33 min read

Conflicts of Interest and Misleading Statements

Conflicts of Interest and Misleading Statements in
Official Reports about the Health Consequences of
Radiofrequency Radiation and Some New
Measurements of Exposure Levels
Susan Pockett
School of Psychology, University of Auckland, Auckland 1142, New Zealand; s.pockett@auckland.ac.nz
Received: 29 March 2019; Accepted: 25 April 2019; Published: 5 May 2019

Abstract: Official reports to governments throughout the Western world attempt to allay public concern about the increasing inescapability of the microwaves (also known as radiofrequency radiationor RF) emitted by “smart” technologies, by repeating the dogma that the only proven biological effect of RF is acute tissue heating, and assuring us that the levels of radiation to which the public are
exposed are significantly less than those needed to cause acute tissue heating. The present paper first shows the origin of this “thermal-only” dogma in the military paranoia of the 1950s. It then reveals how financial conflict of interest and intentionally misleading statements have been powerful factors in preserving that dogma in the face of now overwhelming evidence that it is false, using one 2018 report to ministers of the New Zealand government as an example. Lastly, some new pilot measurements of ambient RF power densities in Auckland city are reported and compared with levels reported in other cities, various international exposure limits, and levels shown scientifically to cause biological harm. It is concluded that politicians in theWestern world should stop accepting soothing reports from individuals with blatant conflicts of interest and start taking the health and safety of their communities seriously.

Keywords: radiofrequency radiation; RF; microwave; cellphone; smart technology; public health;
cancer; diabetes; depression; dementia

  1. Introduction
    The health effects of radiofrequency radiation (RF) emitted by ‘smart’ technologies have become a
    topic of significant public concern throughout the world. Official reports prepared for governments in
    the English-speaking world tend to be aimed at allaying what the report writers paint as unjustified
    fears, by assuring the public and their elected representatives that scientific research in this area shows
    no reason for concern about emissions that abide by current regulatory guidelines.
    The present paper has three goals: (1) to document the prevalence of undisclosed conflicts of
    interest, both in the original setting of regulatory guidelines and among the authors of one representative
    government report [1] defending these; (2) to assess the accuracy of certain key statements in that
    report; and (3) to provide the first publicly available raw power density readings from two specific sites
    in Auckland City, as part of a pilot study on how Auckland readings compare with (i) readings in other
    Western cities, (ii) the recommended limit on public exposure in New Zealand, (iii) the recommended
    limits on public exposure in various other countries, and (iv) the power densities of RF shown in the
    scientific literature to have harmful biological effects.
    Magnetochemistry 2019, 5, 31; doi:10.3390/magnetochemistry5020031 www.mdpi.com/journal/magnetochemistry
    Magnetochemistry 2019, 5, 31 2 of 13
  2. Conflict of Interest: A History
    The 2018 version of the guidelines document put out by the International Committee of Medical
    Journal Editors [2] defines conflict of interest as follows:
    “A conflict of interest exists when professional judgment concerning a primary interest (such
    as patients’ welfare or the validity of research) may be influenced by a secondary interest
    (such as financial gain). . . . Financial relationships (such as employment, consultancies, stock
    ownership or options, honoraria, patents and paid expert testimony) are the most easily
    identifiable conflicts of interest and the most likely to undermine the credibility of the journal,
    the authors and science itself . . . . Purposeful failure to disclose conflicts of interest is a form
    of misconduct.”
    By this definition, conflict of interest has been a constant feature at all levels of discourse in the
    area of RF exposure standards, from the original setting of the “Guidelines” now used by regulators
    all over the Western world, right down to the authorship of individual government reports in the
    present day.
    History in this area begins nearly 70 years ago. Currently-entrenched official positions on safe RF
    public exposure levels originated in the 1950s, during the period known as the Cold War between the
    United States of America (USA) and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). At this time, the US
    Department of Defense (DOD) was charged with developing radar (radio-based detection and ranging)
    systems capable of detecting incoming Soviet missiles. This meant that the US military had a major
    vested interest in producing radar installations that were as powerful as possible. Objections raised by
    local US communities upset at the unheralded appearance of such facilities in their neighborhoods were
    dismissed as a minor cost in comparison with the perceived benefit of preventing nuclear annihilation.
    Thus, in terms of the above definition of conflict of interest, both of the interests that were clearly in
    conflict here were perceived to be protection of the public—it is just that one of them (the one that
    prevailed) was a product of military paranoia, while the other involved the much more mundane
    question of everyday health and safety.
