A Report on Non-Ionizing Radiation

2010 Short Takes

December 20, 2010

GIGO. Garbage in, garbage out. That's what Dariusz Leszczynski thinks of Hardell's new reanalysis (see December 17 below). The tumor risk seen by the Hardell group may now be similar to the one in Interphone, but that doesn't mean much, says Leszczynski, because Interphone is really a bunch of garbage too. "Let us agree that both data sets are biased," he wrote in his blog over the weekend, and whatever you might do to them, the results will never be "scientifically reliable." Shouldn't we work with what we have?, we asked him. Sure, Leszczynski replied, but we shouldn't kid ourselves that we'll ever end up with anything better than what we already have. That is, more garbage. We don't agree. Hardell and Interphone are two independent data sets that point to two different types of tumor risks (glioma and acoustic neuroma) among long-term cell phone users. Plus we have the Interphone Israeli study that implicates a third type of tumor (of the parotid gland). A major branch of statistics (Bayesian) teaches us how to make the best of what we have in hand, imperfect though it may be. Since the Hardell and Interphone data represent the bulk of what we know about long-term cell phone risks, we disregard those disquieting findings at our peril. We would turn the tables on Leszczynski: To conclude that we have no evidence of a cell phone tumor problem would be garbage. We bring all this up because Leszczynski (a molecular biologist, not an epidemiologist) has been selected by IARC to be a member of its RF cancer assessment panel that will meet in May.

December 17, 2010

One of the glaring omissions of the Interphone cell phone–brain tumor paper is any serious discussion of a similar study by Lennart Hardell's group in Sweden and how they compare (see "Interphone Points to Long-Term Brain Tumor Risks"). Hardell, Michael Carlberg and Kjell Hansson Mild have now filled in the blanks. In a letter to the International Journal of Epidemiology, released today, they present a new analysis of their own data which has been restricted to be consistent with those data collected by the Interphone group. That is, they dropped cases among 20-29 year olds, and the use of cordless phones was disregarded. The bottom line is that the two sets of results are generally consistent with each other. "In conclusion both studies showed a statistically significantly doubled risk for glioma at the same side as the mobile phone had been used for 1,640 hours or more," they state in a press release

December 16, 2010

A biological effect that goes away with a small change in the experimental setup provides convincing evidence that the original observation is not an artifact. A group in Ankara gives such an example in a new paper on the effects of cell phone radiation on the brain tissue of rats. The 900 MHz phone signal caused changes in the activity of a number of enzymes, but they disappeared when the rats were fed vitamin C. Take a look, the paper is a free download from the December issue of the International Journal of Radiation Biology.Three years ago, another Turkish group, this one in Isparta, showed a similar type of change with and without vitamin C. There is a constant flow of new research papers coming out of Turkey. It has a much larger research program than does the U.S.; it's one of the strongest in the world. 

December 15, 2010

We recently wrote about the new ICEMS monograph on non-thermal effects which can be downloaded from the Internet. A printed copy of the collection of papers is now available from the publisher, Mattioli 1885 in Fidenza, Italy (not far from Parma). The 400-page paperback costs €29 (approx. US$39).

December 11, 2010

In today's Wall Street Journal, Carl Bialik, the newspaper's "Numbers Guy," digs into reports from the Netherlands on the effects of Wi-Fi radiation on trees. The headline, "Wi-Fi Threat to Trees Rooted in Shaky Stats," tells the story. Check out also Bialik's accompanying blog entry, "Trees and Wi-Fi May Co-Exist After All."

December 10, 2010

Monaco, the world's smallest country, now has one the world's toughest RF exposure standards. An ordinance adopted at the end of November requires ambient levels near mobile phone towers not exceed 4 V/m (~4 µW/cm2). For radio and TV towers, the limit is a slightly more lenient 6 V/m. These are about ten times stricter than the limits recommended by ICNIRP. Switzerland adopted a 4 V/m standard for cell towers ten years ago. At the time, the Swiss environmental agency said the standard was an example of the application of the precautionary principle (see MWN, J/F00, p.1).

December 6, 2010

Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, the publisher, is allowing free downloads of its top radiology papers, at least for a limited time. Number one on the list is "Risk of Brain Tumors From Wireless Phone Use" which appears in the November/December issue of Journal of Computer Assisted Tomography. Use this link for a pdf copy.

November 26, 2010

For a completely different perspective of the ELF-EMF genotox literature (from ICNIRP's), take a look at a review by an Italian group led by Livio Giuliani. It appears in a just-released monograph, “Non-Thermal Effects and Mechanisms of Interaction Between Electromagnetic Fields and Living Matter,” which includes 24 papers (the one on genotoxicity begins on p.123).

The entire volume, which was sponsored by ICEMS and the Ramazzini Institute, is a free download.

Another important paper in this collection (p.219) is the first published report from the Ramazzini’s “mega” animal experiments on EMFs and cancer, directed by Morando Soffritti and Fiorella Belpoggi: It shows that magnetic fields can increase the incidence of breast tumors among rats. Giuliani and Soffritti are the co-editors of the new monograph.

ICEMS is positioning itself as a counterweight to ICNIRP. This may not be too difficult given that ICNIRP has lost its way.

November 24, 2010

After we posted our November 15 Short Take on ICNIRP's failure to cite a host of papers showing genotoxic effects of power-frequency EMFs, we got an e-mail from Kjell Hansson Mild of Umeå University in northern Sweden. "ICNIRP missed many others," he told us. Mild appended a list of eight papers he had been associated with —published between 1984 and 2001, all in peer-reviewed journals. They document DNA and chromosomal breaks in cells, animals (mice and rats) and humans (substation workers and train drivers). No word yet about how ICNIRP missed every single one.

November 16, 2010

ICNIRP has now posted a copy of its new ELF EMF guidelines (the Health Physics paper), together with an accompanying fact sheet, on its Web site. Both are free downloads.