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TR Daily: Advocates for Tougher RFR Standards Welcome Expert Views

Mar 29, 2018


Advocates for Tougher RFR Standards Welcome Expert Views

“Reprinted with permission of TR Daily”  March 30, 2018
Advocates for tougher radiofrequency radiation (RFR) standards today welcomed recommendations of an expert panel yesterday that the government upgrade some of its findings in a draft report that found significant tumors in tissues surrounding nerves in the hearts of male rats exposed to RFR. Meanwhile, a government scientist said the recommendations will be considered and a final report will be published this fall.
At the end of a three-day meeting yesterday, the peer-review panel recommended that the government upgrade its classification level of evidence of carcinogenic activity for seven types of research results involving rats. No such recommendations were made concerning mice.
The $25 million cellphone radiation research was conducted by the National Toxicology Program (NTP), an interagency program housed at the National Institutes of Health. This week’s peer-review meeting was held at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) in Research Triangle Park, N.C.
The NTP uses five levels of evidence of carcinogenic activity in its reports: Clear evidence, some evidence, equivocal evidence, no evidence, and inadequate study.
A draft report released last month on the RFR testing concluded that there was “some evidence of carcinogenic activity” involving male rats and GSM and CDMA cellphone RFR “based on the incidences of malignant schwannoma in the heart” (TR Daily, Feb. 2). Malignant schwannomas are a type of tumor. The peer-review panel said yesterday that those findings should be upgraded to “clear evidence.”
The peer-review panel also voted yesterday to recommend that the level of evidence be upgraded from “equivocal evidence” to “some evidence” for malignant glioma of the brain in male rats (GSM and CDMA), and for pheochromocytoma (benign, malignant, complex) – an adrenal gland tumor – in male rats.
For female rats, the panel recommended upgrading from “no evidence” to “equivocal evidence” for malignant schwannoma of the heart (GSM and CDMA).
Advocates of tougher RFR standards welcomed the recommendations today, while also citing recent results of the world’s largest animal study on the impact of RFR that found a link between the radiation and cancer in rats (TR Daily, March 22).
The researchers, as well as other scientists, stressed that the study conducted by the Ramazzini Institute (RI) in Italy found the same type of tumors, malignant schwannomas, that were found in the NTP’s research and called on the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) to reevaluate the carcinogenicity of mobile phone radiation.
Joel Moskowitz, director of the School of Public Health at the University of California-Berkeley and creator of the web site, said today that “the NTP scientists appear to have been overly conservative in their assessment of the hazards of long-term exposure to cell phone radiation.”
“The research indicates that current limits on radio frequency radiation exposure are too lax and must be strengthened to protect the public and wireless industry workers, not just from cancer, but also reproductive harm, neurodegenerative disease, and microwave sickness,” he said. “Moreover, we need policies that minimize wireless radiation exposure to children, pregnant women, and other vulnerable populations.”
“The NTP study found far more than evidence of cancer,” said Devra Davis, president of the Environmental Health Trust. “Animals exposed in their lifetimes to the same amount of radiation that a human can receive in theirs develop fewer shorter and smaller babies with more defects in their heart and unusually early rates of several forms of cancer as well as clear evidence of rare and malignant tumors within the nerve inside the heart and some evidence of brain cancer. These cancers in rats are quite unusual. … Combined these two studies strengthen the case for taking precautions now to reduce exposures for children and the rest of us.”
Kevin Mottus, outreach director for the California Brain Tumor Association, said the “clear evidence” recommendations are “critical because the rarity of this cancer shows the very carcinogenic effect of wireless radiation. It is also important because the rarity of the cancer shows that the cancer was definitely caused by the wireless radiation. Most importantly, the type of cells that became cancerous were the same type of cell as found in human studies showing an increase in Acoustic Neuromas (tumor of the ear) found earlier in human studies.”
He added, “With the NTP study result supporting the findings of human studies, we have enough scientific evidence to increase the classification of all wireless radiation from a Class 2B (possible carcinogen) to a Class 1 Human Carcinogen like cigarette smoke, [and] asbestos; therefore we should be warning the public and minimizing our exposure not maximizing exposure as we are doing with the forced roll out of 5G and the Internet of Things.”
NTP Senior Scientist John Bucher said in a statement today that the peer-review panel’s recommendations “will now be taken under consideration by NTP staff and reviewed for a final decision from the NTP Director. The final report will be published in fall 2018.”
“It was gratifying that the members of the expert panel unanimously praised the National Toxicology Program (NTP) Cell Phone Radiofrequency Radiation (RFR) Studies as very well done, and vitally important research,” Mr. Bucher said. “They acknowledged the difficulty of conducting the study and the challenges of analyzing the data. Scientific peer-review by external experts is an essential part of the NTP’s scientific process, and I thank [them] for their expertise and service. They conducted a thorough review, engaged in spirited debate, and grappled with the same uncertainties experienced by the NTP staff. In the end, the panel agreed with the NTP conclusions for the cell phone RFR studies conducted in mice. For the rat studies, the panel recommended that some of the NTP conclusions be changed to indicate a stronger level of evidence that cell phone RFR caused certain tumors.”
When the NTP released the draft reports on rats and mice last month, Mr. Bucher stressed that because the RFR levels and exposure duration and areas exposed were much greater than people experience when they use cellphones, these and other results from the research can’t be extrapolated to human cellphone use.
Stephanie Caccomo, a spokeswoman for the Food and Drug Administration, said today, “We respect the work of our colleagues at the National Toxicology Program (NTP) on radiofrequency energy exposure. It is our understanding that NTP will take the peer review panel’s recommendations into consideration as they prepare their final report. We continue to monitor and evaluate the large body of research on this topic and will include the NTP final report in our ongoing evaluation.”
Ms. Caccomo added, “Additionally, we’d like to clarify the reference to the study as a cell phone radiation study when it was a study on the limits of radiofrequency energy exposure. The study was designed to test levels of radiofrequency energy exposures considerably above the current safety limits for cell phones to help contribute to what we already understand about the effects of radiofrequency energy on animal tissue. In fact, the current safety limits are set to include a 50-fold safety margin from observed effects of radiofrequency energy exposure.”
An FCC spokesman said, “Since the FCC is not a health and safety agency itself, we will continue to follow all recommendations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other federal health and safety experts, including whether the FCC should modify its current policies and RF exposure limits.”
The American Cancer Society said today it is looking forward to reviewing the final NTP reports.
CTIA said, “The safety of consumers is important to the wireless industry. We follow the guidance of the experts when it comes to cellphones and health effects. Following numerous scientific studies conducted over several decades, the Federal Communications Commission, the Food and Drug Administration, the World Health Organization, the American Cancer Society and numerous other international and U.S. organizations and health experts continue to say that the scientific evidence shows no known health risk to humans due to the RF energy emitted by cellphones. The evidence includes analysis of official federal brain tumor statistics showing that since the introduction of cellphones in the mid-1980s, the rate of brain tumors in the United States has remained stable.” —Paul Kirby,
TR Daily – March 29, 2018
Paul Kirby
Senior Editor
(A Unit of Wolters Kluwer
Legal & Regulatory Solutions U.S.)