A Report on Non-Ionizing Radiation

ICNIRP's Vecchia: The Kids Are Alright

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.”

This is a truly astonishing statement. The ICNIRP EMF limits allow children to be exposed to up to 999 mG, anytime and all the time. Vecchia is well aware of the large number of epidemiological studies that point to a cancer risk above 3-4 mG. So he must know that these epi results point to the worst-case hypothesis. We wonder what the other members of ICNIRP —especially Anders Ahlbom who has done more than anyone to show that the EMF-childhood leukemia risk is highly credible— think about what Vecchia said and more importantly why ICNIRP has consistently failed to advocate a precautionary approach to children’s EMF exposures. Why not ask them. All their e-mail addresses are given in the link above.

The AMTA attributed Vecchia’s quote to a talk he gave at a workshop on children’s sensitivity to EMFs, hosted by the WHO International EMF Project in Istanbul last June. We were sufficiently incredulous that we decided to check it out (our travel budge did not allow us to go to Turkey). We found Vecchia’s PowerPoint presentation on the WHO EMF Web site and, yes, the AMTA got it right.