strong
statement on the children's issue with mobile phone use was entirely left out.
Contrary to what the statement claims, the
Russian scientists at the conference did not agree that the so called ICNIRP
‘international guidelines’ ensure adequate protection against all established
health effects – in fact their view was just the opposite: that ICNIRP did not
provide adequate health protection. This also got edited out.
The final statement boldly says, "Independent
and scientifically qualified institutions should be identified and made legally
responsible for providing unbiased information". This may sound fine but
if the omissions and un-truths in the “final statement” are examples of
"unbiased information", then whom can we really trust to give legally
"unbiased" information? And then what happens to all alternative
scientific viewpoints deemed not to be “unbiased information”? Are they
therefore illegal? Then what? - shades of Orwell’s thought police!
All viewpoints presented at the conference that
departed from the WHO/ICNIRP paradigm have been ‘sanitized’ out of the final
statement but I suppose that the Russians and their WHO/ICNIRP counterparts had
to spent long hours hammering out a compromise statement. A pity that the
Russians didn’t use a bigger hammer (and perhaps a sharp sickle!), but perhaps
this sanitation is just an example of what happens with harmonization.
Such distortion is not science but ‘spin doctoring’ at its
worst. This is a trend that unfortunately seems to have become ‘science’ in
Western RF standard setting.
II: The Conference Notes
Note: The following was prepared from
conference notes, discussions, and the conference book of abstracts. In some
cases I have summarised the presentations for clarity, in others I have tried
to make as few changes as possible. Exact quotes are in quotation brackets.
Photocopies of the book of abstracts (English section only) and my handwritten
notes are available upon request.
This being my first conference in Russia I
cannot comment on the earlier conferences except for what has been reported.
What is apparent from people who have attended the previous meetings is an
ongoing conflict between the differing rationale between the Russian (and Chinese)
radiofrequency/microwave (RF/MW) exposure limits and those of ICNIRP.
ICNIRP has long sought ‘harmonization’ with the Russian RF
standards but the Russians have maintained that ICNIRP’s thermal-effects-only
approach is not protective of workers and the public. Their preferred approach
is also to take into account possible long-term, low-level (non-thermal),
adverse biological effects (including immunological) from RF exposure –
something ICNIRP steadfastly refuses to acknowledge. As such, Russia’s
RF standard is far stricter than those of most Western countries and is set at
levels that are lower than levels emitted by most cell phones.
The very existence of the Russian and Chinese RF standards
brings into question the scientific validity of ICNIRP’s guidelines and the
ongoing series of meetings has been, and is, an attempt to resolve the
This latest Russian conference centred on a possible way to
resolve the barriers to harmonization in the form of a joint Russian/French
study to try to verify the basis for the Russian RF standard (Section 3).
At this latest conference the Russian and ICNIRP opposing
viewpoints quickly came to the forefront of discussion, with the following main
Represented by roughly two-thirds of the conference delegates. Spokespersons
included: Dr Yuri Grigoriev, Chairman of the Russian National Committee on
Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (RNCNIRP); Dr OA Grigoriev, Deputy Chairman
RNCNIRP; Dr NB Rubtsova, Russian Academy of Medical Science, RNCNIRP; Dr N
Izeerov, Russian Academy of Medical Science and Institute of Occupational
Health; Dr E Bichelday, RNCNIRP; Dr G Onischenco, Federal Service for
Consumer’s Rights and Social Welfare, Russian Academy of Medical Science, Dr
Johnson Liakouris Ana (USA), etc. (See book of abstracts for full listing)
Though numerically the larger side, the inevitable language
barrier hampered the Russian viewpoint. The majority of their presentations and
PowerPoint displays were in Russian, with a live, headphone translation service
available. Unfortunately, many of the finer points of their presentations were
difficult to follow in the translation process even though the translator did
an excellent job under the circumstances. Of course, from the Russian’s
viewpoint they could say much the same about the English-only speakers!
However, it being an International conference to help bring the Russian
scientific expertise to the ‘West’, the language gap was an unfortunate barrier
to fuller understanding, especially for technical texts. To their credit, the
Russians are going to publish their research in English soon.
Represented by Dr Michael Repacholi, WHO’s EMF Project, Paulo Vecchia, ICNIRP,
Dr Bernard Veyret, ICNIRP, Professor Lawrence Challis, AGNIR/NRPB (UK), and
Mays Swicord, Motorola, USA.
Although a smaller number, the ICNIRP/WHO team were well
organized and supported each other with a well-practiced precision. They
expressed an unwavering conviction that ICNIRP was the best science had to
offer – while at the same time being careful not to offend their Russian hosts.
IIa) Some of
the translated Russian viewpoints:
“With the rapid roll out of telecommunications technology
[globally] officials not prepared and unaware – unawareness deeper than
awareness in respect to health”. Dr G. Onischenco
“Important to separate myth and reality in regards to
preventing harmful effects – progress must be used for our benefit – and
harmful effects are not to our benefit” Dr
Urgent need to address the EMF health issue, especially
great attention must be made to overall effects on the population and children.
