A Report on Non-Ionizing Radiation

EPRI: Microwave News Article Archive (2004 - )

February 25, 2014

Five years ago we reported on what we thought was an important clue in the search for understanding the well-documented association between childhood leukemia and EMF exposure. A team based in Shanghai presented evidence that children carrying a genetic variation linked to DNA repair were four times more likely to develop leukemia than those without that genetic marker. We called the finding a “major breakthrough” and predicted, “It simply cannot be ignored.”

We were wrong. So wrong.

What happened next —or rather, what did not happen— sheds light on why EMF research treads water and never moves forward.

September 25, 2013

"Now it is enough!" claims Maria Feychting of Sweden's Karolinska Institute. Feychting wants to stop wasting money on any more epidemiological studies of breast cancer risks from power-frequency electromagnetic fields (ELF EMFs).

"We can be confident that exposure to ELF magnetic fields does not cause breast cancer," she writes in an invited commentary published last week in the influential American Journal of Epidemiology (AJE). Feychting's call to stop research was prompted by a new study of breast cancer among Chinese textile workers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, which found no association with ELF magnetic field exposures. Feychting's confidence is based in large part on the exposure assessment used in the textile study, which, she believes, was "better than in previous studies."

If Feychting's call to halt research is heeded, she will have shattered a key driver for EMF–cancer research that has held sway for the last 25 years: the melatonin hypothesis.

March 12, 2013

Lucas Portelli just ran over the Cheshire cat. He didn't know it was there. He's too young to appreciate how this fictional feline has held sway in the EMF-health controversy.

A little background for newcomers: the Cheshire cat is a metaphor for the lack of reproduciblity of EMF effects observed in some laboratories —but not others. It’s a favorite of those who see the study of EMFs as pathological science. The effects come and go, like the Cheshire Cat. Sometimes you see them, sometimes you don’t. EMF effects are not thought as being robust. Or more plainly, they are not to be believed.

But what if there was an unregognized confounding factor that was playing havoc with the EMF experiments? Portelli may well have found such a confounder.

November 30, 2012

EPRI, the research arm of the electric utility industry, has just published what might be a very useful report. Unfortunately, most of us will never get to see it.

The report is an evaluation of consumer-grade RF exposure meters —the type of instrument you might use to measure radiation levels from a cell tower or a smart meter. In a short abstract, which is publicly available, EPRI states, "Consumers need to recognize that each [RF...

June 1, 2012

The Bioelectromagnetics Society (BEMS) is trying to drum up support for its annual conference, which will be held in Brisbane, Australia, later this month. For those truly committed to advancing EM health research —the stated ethos of the society— it's a tough sell. Here's a list of the sponsors of the meeting, in descending order of their level of support:...

January 12, 2011

Smart meters are fast becoming the #1 RF health issue in the U.S., outstripping concerns over cell phones and towers —especially in California. Three new reports detail radiation exposures from the meters and the possible consequences. Yesterday, the California Council on Science and Technology ...

June 9, 2010

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has recruited Joachim Schüz to lead its Section on Environment. Among his duties in Lyon, Schüz will supervise the still-unfinished work of theInterphone project. He will also play an advisory role in next year's IARC review of the possible cancer risks associated with RF radiation. Schüz, who begins at the agency on August 2, will report to Christopher Wild, the director of IARC.

February 6, 2010

Assessing health risks is a tricky business. Teaching others how to do it is no easier. To see this, you need to look no further than a recent report from the Geneva-based International Risk Governance Council (IRGC), a self-described "independent" group run by a group of government, industry and academic leaders. The title of the report is a mouthful: Risk Governance Deficits: An Analysis and Illustration of the Most Common Deficits in Risk Governance. A better title would have been, Common Pitfalls in Risk Analysis, or perhaps, Risk: A Guide to Better Decision Making.

February 23, 2009

The University of California, San Diego (UCSD), campus is in an uproar over a cluster of cancer cases among those working in the university's Literature Building. Eight women who worked there developed breast cancer between 2000 and 2006, which is significantly more than would have been expected by chance, according to an analysis by Cedric Garland, a UCSD epidemiologist.

In his June 2008 report to UCSD Chancellor Marye Ann Fox, Garland devotes a lot of attention to the possible role played by EMFs, especially transients from the motors of the building's elevators. Garland recommends a strategy of "prudent avoidance," which he calls a "special case of the precautionary principle":

September 13, 2008

A number of mainstream newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal and the Seattle Post Intelligencer, have picked up the NIEHS–EPRI story on their Web sites (see our September 5 post). The PI's Andrew Schneider reports that some at NIEHS are "outraged" by the tie-in with EPRI.

