INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF FIRE
DIVISION OF OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH, SAFETY AND
Position on the Health Effects
from Radio Frequency/Microwave (RF/MW) Radiation in Fire Department Facilities
from Base Stations for Antennas and Towers for the Conduction of Cell Phone
The International Association of
Fire Fighters’ position on locating cell towers commercial wireless
infrastructure on fire department facilities, as
adopted by its membership in August 2004
(1), is that the
IAFF oppose the use of fire stations as base stations for towers and/or antennas
for the conduction of cell phone transmissions until a study with the highest
scientific merit and integrity on health effects of exposure to low-intensity RF/MW
radiation is conducted and it is proven that such sitings are not hazardous to
the health of our members.
Further, the IAFF is
investigating funding for a U.S. and Canadian study that would characterize
exposures from RF/MW radiation in fire houses with and without cellular
antennae, and examine the health status of the fire fighters as a function of
their assignment in exposed or unexposed fire houses. Specifically, there is
concern for the effects of radio frequency radiation on the central nervous
system (CNS) and the immune system, as well as other metabolic effects observed
in preliminary studies.
It is the belief of some
international governments and regulatory bodies and of the wireless
telecommunications industry that no consistent increases in health risk exist
from exposure to RF/MW radiation unless the intensity of the radiation is
sufficient to heat body tissue. However, it is important to note that
these positions are based on non-continuous exposures to the general public to
low intensity RF/MW radiation emitted from wireless telecommunications base
stations. Furthermore, most studies that are the basis of this position
are at least five years old and generally look at the safety of the phone
itself. IAFF members are concerned about the effects of living directly
under these antenna base stations for a considerable stationary period of time
and on a daily basis. There are established biological effects from
exposure to low-level RF/MW radiation. Such biological effects are
recognized as markers of adverse health effects when they arise from exposure to
toxic chemicals for example. The IAFF’s efforts will attempt to establish
whether there is a correlation between such biological effects and a health risk
to fire fighters and emergency medical personnel due to the siting of cell phone
antennas and base stations at fire stations and facilities where they work.
Critical questions concerning the health effects and safety of RF/MW radiation
remain. Accordingly, should we allow exposure of our fire fighters and
emergency medical personnel to this radiation to continue for the next twenty
years when there is ongoing controversy over many aspects of RF/MW health
effects? While no one disagrees that serious health hazards occur when living
cells in the body are heated, as happens with high intensity RF/MW exposure
(just like in a microwave oven), scientists are currently investigating the
health hazards of low intensity RF/MW exposure. Low intensity RF/MW exposure is
exposure which does not raise the temperature of the living cells in the body.
Additionally, a National Institute of Environmental
Health Sciences panel designated power frequency electromagnetic fields
(ELF/EMF) as "possible human carcinogens."
(2) In March 2002 The International Association on
Research on Cancer of the World Health Organization also assigned this
designation to ELF/EMF in Volume 80 of its IARC Monographs on the Evaluation
of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans.
Fixed antennas used for wireless
telecommunications are referred to as cellular base stations, cell stations, PCS
("Personal Communications Service") stations or telephone transmission towers.
These base stations consist of antennas and electronic equipment. Because the
antennas need to be high in the air, they are often located on towers, poles,
water tanks, or rooftops. Typical heights for freestanding base station towers
are 50-200 feet.
Some base stations use antennas
that look like poles, 10 to 15 feet in length, that are referred to as
"omni-directional" antennas. These types of antennas are usually found in rural
areas. In urban and suburban areas, wireless providers now more commonly use
panel or sector antennas for their base stations. These antennas consist of
rectangular panels, about 1 by 4 feet in dimension. The antennas are usually
arranged in three groups of three antennas each. One antenna in each group is
used to transmit signals to wireless phones, and the other two antennas in each
group are used to receive signals from wireless phones.
At any base station site, the
amount of RF/MW radiation produced depends on the number of radio channels
(transmitters) per antenna and the power of each transmitter. Typically,
21 channels per antenna sector are available. For a typical cell site
using sector antennas, each of the three transmitting antennas could be
connected to up to 21 transmitters for a total of 63 transmitters. When
omni-directional antennas are used, a cellular base station could theoretically
use up to 96 transmitters. Base stations used for PCS communications generally
require fewer transmitters than those used for cellular radio transmissions,
since PCS carriers usually have a higher density of base station antenna sites.
The electromagnetic RF/MW
radiation transmitted from base station antennas travel toward the horizon in
relatively narrow paths. The individual pattern for a single array of sector
antennas is wedge-shaped, like a piece of pie. Cellular and PCS base
stations in the United States are required to comply with limits for exposure
recommended by expert organizations and endorsed by government agencies
responsible for health and safety. When cellular and PCS antennas are
mounted on rooftops, RF/MW radiation levels on that roof or on others near by
would be greater than those typically encountered on the ground.
telecommunications industry claims cellular antennas are safe because the RF/MW
radiation they produce is too weak to cause heating, i.e., a "thermal effect."
They point to "safety standards" from groups such as ANSI/IEEE or ICNIRP to
support their claims. But these groups have explicitly stated that their claims
of “safe RF/MW radiation exposure is harmless” rest on the fact that it is too
weak to produce a rise in body temperature, a "thermal effect."
There is a large
body of internationally accepted scientific evidence which points to the
existence of non-thermal effects of RF/MW radiation. The issue at the present
time is not whether such evidence exists, but rather what weight to give it.
acknowledged experts in the field of RF/MW radiation research have shown that
RF/MW transmissions of the type used in digital cellular antennas and phones can
have critical effects on cell cultures, animals, and people in laboratories and
have also found epidemiological evidence (studies of communities, not in the
laboratory) of serious health effects at "non-thermal levels," where the
intensity of the RF/MW radiation was too low to cause heating. They have found:
Increased cell growth of brain cancer cells
A doubling of the rate of lymphoma in mice
Changes in tumor growth in rats
An increased number of tumors in rats
Increased single- and double-strand breaks in
DNA, our genetic material
2 to 4 times as many cancers in Polish
soldiers exposed to RF
More childhood leukemia in children exposed
Changes in sleep patterns and REM type sleep
Headaches caused by
RF/MW radiation exposure
Changes in the blood-brain-barrier
Changes in cellular morphology (including
Changes in neural electrophysiology (EEG)
Changes in neurotransmitters (which affect
motivation and pain perception)
Metabolic changes (of calcium ions, for
Cytogenetic effects (which can affect
cancer, Alzheimer's, neurodegenerative diseases)
Decreased memory, attention, and slower
reaction time in school children
Retarded learning in rats indicating a
deficit in spatial "working memory"
Increased blood pressure in healthy men
Damage to eye cells when combined with
commonly used glaucoma medications
Many national and international
organizations have recognized the need to define the true risk of low intensity,
non-thermal RF/MW radiation exposure, calling for intensive scientific
investigation to answer the open questions. These include:
The World Health Organization, noting reports
of "cancer, reduced fertility, memory loss, and adverse changes in the
behavior and development of children."
The U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
The International Agency for Research on
The Swedish Work Environmental Fund
The National Cancer Institute (NCI)
The European Commission (EC)
New Zealand's Ministry of Health
National Health and Medical Research Council
Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research
Organization of Australia (CSIRO)
The Royal Society of Canada expert group
report prepared for Health Canada
European Union's REFLEX Project (Risk
Evaluation of Potential Environmental Hazards from Low Frequency
Electromagnetic Field Exposure Using Sensitive in vitro Methods)
The Independent Group on Electromagnetic
Fields of the Swedish Radiation Protection Board (SSI)
The United Kingdom’s National Radiological
Protection Board (NRPB)
The EMF-Team Finland's Helsinki Appeal 2005
Non-thermal effects are
recognized by experts on RF/MW radiation and health to be potential health
hazards. Safe levels of RF/MW exposure for these low intensity, non-thermal
effects have not yet been established.
The FDA has
explicitly rejected claims that cellular phones are "safe."
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has stated repeatedly that the current
(ANSI/IEEE) RF/MW safety standards protect only against thermal effects.
and physicians question the safety of exposure to RF/MW radiation. The CSIRO
study, for example, notes that there are no clear cutoff levels at which low
intensity RF/MW exposure has no effect, and that the results of ongoing studies
will take years to analyze.
researchers and physicians have issued statements that biological effects from
low-intensity RF/MW radiation exposure are scientifically established:
The 1998 Vienna-EMF Resolution
The 2000 Salzburg Resolution on
Mobile Telecommunication Base Stations
The 2002 Catania Resolution
The 2002 Freiburger Appeal
The 2004 Report of the European
Union's REFLEX Project (Risk Evaluation of Potential Environmental Hazards from
Low Frequency Electromagnetic Field Exposure Using Sensitive in vitro
The 2004 Second
Annual Report from Sweden's Radiation Protection Board (SSI) Independent Expert
Group on Electromagnetic Fields Recent Research on Mobile Telephony and Health
Mobile Phones and
Health 2004: Report by the Board of NRPB (The UK's National Radiological
The county of
Palm Beach, Florida, the City of Los Angeles, California, and the country of New
Zealand have all prohibited cell phone base stations and antennas near schools
due to safety concerns. The British Columbia Confederation of Parent Advisory
Councils [BCCPAC] passed a resolution in 2003 banning cellular antennae from
schools and school grounds. This organization is comparable to the Parent
Teachers Association (PTA) in the United States. The resolution was
directed to B.C. Ministry of Education, B.C. Ministry of Children and Family
Development, B.C. School Trustees Association, and B.C. Association of
US Government Information
In the United States, the Federal
Communications Commission (FCC) has used safety guidelines for RF/MW radiation
environmental exposure since 1985.
