WHO fact sheet on RF-EMF

The carcinogenic effect of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) on humans was evaluated at a meeting during 24 – 31 May 2011 at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) at WHO in Lyon, France. The Working Group categorised RF-EMF from mobile phones, and from other devices that emit similar non-ionising electromagnetic fields, as a Group 2B, i.e. a ‘possible’, human carcinogen. IARC is a cancer organisation at WHO.

A fact sheet from WHO issued in June 2011 shortly after the IARC decision stated that  ‘To date, no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use’, and furthermore that ‘Tissue heating is the principal mechanism of interaction between radiofrequency energy and the human body’. It is unclear who wrote this fact sheet, but it is well known that WHO has not acknowledge a carcinogenic effect from RF-EMF in contrast to IARC.

On September 30, 2014 WHO sent a letter as follows:

Dear colleagues,

The World Health Organization is in the process of revising and updating the Environmental Health Criteria document on Radio frequency fields. A first draft has been developed and is now open for consultation by RF experts. We are seeking comments on the accuracy and completeness of its current content. The draft document is available at http://www.who.int/peh-emf/research/rf_ehc_page/en/.

The results of this consultation will feed into an ongoing review process and help to improve the content and structure of the upcoming edition. The document will be finalized by an expert group and will be published in the WHO Environmental Health Criteria series.

The expert consultation is open until 15 November 2014. If you have questions, please contact us at emfproject@who.int.

I would be grateful if you could further disseminate this information to interested parties as appropriate.

We look forward to your participation.

Dr. T E van Deventer | Team Leader | Radiation Programme | Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health |World Health Organization | Geneva, Switzerland | Tel: + 41 22 791 3950 | Email: vandeventere@who.int 

The current WHO process has been commented by Dariusz Leszczynski on BRHP – Between a Rock and a Hard Place. The chapters are incomplete. Several important studies are missing. The summary conclusions are not available. The authors are unknown so it is not possible to evaluated potential conflicts of interest.

It would be tempting to dismiss and ignore such an incomplete ‘review’. However, it is sent for consultations until 15 November, and not to rebut would be taken by WHO as a proof of good work, although the conclusion is opposite.

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