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Thursday, 3 April 2014

Radiofrequency emissions get a high exposure review

Some readers will have attended the meetings where opponents of any sort of radiofrequency (RF) emitter is being imposed on “their” space and causing a wide range of negative health effects.   The aluminum foil helmets to protect the brain, the plethora of citing of all the evils associated with RF

To their credit, RF is not visible and it is an imposition on one’s personal space (if on a planet of 7 Billion any one of us creature’s can lay claim to personal space).  More central to the conversation is the poor risk communication activities surrounding any of the variety of aspects of RF emissions.

At the request of Health Canada, the Royal Society of Canada convened and then cautiously released an expert working group’s review of RF and the proposed safety standards in Canada A Review of Safety Code 6  .  The proposed safety standard is operationally not likely to impact any current routine public exposure settings but may impact certain high exposure occupational settings. 

Not likely a document that will rate highly as an adjunct to risk communication, it is a detailed scientific review of RF.  It adds nothing to what is already synthesized elsewhere, however it does provide a central resource for anyone wanting to develop expertise in RF (and a recommended read for all residents in Public, Environmental, or Occupational Health).  The further added angle to the document is that it looks at the science from the perspective of whether the Canadian RF Safety Codes for human exposure are adequate.

The conclusion is the safety code is protective of human health. There are subtle potential modifications for consideration at one frequency range which is supplemented by the statement that there are no health impacts expected below the current safety code. 

Not surprising from a group of scientists, many of whom could stand to benefit from research dollars in their fields of interest, there is room for more research.  A somewhat detailed research agenda is laid out. 
There is acknowledgement of the number of persons claiming “electosensitivity” or “electrical hypersensitity” to radiofrequency emissions and a conclusions that there is a lack of evidence to support a causal relationship. 

Further the panel makes clear recommendations directed at Health Canada to improve its risk communication skills and tools. 

One can expect that “experts” who preach the ills of RF exposure will actually pull the document out and cite sections such as “significant” risks for potential exposure in certain settings, confirmation of IARC’s assessment that exposure to early higher energy mobile phones was a possible carcinogen, mobile phones are possibly weakly associated with increase in acoustic neuromas, and possible reductions in male sperm production.  While all these health associations are very weak if they exist at all, they are acknowledged within the document.  The plethora of review of negative associations is reassuring. 

It is a reference well worth keeping.  

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