New international authority explains: we’re not being protected from wireless radiation

October 23, 2023

It’s safe for you and your family to use wireless devices because there’s a standard in place that protects us, right?

Unfortunately not.

In fact, Australian and international standards are deeply flawed, according to a new paper from the newly-formed International Commission on the Biological Effects of Electromagnetic Fields (ICBE-EMF). And that’s because the science on which it is based is out of date and inadequate. Here’s why.

Today’s standards (FCC standard and ICNIRP Guidelines*) are based on just two studies from the 1980s. In them, researchers exposed small groups of monkeys and rats to wireless radiation for 30 or 60 minutes and observed their behaviour. When the animals were exposed to levels resulting in specific absorption rates (SARs) of 4 W/kg or more, which was associated with a temperature rise of 1 degree Celsius, changes in their behaviour were observed.

From that, the researchers concluded, that harmful effects on humans occurred at SARs of 4 W/kg, averaged over the whole body.

Standards were then applying an arbitrary 10-fold 'safety' factor, to establish an exposure limit for workers (0.4 W/kg) and applying an additional 5-fold 'safety' factor to produce a limit for the general public (0.08 W/kg).

The standards allowed higher levels for smaller parts of the body, including the ear, even though it’s located so close to the brain.

In other words, these standards don’t address the long-term effects of radiation and they don’t address the non-heating effects of exposure. Further, they were introduced long before the widespread use of mobile phones and wireless devices and have not been substantially altered since then.

‘Exposure limits for RF radiation are based on numerous assumptions; however, research studies published over the past 25 years show that most of those assumptions are not supported by scientific evidence,’ the ICBE-EMF authors say.

In other words, the standards are flawed.

In their paper, the authors identify 14 assumptions that standards made when setting these standards, all of which, they point out, are invalid. Here they are.

1.  Harmful effects only occur at a SAR of 4 W/kg.

    However, studies show harmful effects at much lower levels of exposure, including:

    • cardiomyopathy
    • preneoplastic lesions in heart and brain
    • prostate gland tumours
    • adrenal gland tumours
    • malignant neoplasms in all organs
    • DNA damage
    • reduced spatial learning and memory
    • changes in brain electrical activity
    • sleep disturbance
    • breaches of blood-brain-barrier
    • oxidative stress
    • decreased sperm numbers, motility and viability
    • impaired testicular development
    • DNA fragmentation.


    2.  Wireless radiation can only cause damage by heating and non-heating exposures can’t damage DNA.

      However, numerous studies show DNA damage – and other damage, eg above – at exposures too low to cause heating.

      3.  It’s OK to base standards on the studies that exposed animals to radiation for 40 or 60 minutes.

        However, people are exposed for longer than this in the real world. Further, studies show that animals exhibited behavioural changes at SARs much lower than 4 W/kg when exposed for longer periods of time.

        4.  Standards don’t need to take into account exposure to other environmental exposures.

          However, studies show that exposure to wireless radiation plus a chemical toxin or ultraviolet light caused greater damage than exposure to each separately. In other words, there is a synergistic effect.  

          5.  Standards only need to be based on SAR and there’s no need to consider modulation, frequency or pulsing.

            However, studies show that modulation, frequency and pulsing all affect the way an organism responds to a signal.

            6.  Studies showing links between brain tumours and mobile phone use are flawed as there is no increase in brain tumour rates.

              However, well-conducted studies show increased brain tumour risks for heavy and long-term mobile phone users and there is some evidence of thyroid microcarcinoma from long-term mobile phone use. Additionally, cancer registries in different countries show increased rates of glioma-related brain tumours and acoustic neuromas and thyroid cancer is increasing in Nordic countries.

              7.  One standard fits both children and adults.

                However, research shows that children’s brains absorb more radiation (30 times more in the hippocampus) than adults’ brains. Further, the tissues of the young have higher conductivity and growing organs are more vulnerable to radiation.

                One standard fits all members of the general public.

                  However, some people are more sensitive than others. Some develop Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS) which is a demonstrated and diagnosable condition that includes symptoms such as:

                  • headaches
                  • dizziness
                  • sleep problems
                  • heart palpitations
                  • tinnitus
                  • skin problems
                  • visual problems
                  • mood disturbance
                  • sensory disturbance.

                  9.  Applying a 50-fold safety factor (for whole body exposure) protects the general public.

                    However, basing standards on behavioural studies in rats and monkeys would require a safety factor of 900 to 10,000 to be consistent with standards by other agencies.

                    10.  Applying a 10-fold safety factor (for whole body exposure) protects workers.

                      This is based on the assumption that workers are informed of and trained in mitigating the risks of exposure. However, this doesn’t happen because standards don’t recognise risks below 4 W/kg.

                      11.  It’s OK to expose 10 cubic grams of tissue to 2 W/kg (general public).

                        However, studies show increased risks of cardiomyopathy at SARs below this level of exposure. Further, not all cells are the same. Stem cells, for example are more sensitive to wireless radiation than other cells and play a role in carcinogenesis.

                        12.   It’s OK to expose 10 cubic grams of tissue to 10 W/kg (workers).

                          However, studies have found harmful effects at much lower SARs.

                          13.   Standards don’t need to address effects of radiation on wildlife or household pets.

                            However, many species are sensitive to extremely low electromagnetic fields, as they rely on the earth’s magnetic field for migration, finding food, mating and building nests/dens. Studies show wireless radiation caused disrupted activities of various species, including honeybees.

                            14.  5G standards don’t need to be based on health studies because 5G only penetrates the skin.

                              However, radiation may penetrate further than expected if signals are modulated with an ELF (extra low frequency) component or from pulses caused by transmitting very high rates of data. Exposure of the skin could cause SARs higher than those allowed by standards, affect the nervous system and potentially cause skin cancers. Further, 5G signals are expected to be harmful to small creatures, including insects such as bees. The skin is the largest organ of the body and important for protection.

                              ‘Research on RFR conducted over the past 25 years has produced thousands of scientific papers, with many demonstrating that acute behavioral studies are inadequate for developing health protective exposure limits for humans and wildlife, and that inherent assumptions underlying the FCC’s and ICNIRP’s exposure limits are not valid,’ the authors concluded.

                              As well as pointing out the inadequacies of current standards, the authors express concern about 5G technologies. They say, ‘Based on lessons that should have been learned from studies on RFR at frequencies below 6GHz, we should no longer rely on the untested assumption that current or future wireless technology, including 5G, is safe without adequate testing. To do otherwise is not in the best interest of either public or environmental health.’

                              Reference: International Commission on the Biological Effects of Electromagnetic Fields (ICBE-EMF). Scientific evidence invalidates health assumptions underlying the FCC and ICNIRP exposure limit determinations for radiofrequency radiation: implications for 5G. Environ Health 21, 92 (2022).

                              You can hear David Gee, an expert in environment and public health policy-making for science, talk about wireless radiation, the problems with current international standards and the new paper here.

                              You can hear Dr Magda Havas talk about this new paper here

                              What can you do?

                              • Don’t assume that your wireless devices are safe just because they comply with a standard.

                              • Reduce your use of wireless devices – use radiation-free equipment for safe internet and phone us instead.

                              • Learn how to make your home radiation free with our online course, Your electromagnetic-safe Home.

                              What else can you do?

                              • forward this email to others to inform them, too

                              • see the latest news in our October newsletter EMR and Health here

                              • book a phone consultation to find answers to your questions here.