A Report on Non-Ionizing Radiation

ICNIRP: Microwave News Article Archive (2004 - )

June 11, 2009

At a time when there are calls for tightening EMF power-frequency exposure standards to address cancer risks, Australia is moving in the opposite direction. In mid-May, a committee working under ARPANSA, the national radiation protection agency, distributed a draft proposal that would triple the permissible exposure levels for the general public. If these rules are adopted, children could be exposed to up 3,000 mG, 24/7 —that’s one thousand times higher than the 3 mG threshold for childhood leukemia indicated by epidemiological studies, and three times higher than the ICNIRP recommended limit of 1,000 mG.

May 15, 2009

There are many reasons not to use a cell phone in an elevator. The most obvious would be as a courtesy to other passengers. Another is that a phone has to work harder in a shielded space. It's forced to operate at higher power levels for the signal to get out and reach the nearest tower and that leads to more ambient radiation in the elevator.

What most cell phone users would never consider is that a fellow passenger absorbs some of the radiation that would otherwise bounce back off the walls. It turns out, according to some new calculations from Japan, that a lone user can get a maximum exposure of about 1.6 W/Kg, 80% of the ICNIRP standard (2 W/Kg). But be advised that exposures could exceed the current U.S. FCC standard by a wide margin, under worst-case conditions. (This is a rare —no, unique— example of an American EMF standard being stricter than those in other countries.) The FCC limit is averaged over only 1g of tissue and, as Jim Lin, a member of ICNIRP, has often pointed out, increasing the averaging volume from 1 g to 10 g could triple the allowable radiation exposure (see MWN, N/D00, p.3). These new findings appear in the May issue of the IEEE Transactions on Microwave Theory and Techniques.

January 23, 2009

The new year brought two fresh initiatives to protect children from cell phone radiation. On January 7, the Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) recommended that parents limit their children's use of mobile phones and, on the same day, the French government announced a series of environmental health proposals which includes a ban on cell phones designed specifically for children younger than six and of advertising that promotes the use of cell phones among those under 12.

March 14, 2008

The Interphone saga gets weirder and weirder. The latest chapter comes with the release, earlier this week, of a status report on EMFs and health by the Swedish Radiation Protection Authority (SSI).

Recent Research on EMF Health Risks, the fifth annual report by an independent expert group, covers what was learned about various types of EMFs, from ELF to RF, in 2007. Here we address only what it says about the latest Interphone results —or more precisely, what it does not say.

May 21, 2007

It's the murky disconnect that undermines public confidence in EMF exposure standards: While epidemiological studies point to an increased risk of childhood leukemia at exposures as low as 3-4 mG, the ICNIRP exposure standard is over 200 times higher. That is, ICNIRP sees nothing wrong with exposing kids to 999 mG, 24/7. One reason this disparity is baffling is that Anders Ahlbom of Sweden's Karolinska Institute is both the chair of ICNIRP's committee on epidemiology and the person whose work —more than anyone else's other than Nancy Wertheimer's— has established the plausibility of the 3-4 mG threshold. The IEEE standard is even more out of sync: At over 9,000 mG: it's more than nine times higher than the ICNIRP limit.

March 23, 2007

The government of Ireland released a report yesterday that generally dismisses health concerns over RF radiation from mobile phones and base stations, as well as concerns over EMFs from power lines. The report, Health Effects of Electromagnetic Fields, was prepared by a four-member panel chaired by Mike Repacholi, the former head of the WHO EMF project. The panel concluded that, "So far no adverse short or long-term health effects have been found from exposure to the RF signals produced by mobile phones and base station transmitters" and that "there are no data available to suggest that the use of mobile phones by children is a health hazard."

October 29, 2006

Richard Saunders of the U.K. Health Protection Agency has been elected to ICNIRP. Saunders leads the non-ionizing radiation group at the HPA (formerly the NRPB). His predecessor at the NRPB/HPA, Alasdair McKinlay, served on the commission from 1992 to 2004 and was the chairman for four years beginning in 2000. In 2004, Saunders spent a year working with Mike Repacholi, the chairman emeritus of ICNIRP, at the WHO EMF project in Geneva.    

July 7, 2006

Being a member of ICNIRP or the WHO EMF project means having a ticket to ride. A couple of days ago, the traveling road show was in Malta. Mike Repacholi, Bernard Veyret and Paolo Vecchia showed up at a forum organized by the local communications authority, titled "The Reality Behind EMFs."

June 17, 2006

Residents of Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, may have the highest exposures to power-frequency magnetic fields anywhere in the world. A survey by the Taiwan EPA found that 18% of elementary school classrooms, hospitals and homes had levels exceeding 10 mG (1 µT), according to the June 15 Taipei Times.

The EPA made the measurements after a study by Fu Jen Catholic University found that 95 primary schools and 49 junior high schools, with a total of more than 18,000 students, are within 20 meters of high-voltage power lines. The EPA administrator has said that the ICNIRP standard of 833 mG does not provide sufficient protection, the Times reported last February.

June 14, 2006

Most people don't notice those little boxes stuck on the sides of buildings, but if you live in a city, they're most likely to be your principal source of microwave exposure. That is, of course, when you're not using a cell phone.

January 5, 2005

Going through our collection of clips on the new Stewart report this afternoon, we came across the following quote by Paolo Vecchia, the chair of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), in a press release issued by the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) on January 11:

“Because EMF exposure guidelines are based on worst-case hypotheses and include reduction factors providing safety margins for possible lack of data, the Commission does not need to create separate guidelines to protect special groups such as children.”

October 18, 2004

Members of each of the teams that have reported links between mobile phones and acoustic neuromas have recently published reviews of the RF epidemiological literature.

March 31, 2004

The U.K. National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) is recommending the adoption of the ICNIRP limits for human exposures to EMFs in the 0-300 GHz frequency range. In its Advice, issued on March 31, the NRPB cites its “review of the science, the need to adopt a cautious approach and recognition of the benefits of international harmonization” as the rationale for tightening the U.K. standards, which are among the least restrictive in the world.

The board stresses that it may be necessary to adopt “further precautionary measures” for the exposure of children to power-frequency magnetic fields.

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