The effects on children are of concern to the Ministry of Health. Dr N.
possible risks of EMF from cellphones on health and communication to the public
must guarantee complete safety of cellphones. It is a new situation for safety
with high profits and mass advertising with no consideration of our advice
[RNCNIRP] on children and cell phone use. Medical and sanitary situation for
cell phones sees a sizeable gap between adults and children who voluntarily
subject themselves (brain-neural track-vestibular apparatus) to damage.
Possibility of damage to the inner ear a concern because of its complexity.” Dr
“For the first
time in the history of humans we have a mass EMF effect on the human brain
[from cellphones] which cannot be compared to other sources, such as ionizing
radiation”. Dr Yuri Grigoriev
more sensitive to EMF than adults”. Dr Yuri Grigoriev
disagreement with WHO and ICNIRP on determining health effects of EMF pathology
on daily, long-term use of cell phones (chronic low intensity) leading to
somatic diseases, somatic response changes on exposure. Dr Yuri
modulated fields - effects grow – the lower the intensity the higher the role
of modulation. This is not being considered internationally in standards.
Considering modulation effects the thermal-effects-only school is doubtful. Dr
effects for criteria or standards is not a suitable approach” Dr Yuri Grigoriev
limit time talking and proximity to antenna. . . Limit strictly the use of
mobile phones by children and limit advertising - Educate the population”. Dr Yuri Grigoriev
presentation titled: ‘Progress of Mobile Phone EMF Effects on Human Nervous
System’] Nikitina V, pages 111-12.
to EMF resulting in clinical effects: headache, sleep disorder, heartache,
irritability, dizziness, memory disturbances, sweating, epigastric pains,
disorders in menstrual cycles, memory retention, increased level of lipids,
gynaecological diseases, vegetative dysfunction. EMF considered as a
[‘Approaches to studies of mobile communication equipment effects on users’
health’] Budyanskaya E., Rezinkina M., Nikolenko E., pages 84-6.
looked at long-term VDU computer operators 1hr. per day/40 hrs week/ 60/80/160
calculations on different types and levels of EMF exposure. Long-term effects:
stress observed on main life support systems, CNS, cardiovascular and immune
system. First years of VDU work: reduction of the adaptive capacities,
reduction of anti-oxidant systems – free radical oxidation, suppression of immune
reactivity. Calls for research into effects on brain activity with cell phones.
From: [‘The Radiowave Sickness Syndrome: The Question of
Medical Entity vs. Non-existent Illness’] Liakouris
A, pages 103-4.
“The recognition of the RF sickness syndrome as a medical
entity is relevant to concerns about environmental EMF safety. The syndrome was
first identified in the USSR as
an occupational illness and named the Neurotic Syndrome. It was defined as a
pathological condition resulting from chronic exposure to radiofrequency (RF)
radiation, consisting of signs, symptoms and clinical manifestations mostly of
neurological and endocrine origin. Substantive, modern research on the
biological effects of RF radiation in the Russian
Federation has not
changed the scientist’s views on RF sickness as a medical entity.
In the USA,
there is a limited, but potentially important level of recognition. The US
Congress adopted the “Radiation Control for Health and Safety Act of 1968’,
Public Law 90-602. This law was later transferred to Chapter 9 of the Federal
Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1994. Furthermore, the New York Appellate Court,
relaying in part on the studies performed for the United
States government by
Dr Milton Zaret, recognizes an occupational disease identified as “Microwave
radiation sickness”. Nevertheless, researchers disregard RF sickness on the
basis of three main objections. First, there is no specific clinical picture
attributable to the syndrome. Second, epidemiological studies do not show a
statistically significant correlation between exposure to specific RF and the
manifestation of the syndrome. Third, when a statistically significant
correlation is attained, it is explained by an ‘awareness bias’. This author
has addressed the issue of epidemiological studies in a previously published
The objection addressed in this paper is the first one. The
data comes from a small sample of clinical reports by physicians, available in
the English literature. The patient’s exposure to RF radiation was confirmed.
The clinical reports include short-term acute and long-term occupational
exposures as well as non-lethal and lethal exposures. The period covered is 34
years, starting in 1957.
The methodology is adapted from interdisciplinary case
studies. The literature on other medical syndromes also lacking a specific
clinical picture is taken into account. Then, the clinical reports are
cross-referenced for regularities or the lack of it. If regularities are found,
a rationale is presented for testing these in the laboratory, using modern
tools and methods.
The broader context for analysis indicates that the lack of
a conventional clinical picture is also characteristic of syndromes involving
immune system responses. The analysis of the data indicates that one symptom is
consistently reported in all cases of non-lethal exposures. The clinical
reports answer Western objections.
