A Report on Non-Ionizing Radiation

Ross Adey (1922-2004)

May 20, 2004

W. Ross Adey died on May 20th at the age of 82 after a long battle against a series of bronchial infections.

Adey, a medical doctor, was a towering figure in the EMF community, who was equally at ease talking about the most recent papers in the biological and medical literature or dissecting the arcane engineering details of an experimental setup. He is perhaps best known for discovering, with Suzanne Bawin, the first non-thermal effect of electromagnetic radiation during the 1970s: They showed how ELF-modulated RF signals can lead to the release of calcium ions from cells.

While at the Brain Research Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, he worked with the Department of Defense on Project Pandora, the super-secret program that sought a way to use electromagnetic radiation for mind control. In the late 1970s, Adey set up a new lab at the VA Hospital in Loma Linda, CA, where he carried out studies on the role of power frequency EMFs in the promotion of cancer and later, on the potential cancer risks following exposure to cell phone radiation.

As the chair of a committee of the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP) investigating ELF health effects, Adey made waves by recommending strong action to curb public exposures. He endorsed a 2 mG exposure standard for 50/60 Hz EMFs (see MWN, J/A95, p.1). This was too radical for the NCRP leadership and today, close to ten years later, the council continues to refuse to release his report.

Adey prompted another stir when his studies of long-term exposure to cell phone radiation pointed to what appeared to be a protective effect —that is, exposed mice developed fewer tumors (see MWN, M/J96, p.8; J/A96, p.11; and S/O99, p.13). Motorola, which paid for Adey’s experiments, repudiated this finding and soon afterwards stopped supporting his lab. It closed down a short time later. In an interview with Fortune magazine in October 2000, Adey urged that research continue: “There is a big task ahead to define what the l owest level of safe exposure could be,” he said, predicting that, “Wherever we go we will be immersed in a sea of low-level pulsed microwave signals.”

A memorial service will be held in a few weeks in the Los Angeles area.