Radio Frequency EMF Regulation in the UK – Chronology

  • The UK body Public Health England (PHE) provide guidelines for exposure to microwave radiation.

Collection of Electromagnetic Fields guidelines

These guidelines are still based on the ICNIRP guidelines for safe exposure, which are based on only Thermal effects at short term exposure.

  • May 2020: countries have adopted limits lower than the ICNIRP guidelines, but the UK has not. The only way to change this narrative is unfortunately through extensive lobbying or legal action by the public, councils and organisations who understand and care about this. and solicitor Jessica Learmond-Criqui have both initiated actions against the UK government aiming to implement a judicial review.
  • In the UK, Public Health England updated their guidance in January 2020 with regard to use of mobile phones, since  uncertainties in the science suggest some additional level of precaution is warranted”.

Radio waves: reducing exposure from mobile phones

  • The Control of Electromagnetic Fields at Work Regulations 2016 provides UK legislation for acceptable safe levels in the workplace. These are based on the guidance of the ICNIRP, and enacted under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

Although the ICNIRP and PHE both issue disclaimers about their advice the fact that the CEFAW Regulations define their AL (action levels), and ELV (exposure limit values) in accordance with the ICNIRP values means that if exposure in the workplace (not public space) can be shown to be below these levels then an organisation is legally compliant and cannot be compelled to be guided by what many would regard as much safer exposure levels.

“The requirements in the CEMFAW Regulations are based on two sets of values related to EMFs: ALs and ELVs. These physical quantities are based on the recommendations of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP); more information can be accessed via the ICNIRP web pages.”  CEFAW guidance notes.

  • In 2011 The IARC International Agency for Research on Cancer/ World Health Organisation, classified RF radiation as a . A report summarising the IARC’s conclusions was published in Lancet Oncology (2011; 12: 624–26). This stated that studies had found a correlation between RF radiation from mobile phones, and two kinds of brain tumour: glioma (a cancer) and acoustic neuroma (a benign schwannoma).

Leading experts in radiofrequency radiation effects are now calling for the classification to be strengthened to to a Class 1 carcinogen or, at the least, a Class 2A ‘probable’ carcinogen. Ex  members of ICNIRP James Lin, ICNIRP 2004-2016, and Dr Anthony Miller advocate for the former WHO-hazard class 1 (carcinogenic), instead of today  Dr Miller is a former Senior Epidemiologist for IARC and former Director of Epidemiology for the National Cancer Institute of Canada. He was part of the 2011 IARC decision but he states that enough evidence has come from NTP and Ramazzini to upgrade it

Dr. James C. Lin, published an article with the title: Clear Evidence of Cell Phone RF Radiation Cancer Risk [Health Matters] The article reaches a firm conclusion, supported by an overwhelming amount of research results.

  • From 2008-2018 the USAfederal government’s $30 million National Toxicology Program (NTP) study was conducted using laboratory rodents.

A major aim of this study was to determine whether biological effects happen at exposure levels which do not cause heating. This was  shown unequivocally including DNA damage and oxidative stress in addition to the cancers.  See the report here.

AGNIR knew about the existence of the NTP research program when it was reported in  2012 and stated that it would revise its own position on harm once NTP had published. NTP, however, did not publish until November 2018 – and AGNIR was disbanded in 2017 and so never got a chance to comment.

The NTP findings of clear evidence of tumours being linked to cell phones were matched by the Italian Ramazzini Institute study report from 2018. These experimental studies provide sufficient evidence to call for the re-evaluation of IARC conclusions regarding the carcinogenic potential of RFR in humans.

PHE and the ICNIRP have refused to acknowledge the importance of these studies and are trying to ignore their implications:

The ICNIRP has stated in their response, that “If the claims were accurate, and if the research was shown to have relevance to humans, this would represent a crucial issue for ICNIRP to incorporate into the advice and guidance that it provides to the community through a range of formats, such as its RF EMF exposure guidelines

UK Government response 19 March 2019: PHE considers the results from the NTP studies, though interesting, do not alter the balance of evidence in relation to human exposure when using mobile phone technologies. However, the results of this study highlight the continuing uncertainties in this complex area and reinforce the importance of mobile phone users following the long-standing precautionary advice”. 

Dr Fiorella Belpoggi of the Ramazzini Institute for cancer research study’s response to the ICNIRP critique of the UN study and the Ramazzini study. 

Dr Robert Melnick rebuttal of ICNIRP response: Commentary on the utility of the National Toxicology Program study on cell phone radiofrequency radiation data for assessing human health risks despite unfounded criticisms aimed at minimizing the findings of adverse health effects.

  • In the UK the Public Health England (PHE) specialist review body called AGNIR reported in2012. AGNIR based its findings on the IARC decision and AGNIR’s review remains to this day PHE’s position on safety. It has not been updated since 2012
  • Professionals continue to lobby the UK government for a review of their guidelines. Evidence to parliament Dr Sarah Starkey, December 2017  “Evidence-base for the link between adverse childhood experiences and long-term negative outcomes”, and a call for intervention.
  • The Stewart Report 2000 recommendeda ‘precautionary approach’ 20 years ago , and in particular, that the mobile phone industry should refrain from promoting the use of mobile phones by children. The Government has known since then that ‘children may be more vulnerable because of their developing nervous system, the greater absorption of energy in the tissues of the head and a longer lifetime of exposure (Stewart Report, paragraph 1.53)

Not surprisingly, in the UK, cancer is now the most common cause of death in children aged 1-14 years, accounting for around one-fifth of deaths in this age group. Brain tumours claim more lives than any other childhood cancer, accounting for more than a third of all childhood cancer deaths.

Childhood cancer facts and figures

  • In a letter dated July 2002 from the US Environmental Protection Agency, to the President of the EMR network. The EPA stated that “the FCCs current exposure guidelines do not apply to chronic non-thermal exposure situations. They are considered protective of effects arising from a thermal mechanism, but NOT from all possible mechanisms. Therefore the generalization by many that the guidelines protect human beings from harm by any or all mechanisms is not justified.”