From: [‘Psychophysiological Analysis of EMF Effects From
Cellular Communications Equipment on CNS Function’] Polyakova SP, pages 112-13.
Study using 20 healthy professional users of mobile phones.
10 men, average age of 38, 10 women, average age of group 34. Average of four
years’ use, approximately 20 minutes daily. Tested an assessment of mental
functions – memory, intelligence, attention, definition of biological age, etc.
Found significant changes in brain EEG activity, lowered intellectual function
and attention. Long-term use of mobile phone shows trend in build up of
“It is possible to assume that the long-term use of a mobile
communication can start a trend to a build-up of biological age, increasing
with the amount of time of using mobile devices”. . . It shows low grade
hypoergia, a low-grade parasympathotonia, a strain on immunodefence,
restriction of organism regulation, break-down of adaptation, incomplete
adaptation, stress – and reaction to stimulation.
Yuri Grigoriev mentions from the Chair that “The mobile phone studies are
lagging behind the roll-out of the technology and designers and technocrats are
defining the meaning of a ‘safe’ mobile phone”.
Discussion “Mobile phones and children”
Yuri Grigoriev started off deriding the cell phone industry
for “placing quick money and profits as paramount, using mass advertising
techniques”. Yuri stated that “we cannot ignore the potential of damage to
children’s health because of quick profit”. He expressed his (and RNCNIRP’s)
concern over the possibility of ‘long-term loss’ - meaning for children. Yuri
said’ “Corporations talk about absence of health effects, these scientists are
conduits of the corporate line”.
Yuri sees the WHO as being “insufficient on the
precautionary principle” and went on to mention much of the information
explaining why children are a special case for precaution, as detailed in
.. This paper was compiled by this author in 2003 with the help of Dr Vladimir
Bindi and sent to Yuri Grigoriev.
Yuri then accused Michael Repacholi of avoiding the issue of
children and mobile phones. He went on to list studies and the microwave
sickness symptoms, which he said depend on duration and number of calls.
“Children are at high risk – cut down sharply their use”.
Later that day Yuri made the point that children are more
sensitive than adults to RF exposures and it should be possible to protect
children by making recommendations limiting their duration of calls and making
calls only when necessary. He wanted to see a joint statement on children and
mobile phone use by the conference committee at the end of the conference but,
as of this writing, it is unknown if such a statement was given; unlikely, given
the involvement of ICNIRP.
Speakers: Yuri Grigoriev, O. Gregoriev, Dr G. Onischenco.
Grigoriev started by comparing the cell phone industry with
the tobacco industry, where the industry disguised the hazards of tobacco and
hid the cancer connection. The Ministry of Health and Social Development aims
to devise practical objectives to eliminate hazards and provide society with
reliable, scientifically sound information on health issues; develop
information for the public with basic documents and develop educational
program; and develop standards for safety/technical regulations for
participation of developers [industry] in safeguarding the public. Russian
research sees direct effects on the immune system. Need for studies on chronic
exposure of mobiles.
Grigoriev: “For the first time in history children are at
risk from EMF technological development.”
From: [‘News about Russian Hygienic Standardization of
Mobile Communications’] Rubtsova N,
Pal’tsev, pages 114-5.
In 1994 Russia
developed its ‘temporary permissible levels’ (PL) for mobile phone
communications in the frequency range 400 to 1200 Mhz, including a system of
EMF evaluation for power density measurements in the near-zone of cellular
phone antenna radiation. This document can no longer be considered correct, as
it does not reflect the real picture of electromagnetic energy radiation.
The Russian Federation therefore carried out development of
new hygienic norms (standards), which included complex researches on mobile
communication permissible level substantiation including: experimental studying
of intensity and time dependencies of modulated EMF biological effects;
computer modelling of mobile phone EMF interaction with bio-objects (rat)
character; development of an adequate technique of mobile phone EMF
measurement; physiological evaluation of cardiovascular and nervous systems
parameters in volunteers before and after using a mobile phone. Experiments
used 450, 900 and 1800 MHz with 0.5 and 2.0 mW/cm2 (rats, 1 hour per
day – 40 sessions exposure, and 2-weeks after exposure) to body weight changes,
CNS (on parameters of free behaviour and morphology of a brain), cytogenetic
parameters, eye lens crystalline epithelium (cataracts) and specific and
non-specific effects on immunity.
Results have allowed us to establish a threshold of
unfavourable effect under EMF exposure, equal to 0.5 mW/cm2 power
density. Applying a hygienic safety factor of 5, this gives 0.1 mW/cm2
PD accepted as mobile phone EMF temporary permissible level (also for mobile
phone base stations). This value is recognized in new sanitary norms and
regulation 2.1.8/2.2.41190-03, “Hygienic requirements to siting and maintaining
a mobile radio communication system”, commissioned on 01/06/2003.
