A Report on Non-Ionizing Radiation

News & Comment

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

"Cell Phones Affect Brain Activity." That headline has appeared all over the world since Nora Volkow published a PET scan of a brain lit up by a cell phone last month. Her colorful graphics, published in the high impact Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), guaranteed Volkow a large and attentive audience. But all the hoopla shouldn't obscure the fact that for more than a decade many others, notably Peter Achermann's group at the University of Zurich, have shown similar types of radiation-induced changes in the brain as well as much more.

Low-Level Effects Get a Boost

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A well-regarded and influential team of researchers from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Brookhaven National Lab (BNL) is on the brink of resolving a long-standing dispute with enormous implications for public health. In a paper due out tomorrow, Nora Volkow and coworkers are reporting that cell phone radiation can affect the normal functioning of the human brain.

Whether these short-term changes will lead to health consequences (and what they might be) is far from clear — though Volkow already has preliminary indications of a long-term effect. Nor is the mechanism of interaction yet known. But the new finding, if confirmed, would at the very least force a rethink of the prevailing orthodoxy, which maintains that low levels of RF and microwave radiation are too weak to have any effect and can be disregarded.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It's only a short letter buried in the back pages of a journal, but it could change the entire cell phone–cancer controversy.

A group at Hebrew University in Jerusalem has reported a sharp increase in the incidence of parotid gland tumors in Israel over the last 30 years. Rakefet Czerninski, Avi Zini and Harold Sgan-Cohen found that these tumors have quadrupled since 1970, "with the steepest increase" after 2001 (see plot below). Their letter appears in the January 2011 issue of Epidemiology; it's a free download. They are with the Hadassah School of Dental Medicine at the university.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

John Snow is known as the father of modern epidemiology, best remembered for helping end the 1854 cholera epidemic in London. At the time no one yet knew that cholera is caused by bacteria, but Snow had long suspected that it was transmitted by food or water. In the hard-hit neighborhood of Soho where hundreds had died, Snow mapped the location of the homes of the victims and could see that most lived near the Broad Street water pump (see image below). Snow was able to persuade local officials to remove the handle of the pump and soon the epidemic subsided.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The acoustic neuroma story is becoming quite compelling.

Researchers in Tokyo have reported that they too found more of these tumors of the acoustic nerve among long-term cell phone users —the third group to see this link. Those who used cell phones for more than 20 minutes a day for at least five years had three times more acoustic neuromas than expected. The Japanese team also saw a strong suggestion of a dose-response relationship: The longer people used cell phones —both in terms of minutes of daily calls and years of use— the greater their risk.

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Short Takes

January 12, 2023

Abraham Liboff, a biophysicst and journal editor, died on January 9 at the age of 95.

Abe was a wonderful and generous man. On the occasion of his 90th birthday, I wrote an appreciation of his work. You can read it here.

November 16, 2022

ANSES, the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety, has issued a request for proposals for studies on RF radiation.

October 19, 2022
Last updated October 31, 2022

Two influential health agencies, both based in France, will host a one-day meeting on RF–health research, November 23 in Paris. The public is invited to attend in person or online. Registration is free.

The conference, organized by ANSES, the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety, and IARC, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, will focus on potential effects of RF radiation on the brain and on cancer risks. The theme is “Research in a Fast-Moving Environment.”

July 14, 2022
Last updated July 15, 2022

Close to 40 years after its first publication, The Microwave Debate, Nicholas Steneck’s history of research and regulation of microwave health effects, is back in print —this time in Norwegian.

The new translation comes with an epilogue by Thomas Butler, a professor at Ireland’s Cork University Business School, who has contributed seven chapters —about 30,000 words— to bring Steneck’s story up to the present.

The translation is the brainchild of Einar Flydal ...

September 27, 2021
Last updated November 25, 2022

A detailed examination —likely the most exhaustive ever attempted— of the environmental effects of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation has been published in Reviews on Environmental Health.

“Effects of Non-Ionizing Electromagnetic Fields on Flora and Fauna” is in three parts, the last of which was posted today.

Taken together, the three papers run over 200 pages in the journal and include more 1,000 references.

May 3, 2021
Last updated May 5, 2021

Italy’s 6 V/m RF exposure standard, one of the strictest in the world, may soon fall victim to 5G.

The Italian limit, adopted more than 20 years ago, is widely perceived as standing in the way of the build-out of 5G infrastructure, which will require the installation of many more RF antennas. The proposed solution is to bring it in line with ICNIRP and follow its 61 V/m guideline.