    A further complication during this historical period was that microwaves were widely used in
    diathermy, a then popular medical treatment for a number of conditions thought to be improved by
    tissue heating. Hence, it was convenient for both military and medical circles in the US to ignore early
    scientific indications to the contrary and choose to believe uncritically the hypothesis that the only way
    in which microwave radiation could affect biological organisms was by heating them. Interestingly
    however, when it came to the setting of standards regulating the level of microwave radiation to
    which people could safely be exposed, the medical profession was deemed to have too much vested
    interest in diathermy to participate, while the obvious conflict of interest involved in making the
    military responsible for setting acceptable microwave power limits was ignored [3]. By 1960, all three
    branches of the US military had concluded, on the basis of one man’s calculations and some minimal
    experimentation (involving disruption of food-motivated behavior in irradiated laboratory animals)
    that 10 mW/cm2 was a safe power density limit to prevent excessive tissue heating, and after some
    debate, this figure duly became the basis of the first IEEE/ANSI C95.1 microwave standard in 1966.
    Thereafter, the DOD treated all reports of biological effects of RF power densities less than 10 mW/cm2
    as a threat to national security and shut down any lab that produced them [4–6].
    In contrast, the Soviets whose imagined missiles the DOD was charged with detecting and
    destroying concentrated on following up early reports of sub-thermal microwave effects, and as a
    result, set their exposure limit at 0.01 mW/cm2. This thousand-fold stricter limit posed a serious
    problem for US military planners—if any of America’s western European allies were tempted to
    adopt it, deployment of American radar installations in Europe would be jeopardized. Therefore,
    concurrent with the space/arms race, an RF standards race was played out in various international
    organizations, such as WHO (theWorld Health Organization) and NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty
    Organization) [3]. Internationalization of what was by now the unchallengable dogma that tissue
    Magnetochemistry 2019, 5, 31 3 of 13
    heating was the only possible biological effect of RF was achieved by the simple expedient of embedding
    individuals committed to the thermal-only narrative in WHO and NATO. In 1971, Sol Michaelson, the
    American who had been most instrumental in the adoption of the thermal-only standard by ANSI
    C95.1, was appointed to a committee called the Task Group on Environmental Health Criteria for
    Radiofrequency and Microwaves, jointly convened by WHO and the International Radiation Protection
    Agency (IRPA). The founding chairman of IRPA was Michael Repacholi, an Australian also committed
    to the thermal-only dogma. In 1992, IRPA morphed into ICNIRP (the International Commission on
    Non Ionizing Radiation Protection), with Repacholi still as the chair. And in 1998, ICNIRP brought out
    the Guidelines document which still enshrines the ANSI thermal-only dogma as the basis of national
    standards throughout the English-speaking world.
    Meanwhile, back in the USA, a second strand of activity in support of the thermal-only dogma was
    quietly emerging. In the early 1970s, a growing popular environmental movement and the consequent
    espousal by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of a precautionary approach to a great many
    potential health hazards were seen by corporate interests as a threat to the foundations of industrial
    society [7]. The challenge for industry was cast as how best to respond to legislative restrictions on the
    activities of corporations—and in particular to the science that led to those restrictions. One major
    response to this challenge was the establishment in 1972 of a ‘Business Roundtable’ consisting of many
    of America’s CEOs, for the express purpose of promoting “less unwarranted intrusion by government
    into business affairs” and ensuring that “the business sector in a pluralistic society should play an
    active and effective role in the formation of public policy” [7].
    Lobby offices were established in Washington, and a number of industry-backed think tanks
    created to come up with strategies applicable to all industries. Measures adopted with respect to
    the biological effects of microwave emissions mirrored those of the tobacco industry. They included
    the following:
    • Creation of an air of uncertainty about the science: Given that biological organisms are formidably
    complex and that science by its nature rarely involves complete certainty, this should perhaps
    not have proved too difficult. But just to make sure, a concerted campaign of disinformation
    was launched anyway. Basically, whenever a piece of science inimical to industry or Air Force
    interests appeared, contractors were hired to discredit it by apparently repeating the experiments,
    but actually changing critical factors to produce more funder-friendly results. Frey [6] describes
    one such attempt as follows:
    “After my colleagues and I published in 1975 [8], that exposure to very weak microwave
    radiation opens the regulatory interface known as the blood brain barrier (BBB), a critical
    protection for the brain, the Brooks AFB group selected a contractor to supposedly
    replicate our experiment. For 2 years, this contractor presented data at scientific
    conferences stating that microwave radiation had no effect on the BBB. After much
    pressure from the scientific community, he finally revealed that he had not, in fact,
    replicated our work. We had injected dye into the femoral vein of lab rats after exposure
    to microwaves and observed the dye in the brain within 5 min. The Brooks contractor
    had stuck a needle into the animals’ bellies and sprayed the dye onto their intestines.
    Thus it is no surprise that when he looked at the brain 5 min later, he did not see any
    dye; the dye had yet to make it into the circulatory system.”
