A Report on Non-Ionizing Radiation

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September 23, 2006

When we wrote (September 21) that conflicts of interest among journal editors are not being addressed, we were neglecting the case of Charles Nemeroff, the editor-in-chief of Neuropsychopharmacology. Nemeroff is the chairman of the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University medical school in Atlanta.

As the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this summer, a favorable review by Nemeroff of a device to treat depression, published in Neuropsychopharmacology, failed to disclose his ties to Cyberonics, the manufacturer of the device. The fact that his six academic coauthors had ties to Cyberonics, as the medical journal later revealed, was also left unmentioned; the eighth coauthor works at the company.

September 22, 2006

The European Commission is seeking public comment on a draft opinion on the Possible Effects of EMF on Human Health. The draft was written by a working group chaired by Anders Ahlbom of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. Submissions are due by November 3.

September 21, 2006

More and more scientific societies are considering adopting disclosure rules to shed light on potential conflicts of interest. Environmental Science & Technology reports that the American Geophysical Union and the American Meteorological Society are weighing such a policy, while the Society for Risk Analysis is now requiring authors to sign conflict-of-interest statements. These three groups publish Geophysical Letters, Journal of Climate and Risk Analysis, respectively.

September 19, 2006

The International Commission for Electromagnetic Safety or ICEMS today released a position statement, the Benevento Resolution, committing ICEMS and the 31 scientists from 13 countries who signed the statement, to promoting precautionary EMF policies and research to resolve uncertainties over health risks. The statement grew out of a meeting held in Benevento, Italy, last February, that was dedicated to Ross Adey who died in 2004. (ICEMS also issued a press release). One of ICEMS' long-term goals is to present itself as an alternative to ICNIRP, the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection.  

September 18, 2006

The Canadian Cancer Society is endorsing precautionary policies to limit human exposures to power line EMFs. "In the absence of 'hard science,' the society promotes the precautionary principle, which recognizes the value of taking common sense steps to prevent harm to human health or the environment," advises Barbara Kaminsky in a recent statement. South of the border, the American Cancer Society appears to be holding out for conclusive scientific evidence before suggesting anyone take action to limit EMF exposures. 

September 18, 2006

There's an old English saying that goes "He who pays the piper calls the tune."

This also applies to cell-phone health studies according to a new analysis by a team from Switzerland's University of Basel. In a paper accepted for publication in Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP), Matthias Egger and Martin Röösli and coworkers found that: "Studies exclusively funded by industry reported the largest number of outcomes but were least likely to report a statistically significant result...compared to studies funded by public agencies or charities."

Their analysis is based on 59 experimental studies published between 1995 and 2005. They note that a majority (68%) of these studies reported biological effects. Egger and Röösli advise that "the interpretation of the results from existing and future studies of the health effects of [RF] radiation should take sponsorship into account."

September 13, 2006

Anyone trying to track the various European EMF and RF research efforts —both those of the EC (e.g. Interphone, REFLEX, etc.) and those of individual countries— will find a new report issued by yet another EC project (EMF-NET) quite useful. The bulk of the document is a table listing the various projects, often including the e-mail address of the principal investigator and a link to a report from that project. (Note that many of these links appear to be dead ends but that is because they have not been properly coded; the reports are in fact accessible by manually copying the posted URL in your Web browser.) For many of the projects, the table also presents when it began, how long it is supposed to last and how much it cost.

September 9, 2006

The protocol for the Interphone epidemiological study has been released by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon, France. IARC is coordinating researchers in 13 countries in an investigation of the possible link between the use of mobile phones and the development of brain and salivary gland tumors. Some results have been made public, but not the overall findings, which could come any time now. (See also our commentary on some of the already published Interphone papers.)

September 8, 2006

The WHO EMF Project may close down early next year unless more money is received soon.

According to its 2005-2006 progress report, the project had a deficit of $430,000 in its last fiscal year. Between July 2005 and June 2006, it spent $1,155,000 but raised only $750,000. (As in the past, the report does not give any details on where its money came from, though cell phone manufacturers have regularly chipped in $150,000 each year.) The annual report states that all its reserve funds have been depleted and that "if sufficient funds are not received by the end of 2006, the activities of the EMF Project will cease early in 2007."

Emilie van Deventer took over as the head of the project earlier this summer after Mike Repacholi stepped down.

August 14, 2006

Scientists from New Zealand, the U.K. and Finland are worried about a different kind of electromagnetic weapon: One that could wreck havoc with the world's communications systems —think HAARP run by a Herman Kahn wannabe. Check out the press release issued today by the University of Otago. For background, see "Nuclear Explosions in Orbit," a feature article originally published in Scientific American.

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