A Report on Non-Ionizing Radiation

ICNIRP Still Runs RF at WHO

Briefing in Geneva This Week
Japanese-Korean ‘NTP Lite’ on the Agenda

June 5, 2023
Last updated 
June 8, 2023

ICNIRP continues to dominate EMF policies at the WHO, according to documents made available to Microwave News. The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection is a private, self-perpetuating, secretive group whose exposure limits are used around the world.

The documents were recently distributed by Emilie van Deventer, who leads the WHO’s radiation program, as she prepared to host a briefing this week in Geneva for the EMF International Advisory Committee (IAC).

WHO 2023 IAC RF Meeting Agenda

The meeting, which has not been publicized, will offer fresh details on a Japanese-Korean animal study, the slimmed down version of the NTP’s $30 million rat study with “clear evidence” of cancer (the repeat has been called “NTP Lite”). The results of the joint study have been highly anticipated since last November, when the director of IARC said that she is waiting for them before scheduling a new assessment of RF cancer risks.

Young Hwan Ahn of Korea’s Ajou University medical school will provide the update tomorrow, June 6, on the first day of the IAC meeting. Unlike many of the speakers attending remotely, Ahn will be in Geneva, according to a leaked copy of the draft agenda.

The complete draft agenda is here.

Surprisingly, the agenda does not mention the decade-long effort to update the WHO’s RF Environmental Health Criteria (EHC) document. There was an extended discussion of the EHC at last year’s IAC meeting, according to the draft minutes, which were also leaked (the full text of the minutes are here).

Last December, WHO announced the formation of an RF Working Group to help guide the RF EHC to completion. The working group held its first meeting in March. This too was not publicized, and van Deventer has yet to disclose how the working group was assembled. (For a history of the RF EHC, see our detailed report.)


The 2022 IAC meeting, held online, was run by Eric van Rongen, the former chair and current vice chair of ICNIRP. This year’s session also features strong ICNIRP participation, including that of three Australians: Rodney Croft, the current chair, Ken Karipidis, a commissioner, and Sarah Loughran, Croft’s right-hand aide, who serves as an ICNIRP scientific expert. Only Loughran plans to attend the meeting in person.

Among the other scheduled speakers this week are David Sliney, a former ICNIRP commissioner who is now an ICNIRP expert, and Maria Scarfi who served as an expert from 2006 to 2012. Gunde Ziegelberger, the Commission’s scientific secretary, will also speak.

Scarfi and Isabelle Deltour, Joachim Schüz’s protégée at IARC, will review recent health studies. Deltour has spent the last decade challenging IARC’s 2011 designation of RF as a possible human carcinogen.

Contributions from Five Countries

At last year’s IAC meeting, van Deventer disclosed that only five countries had provided financial support for the WHO EMF Project in the previous year: Australia, Ireland, Israel, New Zealand and Switzerland. She noted that others had contributed staff time, helped host meetings and provided translation services. The combined population of the five countries is about 50 million; half are Australians.

The WHO EMF project, like ICNIRP, rarely offers information about its sources of funding.

Providing Oversight

One of your objectives is to provide “oversight on the conduct of the [EMF] Project,” van Deventer has told Committee members (see slide below). And last year she committed to “increasing emphasis on transparency in all areas of its work, including funding, data and partnerships, and making WHO information available to everyone.”

This was reported in the minutes of the meeting by Martin Gledhill, New Zealand’s representative on the IAC  —without a trace of irony.

Emilie van Deventer WHO IAC RF 2019A slide from Emilie van Deventer’s presentation at 2019 IAC meeting.
She is fourth from the left in the front row.

Van Deventer runs a closed shop with essentially no public outreach. She and her staff have declined to share the most basic information or documents on WHO’s EMF work and, on most occasions, they do not respond to email inquiries.

The IAC meeting will also address other types of non-ionizing radiation, including UV and optical frequencies.