The FCC guidelines for human
exposure to RF/MW radiation are derived from the recommendations of two
organizations, the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements
(NCRP) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). In both
cases, the recommendations were developed by scientific and engineering experts
drawn from industry, government, and academia after extensive reviews of the
scientific literature related to the biological effects of RF/MW radiation.
Many countries in Europe and
elsewhere use exposure guidelines developed by the International Commission on
Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). The ICNIRP safety limits are
generally similar to those of the NCRP and IEEE, with a few exceptions. For
example, ICNIRP recommends different exposure levels in the lower and upper
frequency ranges and for localized exposure from certain products such as
hand-held wireless telephones. Currently, the World Health Organization is
working to provide a framework for international harmonization of RF/MW
radiation safety standards.
In order to affirm conformity to
standards regarding heating of tissue, measurements are time averaged over 0.1
hours [6 minutes]. This method eliminates any spikes in the readings. Computer
power bars have surge protectors to prevent damage to computers. Fire
fighters and emergency medical personnel do not!
The NCRP, IEEE, and ICNIRP all
have identified a whole-body Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) value of 4 watts per
kilogram (4 W/kg) as a threshold level of exposure at which harmful biological
thermal effects due to tissue heating may occur. Exposure guidelines in
terms of field strength, power density and localized SAR were then derived from
this threshold value. In addition, the NCRP, IEEE, and ICNIRP guidelines vary
depending on the frequency of the RF/MW radiation exposure. This is due to
the finding that whole-body human absorption of RF/MW radiation varies with the
frequency of the RF signal. The most restrictive limits on whole-body
exposure are in the frequency range of 30-300 MHz where the human body absorbs
RF/MW energy most efficiently. For products that only expose part of the
body, such as wireless phones, exposure limits in terms of SAR only are
Similarly, the exposure limits
used by the FCC are expressed in terms of SAR, electric and magnetic field
strength, and power density for transmitters operating at frequencies from 300
kHz to 100 GHz. The specific values can be found in two FCC bulletins, OET
Bulletins 56 and 65.
OET Bulletin 56,
“Questions and Answers about Biological Effects and Potential Hazards of
Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields”
was designed to provide factual information to the public by answering some of
the most commonly asked questions. It includes the latest information on FCC
guidelines for human exposure to RF/MW radiation. Further information and
a downloadable version of Bulletin 56 can be found at:
OET Bulletin 65,
“Evaluating Compliance With FCC Guidelines for
Human Exposure to Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields”
was prepared to provide assistance in determining whether proposed or existing
transmitting facilities, operations or devices comply
with limits for human exposure to RF/MW radiation
adopted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Further
information and a downloadable version of Bulletin 65 can be found at:
The FCC authorizes and licenses
products, transmitters, and facilities that generate RF and microwave radiation.
It has jurisdiction over all transmitting services in the U.S. except those
specifically operated by the Federal Government. Under the National
Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), the FCC has certain responsibilities to
consider whether its actions will significantly affect the quality of the human
environment. Therefore, FCC approval and licensing of transmitters and
facilities must be evaluated for significant impact on the environment.
Human exposure to RF radiation emitted by FCC-regulated transmitters is one of
several factors that must be considered in such environmental evaluations. In
1996, the FCC revised its guidelines for RF/MW radiation exposure as a result of
a multi-year proceeding and as required by the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
For further information and
answers to questions about the safety of RF/MW radiation from transmitters and
facilities regulated by the FCC go to
Canadian Government Information
Industry Canada is the
organization that sets regulatory requirements for electromagnetic spectrum
management and radio equipment in Canada. Industry Canada establishes standards
for equipment certification and, as part of these standards, developed RSS-102,
which specifies permissible radiofrequency RF/MW radiation levels. For this
purpose, Industry Canada adopted the limits
outlined in Health Canada's Safety-Code 6, which is a guideline document for
limiting RF exposure. A downloadable version of “RSS-102 - Evaluation
Procedure for Mobile and Portable Radio Transmitters with respect to Health
Canada's Safety Code 6 for Exposure of Humans to Radio Frequency Fields”, as
well as additional information can be found at:
Safety Code 6 specifies the requirements for
the use of radiation emitting devices. This Code replaces the previous Safety
Code 6 - EHD-TR-160. A downloadable version of “Limits of Human Exposure
to Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields in the Frequency Range from 3 kHz TO
300 GHz – Safety Code 6”, as well as further detailed information can be found
US and Canadian Legal Issues
Although some local and state
governments have enacted rules and regulations about human exposure to RF/MW
radiation in the past, the Telecommunications Act of 1996 requires the United
States Federal Government to control human exposure to RF/MW radiation. In
particular, Section 704 of the Act states that, "No State or local government or
instrumentality thereof may regulate the placement, construction, and
modification of personal wireless service facilities on the basis of the
environmental effects of radio frequency emissions to the extent that such
facilities comply with the Commission's regulations concerning such emissions."
Further information on federal authority and FCC policy is available in a fact
sheet from the FCC's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau at
In a recent opinion filed by
Senior Circuit Judge Stephen F. Williams, No. 03-1336 EMR Network v. Federal
Communications Commission and United States of America, the Court upheld the
FCC's decision not to initiate an inquiry on the need to revise its regulations
to address non-thermal effects of radiofrequency (RF) radiation from the
facilities and products subject to FCC regulation as EMR Network had requested
in its September 2001 Petition for Inquiry.
At the request of the EMR
Network, the EMR Policy Institute provided legal and research support for this
appeal. On January 13, 2005, a Petition for Rehearing en banc by
the full panel of judges at the DC Circuit Court of Appeals was filed. Briefs,
background documents and the DC Circuit decision are found at:
The Toronto Medical Officer of
Health for the Toronto Board of Health recommended to Health Canada that public
exposure limits for RF/MW radiation be made 100 times stricter; however the
recommendation was not allowed, since, as in the US, only the Canadian federal
government can regulate RF/MW radiation exposure level.
World Health Organization Efforts
In 1996, the World Health
Organization (WHO) established the International EMF Project to review the
scientific literature and work towards resolution of health concerns over the
use of RF/MW technology. WHO maintains a Web site that provides addition
information on this project and about RF/MW biological effects and research.
For further information go to
For decades, the
International Association of Fire Fighters has been directly involved in
protecting and promoting the health and safety of our membership. However,
we simply don't know at this time what the possible health consequences of
exposure to low-intensity RF/MW radiation of the type used by
the cell phone base stations and antennas will be. No one knows--the data
just aren't there. The chairman of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing
Radiation Protection ICNIRP), one of the leading international organizations
which formulated the current RF/MW radiation exposure guidelines, has stated
that the guidelines include "no consideration regarding prudent avoidance" for
health effects for which evidence is less than conclusive
Again, fire department facilities, where fire
fighters and emergency response personnel live and work are not the proper place
for a technology which could endanger their health and safety
reasonable and responsible course is to conduct a study of the highest
scientific merit and integrity on the RF/MW radiation health effects to our
membership and, in the interim, oppose the use of
fire stations as base stations for towers and/or antennas for the conduction of
cell phone transmissions until it is proven that such sitings are not hazardous
to the health of our members.
Revised and Amended IAFF Resolution No. 15; August 2004
Study of Firefighters Exposed to Radio
Frequency (RF) Radiation from Cell Towers/Masts
fire stations across the United States and Canada are being sought by wireless
companies as base stations for the antennas and towers for the conduction of
cell phone transmissions; and
many firefighters who are living with cell towers on or adjacent to their
stations are paying a substantial price in terms of physical and mental health.