    The continuing nature of such campaigns is suggested by Maisch [3], who writes:
    “A survey conducted by the New York based publication Microwave News in 2006
    consisted of examining papers on microwave effects on DNA that were published in
    peer-reviewed journals since 1990. A total of 85 papers on the topic were identified.
    43 of the papers reported finding a biological effect and 42 did not. Of the 42 no-effect
    papers, 32 were identified as having been funded by either the U.S. Air Force or industry.
    Magnetochemistry 2019, 5, 31 4 of 13
    With the 43 papers that reported effects, only 3 were identified as being funded by Air
    Force or industry. This survey thus suggests that the source of funding has a strong
    influence on the outcome of research”.
    • Adoption of an algebraic model of evidence assessment: Once approximately equal numbers of papers
    had been installed in the scientific literature concluding that sub-thermal levels of microwaves on
    the one hand do, but on the other hand do not, have harmful biological effects, the narrative was
    promulgated in official circles that “weight of evidence” is the important thing to consider in such
    matters. The implicit model behind this narrative involves an unstated presumption that each
    negative study (i.e., each study that does not find any effect of low intensity microwaves) cancels
    out one positive study (i.e., one study that does find an effect of low intensity microwaves); with
    an algebraic sum of zero indicating no effect [9]. Any inconvenient remainder is then dealt with
    by impugning the validity and/or the significance of particularly convincing postive studies: as,
    for example, in Section 4.2 and Appendix A of the NZ Government Interagency Report 2018 [1].
    • Population of regulatory bodies by industry insiders: The above strategies certainly served to convince
    time-strapped politicians that all is fine, but to an unbiased scientist, they appear decidedly dicey.
    Thus, the most vital of all the strategies implemented by BigWireless has been the appointment to
    regulatory roles of people who are, or used to be, members of the industries they are now charged
    with regulating. Arguably the most important regulatory body in the world is ICNIRP, whose 1998
    Guidelines document is still the basis of the national standards adopted by the governments of most
    English-speaking nations. ICNIRP is a self-selected, private (non-governmental) organization,
    populated exclusively by members invited by existing members. The organization is very
    concerned to project the image that it is composed of disinterested scientists—indeed all ICNIRP
    members are required to post on the organization’s website detailed declarations of interest (DOIs).
    However, a closer inspection of these DOIs reveals that a good many of the sections of a good many
    of the forms remain unfilled, and a detailed list of undeclared conflicts of interest among ICNIRP
    members has been published by a group of concerned citizens [10]. The relevant section of WHO
    is essentially identical to ICNIRP [11]: Michael Repacholi, the founder of ICNIRP, established
    the WHO International EMF Project (IEMFP) in 1996 and remained in charge of it until 2006 [3],
    when he reportedly resigned after allegations of corruption [12] to officially become an industry
    consultant [13]. In 2004, Repacholi stated in a conference presentation that the IEMFP was able
    to “receive funding from any source through Royal Adelaide Hospital; an agency established
    through WHO Legal Department agreement to collect funds for the project”—an arrangement
    that reportedly enabled receipt of annual payments of $150,000 from the cellphone industry [3,14].
    Thus, in spite of their stated rules and protestations to the contrary, there have been persistent
    allegations that both ICNIRP and the relevant section of WHO are riddled with undeclared
    conflicts of interest. In the USA, the Federal Communications Commission, whose function it is to
    regulate the wireless industry in that country, has been openly characterized by the Edmond J.
    Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University as “a captured agency” [15].
    On a much smaller scale, the New Zealand government’s Interagency Committee’s 2018 Report to
    Ministers, which is discussed in the next section of the present paper, does not specify the identities of its
    authors. In early 2019, a request underNew Zealand’sOfficial Information Act for the Ministry of Health
    to supply these names produced only a statement from someone styled “Deputy Director-General
    Population Health and Prevention” that “The Ministry does not usually release names as these often
    change, and the members represent their organisation (unlike most committees where the person is
    there for their specific expertise).” Fortunately however, an earlier OIA request for meeting minutes
    had (eventually) been more successful, yielding notes for the minutes of the 9 August 2018 meeting of
    the InterAgency Committee—the last meeting before the Committee’s Report was released.
    These notes are recorded as having been taken by the committee’s acting secretary, Martin Gledhill.