To estimate mobile phone EMF levels (handset exposures) as
the most adequate to be acceptable, a method of their measurement of the
distances appropriate to the far field zone with return recalibration for
levels in a near zone was developed. For maintenance of this principle of EMF
level control at sanitary and epidemiological examination of cellular phones,
the calculations establishing (installing) distances from the device on which EMF controllable levels providing
established Permissible Levels in the far field zone should not be exceeded,
were carried out. The distances appropriate to a far field zone were
determined, allowing EMF levels to be adequately estimated in >300-2400 MHz
frequency range, with return recalibration of values in a near zone. Power density
controllable level to 100uW/cm2 Permissible Level at these distances
has achieved 3.0 uW/cm2.
Use of this principle of EMF levels estimation created by a
mobile phone near to user’s head shows that the overwhelming majority of
cellular phones delivered on the Russian market and made in conformity with
requirements of standard ENV 50166-2, do not satisfy our country’s hygienic
requirements, which causes problems with their sanitary and epidemiological
examination on parameters of safety.
The unique decision on solving this question must involve a
full understanding of modulated EMF, biological effects research to develop
appropriate cellular communication standards. Any principle of protection using
time definition must take enough account of a powerful modulated EMF source of
exposure near to the head of the person (involving the brain, eye, etc).
Special attention is required with respect to categories of
persons with increased safety risk: children, the ill, pregnant women, etc.
This is reflected in new sanitary norms and regulations 2.1.8/126.96.36.1990-03.
For these contingencies, the following actions are recommended: the greatest
possible reduction in mobile phone use time; restriction on the use of mobile
phone by persons under 18 years, women during pregnancy, and people with
different types of pacemakers.
From: ‘Threshold of hazardous effects of EMF’, Research
Institute of Hygiene.
Use criteria to minimise EMF at levels that affect human
disability. Russian standards recognize ‘compensatory responses’:
Compensatory response---------à Health effect.
Strongly advise against raising the limits to above the
compensatory response levels.
From: ‘Russian Information project for population, ‘Mobile
communications and Health’ ‘
Mobile communications electromagnetic safety is a priority.
There are currently approx. 40 million subscribers in Russia.
Lack of data available, risk of unfavourable effects and lack of assurance of
either risk or safety. Economic and social benefits increase risks. The primary
exposure overall is at the head. “A precautionary policy may be insufficient
without fully rejecting the technology”. Precautionary approach must include
community awareness – society should know the implications as an involved
partner. When communication fails between stakeholders and communities,
distrust arises over all technologies.
Aims of the RNCNIRP:
* Awareness and joint involvement.
* Education necessary for all users and those involved.
Developing an education program involves:
*Adequate societal perception of risk
* Conflict resolution
*An information centre that will have the results of
scientific studies made freely available, various scientific measures [to
reduce exposures], and organisations such as RNCNIRP, IEEE, WHO, ICNIRP, etc.
“There is a constitutional right of Russian population for
factual information to protect health from cellular technology”.
Yuri Grigoriev: mentioned that the Moscow city
RF standard for cell sites is 3 uW/cm2. He listed three Russian web sites for
From: ‘The Forecast of Ecological-Economic Development of
Networks of Mobile Communication at Introduction of the Tax for Influence of
Electromagnetic Radiation’, Somov A et
In this rather contentious presentation Somov proposes a
possible way to solve the problem of cellular technology emissions being in
excess of the Russian standard. For all transmitting facilities, even if not exceeding
the allowable limits, authorities would charge an ‘ecological tax’ for using a
‘national resource’ (the electromagnetic spectrum). If it was then found that
any facility was exceeding the allowable limits, they would be charged an
excess fee for breaching the limits (perhaps five times the base rate)! It was
claimed that this would encourage the operators to increase the amount of base
stations, therefore reducing each facility’s emission levels.
This presentation provoked a heated argument amongst the
Russians because, as one speaker interjected, it was allowing economic
considerations to take precedence over health. Two other comments were: “ We
see a very nasty presentation that has been made” and, “It’s like legalising
concluding remarks at the conference
* “Agreement amongst colleagues that the standards must be
grounded properly and we will do all we can in that direction.”
* Grigoriev said that
“for children and mobile phones the picture is perfectly clear” – he then
suggested drafting a memorandum concerning children’s use of mobile phones that
called for restrictions on children’s use of mobile phones.
WHO and ICNIRP representative’s viewpoints
‘WHO update on the EMF Project, Health
Effects of Radiofrequency Fields from Mobile Telecommunications and
Recommendations to National Authorities’, Michael Repacholi, pages 66-9.
