Reviewing the reviews

Since 2008 over 30 international authorities have published reviews of studies conducted on the link between radiofrequency radiation and health, producing voluminous tomes of notes and recommendations.

Now the highlights of this information are available in a paper by Vijayalaxmi and Maria Scarfi, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health in early September.1

In the paper, Vijayalaxmi and Scarfi summarised the conclusions and recommendations of many governments and concluded that most authorities believed ‘there was inadequate evidence for increased biological and health risks in humans exposed to RF fields emitted from wireless communications devices.’ However, because of the potential for long-term effects, most of them recommend both precautions to reduce exposure and further research.

The authors say that countries which recommend precautions include Australia, Finland, Latin America, Norway, Switzerland and the UK. Those which recommend reducing exposure include Canada, France, New Zealand, Sweden, the UK and USA.

Vijayalaxmi and Scarfi’s paper also reviews the reviewers themselves by taking into consideration the membership of the working groups which produced the reports. Among the authors’ criticisms was the fact that some of the participants were effectively reviewing their own studies. Further, ‘there was an apparent “bias” in selecting the papers for evaluation: the reports that support their analysis were reviewed and left out those that contradict their conclusions.’ [stet]

Vijayalaxmi and Scarfi’s paper did not extend to investigating independent reviews, such as the BioInitiative Report 2, which found stronger associations between exposure to radiofrequency radiation and health problems.

1. Vijayalaxmi and Scarfi, M, ‘International and National Expert Group Evaluations: Biological/Health Effects of Radiofrequency Fields’, Int J Environ Res Public Health, 2014 Sep 10;11:9376-9408

2. BioInitiative Working Group, BioInitiative 2012,