    As well as being MOH’s representative on the Committee, Martin Gledhill derives a significant portion
    of his income by providing RF measurement services to all the Telcos operating in New Zealand,
    Magnetochemistry 2019, 5, 31 5 of 13
    through an independent consultancy called EMF Services. Email correspondence between the author
    and Mr. Gledhill failed to reveal the precise methodology by which these measurements are made, on
    the grounds that the report in which this is presumably detailed is owned by SPARK (a major Telco
    in New Zealand), and although Mr. Gledhill asked SPARK if he could send it to the present author,
    they refused to release it. The EMF Services website describes Martin Gledhill as New Zealand’s
    representative to the WHO EMF Project—the same WHO project started by Michael Repacholi, as
    detailed above—and a member of the IEEE International Committee on Electromagnetic Safety—the
    same committee that enshrined the first thermal-only standard in 1966. Thus, at least this core
    member of the NZ InterAgency Committee has a massive vested interest in retaining thermal-only
    regulatory limits.
    The other members of the NZ InterAgency Committee recorded as being present at the
    August 9 meeting included three university scientists, four overt representatives of the wireless
    and telecommunications industries, and six bureacrats representing various government departments.
    Of the scientists, one was an epidemiologist from the University of Otago, who has never published
    on the health effects of RF and according to the notes contributed only by repeatedly assuring the
    Committee that in his opinion, the benefits of technology outweigh the risks. The second scientist was
    an epidemiologist from Massey University, one of whose many research projects involves participation
    in the multinational MOBI-kids project; she is noted as reporting to the committee that design problems
    make the results of this project inconclusive. The third scientist was another epidemiologist from
    Massey University, one of whose many research projects involves participation in the multinational
    INTEROCC project, an offshoot of the controversial INTERPHONE project. He reports to the committee
    that INTEROCC has not found any effect of occupational RF exposure on meningiomas and is winding
    down; according to the meeting notes, he fails to make any mention of the methodological controversy
    generated by this negative finding [16–19]. No laboratory scientist—no physiologist, neuroscientist,
    biochemist or biophysicist, whose professional expertise might have enabled them to discuss the
    many scientific publications now available on the specific mechanisms by which RF affects biological
    organisms—was present.
    No member of the committee makes any declaration about the existence or absence of individual
    conflicts of interest. No mention is made anywhere of the fact that the current New Zealand government,
    having campaigned against the TransPacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) before the last election and
    then signed a renamed version of it (CPTPPA) as soon as they got into power, is seriously constrained
    by a realistic fear of being sued under the CPTPPA for passing any law that impacts the profits
    of any of the multinational corporations that promote such agreements, with the suit being settled
    under the investor state dispute mechanisms of the CPTPPA by a three-person international court
    consisting of two judges nominated by the organization that brings the suit and one by the New
    Zealand government.
  3. Misleading Statements in the New Zealand Government’s Interagency Committee on the
    Health Effects of Non-Ionizing Fields Report to Ministers 2018
    This report to Ministers of the New Zealand Government could serve as a textbook example of
    ICNIRP spin. Almost the entire reference list consists of papers written by ICNIRP members—none of
    the papers cited in Section 3.2 below is cited. The report’s conclusion—that the 1998 ICNIRP Guidelines
    document on which the current New Zealand guidelines are based is still the gold standard in the field,
    its thermal-only recommended exposure limit providing adequate protection for the public—gives
    every indication of having been predetermined. And in support of this conclusion, the report makes a
    number of seriously misleading statements.
    Four of these statements are discussed below.
    3.1. Misleading Statement One (p. 2)
    “Animal studies do not suggest an effect of RF fields on cancer.”
    Magnetochemistry 2019, 5, 31 6 of 13
    The wording of this statement (“effect on cancer”) is somewhat ambiguous, but the clear intent is to
    convey the idea that animal studies do not suggest that RF fields can cause cancer.
    The only evidence cited in support of this statement is a relatively long section devoted to
    acknowledging the existence, but attempting to minimize the significance, of a recent study by the
    National Toxicology Program (NTP) of the US Department of Health which clearly demonstrates
    that RF fields do cause cancer. According to the 19-member peer review panel that examined this
    study [20], its results provide “clear evidence”—the highest standard of proof—that RF fields cause
    schwannomas (malignant tumors of the Schwann cells that sheath all myelinated nerves) in the hearts
    of male rats. The NTP study also reports less clear evidence that RF causes various other tumors
    (gliomas in the brain, pheochromocytomas in the adrenal gland, and tumors of the prostate and
    pancreas). The relevant section of the NZ Interagency Report notes these facts, but concludes by citing
    a non-peer-reviewed ICNIRP note criticizing the methodology and minimizing the significance of the
    NTP study [21]. The NZ Report fails to mention a published rebuttal of the ICNIRP criticisms [22],
    which was accepted by the journal Environmental Research on 7 September 2018 (the precise stated
    cut-off date for publications cited by the NZ Report). The NZ Interagency Report ignores altogether
    a second major rodent study (available online 18 March 2018), done in a different country (Italy) by
    different investigators (the Ramanizzi Institute), involving 2248 rats and confirming the results of the
    NTP study [23].