As first responders and protectors of the general public, it is crucial that
firefighters are functioning at optimal cognitive and physical capacity at all
the brain is the first organ to be affected by RF radiation and symptoms
manifest in a multitude of neurological conditions including migraine headaches,
extreme fatigue, disorientation, slowed reaction time, vertigo, vital memory
loss and attention deficit amidst life threatening emergencies; and
most of the firefighters who are experiencing symptoms can attribute the onset
to the first week(s) these towers/antennas were activated; and
RF radiation is emitted by these cellular antennas and RF radiation can
penetrate every living cell, including plants, animals and humans; and
both the U. S. and Canadian governments established regulatory limits for RF
radiation based on thermal (heat) measurements with no regard for the adverse
health effects from non-thermal radiation which is proven to harm the human
brain and immune system; and
the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency stated in a July 16, 2002, letter,
“Federal health and safety agencies have not yet developed policies concerning
possible risk from long-term, non-thermal exposures. The FCC’s exposure
guideline is considered protective of effects arising from a thermal mechanism
(RF radiation from cell towers is non-thermal) but not from all possible
mechanisms. Therefore, the generalization by many that the guidelines protecting
human beings from harm by any or all mechanisms is not justified”; and
an Expert Panel Report requested by the Royal Society of Canada prepared for
Health Canada (1999) stated that, “Exposure to RF fields at intensities far less
than levels required to produce measurable heating can cause effects in cells
and tissues. These biological effects include alterations in the activity
of the enzyme ornithine decarboxylase, in calcium regulation, and in the
permeability of the blood-brain barrier. Some of these biological effects
brought about by non-thermal exposure levels of RF could potentially be
associated with adverse health effects”; and
based on concerns over growing scientific evidence of dangers from RF radiation,
an international conference was convened in Salzburg, Austria, in the summer of
2000 where renowned scientists declared the upper-most RF radiation exposure
limit from a tower-mast should be 1/10th of 1 microwatt (Note that 1/10th of 1
microwatt is 10,000 times lower than the uppermost limit allowed by the U. S. or
Canada.); and it should be noted this limit was set because of study results
showing brain wave changes at 1/10th of 1 microwatt; and
in a recently cleared paper by Dr. Richard A. Albanese of the U. S. Air Force, a
highly recognized physician in the area of the impact of radiation on the human
body, Dr. Albanese states, “I would ask a good faith effort in achieving as low
exposure rates as are possible within reasonable financial constraints. Also I
would fund targeted studies using animal subjects and human groups living or
working in high radiation settings or heavy cellular phone users, emphasizing
disease causations. I urge acceptance of the ideal that there should be no
unmonitored occupational or environmental exposures whose associated disease
rates are unknown.” (The opinions expressed herein are those of Dr. Albanese,
and do not reflect the policies of the United States Air Force.); and
recently a study, not affiliated with the wireless industry, was conducted of
firefighters exposed to RF radiation from cell towers/antennas affixed to their
stations.** The study revealed brain damage
that can be differentiated from chemical causation (such as inhalation of toxic
smoke) suggesting RF radiation as the cause of the brain damage found on SPECT
firefighters are the protectors of people and property and should be protected
under the Precautionary Principle of Science and therefore, unless radiation is
proven safe and harmless, cellular antennas should not be placed on or near fire
stations; therefore be it
That the IAFF shall seek funding for an initial U. S. and Canadian study with
the highest scientific merit and integrity, contrasting firefighters with
residence in stations with towers to firefighters without similar exposure; and
be it further
That in accordance with the results of the study, the IAFF will establish
protective policy measures with the health and safety of all firefighters as the
paramount objective; and be it further
That the IAFF oppose the use of fire stations as base stations for antennas and
towers for the conduction of cell phone transmissions until such installations
are proven not to be hazardous to the health of our members.
A pilot study was conducted in 2004 of six
California fire fighters working and sleeping in stations with towers. The
study, conducted by Gunnar Heuser, M.D., PhD. of Agoura Hills, CA, focused on
neurological symptoms of six fire fighters who had been working for up to five
years in stations with cell towers. Those symptoms included slowed reaction
time, lack of focus, lack of impulse control, severe headaches, anesthesia-like
sleep, sleep deprivation, depression, and tremors. Dr. Heuser used
functional brain scans - SPECT scans - to assess any changes in the brains of
the six fire fighters as compared to healthy brains of men of the same age.
Computerized psychological testing known as TOVA was used to study reaction
time, impulse control, and attention span. The SPECT scans revealed a
pattern of abnormal change which was concentrated over a wider area than would
normally be seen in brains of individuals exposed to toxic inhalation, as might
be expected from fighting fires. Dr. Heuser concluded the only plausible
explanation at this time would be RF radiation exposure. Additionally, the TOVA
testing revealed among the six fire fighters delayed reaction time, lack of
impulse control, and difficulty in maintaining mental focus.
[back] 2. An international blue ribbon panel
assembled by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
designated power frequency electromagnetic fields (EMF) as "possible human
carcinogens" on June 24, 1998. The panel's decision was based largely on the
results of epidemiological studies of children exposed at home and workers
exposed on the job. The evaluation of the EMF literature followed procedures
developed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), based in
Lyon, France. The working group's report will be the basis for the NIEHS report
to Congress on the EMF Research and Public Information Dissemination program
(EMF RAPID). The National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) of the United
Kingdom noted that the views of its Advisory Group on Non-Ionizing Radiation are
"consistent with those of the NIEHS expert panel."
June 26, 1998
statement of the National Radiological Protection Board, sited in Microwave
News, July/August 1998
World Health Organization; International Agency for Research on Cancer; IARC
Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans; Volume 80
Non-Ionizing Radiation, Part 1: Static and Extremely Low-Frequency (ELF)
Electric and Magnetic Fields; 2002; 429 pages; ISBN 92 832 1280 0; See
This IARC Monograph provides the rationale for its
designation of ELF/EMF as a possible human carcinogen. It states that:
A few studies
on genetic effects have examined chromosomal aberrations and micronuclei in
lymphocytes from workers exposed to ELF electric and magnetic fields. In these
studies, confounding by genotoxic agents (tobacco, solvents) and comparability
between the exposed and control groups are of concern. Thus, the studies
reporting an increased frequency of chromosomal aberrations and micronuclei are
difficult to interpret.
have been conducted to investigate the effects of ELF magnetic fields on various
genetic end-points. Although increased DNA strand breaks have been reported in
brain cells of exposed rodents, the results are inconclusive; most of the
studies show no effects in mammalian cells exposed to magnetic fields alone at
levels below 50 µT. However, extremely strong ELF magnetic fields have caused
adverse genetic effects in some studies. In addition, several groups have
reported that ELF magnetic fields enhance the effects of known DNA- and
chromosome-damaging agents such as ionizing radiation.
animal studies on cancer-related non-genetic effects are inconclusive. Results
on the effects on in-vitro cell proliferation and malignant transformation are
inconsistent, but some studies suggest that ELF magnetic fields affect cell
proliferation and modify cellular responses to other factors such as melatonin.
An increase in apoptosis following exposure of various cell lines to ELF
electric and magnetic fields has been reported in several studies with different
exposure conditions. Numerous studies have investigated effects of ELF magnetic
fields on cellular end-points associated with signal transduction, but the
results are not consistent.
4. The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP)
statement "Health Issues Related to the Use of Hand-Held Radiotelephones and
Base Transmitters" of 1996 reads:
mediated effects of RF fields have been studied in animals, including primates.
These data suggest effects that will probably occur in humans subjected to whole
body or localized heating sufficient to increase tissue temperatures by greater
than 1C. They include the induction of opacities of the lens of the eye,
possible effects on development and male fertility, various physiological and
thermoregulatory responses to heat, and a decreased ability to perform mental
tasks as body temperature increases. Similar effects have been reported in
people subject to heat stress, for example while working in hot environments or
by fever. The various effects are well established and form the biological basis
for restricting occupational and public exposure to radiofrequency fields. In
contrast, non-thermal effects are not well established and currently do not form
a scientifically acceptable basis for restricting human exposure for frequencies
used by hand-held radiotelephones and base stations."
Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection, "Health Issues Related to the
Use of Hand-Held Radiotelephones and Base Transmitters," Health Physics
Standard for Safety Levels of 1992 similarly states:
review of the literature revealed once again that the most sensitive
measurements of potentially harmful biological effects were based on the
disruption of ongoing behavior associated with an increase of body temperature
in the presence of electromagnetic fields. Because of the paucity of reliable
data on chronic exposures, IEEE Subcommittee IV focused on evidence of
behavioral disruption under acute exposures, even disruption of a transient and
fully reversible nature."
Standards Coordinating committee 28 on Non-Ionizing Radiation Hazards: Standard
for Safe Levels With Respect to Human Exposure to Radio Frequency
Electromagnetic Fields, 3 KHz to 300 GHz (ANSI/IEEE C95.1-1991), The Institute
of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, New York, 1992.
Drs. Czerska, Casamento, Ning, and Davis (working for the Food and Drug
Administration in 1997) using "a waveform identical to that used in digital
cellular phones" at a power level within our current standards (SAR of 1.6 W/Kg,
the maximum spatial peak exposure level recommended for the general population
in the ANSI C95.1-1991 standard) found increases in cellular proliferation in
human glioblastoma cells. This shows that "acceptable" levels of radiation can
cause human cancer cells to multiply faster. The authors note that "because of
reported associations between cellular phone exposure and the occurrence of a
brain tumor, glioblastoma, a human glioblastoma cell line was used" in their
J. Casamento, J. T. Ning, and C. Davis, "Effects of Radiofrequency
Electromagnetic Radiation on Cell Proliferation," [Abstract presented on
February 7, 1997 at the workshop 'Physical Characteristics and Possible
Biological Effects of Microwaves Applied in Wireless Communication, Rockville,
MD] E. M. Czerska, J. Casamento Centers for Devices and Radiological Health,
Food and Drug Administration, Rockville, Maryland 20857, USA; H. T. Ning, Indian
Health Service, Rockville, Maryland 20857, USA; C. Davis, Electrical Engineering
Dept., Univ. of Maryland, College Park, Maryland 20742, USA
6. Dr. Michael Repacholi (in 1997, currently the director of the International
Electromagnetic Fields Project at the World Health Organization) took one
hundred transgenic mice and exposed some to radiation for two 30 minute periods
a day for up to 18 months. He found that the exposed mice developed lymphomas (a
type of cancer) at twice the rate of the unexposed mice. While
telecommunications industry spokespersons criticized the experiment for using
mice with a mutation which predisposed them to cancer (transgenic) the
researchers pointed out that "some individuals inherit mutations in other
genes...that predispose them to develop cancer, and these individuals may
comprise a subpopulation at special risk from agents that would pose an
otherwise insignificant risk of cancer."
stated "I believe this is the first animal study showing a true non-thermal
effect." He repeated the experiment in 1998 using 50 Hz fields instead of the
900 MHz pulsed radiation (the type used by cellular phones) used in the original
experiment and found no cancer risk. He stated that this new data had
implications for his original cellular phone study: "the control groups for both
our RF and 50 Hz field studies showed no statistical differences, which lessens
the possibility that the RF/MW radiation study result was a chance event or due
to errors in methodology."