The EMF Project evaluates health impacts
from 0 to 300 GHz. Activities include:
* Creates and disseminates information on
health impacts from EMF exposure,
* Includes standards harmonization on
national standards to that of ICNIRP,
* Conducts scientific reviews,
* Studies risk perception - a handbook on
risk soon available on website,
* Psychosocial impacts of EMF exposure (Graz, 1998),
* Child sensitivity to EMF (Prague, 2004),
* Mobile phone base station impacts (Geneva),
* TNO study.
“One of the major initiatives of the EMF
Project is to provide a framework for standards that should lead to their
harmonization worldwide. Many countries are considering new EMF standards and
globalization of trade and the rapid introduction of mobile telecommunications
worldwide have focused attention on the large differences existing in national
standards. Differences in the EMF limit values between standards in some
Eastern European and Western countries are, in some cases, over 100 times. This
has led to increased public anxiety about EMF exposures from new technologies.
The objective of this activity is to work toward, and hopefully achieve,
international agreement on a framework for developing guidelines on protection
of the public and workers from exposure to EMF. The framework is now complete
and being edited prior to posting on the EMF Project website.”
Repacholi mentioned that approximately 12
Russian studies on RF exposure that reported effects on the CNS and
immunological effects serve as a main basis for the Russian RF standard (and
the Chinese one as well). He stated that there is the need to evaluate these
studies in light of modern methods. He said that there was a necessity of doing
good research – establishing design and quality criteria, peer-review and
getting published. If studies pass these criteria then they are of the quality
to be incorporated into a health risk assessment. . .
“WHO promotes research that is useful.”
“Single studies cannot set policy.” Mentioned
his Adelaide study as a (+) study but then the Utteridge one as a (-)
one, suggesting that one cancels out the other?
Repacholi mentioned the INTERPHONE study
of 13 countries studying head and neck cancers.
Note: A major lack of the INTERPHONE
study is that the criteria for inclusion starts at 30 years of age, so it has
absolutely no relevance to the issue of children and mobile phone use
WHO criteria for study evaluation
* In depth – weight of evidence is
* Review – worldwide review of research
* Detailed description of methods used
* Assess both + and - studies for
Repacholi on base station emissions
* Under 1 uW/cm2 – usually
lower than radio and TV emissions
* Difficult to distinguish individual
sources of emissions
* Pregnant women not at risk because
microwaves do not penetrate deeply.
* Children – more research needed on cell
ICNIRP is a useful partner with
WHO–ICNIRP exposure standards (guidelines) based on known health effects
(including IEEE). Emission standards based on the need of the device, such as
microwave ovens @ 5 cm = 5 mW/cm2.
Limits set should not be lower than the
exposure standards. There should be international agreement on emissions
“WHO recommends ICNIRP, which uses WHO
The EMF project is developing a
Precautionary Framework (page 67). A case study for ELF fields has been done
and one is being developed for RF fields – case studies in other areas of
scientific uncertainty will also be drafted.
When dealing with the public – minimise
risk but there can never be zero risk.
Risk publications are available on WHO
Mentioned EMF effects on children – Stewart
report and then the Health Council of the Netherlands – COST – dosimetry on absorption - Istanbul workshop.
“RF exposure from base stations involves
aesthetics and public sensibilities – need for “open communication” and
“effective communication”. “WHO is developing model legislation for base
stations . . .”
Repacholi/WHO on RF health effects
“ Hazards of exposure to high levels of
RF fields, which result in tissue heating, are basically understood and form
the basis for current international standards (ICNIRP, 1998). Thermal hazards
are associated with acute exposures and are thought to be characterised by
threshold exposures, below which no health effects occur. There is no confirmed
evidence that exposure to RF fields has any long-term health consequences.”
‘Overview of mobile telephony and
Health’, Dr Bernard Veyret
Most people’s concerns are about base
stations not the phones themselves – half the energy from a phone is absorbed
by the head.
ICNIRP SAR (specific absorption rate) = 2
W/kg/10 gram averaged / 0.08 W/kg for whole body.
Typical base station is 1/10,000 the
ICNIRP limit. Cell phones: 1/10 the limit.
Veyret mentioned the various phone
studies, such as Perform, A&B, Reflex, Cemfec, Ramps, Guard, EMF-NET,
* Veyret supports heating-effects-only
view but other effects should be investigated.
* Exposure systems are now adequate.
* Western research shows no overall
evidence of genotoxicity from RF exposure.
* All observed effects are due to thermal
* SAR effects only seen above 4 W/kg.
* With human studies there are no
conclusive evidence of effects.
* Supports WHO/ICNIRP.
* No impact on health below ICNIRP
“The weight of scientific evidence does
not support health concerns or indicate any health risks from mobile phones in
However, there is as yet “no answer to
the children’s issue on phones”.