    Also mentioned but dismissed as unpersuasive is an earlier mouse study showing a facilitatory
    effect of lifelong exposure to RF on the development of lung, liver, kidney, and blood cancers caused
    by in utero administration of the chemical carcinogen ethyl nitrosourea [24]. The authors of that study
    specifically comment on the fact that this result is not dose-related with respect to RF; which actually
    accords well with the unexpected finding of a counterintuitive, inverted-U-shaped dose–response
    curve in relation to RF damage of the blood–brain barrier reported much earlier [25]. However, none
    of the scientists involved comments on this correspondence with earlier work: instead, the absence
    of the ‘expected’ dose–response relationship is taken as a reason for dismissing the facilitation study,
    by a research group who also make statements like “exposed groups were compared only to the
    sham-exposed control group . . . in a carcinogenesis study, it is essential to compare results to the
    negative control group and to in-house historical data and/or to published database(s) in the case of no
    or insufficient internal data.” [26]. This is pure nonsense. When a scientific study finds significant
    differences between an exposed group and a sham-exposed group, it is disingenuous to claim that those
    differences are meaningless because there was no group of animals that was completely unexposed.
    Sham controls are universally acknowledged to be more rigorous than negative controls. However,
    since no laboratory scientist who could have pointed this out sits on the NZ InterAgency Committee,
    their report is able to use the untenable claims made in [26] to dismiss the legitimate findings reported
    in [24].
    The least that can be said about all this is that the existence of two major rodent studies, both of
    which report clear evidence that RF directly causes malignant cardiac tumors, renders incorrect and
    misleading the statement “animal studies do not suggest an effect of RF fields on cancer”. Indeed,
    given that a relative lack of animal evidence for carcinogenicity was the main stated reason for the
    IARC/WHO classification of RF as only a Group 2B (“possible”) carcinogen in 2011 [27], the combination
    of the NTP and Ramanizzi studies must be seen as lending strong support to recent calls [28,29] for the
    upgrading of the IARC/WHO classification to Grade 1: “carcinogenic to humans”.
    3.2. Misleading Statement Two (p. 2)
    “RF research is continuing in a number of areas, but data currently available provides no
    clear and persuasive evidence of any other effects.”
    This extraordinary statement hangs, in notably legalistic fashion, on the words “clear and
    persuasive evidence”. Given that there are now over 2,000 peer-reviewed papers in the scientific
    literature documenting multiple “other effects” of RF, the obvious question is “persuasive to whom”?
    Magnetochemistry 2019, 5, 31 7 of 13
    The data documenting these multiple other effects clearly were found persuasive by the peer reviewers
    of the reputable scientific journals in which they are published. If the authors of this report did not
    find any of this evidence persuasive, one might reasonably ask “why not?”
    In the absence of any alternative explanation, it seems likely that the answer to this question
    is simply, “because ICNIRP (and/or WHO and/or the wireless industry employers of many of the
    committee members) said so”. Since all three of these entities have been shown to be massively invested
    in finding “unpersuasive” any and all reports that sub-thermal levels of RF have any biological effects
    at all, this answer can hardly be taken as a valid reason for ignoring and/or dismissing such a large
    volume of evidence; some of which is documented and briefly discussed below.
    Demonstrated “other effects” of RF include:
    • Psychiatric problems, including depression: For a review of a large number of peer-reviewed studies
    in this area, see [30]. Because inexplicable mental health issues among the young are an increasing
    problem in New Zealand, this must be seen as a rather important “other effect” of RF radiation.
    • Diabetes: Wi-Fi irradiation of young rats causes damage to the pancreas and reduced insulin
    secretion [31,32] and is thus the standard method of producing an animal model of diabetes.
    Epidemiological evidence [33] shows statistically significant increases in pre-diabetic blood
    markers in human children attending a school near a cell tower, as compared with an otherwise
    identical group of children whose school is further from a cell tower. These findings suggest that
    (a) cell towers should not be built near schools and (b)Wi-Fi in schools should be replaced with
    cabled internet connections, accessed by multiple jack points for convenience.
    • Breakdown of the blood–brain barrier (BBB): Double-blind studies done as long ago as 1975 showed
    that RF causes abnormal leakage of fluorescein dye from the blood of rats into their brain tissue [8],
    and disingenuous attempts to discredit that finding constituted the first documented dirty tricks
    campaign in the area [6]. Honest attempts to replicate the 1975 experiments proved hard to interpret,
    until it was realized that a counterintuitive, inverted-U-shaped dose–response curve held—at
    which point it became clear that the parameters involved in mobile phone use are particularly
    effective in disrupting the BBB [25]. Because disruption of the BBB is a known contributor to
    the onset and development of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia [34,35], at least
    two public health conclusions might reasonably be drawn from these findings. First, it would be
    prudent to advise the increasing population of elderly citizens to avoid cell phones, smart meters,
    and Wi-Fi. But perhaps more importantly, chronic exposure of the young to RF now starts in
    the womb and continues throughout babyhood (wireless baby monitors), childhood (wrist-worn
    child locators), and adolescence (smart phones, Wi-Fi). Because the biological effects of RF are
    known to be cumulative, urgent steps should be taken to reduce the exposure of babies, children,
    and teenagers to radiofrequency radiation, to avoid an epidemic of early-onset dementia starting
    in middle age.