It is extremely
important to note that Dr. Michael Repacholi was Chairman of the ICNIRP at the
time its Statement on Health Issues Related to the Use of Hand-Held
Radiotelephones and Base Transmitters was developed in 1996.
et al., "Lymphomas in Eµ-Pim1 Transgenic Mice Exposed to Pulsed 900 MHz
Electromagnetic Fields," Radiation Research, 147, pp.631-640, May 1997
[back] 7. Dr. Ross Adey (Veterans Administration
Hospital at Loma Linda University in 1996) found what appeared to be a
protective effect in rats exposed to the type of radiation used in digital
cellular phones. The rats were exposed to an SAR of 0.58-0.75 W/Kg 836 MHz
pulsed radiation of the TDMA type two hours a day, four days a week for 23
months, with the signals turned on and off every 7.5 minutes, so total exposure
was 4 hours a week. Interestingly this effect was not present when a
non-digital, analog signal was used. Rats exposed developed cancer less often.
This study shows that low power fields of the digital cellular frequency can
influence cancer development. Whether they would protect or promote in our
children is a question for further study.
Ross Adey of
the Veterans Administration Hospital at Loma Linda University, CA presented the
results of pulsed (digital cellular) radiation on June 13, 1996 at the 18th
Annual Meeting of the Bioelectromagnetics Society in Victoria, Canada. He
presented the findings of the analog cellular phone radiation effect at the June
1997 2nd World Congress for Electricity and Magnetism in Biology and
Medicine in Bologna, Italy. Reviews can be found in Microwave News issues
July/August, 1996 and March/April 1997.
In recognition of his more than three decades
of "fundamental contributions to the emerging science of the biological effects
of electromagnetic fields," the authors of the November 2004 Report of the
European Union's REFLEX Project (Risk Evaluation
of Potential Environmental Hazards From Low Frequency Electromagnetic Field
Exposure Using Sensitive in vitro Methods) chose to include Dr. Adey's
personal views on Electromagnetic Field Exposure research as the Foreword to
that report. To view the entire report, see:
The following is
taken from Dr. Adey's Foreword found on pages 1-3 of the REFLEX Report:
The Future of
Fundamental Research in a Society Seeking Categoric Answers to Health Risks of
we have become superstitious users of an ever-growing range of technologies, but
we are now unable to escape the web that they have woven around us.
reporters in general are no better informed. Lacking either responsibility
or accountability, they have created feeding frenzies from the tiniest snippets
of information gleaned from scientific meetings or from their own inaccurate
interpretation of published research. In consequence, the public has
turned with pleading voices to government legislatures and bureaucracies for
guidance . . .
We face the
problem brought on by the blind leading the blind. Because of public
pressure for rapid answers to very complex biological and physical issues,
short-term research programs have been funded to answer specific questions about
certain health risks.
countries, and particularly in the USA, the effects of such harassing and
troublesome tactics on independent, careful fundamental research have been near
tragic. Beguiled by health hazard research as the only source of funding,
accomplished basic scientists have diverted from a completely new frontier in
physical regulation of biological mechanisms at the atomic level. Not only
have governments permitted corporate interests in the communications industry to
fund this research, they have even permitted them to determine the research
questions to be addressed and to select the institutions performing the
[back] 8. Dr. A. W. Guy reported an extensive
investigation on rats chronically exposed from 2 up to 27 months of age to
low-level pulsed microwaves at SARs up to 0.4 W/Kg. The exposed group was found
to have a significantly higher incidence of primary cancers.
A. W. Guy, C.
K. Chou, L. Kunz, L, Crowley, and J. Krupp, "Effects of Long-Term Low-Level
Radiofrequency Radiation Exposure on Rats." Volume 9. Summary. Brooks Air Force
Base, Texas, USAF School of Aerospace Medicine, USF-SAM-TR-85-11; 1985
[back] 9. Drs. Henry Lai and N. P. Singh of the
University of Washington in Seattle have reported both single- and double-strand
DNA breaks in the brains of rats exposed to radiofrequency electromagnetic
radiation at an SAR of 1.2 W/Kg. DNA is the carrier of the genetic information
in all living cells. Cumulated DNA strand breaks in brain cells can lead to
cancer or neurodegenerative diseases.
H. Lai and N.
P. Singh, "Single- and Double-Strand DNA Breaks in Rat Brain Cells After Acute
Exposure to Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Radiation," International Journal of
Radiation Biology, Vol 69, No. 4, 513-521, 1996
[back] 10. Dr. Stanislaw Szmigielski has studied
many thousands of Polish soldiers. He has found that those exposed to
radiofrequency and microwave radiation in the workplace had more than double the
cancer rate of the unexposed servicemen analyzing data from 1971-1985. He has
presented further data suggesting a dose-response relationship with soldiers
exposed to 100-200 W/cm2 suffering 1.69 times as many cancers as the
unexposed, and those exposed to 600-1000 W/cm2 suffering 4.63 times
as many cancers. The level considered safe for the public according to FCC
regulations is 1000 W/cm2. Occupational exposure up to 5000 W/cm2
Szmigielski, "Cancer Morbidity in Subjects Occupationally Exposed to High
Frequency (Radiofrequency and Microwave) Electromagnetic Radiation," The Science
of the Total Environment 180:9-17, 1996
[back] 11. Dr. Bruce Hocking found an
association between increased childhood leukemia incidence and mortality in the
proximity of television towers. The power density ranged from 0.2-8.0 W/cm2
nearer and 0.02 W/cm2 farther from the towers.
I. R. Gordon, H. L. Grain, and G. E. Hatfield, "Cancer Incidence and Mortality
and Proximity to TV Towers," Medical Journal of Australia 165: 601-605; 1996
[back] 12. Drs. Mann and Röschke investigated
the influence of pulsed high-frequency RF/MW radiation of digital mobile radio
telephones on sleep in healthy humans. They found a hypnotic effect with
shortening of sleep onset latency and a REM (Rapid Eye Movement) suppressive
effect with reduction of duration and percentage of REM sleep. "REM sleep plays
a special physiological role for information processing in the brain, especially
concerning consolidation of new experiences. Thus the effects observed possibly
could be associated with alterations of memory and learning functions."
K. Mann and
J. Röschke, "Effects of Pulsed High-Frequency Electromagnetic Fields on Human
Sleep," Neuropsychobiology 33:41-47, 1996
13. Dr. Allen Frey has been researching RF/MW radiation for over 3 decades. Here
is the abstract on a paper concerning headaches and cellular phone radiation.
"There have been numerous recent reports of headaches occurring in association
with the use of hand-held cellular telephones. Are these reported headaches
real? Are they due to emissions from telephones? There is reason to believe that
the answer is "yes" to both questions. There are several lines of evidence to
support this conclusion. First, headaches as a consequence of exposure to low
intensity microwaves were reported in the literature 30 years ago. These were
observed during the course of microwave hearing research before there were
cellular telephones. Second, the blood-brain barrier appears to be involved in
headaches, and low intensity microwave energy exposure affects the barrier.
Third, the dopamine-opiate systems of the brain appear to be involved in
headaches, and low intensity electromagnetic energy exposure affects those
systems. In all three lines of research, the microwave energy used was
approximately the same--in frequencies, modulations, and incident energies--as
those emitted by present day cellular telephones, Could the current reports of
headaches be the canary in the coal mine, warning of biologically significant
A. H. Frey,
"Headaches from Cellular Telephones: Are they Real and What Are the
Implications?" Environmental Health Perspectives Volume 106, Number 3,
pp.101-103, March 1998
14. Henry Lai's review of the literature concerning neurological effects of
RF/MW radiation: Existing data indicate that RF/MW radiation of relatively low
intensity can affect the nervous system. Changes in blood-brain barrier,
morphology, electrophysiology, neurotransmitter functions, cellular metabolism,
and calcium efflux, and genetic effects have been reported in the brain of
animals after exposure to RF. These changes can lead to functional changes in
the nervous system. Behavioral changes in animals after exposure to RR have been
Even a temporary
change in neural functions after RF/MW radiation exposure could lead to adverse
consequences. For example, a transient loss of memory function or concentration
could result in an accident when a person is driving. Loss of short term working
memory has indeed been observed in rats after acute exposure to RF/MW radiation.
also shown that the effects of RF/MW radiation on the nervous system can
cumulate with repeated exposure. The important question is, after repeated
exposure, will the nervous system adapt to the perturbation and when will
homeostasis break down? Related to this is that various lines of evidence
suggest that responses of the central nervous system to RF/MW radiation could be
a stress response. Stress effects are well known to cumulate over time and
involve first adaptation and then an eventual break down of homeostatic
"Neurological Effects of Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Radiation Relating to
Wireless Communication Technology," Paper presentation at the IBC-UK Conference:
"Mobile Phones-Is There a Health Risk?" September 16-17, 1997, Brussels, Belgium
15. Blood-Brain-Barrier: The blood-brain-barrier (BBB) is primarily a continuous
layer of cells lining the blood vessels of the brain. It is critical for
regulation of the brain's activity. Lai notes that "Even though most studies
indicate that changes in the BBB occurs only after exposure to RF/MW radiation
of high intensities with significant increase in tissue temperature, several
studies have reported increases in permeability after exposure to RF/MW
radiation of relatively low intensities...Pulsed RF seems to be more potent than
continuous wave RF." Pulsed RF/MW is the type used in digital cellular systems.