‘Studies in the RF Data Base Relevant to
the Use of Mobile Phones by Children’. Swicord M, Elder J, pages 88-9
After the authors list a number of animal
studies that it was claimed found no evidence of ill health effects they
conclude that, “The RF literature does not provide support for the developing
animal, as a surrogate for the developing human, being more sensitive than adults
to RF exposure. This conclusion is in agreement with the 2004 report from the
Health Council of the Netherlands stating that there is “…no reason for
recommending limiting the use of mobile phones by children” and advice from the
US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stating that, “The scientific evidence
does not show a danger to users of wireless phones, including children and
‘A Review of the Western In Vivo and
Epidemiological Literature Related To Immunological Effects of Radiofrequency
Exposure’, Swicord M, Morrissey J, Elder J, Chou C, page 120.
‘Extensive evaluation of the published
radiofrequency biological effects literature is necessary to determine the
health risk and levels of safe exposure. Standard setting organizations must begin
such a health risk assessment by considering all possible adverse health
outcomes before providing guidance to the public. This paper considers only one
endpoint, immunological effects, due to health questions raised in Russia. This report concentrates on the 70 or more in vivo and
epidemiological studies in the Western literature addressing immune effects. In
vitro studies are not reviewed because adverse health outcomes cannot be
established through in vitro studies, although in vitro studies can serve to
generate hypotheses for further analysis.
‘A number of the studies report no change
in immune response to RF exposure or report effects only at thermal levels. A
few studies in the Western literature, however, do report changes at exposure
levels that would not cause temperature elevation. However, the results of the
studies reporting effects at low-level exposures are generally inconsistent
with each other as well as with the larger body of evidence reporting no
effects at similar RF exposure levels.’
Health Implications of TETRA, Challis L, pages 86-8.
“… The view of the UK’s Advisory Group on Non-Ionizing radiation (AGNIR) that
was published in 2003 is broadly in line with the views of many other groups.
It believes that the weight of evidence does not suggest there are adverse
health effects from RF exposures below ICNIRP guidelines. However, since mobile
phones have only been in widespread use for a relatively short time, the
possibility remains open that there could be such effects. So for TETRA we need
to ask whether there is any reason why exposure from TETRA signals should be
more likely to produce adverse health effects than those from GSM signals at
900 or 1800 MHz or those from analogue radios previously in use… The emission
from TETRA phones (though not base stations) is pulsed at 17.6 Hz… There is no
reason to suppose that pulsing-switching the RF on and off-should lead to
additional biological effects unless it can be demodulated to produce electric
fields at 17.6 Hz greater than around 2 mVm2 (ICNIRP
guidelines) … A review of TETRA by the
UK’s AGNIR Group (2001) concluded that “it is unlikely that the special
features from the signals from TETRA mobile terminals and repeaters pose a
hazard to health, Furthermore research is desirable, however, to establish this
* Challis said that he accepts Bernard
* He is sceptical of the Calcium Efflux
studies (Adey, Blackmore 1979, 1992, Kettel 1996) that would indicate that the
17.6 Hz pulsing may be hazardous.
* He thought that demodulation in
biological tissue was unlikely.
* Health complaints are psychosomatic
illness only – worrying can make you sick.
Challis later mentioned that he supports
ICNIRP because “we need to depend upon good science”. He blamed both the UK government and industry for not getting the proper
information out to the public.
From the Round Table
Discussion ‘Mobile phones and children’
Michael Repacholi: Children identified as Stage 1 for health protection.
– Identified when the evidence for health
risks is judged suggestive, but insufficient to meet the criteria for assessing
– Established on the basis of unconfirmed
effects having applications for health – and replication of studies essential.
* Children are generally more sensitive
to many environmental agents.
* EMF magnetic fields classified as a 2B
possible carcinogen based on childhood leukaemia studies – real evidence
according to Repacholi.
* IEGMP – Repacholi mentions the
precautionary recommendations on children’s extra sensitivity in that report
but then goes on to state:
* US FDA advice on children and mobile phones (no effects at
* Health Council of the Netherlands (no effects at all)
Repacholi said it was unethical to test
for EMF effects on children. He said that the WHO has not recommended any
precautionary advice to children and cell phone use because current studies are
not suggestive of any special sensitivity of children from exposure to EMF. He
claims that the current evidence isn’t sufficient for conclusions to be made.
Repacholi on the WHO
* Precautionary measures being looked at.
* Research agenda being developed.
* Workshop reports almost complete.
Later Repacholi stated that “children
in-utero receive more microwave radiation from the mother than all artificial
sources of EMF”. He said that the WHO don’t have the science to make
recommendations based on science, not fantasy, regarding children and mobile
‘International Standards for Children’,
Paulo Vecchia, ICNIRP.
ICNIRP uses a two level protection
system, basic restrictions and reference levels.
“ Only solid science taken into
consideration in setting guidelines”…“Quality of study and consideration of
‘ICNIRP process and children?’
* Are there any health effects or
biological effects relevant for health (RF exposure) that is specific for
* If so, do they occur at lower levels
than for adults?
* Is the threshold for any given effect
lower for children than adults?