    • Death of hippocampal neurons: The neurophysiological mechanisms of memory are presently
    ill-understood, but one thing that is known for sure is that a properly functioning hippocampus is
    essential for the laying down of new memories. Hence the demonstrated loss of hippocampal
    neurons in teenaged rats exposed to RF [36] reinforces the warning at the end of the
    preceding subsection.
    • Reproductive damage: A review of multiple studies on the effects of cell phone radiation on
    male reproduction [37] reveals that exposure to RF (a) increases oxidative stress and decreases
    sperm count and motility in rodents; (b) increases oxidative stress, decreases motility, and causes
    morphometric abnormalities of human spermatozoa in vitro; and (c) does not affect morphology
    but does cause decreased concentration, motility, and viability of sperm in men using mobile
    phones, with these abnormalities being directly related to duration of phone use. Fewer studies
    have been done on female reproduction, but cell phone radiation is reported also to affect the
    reproduction of female mice by multiple mechanisms [38].
    Magnetochemistry 2019, 5, 31 8 of 13
    • Oxidative stress: Oxidative stress [39] is a condition arising when free radicals (atoms or molecules
    that have developed unpaired electrons, which make the molecule unstable and highly reactive),
    outnumber antioxidants (compounds that neutralize free radicals by donating electrons to them).
    An excess of free radicals, also known as oxidative stress, is implicated in virtually all of the
    degenerative diseases afflicting humankind: atherosclerosis, heart disease, cancer, inflammatory
    joint disease, asthma, diabetes, dementia, and degenerative eye disease to name some of them.
    Oxidative stress also lowers immune function, which impacts the development of infectious
    diseases. Because low-intensity radiofrequency radiation is now an accepted cause of oxidative
    stress (for a review of multiple individual studies showing this see [40]), at least some role
    in the development of all of the above health problems might reasonably be attributed to the
    radiofrequency radiation in which virtually everyone on Earth is now bathed on a daily basis.
    • DNA damage: DNA damage caused by non-thermal exposure of cultured cells to RF was one of
    the earliest reported effects of radiofrequency radiation [41]. For a review of many more recent
    studies confirming that RF causes DNA damage, see [42].
    3.3. Misleading Statement Three (p. 53)
    “The ICNIRP limits used in the [New Zealand] standard are based on a review of all relevant
    research on health effects, regardless of the mechanisms that might be involved. ICNIRP
    and other expert panels that have reviewed the data find that the only effects that show up
    with any clarity are consistent with the effects of heat stress and occur at exposure levels at
    which absorption of RF energy in the body (as heat) exceeds the body’s ability to dissipate
    that heat”.
    In philosophical terms, this is known as an argument from authority. Carl Sagan’s view of
    arguments from authority is: “One of the great commandments of science is "mistrust arguments from
    authority". . . . Too many such arguments have proved too painfully wrong. Authorities must prove
    their contentions like everybody else” [43].
    The authority in this case is ICNIRP, a small, self-selected, non-governmental organization with
    known ties to the industry whose expansion it is charged with regulating. The truth of the matter is
    that at most a few dozen scientists continue to defend the thermal-only paradigm [44]. Five times
    that number—so far 242 EMF-active scientists from 42 countries—have signed the International EMF
    Scientist Appeal [45], which calls on WHO, the United Nations, and all member nations to issue health
    warnings about the risks of EMF exposure and to adopt much stronger exposure guidelines to protect
    humans and other species from sub-thermal levels of EMF.
    3.4. Misleading Statement Four (p.39)
    “While there is sometimes public concern over the presence of industry representatives on the
    Committee, in practice they have never attempted to influence the Committee’s conclusions
    on the health effects research and generally see the Committee as a means for them to stay
    abreast of recent developments. In addition, they are able to bring to the Committee’s
    attention forthcoming developments in their industries that may have policy implications
    for our Government.”
