precautionary principle and risks of radiofrequency fields
A recent paper
argues that the precautionary principle, which has "become
ever more influential in environmental and health policy in the
European Union and elsewhere
. still lacks an agreed upon definition
and practical guidance on how policy can be derived without undue
arbitrariness". The authors discuss the application of the
principle to questions about radiofrequency fields of cell phones
and base stations. They suggest that the result has been "wasteful
and misguided regulations and questionable advice to the public".
They recommend the formation of scientific "fire brigades"
to allow for the rapid acquisition of scientific data that would
help answer concerns about specific environmental risks.
This paper has
been criticized in a commentary in Microwave News in the January-February
2003 issue. The authors replied to this criticism in the Bioelectromagnetics
Society Newsletter. The May-June 2003 issue of Microwave News includes
further comments on the controversy, including a copy of a reply
that they sent to the BEMS Newsletter, but which was not printed.
Balzano Q, Sheppard AR (2003): The influence of the precautionary
principle on science-based decision-making: questionable applications
to risks of radiofrequency fields. Journal of Risk Research 5:351-369.
Another review of cell phones and health
There is a review
of cell phones and health effects in the Radiological Protection
Bulletin no 3 (March 2003) of the National Radiological Protection
Board in the UK. John Stather summarizes the evidence on possible
health effects that were reviewed in the IEGMP report "Mobile
Phones and Health", and describes the main recommendations
and the outcomes to date.
The review can be found at www.nrpb.org/publications/bulletin/no3/index.htm
radiation shown to affect shape of proteins
De Pomerai and
colleagues at the University of Nottingham have previously shown
that microwave radiation can induce the formation of heat-shock
proteins (HSPs) (see "What's New",
July 2000). They now report that it can also alter the shape
of proteins and suggest that this change in the protein shape may
be the factor that produces the HSP formation. The authors point
out that these apparently non-thermal effects may not be harmful
to humans. For more, see "Toxicological
experiments - Others - Heat-shock proteins".
de Pomerai DI, Smith B, Dawe A, North K, et al. (2003): Microwave
radiation can alter protein conformation without bulk heating. FEBS
Research Centre in Australia
Government has announced that it is funding a centre to study possible
health effects of cell phones and base stations. The Centre of Research
Excellence in Electromagnetic Energy will receive $500,000 a year
for five years from the National Health and Medical Research Council.
It will be led by the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and
will be headed by Professor Irene Cosic.
Another study shows no effect of RF radiation
on tumour promotion
There have been
a number of animal studies that have shown no effect of RF radiation
on the promotion of tumours by a variety of agents that are known
to induce tumours. Another study has shown no effect, this time
on the development of tumours induced by exposing mice to ultraviolet
light. For more, see "Research
- Toxicological Experiments - cancer studies".
Heikkinen P, Kosma V-M, Alhonen L, Huuskonen H, et al. (2003): Effects
of mobile phone radiation on UV-induced skin tumourigenesis in ornithine
decarboxylase transgenic and non-transgenic mice. Int J Radiat Biol