Effects on the BBB were noted at the 0.2 W/cm2 level, and even at
SAR of 0.016-5 W/kg. These effects could lead to local changes in brain
H. Lai, Ibid
16. Cellular Morphology: RF/MW radiation induced morphological changes of the
central nervous system cells and tissues have been shown to occur under
relatively high intensity or prolonged exposure to the RF/MW radiation. However,
there are several studies which show that repeated exposure at relatively low
power intensities caused morphological changes in the central nervous system.
Again here pulsed (as in digital phone use) RF/MW radiation produced more
pronounced effects. Certain drugs given to nonhuman primates sensitized them,
for instance allowing eye damage to occur at very low power intensities. Dr Lai
notes "Changes in morphology, especially cell death, could have an important
implication on health. Injury-induced cell proliferation has been hypothesized
as a cause of cancer." Some of these experiments were in the range of SAR 0.53
W/kg or even 0.26 W/kg.
H. Lai, Ibid
17. Neural Electrophysiology: Changes in neuronal electrophysiology, evoked
potentials, and EEG have been reported. Some effects were observed at low
intensities and after repeated exposure, suggesting cumulative effect. Energy
density levels were as low as 50 W/cm2.
H. Lai, Ibid
18. Neurotransmitters: Neurotransmitters are molecules which transmit
information from one nerve cell to another. Early studies have reported changes
in various neurotransmitters (catecholamines, serotonin, and acetylcholine) in
the brain of animals only after exposure to high intensities of RF/MW radiation.
However, there are more recent studies that show changes in neurotransmitter
functions after exposure to low intensities of RF radiation. For example,
effects were seen at 50 µW/cm2 in one
experiment. U.S. and Canadian RF/MW radiation safety policies allow
exposures of 1000 µW/cm2 at that
activates endogenous opioids in the brain. Endogenous opioids are
neurotransmitters with morphine-like properties and are involved in many
important physiological and behavioral functions, such as pain perception and
The response to
RF/MW radiation depends on the area of the brain studied and on the
duration of exposure. Exposure to RF/MW radiation has been shown to affect
the behavioral actions of benzodiazepines (these are drugs such as Valium).
H. Lai, Ibid
19. Metabolic Changes in Neural Tissue: Several studies investigated the effects
of RF/MW radiation exposure on energy metabolism in the rat brain. Surprisingly,
changes were reported after exposure to relatively low intensity RF/MW radiation
for a short duration of time (minutes). The effects depended on the frequency
and modulation characteristics of the RF/MW radiation and did not seem to be
related to temperature changes in the tissue.
play important roles in the functions of the nervous system, such as the release
of neurotransmitters and the actions of some neurotransmitter receptors. Thus
changes in calcium ion concentration could lead to alterations in neural
functions. This is an area of considerable controversy because some researchers
have also reported no significant effects of RF/MW radiation exposure on
calcium efflux. However, when positive effects were observed, they occurred
after exposure to RF/MW radiation of relatively low intensities and were
dependent on the modulation and intensity of the RF/MW radiation studied
(window effects). Some studies had SARs as low as 0.05-0.005 W/Kg.
H. Lai, Ibid
20. Cytogenetic effects have been reported in various types of cells
after exposure to RF/MW radiation. Recently, several studies have reported
cytogenetic changes in brain cells by RF/MW radiation , and these results could
have important implication for the health effects of RF/MW radiation . Genetic
damage to glial cells can result in carcinogenesis. However, since neurons do
not undergo mitosis, a more likely consequence of neuronal genetic damage is
changes in functions and cell death, which could either lead to or accelerate
the development of neurodegenerative diseases. Power densities of 1 mW/cm2
were employed, a level considered safe for the public by the FCC.
-induced increases in single and double strand DNA breaks in rats can be blocked
by treating the rats with melatonin or the spin-trap compound
N-t-butyl--phenylnitrone. Since both compounds are potent free radical
scavengers, these data suggest that free radicals may play a role in the genetic
effect of RF. If free radicals are involved in the RF-induced DNA strand breaks
in brain cells, results from this study could have an important implication on
the health effects of RF exposure. Involvement of free radicals in human
diseases, such as cancer and atherosclerosis, has been suggested. Free radicals
also play an important role in the aging process, which has been ascribed to be
a consequence of accumulated oxidative damage to body tissues, and involvement
of free radicals in neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's, Huntington,
and Parkinson, has also been suggested. One can also speculate that some
individuals may be more susceptible to the effects of RF/MW radiation exposure.
H. Lai, Ibid
21. Dr. A. A. Kolodynski and V. V. Kolodynska of the Institute of Biology,
Latvian Academy of Sciences, presented the results of experiments on school
children living in the area of the Skrunda Radio Location Station in Latvia.
Motor function, memory, and attention significantly differed between the exposed
and control groups. The children living in front of the station had less
developed memory and attention and their reaction time was slower.
Kolodynski, V. V. Kolodynska, "Motor and Psychological Functions of School
Children Living in the Area of the Skrunda Radio Location Station in Latvia,"
The Science of the Total Environment 180:87-93, 1996
[back] 22. Dr. H. Lai and colleagues in 1993
exposed rats to 45 minutes of pulsed high frequency RF/MW radiation at low
intensity and found that the rats showed retarded learning, indicating a deficit
in spatial "working memory" function.
H Lai, A.
Horita, and A. W. Guy, "Microwave Irradiation Affects Radial-Arm Maze
Performance in the Rat," Bioelectromagnetics 15:95-104, 1994
Dr. Lai's January 2005 compilation of published RF/MW radiation studies
demonstrating biological effects of exposure to low-intensity RF/MW radiation is
included as a Reference section at the end of this report.
[back] 23. Dr. Stefan Braune reported a 5-10 mm
Hg resting blood pressure rise during exposure to RF/MW radiation of the sort
used by cellular phones in Europe. The Lancet, the British medical journal where
the report appeared, stated that "Such an increase could have adverse effects on
people with high blood pressure."
"Resting Blood Pressure Increase During Exposure to a Radio-Frequency
Electromagnetic Field," The Lancet 351, pp. 1,857-1,858, 1998
[back] 24. Dr. Kues and colleagues (of Johns
Hopkins University and the Food and Drug Administration) found that placing
timolol and pilocarpine into the eyes of monkeys and then exposing them to low
power density pulsed RF/MW radiation caused a significant reduction in the
power-density threshold for causing damage to the cells covering the eye and the
iris. In fact the power was reduced by a factor of 10, so that it entered the
"acceptable, safe" level of the FCC, 1 mW/cm2! Timolol and
pilocarpine are commonly used by people suffering from glaucoma. This is a very
important study, as it points to the fact that laboratory experiments under
"ideal" conditions are rarely what one finds in real life. The "safe" level of
RF/MW radiation exposure for healthy people is likely to be very different than
for those of us who suffer from illness, take medications, or are perhaps simply
younger or older than those in the experiments.
H. A. Kues,
J. C. Monahan, S. A. D'Anna, D. S. McLeod, G. A. Lutty, and S. Koslov,
"Increased Sensitivity of the Non-Human Primate Eye to Microwave Radiation
Following Ophthalmic Drug Pretreatment," Bioelectromagnetics 13:379-393, 1992
25. The World Health Organization states that "concerns have been raised
about the safety of cellular mobile telephones, electric power lines and police
speed-control 'radar guns.' Scientific reports have suggested that exposure to
electromagnetic fields emitted from these devices could have adverse health
effects, such as cancer, reduced fertility, memory loss, and adverse changes in
the behaviour and development of children." Therefore, "In May 1996, in response
to growing public health concerns in many Member States over possible health
effects from exposure to an ever-increasing number and diversity of EMF sources,
the World Health Organization launched an international project to assess health
and environmental effects of exposure to electric and magnetic fields, which
became known as the International EMF Project. The International EMF Project
will last for five years." "A number of studies at [frequencies above about 1
MHz] suggest that exposure to RF fields too weak to cause heating may have
adverse health consequences, including cancer and memory loss. Identifying and
encouraging coordinated research into these open questions is one of the major
objectives of the International EMF Project."