September 5, 2008

In an unprecedented move, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), the research arm of the utility industry, will sponsor a public information booklet on EMFs for a unit of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) is working out an arrangement whereby EPRI would pay for the writing and printing of a new edition of the NIEHS booklet, EMFs: Questions & Answers.

May 28, 2008

Robert O. Becker, a towering figure in bioelectromagnetics, died on May 14 due to complications from pneumonia. He was 84 and had been ailing for some time. Becker, best known for his research on "currents of injury" and the role they play in regeneration, made significant contributions to many areas of electrobiology. He was later drawn into public controversies over health effects — Becker is credited as the first to use the term "electromagnetic pollution"— and in the end paid dearly for speaking out.

"Bob Becker's passing marks the end of an era in bioelectromagnetics, that time when very few scientists believed that non-thermal electromagnetic exposures were biologically significant," said Abe Liboff, a physicist and the co-editor of Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine. "All the work on applying electromagnetic fields to bone repair is attributable to Becker's reinterpretation of Carlo Matteucci's discovery of currents of injury," he said.

January 17, 2008

The NAS-NRC report, released today (see our January 15 post), presents a laundry list of research needs to better understand the possible health effects of RF radiation. What's missing is any sense of priorities. The NAS-NRC committee that prepared the report fails to indicate whether characterizing a child's exposure from a cell phone is more important than doing an epidemiological study of children who use them; or whether mechanistic studies are more important than laboratory toxicology experiments.

July 30, 2007

Mike Repacholi has now revealed that up to half of the funds raised for his EMF Project came from industry. This admission comes in an interview with Resource Strategies Inc. in an effort, he states, to “set the record straight.” Repacholi is circulating the text of the interview far and wide because, he says, he wants “the truth about WHO” to be known.

May 24, 2007

Rick Jostes at the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has announced his picks for the members of the committee that will review the current state of cell phone health research and identify future needs. Frank Barnes of the University of Colorado, Boulder, will chair the panel. Of the other six members, three are with ICNIRP: Finland's Maila Hietanen, Germany's Rüdiger Matthes and France's Bernard Veyret. The other members are Om Gandhi of the University of Utah, Leeka Kheifets of UCLA and EPRI and David McCormick of IITRI in Chicago. Kheifets, who serves on ICNIRP's epidemiology panel, used to be Mike Repacholi's sidekick at the WHO EMF project in Geneva. McCormick is planning some large-scale RF-animal experiments for the National Toxicology Program. The FDA requested these studies back in 1999.

October 1, 2005

As members of the WHO Task Group make their way to Geneva for next week’s meeting to complete its Environmental Health Criteria (EHC) document on power-frequency EMFs, new information has emerged showing that the electric utility industry has played a major role at every stage of developing the review document.

Microwave News has learned that Mike Repacholi, the head of the WHO EMF project, recruited utility representatives to help write the original draft of the document and later asked them to review the completed draft. Then, as we reported last week, Repacholi invited eight utility representatives to attend next week’s task group meeting —the only observers who were invited (see our September 22 post). The task group and the industry observers will assemble at a WHO conference room in Geneva on Monday, October 3 to recommend exposure limits.

August 8, 2005

EPRI, the Electric Power Research Institute, the research arm of the electric utility industry, has lots of money and is not shy about using it to push its agenda.

Today, EPRI is the only source of research funds on power line EMFs in the U.S. In recent times, practically all of EPRI’s money has been devoted to pushing the idea, championed by staffer Rob Kavet, that contact currents —not EMFs— are responsible for the oft-observed increase in childhood leukemia. Kavet may be on to something, but at the moment only Kavet himself and his contractors embrace this hypothesis.

February 10, 2005

Microwave News has long advocated more research on the potential health effects of power-frequency EMFs and RF radiation. It’s been an uphill battle.

EPRI and the CTIA, the two key industry players, are more interested in shutting down research labs than sponsoring those who might be able to make sense of the conflicting results that bedevil this whole business. With respect to mobile phones, Motorola and Nokia have been among the most outspoken in asserting that they have done enough RF studies.

July 1, 1995

The irony is astonishing. On the very day that a committee of the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP) completed its 800-page draft report asking regulatory agencies to pay “serious attention” to EMFs, public television station WGBH aired a one-hour show across the country comparing EMFs to cold fusion. While the NCRP committee called for “a national commitment to further research,” the June 13 Frontline, “Currents of Fear,” asked whether it was time to close down the research effort.

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