High radiofrequency radiation at the Stockholm Central Station in Sweden

We measured the radiofrequency (RF) radiation at the Stockholm Central Station in Sweden in November 2015. The full study can be read here. The exposimeter EME Spy 200 was used and it covers 20 different RF bands from 88 to 5,850 MHz. In total 1,669 data points were recorded. The median value for total exposure was 921 µW/m2 (or 0.092 μW/cm2; 1 μW/m2=0.0001 μW/cm2) with some outliers over 95,544 µW/m2 (6 V/m, upper detection limit). The mean total RF radiation level varied between 2,817 to 4,891 µW/m2 for each walking round.

Hot spots were identified, for example close to a wall mounted base station yielding over 95,544 µW/m2 and thus exceeding the exposimeter’s detection limit, see Figure below. A man is standing with his smartphone just a couple of meters below a base station (see arrow). In that area maximum measured power density in the GSM +UMTS 900 downlink band from the base station was 95,544 µW/m2, which is the upper limit of measurement for EME Spy 200.

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Almost all of the total measured levels were above the precautionary target level of 3 to 6 µW/m2 as proposed by the BioInitiative Working Group in 2012. That target level was one-tenth of the scientific benchmark providing a safety margin either for children, or chronic exposure conditions. Considering the rapid progress of this technology, including 5G that is to be launched in the near future, it is important to monitor current RF radiation exposure in the environment.

Portable Screen-Based Media Devices and Sleep

In a new report analysis was made of studies on use of e.g. mobile phones and tablets and sleep and tiredness. The report included analysis of 20 cross-sectional studies of children and adolescents aged 6-19 years, in total more than 125,000 subjects. Use of media devices during bedtime gave about doubled risk for inadequate sleep, poor sleep and tiredness daytime. Also if these devices were not actively used an increased risk, although lower, was found for these health problems.

In USA 72 % of children and 89 % of adolescents have access to at least one media device. Most of them use it during bedtime.

Various pathways were discussed for the negative sleep impact: “First, they may negatively influence sleep by directly displacing, delaying, or interrupting sleep time. Second, the content can be psychologically stimulating, and, third, the light emitted from devices affects circadian timing, physiological sleep, and alertness.”

It is remarkable that the authors do not discuss exposure to radiofrequency (RF) fields (electromagnetic radiation) as a contributing factor. Wireless devices such as mobile phones (smartphones) emit RF radiation also when they are not used; updating apps, internet, SMS etc. This passive exposure may have contributed to the sleep disturbances in persons that did not actively use them. The authors seem to have been unwilling to discuss RF radiation. In fact studies on electromagnetic radiation were excluded. Also wireless use of desktops and computers would have been of interest. The authors stated:

“The exclusion criteria were studies of stationary exposures, such as televisions or desktop or personal computers, or studies investigating electromagnetic radiation.”

Mobile phones, brain tumour risk and wrong information from the Swedish Cancer Society

In a letter dated March 12, 2015 Stefan Bergh at the Swedish Cancer Society writes that there is no association between use of mobile phones and brain tumours: “To talk in a mobile phone does not increase the risk for brain tumour”. The letter is in Swedish, see part of it below.

That statement is not according to the evaluation made by IARC in May 2011 concluding that RF-EMF is a ‘possible human carcinogen’ Group 2B. Further research has strengthened the association.

More and more persons in Sweden are diagnosed with cancer. Thus, it is important that the Swedish Cancer Society gives correct information on risk factors. Our research on wireless phone use and the risk for brain tumours has mainly been supported in Sweden by Cancer- och Allergifonden and Cancerhjälpen, but not at all by the Swedish Cancer Society.

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Radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) and human cancer

Almost 5 000 persons world-wide have endorsed the petition to WHO/IARC to evaluate all scientific evidence and classify RF/EMF as human carcinogen, Group I. The petition is still open on Internet for those who want to sign it; follow this link. The joint statement is as follows:

 

Joint Statement

We—the undersigned organizations, doctors, and scientists—wholeheartedly support the scientific findings of a connection between cancer and RF/EMF radiation. For the sanctity of human life, especially our children, we respectfully request that:

  • WHO/IARC immediately conducts the appropriate scientific review within IARC to move RF/EMF radiation from its current class 2B to class 1, known carcinogen based on review of the complete scientific database.
  • As is the policy of the WHO with Smoking/Cancer related issues, we respectfully request that the WHO and IARC not permit any conflicts of interests amongst the scientists, doctors, policy making/administrating officials, or anyone serving in any other capacity determining classifications of carcinogenicity and policy decisions regarding EMFs and Cancer.
  • Specifically we respectfully request that any scientist, doctor, policy making/administrating official, or anyone serving in any capacity in WHO and IARC not receive now or in the near future any monetary compensation from the wireless industry or any company that produces products that emit or receive RF radiation or benefit from such products or companies – in the form of research grants, consulting fees or any other form of compensation including payments to any relative of the scientist or colleague in close association.

 

We respectfully request that these conflicts be vehemently policed and monitored to maintain the integrity of the classifications, assure absolute transparency and ensure safety of the public.

According to Dr. Lennart Hardell, MD, PhD, and oncologist:

“Based on the Hill criteria, glioma and acoustic neuroma should be considered to be caused by RF-EMF emissions from wireless phones and regarded as carcinogenic to humans, classifying it as group 1 according to the IARC classification. Current guidelines for exposure need to be urgently revised.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24192496

Moving radiofrequency radiation from Group 2B to 1 as a human carcinogen

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.

After that meeting supportive evidence has come from e.g. the French CERENAT study and also our recent publication on glioma. An increased risk for acoustic neuroma associated with use of wireless phones was published by our research group after the meeting giving pooled results of our study periods 1997-2003 and 2007-2009. Also other studies have reported similar findings.

We evaluated the Hill viewpoints on association and causation used in the 1960’s in the debate on lung cancer risk among smokers. Using these viewpoints our summary was that RF-EMF exposure should be a Group 1 carcinogen according to IARC criteria. There is now a petition to support that notion aiming at alerting IARC to classify such exposure to cause human cancer. Those who want to support the petition can follow this link.

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.

WiFi in classrooms

Both in Sweden and in many other countries wireless communication systems are increasingly installed in schools. They emit radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) when used. RF-EMF is classified as ‘possible’ human carcinogen, Group B. There is an alternative to use wired internet connections instead. This is discussed in more detail in this article.