A Report on Non-Ionizing Radiation

2011 Short Takes

October 18, 2011

The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) is raising objections to a draft EC directive on EM safety standards for workers. The ETUC does not agree with the directive's reliance on the ICNIRP exposure limits because they cover only short-term effects and do not take into account cancer risk, thereby diregarding IARC's recent decision to designate RF radiation as a possible human carcinogen.

October 17, 2011

The Bangor Daily News reports on a meeting held today in Maine: "Scientists at Portland Seminar Liken Cellphones to Smoking."

September 30, 2011

The incidence of acoustic neuroma is not increasing in the Nordic countries, according to researchers from Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. The team —made up of members of Interphone that don't believe that cell phones lead to tumors looked at cancer registry records from 1987 to 2007.

Their paper appears in the September 27 issue of the British Journal of Cancer. These results argue against the conclusion of the entire Interphone group which reported last month that there appears to be an elevated risk of acoustic neuroma among heavy users.

September 21, 2011

The FDA will hold a workshop on MRI safety in Silver Spring, MD, October 25-26. One of the main topics to be addressed is the potential problem posed by metal implants. In its announcement, issued today, the FDA makes no mention of exposures to RF radiation as a safety concern. A transcript of the workshop will be available, as will a Webcast.

September 7, 2011

Another reason to call economics the "dismal science": Last week's Economist ran the following in the opening paragraph of a piece titled "Worrying About Wireless": "Let it be said, once and for all, that no matter how powerful a radio transmitter —whether an over-the-horizon radar station or a microwave tower— radio waves simply cannot produce ionizing radiation." 

August 18, 2011

At the end of last month, the French National Cancer Institute updated its advisory on "Mobile Phones and Cancer Risks." The istitute's Web site on "Electromagnetic Waves" has links to numerous government reports and other documents.

August 17, 2011

After we ran our story on De-Kun Li's study showing a higher risk of asthma among children whose mothers were exposed to we heard from Ivan Beale in Australia. Beale reminded us of a paper he published ten years ago, which points to an asthma risk among adults living near power lines.

At the time, Beale was a psychology professor at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. In the survey of 560 adults living near high-voltage power lines, he found that those who were more highly exposed to magnetic fields had over three times the rate of asthma than those less exposed. The numbers were small, yet the elevated risk was statistically significant. Beale did advise that this finding be interpreted with caution. We passed the paper on to Li at Kaiser Permanente. "This finding and our finding are consistent and support each other," Li said, "providing further confidence in our results."

August 11, 2011

UNC's David Richardson was a member of the IARC Working Group in May. He and Australia's Malcolm Sim offer insights into IARC's decision to classify RF as a possible carcinogen in an editorial that accompanies two papers from the Interphone project. For instance: The IARC panel took notice of an animal experiment —the "Guy study"— which showed a significant increase in RF-induced tumors, especially in the endocrine system. That finding was first announced back in 1984, and finally published in 1992. And now, 20 years later, it comes into play for the first time!

The working group also downplayed the Danish cohort study —often cited to show there are no tumor risks— due to its "considerable potential for exposure misclassification." Sim and Richardson close with a call for cell phone research to continue. The editorial and the two Interphone papers (both open accees) are in the September issue of Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

August 9, 2011

The NCI Cancer Bulletin calls itself “a trusted source of cancer research news.” Maybe sometimes, but not when it comes to cell phones. In the latest issue, out today, the editors mislead their readers into thinking that the new CEFALO study shows that, according to the headline, “Mobile Phone Use Does Not Raise Cancer Risk in Children and Adolescents.” The study does no such thing.

As we reported two weeks ago, CEFALO is a mess and tells us nothing of value. One leading epidemiologist wondered aloud during a recent interview, “How did that paper ever pass peer review?” Maybe, here again, no one at the Bulletin bothered to read the published paper. More likely, they are blindly following in the footsteps of those at its sister publication, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, which published the CEFALO paper together with a glowing editorial. Does everyone at the NCI believe their mission is to calm public concerns?

In the end, NCI’s unwarranted denials only breed mistrust of the cancer establishment.

August 8, 2011

We have long touted the potential for medical applications of electromagnetic signals. Now comes one we would never have imagined. Take a look.