The Defender | 3 Mar 2023
Based on the results of their landmark review of the latest science, four of the world’s top experts in environmental health called for prevention and precaution when it comes to public exposure to radiofrequency radiation.
Four of the world’s top experts in environmental health are calling for prevention and precaution when it comes to public exposure to radiofrequency (RF) radiation.
The scientists — including the former director of the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) — last month published a preprint review of the most recent studies on the effects of electromagnetic radiation (EMR) and RF radiation on different life forms and humans, and the epidemiological evidence for cancer due to RF radiation from cellphone use.
The authors concluded there is “substantial scientific evidence” that “RF radiation causes cancer, endocrinological, neurological and other adverse health effects” — and that the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has failed to protect public health.
They accused the FCC of ignoring the “Precautionary Principle,” commonly used in toxicology, and also the Bradford Hill criteria, a set of principles commonly used in epidemiology for establishing a causal relationship, in evaluating the risks of RF radiation.
“This article is a clarion call for prevention and precaution,” said Devra Davis, Ph.D., M.P.H., a toxicologist and epidemiologist who co-authored the paper.
“We know enough now to take steps to reduce exposure to this. … It’s time,” said Davis, who also is founder and president of the Environmental Health Trust, and founding director of the Center for Environmental Oncology and the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute.
The paper’s other authors are:
- Paul Ben Ishai, Ph.D., a physicist at Ariel University in Israel.
- Hugh Taylor, M.D., a professor and department chair of Obstetrics Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at Yale School of Medicine.
- Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., a toxicologist and former director of the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the NTP.
Birnbaum and Taylor are members of the U.S. National Academy of Medicine, the nation’s premier association of distinguished researchers.
Davis was founding director of the Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology of the U.S. National Research Council for the National Academy of Sciences, a private society of distinguished scholars.
Cumulatively, the four authors have published more than 1,600 peer-reviewed articles.
Davis told The Defender there is a “plethora” of experimental and epidemiological evidence that establishes a causal relationship between EMR-RF and cancer.
Studies also have shown that EMR/RF can cause DNA damage, and that it can adversely affect fetal development and the endocrine system.
“EMF/RF functions like a classic endocrine disruptor by impairing both male and female reproductive functions,” the authors said.
They pointed out that senior advisers to the World Health Organization, including Dr. Lennart Hardell, have said that if RF radiation were evaluated based on more current studies, it would likely be upgraded to a probable — if not confirmed — human carcinogen.
Davis said the paper is a “landmark” article — “but the landmark is built on the shoulders of a number of others,” she added.
Many researchers — including James Lin, Ph.D., Louis Slesin, Ph.D., Joel Moskowitz, Ph.D., Lennart Hardell, M.D., Ph.D., Cindy Sage, M.A. and Dr. David Carpenter — have worked “relentlessly” on the issue of RF radiation, she said.
‘Industry-affiliated scientists’ distort public discourse on RF radiation
According to the authors, the public discourse around RF radiation has been distorted by some “fundamentally flawed” yet widely publicized reports — written by “industry-affiliated scientists” — purporting to show “no health risk.”
The paper evolved from the authors’ discussions of “several peer-reviewed papers that provided biased analysis, most notably the 2021 review by David Robert Grimes, Ph.D. published in JAMA Oncology,” Davis told Microwave News.
“It is imperative to insist on a complete picture of the evidence and not the whitewashed or distorted version currently promoted,” the authors said.
More independent research on RF radiation — free from bias by the telecom industry — is required. Without this, the authors said, “We are effectively conducting an uncontrolled experiment on ourselves, our families, and our children.”
The authors also criticized the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for dismissing many of the studies that have shown adverse effects from RF radiation, including the $30 million NTP study done in 2018, which showed “clear evidence” that electromagnetic radiation is associated with cancer and DNA damage.
According to Davis, the FDA’s rejection of the NTP study was “deeply flawed” and “deeply hypocritical.”
The FDA in 1999 requested the NTP study cellphone radiation, she said. FDA officials were intimately involved in reviewing the study design plans.
“Then when the results came out and some people didn’t like it, the FDA began to trash talk their own study,” Davis said.
Davis said the scientific and regulatory battle around RF radiation today reminded her and her co-authors of the earlier battle around tobacco.
“We were there in the early days when — believe it or not — 70% of surgeons smoked. And in the 1970s and 1980s, the tobacco industry gave the National Cancer Institute $11 million to study how to make a safe cigarette,” Davis said.
There was a scientific debate “that went on for years longer than it should have” about whether or not tobacco was safe for the environments of children.
“In 1983, when I was the executive director for the National Academy of Sciences Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology, we put together a committee to answer the question of whether it was okay to have smoking on airplanes,” Davis said.
At the time, that was a scientific question, she said, adding that the committee — after reviewing the research — became the first in the world to issue a ban on smoking in airplanes.
Davis said scientists and the public realized the studies suggesting tobacco was safe were “manufactured” by the tobacco industry — and the same thing is happening now with RF radiation and the telecom industry, she added.