    This statement is apparently inserted in an attempt to show that there is no conflict of interest
    involved in committee deliberations. Unfortunately however, the meeting notes referred to above
    show that there is no need for industry representatives to influence the committee’s conclusions about
    health research, because the committee is already so compromised that the science is massaged to favor
    industry interests as a matter of course. The following exerpt from the meeting notes illustrates this:
    “Martin Gledhill spoke to his paper on 5G deployment and highlighted the need to ensure
    that reliable information about the deployment of 5G infrastructure, effects on exposures to
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    RF fields and health be available ahead of time. Peter Berry [representative of the Electricity
    Engineers’ Association] commented that government and the industry need to work together
    on this. The Ministry of Health is seen as a credible source of information and should prepare
    information on health and have this on its website. If the issue develops then ways to
    communicate more proactively could be investigated.”
    This underlines the fact that the New Zealand Ministry of Health is, in fact, not presently a
    credible source of information. On the contrary, this government department appears to be firmly
    and unshakably committed to the ICNIRP thermal-only dogma, exactly because that dogma allows
    unbridled expansion of the wireless and telecommunications industries.
  4. Some Hard Numbers: Preliminary Results on Ambient RF Power Densities in Auckland
    At present, no raw measurements of ambient RF power density in New Zealand are publicly
    available. The Telco-funded reports posted on the Ministry of Health website show only percentages
    of the limits recommended by NZS2772.1:1999, an ICNIRP-inspired Guidelines document which can
    be purchased from the Standards New Zealand website for $129 + GST. In an attempt to remedy this
    situation, preliminary measurements were made by the present author in the city center of Auckland,
    New Zealand in April 2019, using a hand-held Cornet Electrosmog Meter Model EDT 88TPlus.
    The results largely fell within the ranges shown for the city centers of Canberra, Sydney, Los Angles,
    and Addis Ababa in Figure 3 of [46]; i.e. between 2 and 10 mW/m2 (which translates to 0.2–1 µW/cm2).
    However, two specific hot spots gave cause for concern.
    First, the peak reading on the street at the Three Lamps bus stop in Ponsonby Rd at 10:05 on Friday
    5 April 2019 was 129 mW/m2. Readings in this location (as with others in the central city) fluctuated
    rapidly and wildly in time, to the extent that no specific frequency could be recorded. This is perhaps not
    surprising, considering that the map of cell tower locations available at https://gis.geek.nz/celltowers/
    shows three cell towers housing a total of six transmitters, operating at 2100, 700, 850, 1800, 900, and
    1800 MHz (a different telco), within 50 m of the bus stop in question, with a further two cell towers
    housing another four transmitters inside a 100 m radius.
    The plethora of different units used by different information sources in this field make comparisons
    extraordinarily difficult, but a number of online calculators on the web (for example, the one at
    https://www.compeng.com.au/field-strength-calculator/) reveal that a reading of 129mW/m2 translates
    to 12.9 µW/cm2. This is but a tiny fraction of the ICNRIP-based New Zealand exposure guideline of
    10 mW/cm2, which translates to 10,000 µW/cm2. However, the 12.9 µW/cm2 recorded at the Three
    Lamps bus stop is comfortably above the recommended exposure limits of 10 µW/cm2 used by
    Poland, Slovenia, the Ukraine, Bulgaria, Italy, Switzerland and Brazil, and considerably above the
    recommended exposure limits of 4.5 µW/cm2 in Canada, 1–10 µW/cm2 in Paris, and 1 µW/cm2 in
    Lithuania and Salzburg [47]. The 12.9 µW/cm2 recorded at the Three Lamps bus stop is also hugely
    above the 0.25 µW/cm2 that has been shown to cause oxidative stress and DNA damage in quail
    eggs [48] and in roughly the same ball-park as the 50–330 µW/cm2 long-term exposure to which has
    been shown to cause oxidative stress in rat brains [49]. (To the present author’s knowledge, no studies
    on power densities lower than this have been done on whole animals).
    A conservative conclusion from these figures suggests that it would be unwise to spend any
    significant period of time in the vicinity of the Three Lamps bus stop—or indeed in any area of the
    Auckland central business district, if you consider the quail egg study [48].
    The second somewhat disconcerting measurement made in the present, very preliminary study of
    ambient RF power densities in Auckland was taken immediately outside the door of the microwave
    oven in the kitchen of the Auckland Council service center in Ostend, Waiheke Island, while the oven
    was operating. This measurement, which fluctuated between 5.5 and 8.8 µW/cm2, did not quite exceed
    the safety limits used in most of Eastern Europe, but probably would have been illegal in Canada and
    Lithuania – and also in Paris and Salzburg. Apparently individual cities can set their own limits on
    allowable radiation exposure levels. Given that the limits set out in the ICNIRP-inspired New Zealand
    Magnetochemistry 2019, 5, 31 10 of 13
    standard are not enshrined in New Zealand law, it would also presumably be possible for Auckland
    City to enforce lower guidelines than those specified in NZS2772.1:1999.
