Who are the experts and what do they say?

Science can never guarantee that anything is absolutely safe. But it can offer strong reassurance that any risk from a technology is small, particularly when set against the many risks we accept in our daily lives. Reputable scientists do not make unsubstantiated claims, but formulate hypotheses which they test rigorously through experiments and studies.

For a study to have scientific weight it must be peer-reviewed and replicated in an independent laboratory. In this way the body of scientific evidence on any issue is built up over a period of time.

Those who are already acknowledged by their peers to be experts in the field of RF naturally tend to be the scientists who are asked to undertake reviews of the whole body of scientific evidence and to sit on Government advisory bodies. In so doing they are careful to weigh both positive and negative evidence, and quality of the study on any issue, and produce a balanced report. These scientists rightly remain absolutely independent of both Government and industry.

A number of experts and expert bodies have been involved in reviews of the potential health impact of RF during the past decade and below are some examples of what they say:

Institute of Engineering and Technology position statement 2012

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) published an updated Position Statement that aims to provide an accessible guide to the findings of the IET’s “Biological Effects Policy Advisory Group” (BEPAG). This position statement encapsulates the IET’s position on the possible harmful biological effects of low-level electromagnetic fields of frequencies up to 300 GHz. BEPAG has concluded that the balance of scientific evidence to date still does not indicate that harmful effects occur in humans due to low-level exposure to EMFs.

The executive summary stated:

  • “…that the balance of scientific evidence to date does not indicate that harmful effects occur in humans due to low-level exposure to EMFs.”
  • “In summary, the absence of robust new evidence of harmful effects of EMFs in the past two years is reassuring and is consistent with our findings over the past two decades. The widespread use of electricity and telecommunications has demonstrable value to society, including health benefits. BEPAG is of the opinion that these factors, along with the overall scientific evidence, should be taken into account by policy makers when considering the costs and benefits.”

To read the full position statement click here and to see other material published by IET, visit www.theiet.org/factfiles.

MTHR Programme Management Committee

The MTHR programme was set up to resolve uncertainties identified by previous evaluations of the possible health risks associated with the widespread use of mobile phone technology. None of the research supported by the programme and published so far demonstrates that biological or adverse health effects are produced by radiofrequency exposure from mobile phones…………

………………………reassuringly no epidemiological association was found between short term mobile phone use (less than 10 years) and cancers of the brain and nervous system. Studies on volunteers provided no evidence that brain function is effected by exposure to the signals emitted by mobile phones or TETRA radios………………………

…………………the committee has recognised that while many of the concerns raised by the Stewart Committee have been reduced by the programme and work done elsewhere some still remain…………priorities will include work to assess whether longer term exposure (greater than 10 years) increases the risk of developing cancers of the brain and nervous system” – MTHR report, September 2007

World Health Organisation

“To date, no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use.” see WHO Fact Sheet No. 193 (June 2011)

“Despite extensive research, to date there is no evidence to conclude that exposure to low level electromagnetic fields is harmful to human health.” (See Key Point #6 at http://www.who.int/peh-emf/about/WhatisEMF/en/index1.html).

“To date, all expert reviews on the health effects of exposure to RF fields have reached the same conclusion: There have been no adverse health consequences established from exposure to RF fields at levels below the international guidelines on exposure limits published by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP, 1998).” Children and Mobile Phones: Clarification statement (second paragraph) at http://www.who.int/peh-emf/meetings/ottawa_june05/en/index4.html.

Advisory Group on Non-Ionising Radiation (advises NRPB, now part of HPA)

“Overall AGNIR concluded that in aggregate the research published since the IEGMP report does not give cause for concern and that the weight of evidence now available does not suggest that there are adverse health effects from exposure to RF fields below guideline levels” – AGNIR 2004

“although areas of uncertainty remain about the biological effects of low level radiation in general, and about modulated signals in particular, current evidence suggests that it is unlikely that the unique features of the TETRA system pose a hazard to health” – National Radiological Protection Board – NRPB 2001

European Commission Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly-Identified Health Risks (2007)

“RF field exposure has not convincingly been shown to have an effect on self-reported symptoms or well-being.”

“In conclusion, no health effect has been consistently demonstrated at exposure levels below the limits of ICNIRP (International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection) established in 1998.”

Members of Stewart Inquiry and AGNIR

“nobody has established a medical risk and on balance there is no real reason to worry about TETRA. It is certainly no greater risk than a mobile phone…….the large body of scientific evidence to date indicates that non-ionising radiation does not have any biological effect.” – Prof Colin Blakemore, Head of the Medical Research Council, member of the Stewart Inquiry and member of the National Radiological Protection Board’s Advisory Group on Non-Ionising Radiation (AGNIR), 2002

“heating effects from base stations are utterly negligible” – Prof Lawrie Challis, University of Nottingham, Vice Chairman of Stewart Inquiry, Chairman of the MTHR research programme and member of the NRPB Advisory Group on Non-Ionising Radiation (AGNIR), 2003

“the RF emission from a TETRA base station is continuous and not pulsed. Measurements show no pulse modulation at 17.6 Hz and its harmonics to within experimental error. The changes in RF emission at these frequencies are 1% or less and can all be attributed to limits in the measurement procedure. There are regular interruptions in the streams of digital signals but the average level of RF emission is unchanged” – Prof Lawrie Challis 2003

“there is a common misconception that heat from TETRA handsets can negatively affect the brain or body when used due to a warming effect. These claims are unrealistic as TETRA handsets emits less than one tenth of the energy needed to raise body temperature by one degree centigrade, and therefore operate many times below the international guidelines on exposure to non-ionising radiation” – Prof Colin Blakemore, 2002.

International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)

Extracts from IARC’s World Cancer Report 2008:

“Radiofrequency radiation emitted by mobile telephones has been investigated in a number of studies. There is some evidence that long-term and heavy use of mobile/cellular phones may be associated with moderate increased risks of gliomas, parotid gland tumours, and acoustic neuromas; however, evidence is conflicting and a role of bias in these studies cannot be ruled out.” (p. 170)

“With reference to radio frequency, available data do not show any excess risk of brain cancer and other neoplasms associated with the use of mobile phones.” (p. 170)

Concerning brain tumours: “After 1983 and more recently during the period of increasing prevalence of mobile phone users, the incidence has remained relatively stable for both men and women.”(p. 461)

Click here to see the full report (NB. Large file – 119MB)

Health Protection Agency

In a Press Release published in May 2011, in response to the IARC classification of radio waves in Group 2B “possibly carcinogenic”, the HPA stated:

“HPA advice is that there is no clear scientific evidence of a cancer risk from exposure to radiofrequencies at levels below international guidelines but the possibility remains.”

Click here to see the full Press Release.