Important part of the debate about the safety of cell phones play websites of the organizations responsible for setting safety standards and evaluation of the science. When information on such websites is insufficient, or arbitrarily altered, concerned citizens search for it elsewhere, what is not always a good thing.
Below is a letter from Susan Foster to IARC. Letter is published with the permission of the author.
FROM SUSAN FOSTER, MSW:
April 5, 2013
Dear Drs. Baan, Straif, and Gaudin:
Many of us have watched with great concern as the WHO website has changed from its original announcement of IARC’s 2B classification of RF – EMF to its present dilution of an incredibly important message. The World Health Organization website now reads very much like the US Federal Communications Commission website, which is openly biased toward industry. It appears the website has been diluted in stages.
Recent comments by Mike Repacholi in a guest blog for Dariusz Leszczynski’s “Between a Rock and a Hard Place” elevated my concern, and I have been in touch with colleagues in various countries to find they share the same concern that WHO is showing an undisguised bias toward industry. The world relies on WHO for independence. That was called into question when Mona Nilsson exposed Prof. Anders Ahlbom’s close association as a silent partner is his brother’s Basel, Switzerland lobbying business — with telecom as one of the biggest clients. We questioned how many years Prof. Ahlbom and perhaps others had “held back” the science. It was a question impossible not to consider.
Yet the 2B vote offered hope that IARC had indeed treated the growing body of science with greater fairness, and would continue to do so.
Now the fairness seems to be called into question again. Quite honestly, it was shocking to read the WHO website links compare RF – EMF to coffee. In addition, the following quote on EHS suggests the influence industry appears to have on WHO. With respect to electro-sensitivity, the WHO website states: “There are also some indications that these symptoms may be due to pre-existing psychiatric conditions as well as stress reactions as a result of worrying about EMF health effects, rather than the EMF exposure itself.” Because EHS or ES is a combination of neurological and immunological symptoms, and the majority of those physical manifestations have been scientifically linked to exposure to RF – EMF, it is offensive that WHO would use a telecom-industry argument that focuses on “underlying psychiatric conditions” and “stress reactions as a result of worry about EMF health effects”. The latter suggestion is the typical risk-perception argument used by industries under fire for causing harm that wish to deflect from the harm itself. It is inappropriate coming from WHO, and it raises concern on many levels.
Below is Michael Repacholi’s guest blog and his comments referencing WHO fact sheets on mobile phones, base stations, and hypersensitivity.
Mike Repacholi on March 17, 2013 at 16:06 said:
I understand your concerns and all I can do is pass you onto the WHO fact sheets that address your concerns:
Mobile phones: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs193/en/index.html
Base stations: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs304/en/index.html
* * *
The change in tone from your press released issued in May 2011 [http://www.itis.ethz.ch/assets/Downloads/Press-Media/IARC102.pdf] to many of the statements made in all sections of the above links is disturbing. This is a direct quote from the current WHO website, specifically with reference to mobile phones:
“The international pooled analysis of data gathered from 13 participating countries found no increased risk of glioma or meningioma with mobile phone use of more than 10 years. There are some indications of an increased risk of glioma for those who reported the highest 10% of cumulative hours of cell phone use, although there was no consistent trend of increasing risk with greater duration of use. The researchers concluded that biases and errors limit the strength of these conclusions and prevent a causal interpretation.“
Yet in your Press Release dated May 31, 2011 you state in your first paragraph:
“The WHO/International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified radiofrequency electromagnetic field as possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B), based on increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer associated with wireless phone use.”
Gentleman, you know there was a 40% increase in glioma and acoustic neuroma found in the Interphone Study, with highest users classified as using their phones 30 minutes per day. In today’s world, 30 minutes per day is minimal. Yet your website would lead the average reader — who cared to look for relevant facts pertaining to cell phone risks — in the wrong direction. Is this what IARC truly intended with the 2B classification of RF – EMF?
Many of us are concerned and we are looking to you for honest clarification. We do indeed hope IARC can help to prevent a similar catastrophe and vast cover-up that is the legacy of the tobacco industry — a public health-nightmare that continues to this very day.
With Kind Regards,
Susan Foster, MSW
Rancho Santa Fe, California, USA
Member, International EMF Alliance
Advisor, EM Radiation Research Trust (UK)
Original Author, Resolution 15, International Association of Firefighters