  5. Which is Worse: Sharp Spikes of RF or Continued Low Level Exposure?
    One of the many debatable questions in this area is whether prolonged exposure levels or brief
    spikes of power are more important in determining the biological effects of RF.
    The ICNIRP dogma that tissue heating is the only possible biological effect of RF radiation—which
    dogma has now been conclusively disproved by several thousand studies, and thus can no longer
    be considered even a viable hypothesis, let alone a scientific fact—leads to the specification that brief
    spikes should be ignored and RF measurements should be averaged over 6 min. This approach would
    indeed be reasonable, if the only effect of interest were excessive tissue heating. However, there are now
    a number of other mechanisms by which RF radiation has been proven to affect biological organisms,
    at much lower power densities than those needed to heat tissue.
    Probably the most important of these mechanisms is overproduction of free radicals, which leads
    to a cascade of further effects, including DNA damage. In the scientific sense of the term, a free radical
    is a molecule that has lost one of its electrons and thus become unstable and highly reactive [39].
    The mechanism by which RF creates a free radical is likely to involve a single, discrete collision between
    the molecule in question and a beam of RF. Once created, the free radical can be neutralized again
    by contact with an antioxidant molecule, which gives back its lost electron; however, if that does not
    happen immediately, the free radical is capable of producing downstream effects such as damage to
    DNA, cell membranes, and various other biological entities whose continued function is essential to
    the organism. This means that RF damage can be mitigated by health-promoting behaviors such as the
    consumption of antioxidants (vitamin C, fruit and vegetables, dark chocolate). However, it also means
    that if too many free radicals are created for the natural protective mechanisms of the organism to cope
    with—or if any given free radical does irreparable damage to some vital biological structure before
    being neutralized—the effects of RF are cumulative. This analysis leads to the conclusion that both of
    the factors artificially set in opposition by the question at the start of this section are important. Sharp
    spikes of RF produce free radicals. Continued sharp spikes of RF produce more free radicals. If enough
    free radicals are allowed to build up in the body, health impacts become more or less inevitable.
    Continued, relentless, sharp spikes of RF are exactly the environmental condition involuntarily
    imposed on any citizen with the misfortune to live and/or work near one cell tower, let alone five.
    And oxidative stress of the sort caused by sharp spikes of RF has been shown to contribute to all
    of the disease states underpinning the increasing number of "epidemics" reported by the media in
    New Zealand.
  6. Discussion
    A group of investigative journalists known as Investigate Europe allege the existence of an
    ‘ICNIRP cartel’: a group of 14 core scientists plus a couple of dozen supporters who act to promote and
    defend the ICNIRP dogma that the only confirmed harms caused by RF are acute thermal effects [44].
    This cartel is alleged to preserve the EMF exposure guidelines favored by industry by conducting
    biased reviews of the literature, which minimize health risks from exposure to EMF power densities
    lower than those which cause thermal harm.
    The multiple citations to papers and reviews written by ICNIRP members and the many references
    to ICNIRP beliefs in the text of the report to ministers of the New Zealand government 2018 from the
    Interagency Committee on the Health Effects of Non-Ionizing Fields reveal that the authors of this
    report are, for whatever reason, firmly committed to the ICNIRP view. In the service of this view,
    thousands of papers reporting adverse effects of less-than-thermal RF power densities are simply
    ignored. When the occasional study is too widely known to be ignored, its significance is minimized
    and its methodology questioned; but questioned in such a way that no specific, answerable objections
    Magnetochemistry 2019, 5, 31 11 of 13
    are raised. The conclusion is now inescapable that ICNIRP and its followers are so firmly committed to
    the thermal-only dogma that no amount of evidence will change their minds.
  7. Conclusions
    • It is time to stop believing ICNIRP spin. Tissue heating is not the only biological effect of
    radiofrequency radiation. The thermal-only exposure limit is not safe.
    • Like tobacco smoke, low intensity radiofrequency radiation has multiple harmful effects on
    human health. Unlike secondhand smoke, secondhand radiation is fast becoming inescapable.
    The present situation is thus worse than Big Tobacco redux.
    • Elected politicians should stop accepting biased reports from individuals with blatant conflicts of
    interest and start taking seriously the health and safety of their constituents; or at least of their
    own children and grandchildren.
    • The unchecked expansion of Big Wireless permitted by ICNIRP’s thermal-only guidelines is
    actively harmful to all biological inhabitants of planet Earth. Further expansion to 5G technology
    will inevitably involve yet more radiation exposure. The fact that this exposure will not breach
    the ludicrously high ICNIRP-based standard is no defense at all.
    Funding: No funding has been received from any source for preparation of this paper, or for related work.
    Conflicts of Interest: The author declares no conflict of interest.
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