James C. Lin. Science, Politics, and Groupthink [Health Matters]. IEEE Microwave Magazine. 22(5):24-26. Apr 1, 2021. DOI: 10.1109/MMM.2021.3056975.
In his latest column Professor Emeritus Lin criticizes the ICNIRP, the non-profit organization which the WHO relies upon for non-ionizing electromagnetic fields (EMF) exposure guidelines that it promotes worldwide. As you may know, this column is important not only because Professor Lin is one of the most respected EMF scientists in the world, he is the first scientist who has served on the ICNIRP Commission (2004 – 2016; chair of the committee on Physics & Engineering, 2008-2012; chair of the Radio Frequency group, 2012-2015) to challenge the credibility of ICNIRP’s EMF exposure guidelines.
“Recently, a privately constituted group, with self-appointed membership, published a set of guidelines for limiting exposure to RF electromagnetic fields in the 100-kHz and 300-GHz frequency range . The proposed guidelines were primarily based on the tissue-heating potentials of RF radiation to elevate animal body temperatures to greater than 1° C. While recognizing that the two aforementioned studies used large numbers of animals, best laboratory practice, and animals exposed for the entirety of their lives, the private group preferred to quibble with alleged “chance differences” between treatment conditions and the fact that the measured animal body core temperature changes reached 1° C, implying that a 1° C body core temperature rise is carcinogenic, ignoring the RF exposure. The group then pronounced that, when considered either in isolation or within the context of other animal carcinogenicity research, these findings do not provide evidence that RF radiation is carcinogenic.
Furthermore, the group noted that, even though many epidemiological studies of RF radiation associated with mobile phone use and cancer risk had been performed, studies on brain tumors, acoustic neuroma, meningioma, and parotid gland tumors had not provided evidence of an increased cancer risk. It suggested that, although somewhat elevated odds ratios were observed, inconsistencies and limitations, including recall or selection bias, precluded these results from being considered for setting exposure guidelines. The simultaneous penchant to dismiss and criticize positive results and the fondness for and eager acceptance of negative findings are palpable and concerning.
In contrast, the IARC’s evaluation of the same epidemiological studies ended up officially classifying RF radiation as possibly carcinogenic to humans , .
An understandable question that comes to mind is this: How can there be such divergent evaluations and conclusions of the same scientific studies? Humans are not always rational or as transparent as advertised, and scientists are not impervious to conflicts of interest and can be driven by egocentric motivations. Humans frequently make choices and decisions that defy clear logic.
Science has never been devoid of politics, believe it or not….”
“Cellular mobile communication and associated wireless technologies have proven, beyond any debate, their direct benefit to humans. However, as for the verdict on the health and safety of billions of people who are exposed to unnecessary levels of RF radiation over extended lengths of time or even over their lifetimes, the jury is still out. When confronted with such divergent assessments of science, the ALARA—as low as reasonably achievable—practice and principle should be followed for RF health and safety.”
Joel M. Moskowitz, Ph.D., Director
Center for Family and Community Health
School of Public Health
University of California, Berkeley