Organization Fact Sheet N181, "Electromagnetic Fields and Public Health, The
International EMF Project," reviewed May 1998 and World Health Organization Fact
Sheet N182, "Electromagnetic Fields and Public Health, Physical Properties and
Effects on Biological Systems," reviewed May 1998,
26. The U. S. Food and Drug Administration in a January 14, 1998 letter to
the House Telecommunications Subcommittee stated it "believes additional
research in the area of RF is needed." In 1997 the FDA
established the following priorities:
Chronic (lifetime) animal exposures should be
given the highest priority.
Chronic animal exposures should be performed
both with and without the application of chemical initiating agents to
investigate tumor promotion in addition to tumorigenesis.
Identification of potential risks should
include end points other than brain cancer (e.g. ocular effects of RF
Replication of prior studies demonstrating
positive biological effects work is needed. A careful replication of the
Chou and Guy study (Bioelectromagnetics, 13, pp.469-496, 1992) which
suggests that chronic exposure of rats to microwaves is associated with an
increase in tumors, would contribute a great deal to the risk identification
process for wireless communication products.
Genetic toxicology studies should focus on
single cell gel studies of DNA strand breakage and on induction of
Epidemiology studies focused on approaches
optimized for hazard identification are warranted.
Food and Drug Administration Recommendations
quoted in Microwave News, March/April, 1997
27. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is planning a
multi-country, multi-million dollar study of cancer among users of wireless
phones, beginning 1998. Microwave News, January/February, 1998
[back] 28. The Swedish Work Environmental Fund
initiated a new epidemiological study on cellular phone radiation and brain
tumors in 1997.
Microwave News, November/December, 1997
29. The National Cancer Institute announced plans for a 5 year study of
brain tumors and RF/MW radiation in 1993. Microwave News, January/February,
30. The European Commission (EC) Expert Group on health effects of wireless
phones called for a 5 year research program with a $20 million budget, reported
1997. Microwave News , January/February, 1997
31. A report commissioned by New Zealand's Ministry of Health stated that "It is
imperative that the scientific issues be clarified as soon as possible, as there
is much at stake." It called for more research to examine the potential health
effects of RF radiation. Microwave News, November/December, 1996
32. The National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia announced its
sponsorship of a 5 year, $3.5 million project on potential health effects of
mobile phone technology in 1996. Microwave News, November/December, 1996
[back] 33. The Commonwealth Scientific
Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) of Australia concluded in 1995 that the
safety of cellular telephones cannot be resolved "in the near future." Dr. Stan
Barnett, a principal researcher of CSIRO, states that "My goal is to establish a
national committee to approach this problem by coordinating relevant and focused
research." He estimated a budget of $3 million over a 3 year period would be
Scientific Industrial Research Organization, "Status of Research on Biological
Effects and Safety of Electromagnetic Radiation: Telecommunications
Frequencies," a report prepared by Dr. Stan Barnett, as sited in Microwave News,
34. In Canada, Expert Panels are formed in response to requests from governments
and other organizations for guidance on public policy issues where specialized
knowledge is required. The Royal Society of Canada (RSC) is the only
national academic organization, encompassing all fields of study in the
sciences, arts and humanities that provides, through its Committee on Expert
Panels, a service to Canadians by convening Expert Panels that produce publicly
disseminated, arms-length, third party reviews. The most recent Expert Panel
report addressing RF/MW radiation examines new data on dosimetry and exposure
assessment, thermoregulation, biological effects such as enzyme induction, and
toxicological effects, including genotoxicity, carcinogenicity, and testicular
and reproductive outcomes. Epidemiological studies of mobile phone users
and occupationally exposed populations are examined, along with human and animal
studies of neurological and behavioural effects. All of the authoritative
reviews completed within the last two years have supported the need for further
research to clarify the possible associations between RF fields and adverse
health outcomes that have appeared in some reports. See:
Recent Advances in Research on Radiofrequency
Fields and Health: 2001-2003; A Follow-up to The Royal Society of Canada, Report
on the Potential Health Risks of Radiofrequency Fields from Wireless
Telecommunication Devices, 1999
The European Union effort to address this issue is in the study Risk
Evaluation of Potential Environmental Hazards from Low Energy Electromagnetic
Field Exposure Using Sensitive in vitro Methods (REFLEX). Exposure to
electromagnetic fields (EMF) in relation to health is a controversial topic
throughout the industrial world. So far epidemiological and animal studies have
generated conflicting data and thus uncertainty regarding possible adverse
health effects. This situation has triggered controversies in communities
especially in Europe with its high density of population and industry and the
omnipresence of EMF in infrastructures and consumer products. These
controversies are affecting the siting of facilities, leading people to
relocate, schools to close or power lines to be re-sited, all at great expense.
The European Union believes that causality between EMF exposure and disease can
never be regarded as proven without knowledge and understanding of the basic
mechanisms possibly triggered by EMF. To search for those basic mechanisms
powerful technologies developed in toxicology and molecular biology were to be
employed in the REFLEX project to investigate cellular and sub-cellular
responses of living cells exposed to EMF in vitro.
The REFLEX data have made a substantial
addition to the data base relating to genotoxic and phenotypic effects of both
ELF-EMF and RF-EMF on in vitro cellular systems. While the data neither
precludes nor confirms a health risk due to EMF exposure nor was the project
designed for this purpose, the value lies in providing new data that will enable
mechanisms of EMF effects to be studied more effectively than in the past.
Furthermore, the REFLEX data provide new information that will be used for risk
evaluation by WHO, IARC and ICNIRP. For further information on REFLEX see:
The Swedish Radiation Protections Institute (SSI) endeavors to ensure that
human beings and the environment are protected from the harmful effects of
radiation, both in the present and in the future. SSI has focused on
epidemiological research on cancer and exposure from mobile phones and
transmitters as well as experimental cancer research. In addition three
selected topics were also discussed, namely blood-brain barrier, heat shock
proteins, and precautionary framework. For further information on SSI see:
In the United Kingdom, the National
Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) was created by the Radiological Protection
Act 1970. The statutory functions of NRPB are
to advance the acquisition of knowledge about the protection of mankind from
radiation hazards through research and to provide information and advice to
persons (including Government Departments) with responsibilities in the United
Kingdom in relation to the protection from radiation hazards either of the
community as a whole or of particular sections of the community. The NFPB
believes that there is a need for better occupational studies rather than simply
for more. In particular, the studies need to be of occupational groups for whom
measurements show that there is genuinely a substantially raised exposure to RF
fields. If the studies are to be more informative than those so far, a key
requirement will be for improved exposure measurement (or improved estimation of
exposure) for individuals, or at least for occupational groups. It would be
desirable, as far as practical, that the studies should measure the intensity
and timing of RF field exposures, and also that they should include some
assessment of major RF field exposures from sources other than the current
occupation. Ideally, exposure assessment needs to be anatomical site
(organ)-specific, because some sources result in greatly differing doses to
different parts of the body. It is a difficulty in these prescriptions, of
course, that the appropriate exposure metric is unknown. For further
information on NRPB see:
On January 5, 2005, the EMF-Team Finland
issued the Helsinki Appeal 2005 to members of the European Parliament. In
it physicians and researchers call on the European Parliament to apply the
Precautionary Principle to electromagnetic fields, especially in the radio- and
microwave- frequency bands. They criticize the present RF/MW radiation safety
standards that do not recognize the biological effects caused by non-thermal
exposures to non-ionizing radiation [i.e., RF/MW radiation.] They
also call for continued refunding of the REFLEX EMF research program.
The text of the Helsinke Appeal 2005 is found at:
39. On July 19, 1993 Dr. Elizabeth Jacobson, Deputy Director for Science,
Center for Devices and Radiological Health, Food and Drug Administration
criticized Thomas Wheeler, President of the Cellular Telecommunications Industry
"I am writing to
let you know that we were concerned about two important aspects of your press
conference of July 16 concerning the safety of cellular phones, and to ask that
you carefully consider the following comments when you make future statements to
the press. First, both the written press statements and your verbal comments
during the conference seemed to display an unwarranted confidence that these
products will be found absolutely safe. In fact, the unremittingly upbeat tone
of the press packet strongly implies that there can be no hazard, leading the
reader to wonder why any further research would be needed at all.....More
specifically, your press packet selectively quotes from our Talk Paper of
February 4 in order to imply that FDA believes that cellular phones are "safe."
("There is no proof at this point that cellular phones are harmful.") In fact,
the same Talk Paper also states, "There is not enough evidence to know for sure,
either way." Our position, as we have stated it before, is this: Although there
is no direct evidence linking cellular phones with harmful effects in humans, a
few animal studies suggest that such effects could exist. It is simply too soon
to assume that cellular phones are perfectly safe, or that they are
hazardous--either assumption would be premature. This is precisely why more
research is needed."
Full text of
letter can be found in Microwave News, July/August, 1993
40. In 1993 the Director of the Office of Radiation and Indoor Air of the
Environmental Protection Agency suggested that the FCC not adopt the 1992
ANSI/IEEE standard "due to serious flaws," among them (1) "the ANSI/IEEE
conclusion that there is no scientific data indicating that certain subgroups of
the population are more at risk than others is not supported by NCRP and EPA
reports" and (2) "the thesis that ANSI/IEEE recommendations are protective of
all mechanisms of interaction is unwarranted because the adverse effects level
in the 1992 ANSI/IEEE standard are based on a thermal effect."
