Bio-Initiative Report, 2012
The BioInitiative Report 2012, an update of the 2007 publication, is available online at http://www.bioinitiative.org/. It is a report by 29 independent scientists and health experts from around the world about possible risks from wireless technologies and electromagnetic fields.
The new report by the BioInitiative Working Group 2012 says that evidence for risks to health has substantially increased since 2007 from electromagnetic fields and wireless technologies (radiofrequency radiation). The Report reviews over 1800 new scientific studies. Cell phone users, parents-to-be, young children and pregnant women are at particular risk.
"There is a consistent pattern of increased risk for glioma (a malignant brain tumor) and acoustic neuroma with use of mobile and cordless phones” says Lennart Hardell, MD at Orebro University, Sweden. “Epidemiological evidence shows that radiofrequency should be classified as a human carcinogen. The existing FCC/IEE and ICNIRP public safety limits and reference levels are not adequate to protect public health.”
According to David O. Carpenter, MD, and co-editor of the 2012 Report:
"There is now much more evidence of risks to health affecting billions of people world-wide. The status quo is not acceptable in light of the evidence for harm."
A special edition of the journal 'Pathophysiology', dedicated to the biological effects of electromagnetic fields, was published online in Spring 2009. This updates some of the findings reported in the 2007 Bio-Initiative report (see Scientific Research).
Bio-Initiative Report, 2007
The Bio-Initiative report was written by scientists, public health and public policy experts from around the world to document the scientific evidence on electromagnetic fields. Their purpose was to assess the health impacts of electromagnetic radiation below current public exposure limits and to evaluate what changes are required to public health policies to better protect the public now and in the future.
The European Parliament has said that it is greatly concerned by the findings of the Bio-Initiative report. As a result of this report it has advised the 27 European member states that they should introduce more effective protection of the general public from electromagnetic fields.
'Human beings are bioelectrical systems. Out hearts and brains are regulated by internal bioelectrical signals. Environmental exposures to artificial electromagnetic fields can interact with fundamental biological processes in the human body. In some cases this can cause discomfort and disease' (Sage, 2007, Bio-Initiative report, section 1).
The report covers both ELF (extremeny low frequency electromagnetic fields from electrical and electronic devices and power lines) and RF (radio frequency microwaves from wireless devices). This page will cover the findings for RF. However, ELF from electronic devices and power lines were described as having strong links to causing childhood leukaemia, other childhood and adult cancers, Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative diseases, genotoxicity, and changes in immune function. It would therefore also be wise for schools to be aware of high ELF fields on their premises, and to aim to work within the limits recommended by the Bio-Initiative report of 1mG (milligauss; 100nTesla), to protect children from the risk of leukaemia (at 1.4mG and above) and other disorders.
Below are a few quotes from the report for wireless devices:
'There is reason to believe that children may be more susceptible to the effects of EMF exposure since they are growing, their rate of cellular activity and division is more rapid, and they may be more at risk of DNA damage and subsequent cancers. Growth and development of the central nervous system is still occurring well into the teenage years so that neurological changes may be of great importance to normal development, cognition, learning and behaviour' (Section 17, Carpenter and Sage, 2007).
'The consequence of long-term exposures in children whose nervous system continues to develop until late adolescence, is unknown at this time. This could have serious implications to adult health and functioning in society if years of exposure of the young to both ELF and RF result in diminished capacity for thinking, judgement, memory, learning, and control over behaviour' (Section 1, Sage, 2007).
'There may be no lower limit at which exposures do not affect us. Until we know whether there is a lower limit below which bioeffects and adverse health impacts do not occur, it is unwise from a public health perspective to continue ''business-as-usual'' deploying new technologies that increase ELF and RF exposures, particularly involuntary exposures' (Section 1, Sage, 2007).
'Effects occur at non-thermal or low-intensity exposure levels thousands of times below the levels that federal agencies say should keep the public safe. For many new devices operating with wireless technologies, the devices are exempt from any regulatory standards. The existing standards have been proven to be inadequate to control against harm from low-intensity, chronic exposures, based on any reasonable, independent assessment of the scientific literature' (Section 1).
'The current standard for exposure to the emissions of cell phones and cordless phones is not safe considering the studies reporting long-term brain tumour and acoustic neuroma risks' (Section 1).
The Bio-Initiative report recommends a precautionary limit of 0.1μW/cm(2) (microwatts per centimetre squared; 0.614V/m) for outdoor cumulative RF exposure and 0.01μW/cm(2) (0.194V/m) for inside buildings (Sections 1 and 17).
'Although this RF target level does not preclude further rollout of Wi-Fi technologies, we also recommend that wired alternatives to Wi-Fi be implemented, particularly in schools and libraries so that children are not subjected to elevated RF levels until more is understood about possible health impacts. This recommendation should be seen as an interim precautionary limit that is intended to guide preventative actions; and more conservative limits may be needed in the future' (Section 1).
'There is suggestive to strongly suggestive evidence that RF exposures may cause changes in cell membrane function, cell communication, metabolism, activation of proto-oncogenes and can trigger the production of stress proteins at exposure levels below current regulatory limits. Resulting effects can include DNA breaks and chromosome aberrations, cell death including death of brain neurons, increased free radical production, activation of the endogenous opioid system, cell stress and premature aging, changes in brain function including memory loss, retarded learning, performance impairment in children, headaches and fatigue, sleep disorders, neurodegenerative conditions, reduction in melatonin secretion and cancers.'
'Low-level RF activates both endogenous opioids and other substances in the brain that function in a similar manner to psychoactive drug actions. Such effects in laboratory animals mimic the effects of drugs on the part of the brain that is involved in addiction.'
'Exposing humans to cell phone radiation can change brainwave activity at 0.1W/Kg (compared to ICNIRP allowed levels of 2.0W/Kg). It can affect memory and learning. It can affect normal brainwave activity..... At low levels they are able to change behaviour in animals. Some studies show that cell phone exposure speeds up the brain's activity level; but also that the efficiency and judgement of the brain are diminished at the same time.'
'Changes in the way the brain and nervous system react depend very much on the specific exposures. Most studies only look at short-term effects, so the long-term consequences of exposures are not known.'
'Both ELF and RF exposures can be considered genotoxic (can damage DNA) under certain conditions of exposure, including exposure levels that are lower than existing safety limits. Very low-level ELF and RF exposures can cause cells to produce stress proteins, meaning that the cell recognises ELF and RF exposures as harmful. This is another important way in which scientists have documented that ELF and RF exposures can be harmful, and it happens at levels far below existing public safety standards.'
'There is substantial evidence that ELF and RF can cause inflammatory reactions, allergy reactions and changes in normal immune function at levels allowed by current public safety standards... Measurable physiological changes... are triggered by ELF and RF at very low intensities. Mast cells when activated by ELF and RF will break and release irritating chemicals that cause symptoms of allergic skin reactions'.
'Chronic provocation by exposure to ELF and RF can lead to immune dysfunction, chronic allergy responses, inflammatory diseases and ill health if they occur on a continuing basis over time'.
Bio-Initiative Report, 2007. A Rationale for a biologically-based public exposure standard for electromagnetic fields (ELF and RF). http://www.bioinitiative.org/index.htm