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In response to the many scientific studies linking EMR exposure to a wide variety of biological harms, several groups of scientists have written statements to all worldwide global governments and to the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) requesting that the maximum exposure limits be decreased to conform to current scientific research. The following Seletun Scientific Statement is one such statement. This is reprinted for the local record and to give RMEHA members who cannot use computers to access this information.
In November 2009, a Scientific Panel comprised of international experts on the biological effects of electromagnetic fields met in Seletun, Norway, for three days of intensive discussion on existing scientific evidence and public health implications of the unprecedented global exposures to artificial electromagnetic fields (EMR) from telecommunications and electric power technologies.
EMR exposures (static to 300 GHz) result from the use of electric power and from wireless telecommunications technologies for voice and data transmission, energy, security, military and radar use in weather and transportation.
The Seletun Scientific Panel recognizes that the body of evidence on EMR requires a new approach to protection of public health; the growth and development of the fetus, and of children; and argues for strong preventative actions. These conclusions are built upon prior scientific and public health reports documenting the following:
1) Low-intensity (non-thermal) bioeffects and adverse health effects are demonstrated at levels significantly below existing exposure standards for telecommunications and power utility technologies in developed and developing countries.
2) ICNIRP and IEEE/FCC public safety limits are inadequate and obsolete with respect to prolonged, low-intensity exposures common today.
3) New, biologically-based public exposure standards are urgently needed to protect public health world-wide.
4) It is not in the public interest to wait. Instead, governments should take decisive action now to protect biological function as well as the health of future generations.
The Seletun Scientific Panel has adopted a Consensus Agreement that recommends preventative and precautionary actions that are warranted now, given the existing evidence for potential global health risks. We recognize the duty of governments and their health agencies:
1) to educate and warn the public,
2) to implement measures balanced in favor of the Precautionary Principle,
3) to monitor compliance with directives promoting alternatives to wireless, and
4) to fund research and policy development geared toward prevention of exposures and development of new public safety measures as well as new, safer communications technologies.
1. The Global Population Is At Risk. Global populations are not sufficiently protected from electromagnetic fields (EMR) from emerging communication and data transmission technologies that are being deployed worldwide, affecting billions of people;
2. Sensitive Populations Are Currently Vulnerable. Sensitive populations (for example, the elderly, the ill, the genetically and/or immunologically challenged) and children and fetuses may be additionally vulnerable to health risks; their exposures are largely involuntary and they are less protected by existing public safety standards; and they may amount to 40-50% of the population;
3. Government Actions Are Warranted Now Based on Evidence of Serious Disruption to Biological Systems. The Seletun Scientific Panel urges governments to adopt an explicit statement that the standard for judging and acting on the scientific evidence shall be based on prudent public health planning principles rather than scientific certainty of effect (causal evidence). Actions are warranted based on limited, or weak, scientific evidence, or a sufficiency of evidence rather than a conclusive scientific evidence (causation or scientific certainty) where the consequence of doing nothing in the short term may cause irreparable public health and economic harm, where the populations potentially at risk are very large, where there are alternatives without similar risks, or where the exposures are largely involuntary;
4. The Burden of Proof for the Safety of Radiation-Emitting Technologies Should Fall on Producers and Providers Not Consumers. The Seletun Scientific Panel urges governments to make explicit that the burden of proof of safety rests with the producers and providers of EMR- producing technologies, not with the users and consumers.
5. EMR Exposures Should Be Reduced in Advance of Complete Understanding of Mechanisms of Action. EMR exposures should be reduced now rather than waiting for proof or understanding of mechanisms of harm before acting. This recommendation is in keeping with traditional public health principles, and is justified now given abundant evidence that biological effects and adverse health effects are occurring at exposure levels many orders of magnitude below existing public safety standards around the world;
6. The Current Accepted Measure of Radiation Risk - the Specific Absorption Rate ("SAR") - Is Inadequate, and Misguides on Safety and Risk. SAR is not an adequate approach to predict many important biologic effects in studies that report increased risks for cancer, neurological diseases, impairments to immune function, fertility and reproduction, and neurological function (cognition, behavior, performance, mood status, disruption of sleep, increased risk for auto collisions, etc);
7. An International Disease Registry Is Needed To Track Time Trends of Illnesses to Correlate Illnesses with Exposures. The Seletun Scientific Panel recommends an international registry be established to track time-trends in incidence and mortality for cancers and neurological and immune diseases. Tracking effects of EMR on children and sensitive EHS populations is a high priority. There should be open access to this information;
8. Pre-Market Health Testing and Safety Demonstration of All Radiation-Emitting Technologies. There is a need for mandatory pre-market assessments of emissions and risks before deployment of new wireless technologies. There should be convincing evidence that products do not cause health harm before marketing;
9. Parity Needed for Occupational Exposure Standards. The Panel discourages use of more lenient public safety standards for workers, as compared to the general public. Separate safety limits are not ethically acceptable. Workers include women of childbearing age and men who wish to retain their fertility;
10. Functional Impairment Designation for Persons with Electrohypersensitivity. The Panel strongly recommends that persons with electrohypersensitivity symptoms (EHS) be classified as functionally impaired rather than with "idiopathic environmental disease" or similar indistinct categories. This terminology accepts responsibility for the environmental cause of the related health challenges and will encourage governments to make adjustments in the living environment to better address social and well-being needs of this subpopulation of highly sensitive members of society.