Margo T. Oge, Director, Office of Radiation and Indoor Air to Thomas Stanley,
Chief Engineer, Office of engineering and Technology, FCC, dated Nov 9, 1993
41. A brief sampling of the CSIRO report:
studies of human populations published to date include imprecise estimates of
exposure. As a result, such epidemiological studies may underestimate any real
risk. The likelihood of epidemiological studies providing useful information is
questionable, particularly if the biological end point cannot be predicted. Its
value in the short term (less than 10 years) must be negligible unless there was
an enormous increase in the rate of cancer growth. Interestingly, the incidence
of brain tumors in the EC countries has increased substantially in recent years.
RF safety cannot
be assessed in the absence of reported serious effects when so little research
has been aimed at the problem. It is somewhat surprising, and rather
disappointing, to find that although the literature contains many hundreds of
publications, there are very few areas of consensus....At low levels the absence
of clear thresholds and [the] presence of intensity and frequency windows have
created questions rather than provided answers.
There is no
doubt that the interpretation of bioeffects data has been clouded by a
preoccupation with thermally mediated processes. In fact, development of the
ANSI/IEEE standard is based only on well-established thermal effects, and
ignores the more subtle non-thermal processes that are more difficult to
interpret and apply to human health.
Scientific Industrial Research Organization, "Status of Research on Biological
Effects and Safety of Electromagnetic Radiation: Telecommunications
Frequencies," a report prepared by Dr. Stan Barnett, as sited in Microwave News,
42. Statement from the October 25-28, 1998 "Symposium of Mobile Phones and
Health - Workshop on Possible Biological and Health Effects of RF
Electromagnetic Fields" held at the University of Vienna, Austria.
terminology to be used in public communication: Instead of using the terms
"athermal", "non-thermal" or "microthermal" effects, the term "low intensity
biological effects" is more appropriate.
participants agreed that biological effects from low-intensity exposures are
scientifically established. However, the current state of scientific consensus
is inadequate to derive reliable exposure standards. The existing evidence
demands an increase in the research efforts on the possible health impact and on
an adequate exposure and dose assessment.
Base stations: How
could satisfactory Public Participation be ensured: The public should be
given timely participation in the process. This should include information on
technical and exposure data as well as information on the status of the health
debate. Public participation in the decision (limits, siting, etc.) should be
Cellular phones: How
could the situation of the users be improved: Technical data should be
made available to the users to allow comparison with respect to EMF-exposure. In
order to promote prudent usage, sufficient information on the health debate
should be provided. This procedure should offer opportunities for the users to
manage reduction in EMF-exposure. In addition, this process could stimulate
further developments of low-intensity emission devices.
43. Statement from the June 7-8, 2000 International Conference on Cell Tower
Siting Linking Science and Public Health, Salzburg, Austria. The full
report can be found at:
It is recommended that development
rights for the erection and for operation of a base station should be subject to
a permission procedure. The protocol should include the following aspects:
Information ahead and active
involvement of the local public
of alternative locations for the siting
Protection of health and wellbeing
Considerations on conservation of
land- and townscape
Computation and measurement of
Considerations on existing sources
of HF-EMF exposure
Inspection and monitoring after
It is recommended that a national
database be set up on a governmental level giving details of all base stations
and their emissions.
It is recommended for existing and
new base stations to exploit all technical possibilities to ensure exposure is
as low as achievable (ALATA-principle) and that new base stations are planned to
guarantee that the exposure at places where people spend longer periods of time
is as low as possible, but within the strict public health guidelines.
Presently the assessment of
biological effects of exposures from base stations in the low-dose range is
difficult but indispensable for protection of public health. There is at
present evidence of no threshold for adverse health effects.
Recommendations of specific
exposure limits are prone to considerable uncertainties and should be considered
preliminary. For the total of all high frequency irradiation a limit value of
100 mW/m² (10 µW/cm²) is recommended.
For preventive public health
protection a preliminary guideline level for the sum total of exposures from all
ELF pulse modulated high-frequency facilities such as GSM base stations of 1
mW/m² (0.1 µW/cm²) is recommended.
Scientists attending the September 13-14, 2002
International Conference “State of the Research on Electromagnetic Fields –
Scientific and Legal Issues,” organized by ISPESL (National Institute for
Prevention and Work Safety, Italy), the University of Vienna, and the City of
Catania, held in Catania, Italy, agreed to the following:
and in vivo and in vitro experimental evidence demonstrates the
existence for electromagnetic field (EMF) induced effects, some of which can be
adverse to health.
We take exception to
arguments suggesting that weak (low intensity) EMF cannot interact with tissue.
There are plausible
mechanistic explanations for EMF-induced effects which occur below present
ICNIRP and IEEE guidelines and exposure recommendations by the EU.
weight of evidence calls for preventive strategies based on the precautionary
principle. At times the precautionary principle may involve prudent avoidance
and prudent use.
are aware that there are gaps in knowledge on biological and physical effects,
and health risks related to EMF, which require additional independent research.
[back] 45. The Freiburger Appeal
is a German based appeal by mainly medical practitioners who are concerned about
the effects, they believe, from mobile phone technology including masts that are
appearing in their patients. It started in Oct 2002 and with very little
international publicity has got 50,000 signatories
with at least 2000 medical signatures from across the
world. Mast These physicians and scientists agreed to establish an
international scientific commission to promote research for the protection of
public health from EMF and to develop the scientific basis and strategies for
assessment, prevention, management and communication of risk, based on the
On the basis of our daily experiences, we hold the current mobile communications
technology (introduced in 1992 and since then globally extensive) and cordless
digital telephones (DECT standard) to be among the fundamental triggers for this
fatal development. One can no longer evade these pulsed microwaves. They
heighten the risk of already-present chemical/physical influences, stress the
body–immune system, and can bring the body–still-functioning regulatory
mechanisms to a halt. Pregnant women, children, adolescents, elderly and sick
people are especially at risk.
Statement of the physicians and
researchers of Interdisziplinäre
Gesellschaft für Umweltmedizin e. V. (Interdisciplinary Association for
IGUMED, Sackingen, Germany, September 19, 2002. The Freiburger Appeal
can be found at:
Report of the European Union's REFLEX Project (Risk
Evaluation of Potential Environmental Hazards from Low Frequency Electromagnetic
Field Exposure Using Sensitive in vitro Methods), November 2004.
The Project studied ELF and RF exposures to various animal cell types. The
report is found at:
Summary: [t]he omnipresence of EMF's in infrastructures and consumer
products have become a topic of public concern. This is due to the fear of
people that based on the many conflicting research data a risk to their health
cannot be excluded with some certainty. Therefore, the overall objective
of REFLEX was to find out whether or not the fundamental biological processes at
the cellular and molecular level support such an assumption. For this
purpose, possible effects of EMF’s on cellular events controlling key functions,
including those involved in carcinogenesis and in the pathogenesis of
neurodegenerative disorders, were studied through focused research.
Failure to observe the occurrence of such key critical events in living cells
after EMF exposure would have suggested that further research efforts in this
field could be suspended and financial resources be reallocated to the
investigation of more important issues. But as clearly demonstrated, the
results of the REFLEX project show the way into the opposite direction.
From the Discussion section of the December 20, 2004
Second Annual Report of Sweden's Radiation Protection Board (SSI) entitled:
Recent Research on Mobile Telephony and Health Risks: Second Annual Report
from SSI's Independent Expert Group on Electromagnetic Fields. The
complete report is available at:
To date, little is known about
the levels of radiofrequency radiation exposure in the general population from
sources such as mobile phones being used by oneself or other people, mobile
phone base stations, and radio and television transmitters. Measurements
that have been performed have usually been made as a result of public concern
about base station exposures or other specific sources, and have therefore been
made at locations that could be assumed to have higher fields than would be the
case if measurement locations were selected randomly. Furthermore, all
measurements have been stationary, and there is today no knowledge about the
level of exposure that an individual will have throughout the day.
There is need
for information about the personal exposure to RF fields in the general
population, to enhance the understanding of the relative importance of exposure
from base stations close to the home, from radio and television transmitters,
and from the use of mobile phones . . . Studies with personal RF exposure
measurements of randomly selected samples of the general population are strongly
From the Executive Summary:
The Board notes that a central recommendation in the Stewart Report was that a
precautionary approach to the use of mobile phone technologies be adopted until
much more detailed and scientifically robust information on any health effects
The Board considers that it is important to understand the signal
characteristics and field strengths arising from new telecommunications systems
and related technologies, to assess the RF exposure of people, and to understand
the potential biological effects on the human body.
49. The ICNIRP exposure guidelines are only designed to protect against
"known adverse health impacts," according to Dr. Jürgen Bernhardt, ICNIRP's
chairman. Bernhardt reviewed the updated limits, which cover the spectrum from 1
Hz to 300 GHz, in a presentation at the 20th
Annual Meeting of the Bioelectromagnetics Society in St. Pete Beach, FL, on
June 10. The limits protect against "short-term, immediate health effects" such
as nerve stimulation, contact shocks and thermal insults, according to the
guidelines, which appear in the April issue of Health Physics (74,
pp.494-522, 1998). Despite "suggestive" evidence that power frequency magnetic
fields can be carcinogenic, ICNIRP has concluded that this and other non-thermal
health effects have not been "established." ICNIRP has long followed this
approach to standard-setting. In his talk, Bernhardt noted that the guidelines
include "no consideration regarding prudent avoidance" for health effects for
which evidence is less than conclusive.
