Is non-ionising radiation really safe?
I urge the reader to ask their telecoms regulators one very simple question, ‘do you have any legislation relating to consumer safety that specifically mentions non-thermal or biological effects’? Over here in the UK I have looked at the legislation surrounding the use of mobile phone and other microwave technologies from Public Health England (PHE) and cannot find any exposure values or safety information relating specifically to non-thermal or biological effects. The regulatory framework is concerned with thermal or skin-heating effects and nothing else. Here in Europe, America, Australia and elsewhere, regulators rely on advice and information in setting exposure levels on data from the ICNIRP. The ICNIRP base all their safety data on non-ionising radiation which legally translates to thermal heating effects only. The ICNIRP and telecom regulators the world over further argue that initiation of biological effects is theoretically impossible because the devices they regulate use non-ionising radiation. Significantly, note that current-day regulatory advice related to exposure of non-ionising radiation extends up to 300 GHz.
This means that the next development of telecommunication devices known as 5G (which operates up to 300GHz) will not be safety tested for non thermal or biological effects. Why? The telecoms industry will argue that because these frequencies are non-ionising, there is no need to test for carcinogenic processes. The rest of this article will discuss what we need to know about the hidden and forgotten debate surrounding the definition of non-ionising radiation. It is also good to know that all parameters of non-ionising radiation were put in place before the wide-scale rollout of the Internet, WIFI and the proliferation of consumer toys that has led to our present-day electromagnetic entanglements with electrosmog.
Notably, most of these findings were eventually consolidated under another private body called the ICNIRP (International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection). These august scientific bodies were staffed mostly by physicists and engineers with little input from the medical profession. The ICNIRP ‘guidelines’ on non-ionising radiation were formulated in 1988, just prior to the rollout of the Internet. Historically, it has always been easier to scientifically define ionising radiation compared to non-ionising radiation. This is due to the fact that ionising radiation mostly refers to radioactive substances, principally alpha, beta and gamma emitters. Non-ionising radiation has always been more difficult to define scientifically because it solely relies on the value of the photon energy to define the threshold between itself and ionising radiation. Additionally, we are talking about a photon which can be viewed as a planar travelling wave having electrical and magnetic components. It is difficult to predict the propagation of microwave frequencies because the signal can be reflected, refracted, attenuated or enhanced depending on what is between your head and the mobile phone tower. The significance of both electrical (e) or magnetic properties (h) varies along the electromagnetic spectrum. Towards the low end of this spectrum, biological systems are dominated by magnetic effects because the wavelengths (or dissipation of energy per wavelength) is very dilute.
As we move up the spectrum band, wavelengths become smaller with resultant rise in increased electrical characteristics. There is little work that has been carried out to identify the significance of the electrical, magnetic or electromagnetic effects of body exposures to frequencies between 30 kHz and 300 GHz. Instead we rely on safety work carried out during the development of radar.
The Dutch government currently has a scheme going on where it is buying up all privately owned properties that lie under high power electrical pylon cables. They understand what is going on in terms of cancer induction and are pro-actively taking issues into their own hands (4).
In other words, it is clear from a first read of this report that the Agency itself accepts the ‘theory’ behind non-ionising radiation. Interestingly, the weight and significance of data from the INTERPHONE study probably led to much heated discussion. Those members of the Agency who stuck to their guns in demanding some form of cancer warning on exposure to microwave radiation are to be commended. Importantly, this is the first bit of light in the whole debate on non-ionising radiation. This IARC Class 2B carcinogenicity warning suggests that, under certain conditions, it is possible to initiate carcinogenic processes for users of mobile phones. Clearly, it is no longer safe to assume that non-ionising radiation is safe. This is an ‘inconvenient truth’ for the telecoms industries and their regulators yet the significance of this cancer-warning has largely gone over the head of consumers.
Regulators do not want to talk about mobile phone frequencies, Class 2B cancer warning in the same breath with ‘non-ionising’ radiation. Clearly, their is much more scientific work that needs to be carried out on exposure to microwave radiation. It should be carried outwith an open mind free from the restrictions of the scientific paradigm that ‘non-ionising radiation’ is incapable of initiating carcinogenic processes within the body. The real problem we all face in this is simply that the Scientific Process itself is not working as it should to resolve any of these issues. Many scientists fail to understand the gist and merit of the Scientific Method itself. Science is based on observation and a hypothesis is used to test what you think is happening. The hypothesis must be falsifiable. What is meant by this phrase is that any hypothesis must be provably wrong i.e. the hypothesis should be put to the test until it sinks or passes all tests. Therefore, based on good scientific thinking if I say that non-ionising radiation is reasonably safe under all conditions of exposure I should conduct experiments to the contrary. The thrust of my experiments is to elucidate ’cause-effect’ phenomena between non-ionising radiation and biological effects. Various approaches can be used i.e. theoretical, computer modelled simulations or laboratory animal experimentation. Each avenue of research should produce consistent results to continually falsify your current hypothesis. Through time and repeatable research conclusions by other scientists should we elevate a working hypothesis to a scientific theory. Even at this stage of scientific maturity, the theory remains a theory unless or until proven wrong. Science supposedly advances in this way – knowledge is not fixed, it is in a state of constant change or refinement, or should be.
The current ‘no cancer effect’ hypothesis put forward by a sizeable chunk of health physicists, the telecoms industries and their regulators is that there is insufficient photon energy within microwave frequencies to eject electrons from the outer orbit of elements or molecules. This view is not good science because it is merely a theoretical statement made out of thin air that supports a particular view. Unfortunately, that particular view has a lot of financial clout behind it because these players i.e. telecoms, military researchers, cancer charities and cancer research institutes are all doing quite nicely out of the status quo. There is no incentive for anyone in these money-generating enterprises to think beyond their particular ‘boxes’. Most government scientists by definition share these same views because in today’s modern world, Science is no longer objective but subjective. The current hypothesis that ‘exposure to microwave radiation is absolutely fine’ needs rigorous testing because it is becoming clearer each day that reality is showing us, exposure to microwave radiation is causing adverse biological effects on our body and capable of causing cancer. If for some reason microwave radiation is able to break chemical bonds in several different ways, it is highly likely that these biological changes will lead to carcinogenesis. If the telecoms industry took a leaf out of the life of Dr Bob Becker(6), they may discover a wealth of information related to the functioning of the central nervous system when exposed to artificially-induced electromagnetic frequencies.
This work is even more important now because unlike the early 1970s, we are all encapsulated within a growing sea of electromagnetic frequencies. What effect do all these frequencies have on the body? Is there a ‘cocktail effect’ going on where the presence of one frequency in combination with a second (or more) frequency is able to exert a disproportionate adverse biological effect on the body? Do some frequencies completely swamp the central nervous system to the extent that the entire internal signaling of the body begins to break down? Do we really understand all there is to know about the effect of magnetism on the human body both at the low and high end of the electromagnetic spectrum?
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