* Is dosimetry for children different
Vecchia then claimed that children are
taken into account by ICNIRP but in regards to children and mobile phone use it
is not the responsibility of ICNIRP. “Therefore there is no need or
justification for a special approach to children”.
‘Future developments in ICNIRP’, Paulo
“ICNIRP only considers acute effects in
its precautionary principle approach. Consideration of long-term effects not
Then Vecchia made the astonishing
statement: “Precautionary actions to address public concerns may increase
rather than mitigate worries and fears of the public. This constitutes a health
detriment and should be prevented as other adverse effects of EMF.”
My comment: I suppose from this that we
could conclude that ICNIRP considers precautionary actions as a thermal effect!
Vecchia’s conclusion: “There are no
reasons on present evidence to revise existing guidelines”.
Later that day Repacholi called on Russia to publish their research that the Russian RF standards
are based on so that the WHO and ICNIRP could do an assessment on the data. He
said that it was important to have their standards based on “good science”.
In reply Yuri Grigoriev stated that Russia would soon start publishing its data in English.
Repacholi asked what is the use of the
Russian standards if the millions of phones sold in Russia met the ICNIRP guidelines but not the Russian ones? And
later he asked: “How can you tell the public to give up their phones because
they are in excess of the standards?”
Repacholi’s concluding remarks at the conference
* The conference seen as a sharing of
information between East / West scientists.
* WHO wants to make sure people are
properly protected from all forms of radiation.
* WHO wants all information Russia has for their rationale their standards – we want to know
all information through the WHO.
* WHO will help translate key studies.
* Countries at this point are getting
their national authorities to review their standards.
* Russian authorities urged in a full way
also to review their standards as it is important to maintain “scientific
credibility”… “Science must be the basis
for developing health-based standards”.
* Russian colleagues must recognize we
live in a global community – “we” (WHO, ICNIRP) can “help your national
Russian – French Study
The basis for both the Russian and
Chinese RF standards are largely based on 9 (or possibly 12) RF studies (1975
to 1986) that examined semi-chronic, low intensity RF effects on the immune
system. The Russians claim that the results of these studies found a
statistical significance for an unfavourable process in the immune system of
rats’ exposure to pulsed microwaves at levels 50 to 500 uW/cm2.
Effects were seen on brain tissues, blood serum, and effects on the foetus.
Exposure times were 30 days, with some at 15 days.
It is claimed that long-term exposure can
cause adverse health effects in the population at levels 50-500+ uW/cm2.
Heating effects do not play a role, which is in direct contradiction to both
WHO and ICNIRP’s thermal-effects-only doctrine and is the fundamental stumbling
block in the ongoing series of conferences between Russia and ICNIRO/WHO, etc.
In this latest
conference discussions centred on a planned joint Russian – French study to
confirm (or not) the Russian RF studies that their standard is largely based
upon. The French effort will be under
the guidance of Bernard Veyret. The
main topics that he has addressed recently concerned the effects of pulsed
low-power microwaves on the immune system of mice and the effects of strong
pulsed magnetic fields on the proliferation of tumour cells in culture and on
the growth of tumours in vivo. He is currently investigating the effects of
mobile telephones on biological systems. He has been an ICNIRP member since
The Project will use animal studies using
chronic low intensity microwaves at 2450 MHz. Repacholi expressed the
importance of confirming the Russian studies “We want to know if this effect
exists”. Repacholi said those RF immune system studies in the US and Europe are uniformly negative. The WHO is not interested in exact
replication but use the best available dosimetry to determine if immune
responses to RF from mobile phone use are real.
Veyret favours a confirmation study
because they consider a confirmation as more realistic as the Russian exposure
systems used in the time frame of 1975 to 1986 are now antiquated with far more
accurate systems now used in the West. Yuri Grigoriev favours an exact
Objectives of study
1) Evaluation of 30-day, low-level, 2450
MHz microwave exposure at 0.6 W/kg on rats, using immunological parameters.
2) A determination of mechanisms.
Phase 1= Dose assessment on mode of
Phase 2= Design of a new exposure system
or use available whole-body exposure systems.
Phase 3= Exposure of animals – protocol
to be established.
1) Russian studies – Assay level of
antibodies against various antigens. Opening of the BBB? Inflammation of the
2) Infiltrating lymphocytes. Lymphocyte
sub populations, use ELISA Assays (1/2) and (2/2).
3) Schedule funding. Scheduled to start
in 2005 and run for two years. Funding from: national institutions, industry
and the USAF in Europe, Swiss Research Foundation on Mobile Communication.
Personnel for study
Michael Geffard, Isabelle Lagroye, (slide
then removed) through Barnard Veyret’s PION labs in France.
External advice to the Project by the
WHO, Brookes AFB (US), Rosa Sypniewski (?)
