Review of ICNIRP EMF exposure guidelines



I sent the following email on June 28, 2006

Martin Blank

To: Mrs. Gunde Ziegelberger (ICNIRP)
Re: June 27 e-mail of Mr Hans Karow on ICNIRP EMF exposure guidelines

I am writing in support of Mr Hans Karow’s request regarding information about ICNIRP EMF exposure guidelines. Since these guidelines are meant to reflect the latest and best available information regarding the biological effects of EMF exposure, I think ICNIRP should be made aware of scientific developments reported and discussed at the annual meeting of the Bioelectromagnetics Society, held in Cancun earlier this month. A symposium, entitled ‘Scientific Perspective on Electromagnetic Fields and the Precautionary Principle’, was devoted to the scientific basis of EMF safety standards. The formal discussion on the scientific issues went on long past the designated closing time, and was continued in a special discussion session on the following day. To insure that the scientific issues continue to be explored and eventually resolved, the issues were referred by the President to the Public Affairs Committee of the Society, and instructed to meet regularly. A major point of discussion was based on the distinction between epidemiology studies that provide information about the probability of risk and laboratory research that provides scientifically verifiable information.

The latest laboratory research points to serious inadequacies in the safety standards recommended by ICNIRP and IEEE committees. In particular, stimulation of the stress response by ELF and RF frequencies indicates:

• EM fields probably cause molecular (e.g., DNA) damage in both frequency ranges.

• protective biological processes are activated in cells by non-thermal mechanisms.

• the same cellular processes are evoked by many parts of the EM spectrum.

The measured ELF thresholds to EM fields are low, both in terms of field strength and exposure duration, and there is great variability in the sensitivity of biological systems. We know that physiological systems have many protective mechanisms (e.g., homeostasis, repair mechanisms, apoptosis) that tend to mitigate the potentially harmful effects of the EM fields, but cannot always cope. Because of the wide range of biological systems affected, the wide range of frequencies that are biologically active, the low response thresholds and the possibility of cumulative effects by repetitive stimulation, the exposure standards should be revised to take into account:

• the importance of non-thermal mechanisms in assessing risk.

• total cumulative exposure across the different divisions of the EM spectrum.

• the increasing EM field background due to proliferation of electronic devices.

• the most sensitive populations (usually children).

I trust that you will bring this letter to the attention of ICNIRP, since I believe that ICNIRP would want to base its recommendations on all available information. I also hope that you will act favorably on Mr Karow’s request for information.

Sincerely yours,

Martin Blank,
PhD Associate Professor of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics
Bioelectromagnetics Society President, 1997-1998


Dr. Martin Blank Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Cellular Biophysics

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Juni 2006

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