The Seletun Scientific Panel recommends global governments adopt the following exposure guidelines to protect public health and the health of future generations
Exposure Limit Recommended. Based on the available evidence, the Seletun Scientific Panel recommends a 0.1 microtesla (1 milligauss) exposure limit for extremely low frequency (fields from electrical power) for all new installations, such as powerlines, indoor electric appliances, house-hold items, TVs, radios, computers, and telecommunication devices, based on findings of risk for leukemia, brain tumors, Alzheimer's, ALS, sperm damage and DNA strand breaks. This exposure limit does not include a safety margin, but starts right at the level where hazardous effects are found. The new recommendation is approx. 1,000 - 10,000 times lower than the current ICNIRP/IEEE standards;
Set-Back Distance. For all newly installed, or newly upgraded electrical power distribution, the Panel recommends a 0.1 microtesla (1 milligauss) set-back distance, from residences, hospitals, schools, parks, and playgrounds schools (and similar locations occupied by children); this set-back distance easily can amount to 50 meters or more;
Maximum 24-Hour Exposure Limit. For all newly constructed residences, offices, schools (and other facilities with children), and hospitals there shall be a 0.1 microtesla (1 milligauss) max. 24 hour average exposure limit;
Regarding radiofrequency/microwave radiation, the present guidelines, such as IEEE, FCC, and ICNIRP, are not adequate to protect humans from harmful effects of chronic EMR exposure. It is now instead recommended that:
For whole-body (in vivo experiments) or cell culture-based exposure, 33 microwatts/kg. It is approx. 2,400 times lower than the current ICNIRP/FCC standards. No further safety margin or provision for sensitive populations, such as immune-compromised patients or persons with the functional impairment electrohypersensitivity, is incorporated. This may need to be lowered in the future.
Based on power density measurements, the Seletun Scientific Panel finds sufficient evidence for a whole-body scientific benchmark for adverse health effect exists down to 0.17 milliwatts/m2 (also 0.000017 milliwatts/cm2 = 0.017 microwatts/cm2). It is approx. 50,000 - 60,000 times lower than the current ICNIRP/FCC standards. This may need to be lowered in the future.
The Scientific Panel acknowledges that numeric limits derived here for new biologically-based public exposure standards are still a billion times higher than natural EMR levels at which all life evolved. It is a serious mistake to believe that we have always lived in man-made electromagnetic fields, such as from electrical power, radio, TV, computers, and wireless telecommunication, and therefore should not worry. It was not long ago when people thought that X-rays, radioactivity, strong ultraviolet light and radar were completely without harm. Nowadays we know much better!
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Technical presentations, such as this one, use many abbreviations and terms that are common knowledge to technical people and not very meaningful to others. So the above has been edited for clarity. For some examples.
Electromagnetic radiation has many names, including electromagnetic force. "EMR" is a more accurate and preferred term.
EMR has three aspects that are implied in such articles as this. They are an electric field, a magnetic field, and the electromagnetic field itself. They all carry energy from one place to somewhere else, and they all have biological effects, but with some small differences.
The field emitted from the antenna consists of a separate electric field and a magnetic field. These two fields coalesce within the near field distance, which is about 2/3 of a wavelength, to become the electromagnetic radiation field.
EMR is measured by frequency or wavelength. A quick reference is that 300 megahertz (about in the middle of the television bands) is a wavelength of one meter. Or, 300 kilohertz is a wavelength of 1,000 meters (about 0.6 mile).
This is important where "distance" is specified in magnetic field units, such as gauss or teslas. Within the near field distance, the magnetic field measurement, such as in microteslas, is a simpler and more accurate measure of the possible biological harm. But one must go through the frequency to wavelength conversion and then take 2/3 to obtain the physical distance.
The units used to measure various aspects of EMR exposure sometimes use symbols that are not universally displayed correctly on all computer displays. The above text has been reviewed to spell out many of those terms.
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