Yuri Grigoriev mentioned that CW, not
pulsed, microwaves would be used for the study. CW at 2450 MHz. However, with
sufficient funding pulsed microwaves could be used as well.
END OF CONFERENCE
Section III: Recommendations: An oversight committee is
October 10, 2004
Consider the two possible outcomes and
implications for the Russian-French study.
1) The study fails to confirm the Russian
studies, ie. no effects are found on immune system function from RF exposures:
It would then be argued by WHO and ICNIRP
that this invalidates the main basis for both the Russian and Chinese RF
standards and therefore if they wanted to maintain any scientific credibility
they should accept ICNIRP and the thermal-effects-only paradigm. A likely
victory for ICNIRP’s global harmonization - a fantastic outcome for ICNIRP.
2) The study does find an adverse
effect on the immune system that re-confirms the Russian studies:
This would give a great boost to the
Russian non-thermal viewpoint and give worldwide credibility to their
standards. At the same time it would be a serious blow to ICNIRP and its
long-standing acute-effects-only mantra, and its global push for harmonization.
It would also bring the credibility of all those Western thermal-effects-only
scientists into question and the entire basis for many national RF exposure
standards that follow ICNIRP, IEEE, etc. Additionally, any assurances of safety
from telecommunications would be out the window and provide a great boost for
community activists campaigning over health grounds.
Of course, ICNIRP could then state that
one study cannot set policy and that this finding now has to be replicated –
giving some years’ time to do damage control. Even so, the process of
harmonization would be dead in the water for some time to come. For ICNIRP this
would be a disastrous outcome.
Therefore, it is my opinion that ICNIRP
has too much at stake to be impartial in this study, while at the same time it
will be deeply involved in designing the criteria and conduct of the study.
What is urgently needed is an ‘oversight committee’, a small group of
independent radiation experts not tied to WHO, ICNIRP, the telecommunications
industry, or the RNCNIRP, and having the expertise to ensure that all is above
board so that the results of the study cannot be questioned. They would not
take part in the study but act as external monitors, similar to what we see the
UN do in some country’s national elections.
Members of this committee should only be
included if they meet with the approval of both the Russian and French teams.
This process should take place in the public arena. The Russian scientific
community should insist upon such an oversight committee for their scientific
credibility may ultimately depend upon it. (October 10, 2004)
Section IV: The final conference “Statement”
Received December 10, 2004
Communication & Health: medical, biological & social problems’, Moscow, Russia, 20-22
safety of mobile communication base stations
‘The conference “Mobile Communication and Health: medical,
biological, and social problems” was held in Moscow on
20-22, 2004. It was jointly organized by the
Russian National Committee on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection within the
World Health Organization's (WHO) International EMF Project. Representatives of
WHO, the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection
(ICNIRP), and scientists from 14 different countries discussed the topic of
"Electromagnetic safety of base stations of mobile communication."
‘The development of mobile
communications and the consequent need for global coverage networks has led to
the installation of large numbers of mobile communication base stations. As a
result there has been a need to fully characterize exposure levels around base
stations, to check compliance with national and international exposure standards,
and to assess possible health risks of public exposure.
‘These issues were debated within the
conference and experience on the handling of base stations in some of the
participating countries was also discussed.
’After comprehensive discussion, the
following conclusions were agreed by the participants:
- The level
of safety of electromagnetic sources, including base stations for mobile
communication, should be evaluated with reference to accepted,
- From a
comprehensive review of the large body of scientific literature, a
consensus exists that international guidelines, as well as Russian
national regulations, ensure adequate protection against all established
health effects of radiofrequency fields according to current knowledge level;
large discrepancies exist between Russian and international standards – in
particular in the frequency region of interest for mobile communication –
that justify actions towards harmonization;
- To this
purpose, participation of Russian scientists in the actions for world-wide
harmonization of standards promoted by WHO’s International EMF Project, is
- In view
of the continuous development of telecommunications – and of mobile
telephony in particular – it is recommended that further research be
promoted and international collaboration and information exchange be
setting research needs and priorities, reference should be made to WHO’s
research agenda; active contribution of Russian scientists to the
periodical update of such agenda is sought;
exposure to electromagnetic fields radiated from base stations are well
below limits recommended by international and national standards; this has
been supported by the results of surveys conducted in various countries,
and presented at the Conference;
the public sensitivity towards base stations, it is recommended that
mobile communication operators, as well as national agencies, consider the
possibility of precautionary actions; the Precautionary Framework
suggested by WHO provides useful guidance for such actions;
- It is
imperative that open and transparent communications occur between all
parties involved and easy access of the public to the relevant information
and scientifically qualified institutions should be identified and made
legally responsible for providing unbiased information, checking
compliance with the standards, and providing advice in cases of
‘The above recommendations should be
brought to the attention of all parties interested in the development of mobile
communication, including international organisations, national authorities,
manufacturers and operators, and the public.’