A Report on Non-Ionizing Radiation

WHO’s Repacholi Flip-Flops Again

August 3, 2005

Remember this: The next time Mike Repacholi tells you something, it probably means nothing at all.

A couple of years ago, he advocated precautionary policies for EMFs from power lines and RF radiation from mobile phones, but soon afterwards he backed off, saying it was all a misunderstanding (see MWN, M/A03, p.1 and M/J03, p.1).

Now he’s done it again.

Cell phones are safe and children need take no special precautions—unless they or their parents are concerned —Repacholi advises in a just-released clarification, reaffirming a five-year old policy statement.

Repacholi sang a different tune when he was in Canada last month for his workshop on setting precautionary policies under uncertainty. That same week (July 9-14), the Toronto Star ran a major series on the controversy over the safety of cell phones, with special emphasis on the possible risks to children. Under the media spotlight, Repacholi, promoted precautionary policies for children’s use of mobile phones.

“With respect to children, WHO recommends that children should use hands-free headsets,” Repacholi told Canadian TV.

“We certainly advocate precautionary measures for children,” Repacholi told the Toronto Star.

“With respect to children, WHO recommends that children should use hands-free headsets” reported ConsumerAffairs.com.

Repacholi would have us believe they all got it wrong.

Tyler Hamilton, one of the two reporters who wrote the Star series is standing firm. “Repacholi said it in three different forums plus I saw him say it on television,” Hamilton told Microwave News. “He said it to me in a telephone interview, he wrote it to me in an e-mail and I heard him say it at the Ottawa conference.”

Hamilton forwarded an e-mail Repacholi had sent him a few days before the conference. This is part of what Repacholi wrote:

“WHO has already said on a number of occasions that children’s exposure should be reduced. However the best way to achieve this is to ask them to use hands-free-kits.”

In his latest clarification posted on the WHO Web site, Repacholi states that “WHO’s policy on mobile phones, released in 2000, remains intact.” He goes on: “WHO’s International EMF Project does not change its position through media reports, rather policies and recommendations will only be amended in documents through normal WHO information outlets.”

We beg to differ.

Mike Repacholi does change his position for media reports. He believes that he can say whatever he wants when under pressure and that he can retract it all later.