A Report on Non-Ionizing Radiation

In Memoriam: Moris Shore

Senior FDA Radiation Official Challenged Adequacy of RF/MW Exposure Limits in the 1970s

October 10, 2020

“A safe level of microwave exposure was arbitrarily established —no dissent from the arbitrary safe standard was tolerated— in a largely thermal (i.e., high-exposure level) microwave research program … [It] and the averaging provisions … may represent a directed verdict rather than a culmination of objective and unbiased scientific judgment.”  

Does that sound familiar?      

Actually, it’s from a paper delivered more than 40 years ago by Moris Shore, the former director of the Division of Biological Effects at FDA’s Bureau of Radiological Health. Yesterday the Washington Post revealed that Shore died of kidney disease on July 1 at the age of 92.

In the quote above, Shore was referring to the U.S. 10 mW/cm² ANSI standard adopted in 1974, which, in turn, was an update of the 1957 and 1966 limits. He charged that it “ignored a substantial body of published scientific findings that documented low-level biological effects.”

The current IEEE standard evolved from these same 1957/1966/1974 standards. It is a direct descendant.

Shore also pointed out that the 1974 standard was much weaker than those adopted by two large corporate contractors. For example, GE’s limits were 10 times more stringent and those of Bell Telephone Labs were 100 times stronger. Both companies had set their internal standards in the 1950s, but later accepted the looser limits under pressure from the military, even though there was little new research.

Shore made these remarks in a paper presented at the 10th Annual National Conference on Radiation Control, held in Harrisburg, PA, in the spring of 1978.


Here is the full text of the announcement in the Post:

Moris Shore, FDA scientist

Moris Shore, 92, a retired Food and Drug Administration public health scientist who studied biological effects and health implications of radiofrequency and microwave radiation exposure, died July 1 at a hospital in Bethesda, Md. The cause was kidney disease, said his son, Michael Shore.

Dr. Shore helped establish industry performance standards on electromagnetic radiation emissions from electronic products and conducted research on the association between prenatal diagnostic X-ray exposure and childhood leukemia. He worked for several federal agencies during his career, including the FDA from 1971 to 1985, when he was deputy director of the Office of Science and Technology in the Center for Devices and Radiological Health.

He also helped organize a visiting scientist program at the FDA and, in retirement, served as a consultant to the Pan American Health Organization and the law firm Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver and Jacobson in Washington.