News, July/August 1998
Additional References and Studies
The following references
reporting biological effects of radiofrequency radiation (RFR) at low
intensities through January 2005 were compiled on 12/27/04 by Henry C. Lai PhD,
Research Professor of Bioengineering, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Sci Total Environ
180(1):81-85, 1996 - blood cells from cows
from a farm close and in front of a radar installation showed significantly
higher level of severe genetic damage.
Boscol et al.
Sci Total Environ
273(1-3):1-10, 2001 - RFR from radio
transmission stations (0.005 mW/cm2) affects immune system in women.
Chiang et al. J. Bioelectricity
8:127-131, 1989 - people who lived and worked near radio antennae and radar
installations showed deficits in psychological and short-term memory tests.
de Pomerai et al.
405:417-418, 2000. Enzyme
Microbial Tech 30:73-79, 2002 -
reported an increase in a molecular stress response in cells after exposure to a
RFR at a SAR of 0.001 W/kg. This stress response is a basic biological process
that is present in almost all animals - including humans.
de Pomerai et al. (FEBS Lett
22;543(1-3):93-97, 2003 - RFR damages proteins at 0.015-0.020 W/kg.
D'Inzeo et al.
Bioelectromagnetics 9(4):363-372, 1988 - very low intensity RFR
(0.002 – 0.004 mW/cm2) affects the operation of acetylcholine-related
ion-channels in cells. These channels play important roles in physiological and
Dolk et al.
Am J Epidemiol 145(1):1-91997- a significant increase in adult leukemias
was found in residents who lived near the Sutton Coldfield television (TV) and
frequency modulation (FM) radio transmitter in England.
Dutta et al.Bioelectromagnetics
10(2):197-202 1989 - reported an increase
in calcium efflux in cells after exposure to RFR at 0.005 W/kg. Calcium is
an important component of normal cellular functions.
Fesenko et al.
49(1):29-35, 1999 - reported a change in
immunological functions in mice after exposure to RFR at a power density of
Hallberg O, Johansson O, ( 2004) concluded that
continuous disturbance of cell repair mechanisms by body-resonant FM
electromagnetic fields seems to amplify the carcinogenic effects resulting from
cell damage caused e.g. by UV-radiation.
Hjollund et al.
Reprod Toxicol 11(6):897, 1997 - sperm counts of Danish military
personnel, who operated mobile ground-to-air missile units that use several RFR
emitting radar systems (maximal mean exposure 0.01 mW/cm2), were
significantly lower compared to references.
Hocking et al.
Med J Aust 165(11-12):601-605, 1996 - an association was found
between increased childhood leukemia incidence and mortality and proximity to TV
Ivaschuk et al. Bioelectromagnetics
18(3):223-229, 1999 - short-term exposure to cellular phone RFR of very low SAR
(26 mW/kg) affected a gene related to cancer.
Kolodynski and Kolodynska,
Sci Total Environ
180(1):87-93, 1996 - school children
who lived in front of a radio station had less developed memory and attention,
their reaction time was slower, and their neuromuscular apparatus endurance was
Kwee et al.
Electro- and Magnetobiology
20: 141-152, 2001 - 20 minutes of cell
phone RFR exposure at 0.0021 W/kg increased stress protein in human cells.
Lebedeva et al.
Crit Rev Biomed Eng
28(1-2):323-337, 2000 - brain wave activation was observed in human subjects
exposed to cellular phone RFR at 0.06 mW/cm2.
Magras and Xenos
1999 - reported a decrease in reproductive function in mice exposed to RFR at
power densities of 0.000168 - 0.001053
mW/cm2. Irreversible sterility was found in the fifth
generation of offspring.
Mann et al.
1998 - a transient increase in blood cortisol was observed in human subjects
exposed to cellular phone RFR at 0.02 mW/cm2. Cortisol is a hormone
involved in stress reaction.
Marinelli et al. J Cell Physiol.
198(2):324-332, 2004 - exposure to 900-MHz RFR at 0.0035 W/kg affected cell’s
Michelozzi et al. Epidemiology 9
(Suppl) 354p, 1998 - leukemia mortality within 3.5 km (5,863 inhabitants) near a
high power radio-transmitter in a peripheral area of Rome was higher than
Michelozzi et al. Am J Epidemiol
155(12):1096-1103, 2002 - childhood leukemia higher at a distance up to 6 km
from a radio station.
Navakatikian and Tomashevskaya “Biological
Effects of Electric and Magnetic Fields, Volume 1," D.O. Carpenter (ed) Academic
Press, San Diego, CA, pp.333-342. 1994 - RFR at low intensities (0.01 - 0.1
mW/cm2; 0.0027- 0.027 W/kg) induced behavioral and endocrine changes
in rats. Decreases in blood concentrations of testosterone and insulin were
Novoselova et al. Bioelectrochem Bioenerg
49(1):37-41, 1999 -low intensity RFR (0.001 mW/cm2) affects functions
of the immune system.
Park et al. International Archives of
Occupational and Environmental Health 77(6):387-394, 2004 - higher mortality
rates for all cancers and leukemia in some age groups in the area near the AM
radio broadcasting towers.
Persson et al.
- reported an increase in the permeability of the blood-brain barrier in mice
exposed to RFR at 0.0004 - 0.008 W/kg. The blood-brain barrier envelops the
brain and protects it from toxic substances.
Phillips et al.
1998 - reported DNA damage in cells exposed to RFR at SAR of 0.0024 - 0.024
Polonga-Moraru et al.
2002 - change in
membrane of cells in the retina (eye) after exposure to RFR at 15 µW/cm2.
Pyrpasopoulou et al.
2004 - exposure to cell phone radiation
during early gestation at SAR of 0.0005 W/kg (5
affected kidney development in rats.
Salford et al.
Environ Health Persp
Online January 29, 2003 - Nerve cell damage in mammalian brain after exposure to
microwaves from GSM mobile phones signal at
Santini et al.
increase in complaint frequencies for tiredness, headache, sleep disturbance,
discomfort, irritability, depression, loss of memory, dizziness, libido
decrease, in people who lived within 300 m of mobile phone base stations.
Sarimov et al.
IEEE Trans Plasma Sci
2004 - GSM microwaves affect human lymphocyte chromatin similar to stress
response at 0.0054 W/kg.
Schwartz et al.
11(4):349-358, 1990 - calcium movement
in the heart affected by RFR at SAR of 0.00015 W/kg. Calcium is important in
muscle contraction. Changes in calcium can affect heart functions.
Somosy et al.
5(4):1145-1155, 1991 - RFR at 0.024
W/kg caused molecular and structural changes in cells of mouse embryos.
Stagg et al.
18(3):230-236, 1997- glioma cells
exposed to cellular phone RFR at 0.0059 W/kg showed significant increases in
thymidine incorporation, which may be an indication of an increase in cell
Stark et al.
J Pineal Res
22(4):171-176, 1997 - a two- to
seven-fold increase of salivary melatonin concentration was observed in dairy
cattle exposed to RFR from a radio transmitter antenna.
Tattersall et al.
904(1):43-53, 2001 - low-intensity RFR
(0.0016 - 0.0044 W/kg) can modulate the function of a part of the brain called
the hippocampus, in the absence of gross thermal effects. The changes in
excitability may be consistent with reported behavioral effects of RFR, since
the hippocampus is involved in learning and memory.
Vangelova et al.
Cent Eur J Public Health
10(1-2):24-28, 2002 - operators of
satellite station exposed to low dose (0.1127 J/kg) of RFR over a 24-hr shift
showed an increased excretion of stress hormones.
Velizarov et al.
1999 - showed a
decrease in cell proliferation (division) after exposure to RFR of 0.000021 -
Veyret et al.
12(1):47-56, 1991 - low intensity RFR at SAR of 0.015 W/kg affects functions of
the immune system.
Wolke et al.
1996 - RFR at 0.001W/kg affects calcium
concentration in heart muscle cells of guinea pigs.
Return to Top of Document
International Association of Fire Fighters recognizes IAFF Local 3368,
Carpinteria-Summerland, California, who brought this issue to the attention of
our membership through the Resolution 15, submitted through our biennial
convention in August 2004. Additionally, the following local affiliates
provided support for the passage of the resolution: Brookline, Massachusetts,
San Diego, California, San Francisco, California and Vancouver, British
Columbia. We also acknowledge the efforts of Dr.
Henry C. Lai, University of
Washington, Seattle, Washington;
Dr. Magda Havas of Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario; Janet Newton,
President of the EMR Policy Institute; and Susan Foster Ambrose for their
technical support and continued passion to protect the health and safety of fire
fighters and emergency medical personnel. Finally, we thank Dr. Leslie
Plachta and the Safe
Ossining Schools for their research efforts and their battle to stop siting cell
towers on Ossining, New York schools.