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Information and Links to Resources on
Biological Effects of Non-Ionizing Electro-Magnetic Radiation

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An informal overview of the controversy about possible biological effects of non-ionizing electro-magnetic radiation, with links to other resources.
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"Science is a hard taskmaster, and in the light of mounting evidence that suggestions of toxicity are for the most part ultimately confirmed by painstaking scientific inquiry, perhaps it is time to reexamine whether scientific standards of proof of causality - and waiting for the bodies to fall - ought not to give way to more preventative health policies that are satisfied by more realistic conventions and that lead to action sooner."

From an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine, April 1987



Welcome to Wave Guide! Okay, let's get it straight right up front, I ain't perfect. I have no training in medicine, or bioelectromagnetics, and a very little in engineering. What qualifies me to maintain a Web-site on Non-Ionizing Electro-Magnetic Radiation (NIEMR) Bioeffects? Good question. Maybe I care about people, maybe that is enough. Maybe I have a personal interest in this issue, (click here to find out.) All that is required of me is to find potentially valuable links, and organize them in a manner that I feel makes the content accessable to people. The responsibility for credibility of the links lies with whomever maintains the sites I provide links to.

Truth is relative! At least if you spend much time researching this issue; the same study is occasionally cited by opposing arguments, to support countering points of view! The current state of understanding is far from complete. Research is being done to determine what to research. In the mean time, one can try to stay informed about what is going on. But when there seems to be little consensus among "experts" in the field, (except calling for more research), where does the lay-person go for information?

The purpose of this site is to assist people looking for information about Bioeffects of NIEMR. I am trying to provide links to a wide range of perspectives on this issue. Some will contain scary information, others might allow you to live in denial. What I am hoping is that by examining the full spectrum of available information, a person will be able to develop their own informed perspective. If you object to my editorial policy, then ignore my editorial, but use the links. Some are of peer-reviewed quality. Some might be from "the fringe", but in areas of controversy, sometimes it is required to give audience to a wider range of perspectives, in order to arrive closer to the "truth." Use this information, flame me, or just go away. Easy enough, huh? And let me know if you find errors in fact on my page, (or on any of the links I've provided.)


Biological Effects of Electromagnetic Radiation

The Controversy Continues

Skip the editorial, bud. I want to see the links.

Technically, what we are talking about is NIEMR Bioeffects; the Effects of Non-Ionizing Electro-Magnetic Radiation on Biological systems, (like humans.) There is currently a great deal of controversy surrounding this subject. NIEMR covers a broad spectrum of electro-magnetic (EM) radiation, from frequencies as low as your 60Hz house current, to the frequencies used for radio and television broadcast, cell phones, satellite communications, and on through visible light. These are exotic types of electromagnetic radiation, completely different than earth's natural magnetosphere. Different parts of the EM spectrum are the subjects of several debates on biological effects; particularly the extremely low frequencies, (ELFs) associated with power distribution systems, and the radio-frequencies, (RF) associated with communications equipment such as cellular telephones.

There is a distinction made between IONIZING radiation, which has enough energy to physically break chemical bonds at the molecular level, and NON-IONIZING radiation, which does not. Therefore the mechanism ELF EMFs might use to affect tissue is unknown, and inconsistent with our current understanding of EMFs. This is one major factor in the controversy. One group of scientists is saying, it is impossible for ELF EMFs to have any biological effect, another group is saying, look at the epidemiological evidence - something is going on, and we need to research it.

There is currently research being done on the relationship between exposure to Electro-Magnetic Fields (EMFs), and a number of diseases, including: depression, childhood leukemia, central nervous system cancer, melanoma, breast cancer, and others.

There are problems being encountered with the reproducability of many of the experiments in EMF Bioeffects research. Because our understanding of the interaction of EMFs with cellular biology is in it's infancy, it is difficult to be sure we are controlling all the right factors. Also when dealing with disease states that normally occur in 1 of 20,000 people, an almost absurd sample size is required to get statistically relevant figures; most, (if not all) research has not come close to using a large enough sample.

There are also problems encountered because this is inherantly a multi-disciplinary effort: in order to have a good understanding of what is occurring, the researcher must have cutting-edge knowledge in several unrelated disciplines. Molecular Biologists are usually not also Electrical Engineers, and vice versa. Therefore, each sides' attempt at understanding the issues involved is, at best, limited.

Personally, I am convinced there is something to this. However, it appears that statistically, the number of people affected is low. Statistics are a nice abstraction until something happens to you, your family, or friends; then it becomes a personal tragedy. You can't talk statistics with someone whose child was just hit by a car, or diagnosed with leukemia; maybe the real question here is - how civilized are we if we consider it acceptable to knowingly harm members of our communities so others can have electrical power at lower cost? We make laws to protect ourselves from automobiles, so why not laws based on more current research, to protect ourselves from electromagnetic fields? Instead, our federal government passes laws (telecommunications act) to aid rapid proliferation of these technologies (ie: cellular telephones) right at a time when there is an incredible amount of evidence that we should be taking a closer look at the issue of EMF Bioeffects.

Whatever your take on this issue, one thing is clear, as long as both sides are using questionable science, bombast, intimidation, and political influence to maintain stratified positions, answers will not come quickly. The meaning of research is hotly debated as each side rushes to put their spin on any research results. What frequently passes for "research" is simply a summary of a review of existing studies, in which the current researcher comes to different conclusions than the orignal researchers ...

Let's remember that some epidemiologists were convinced of a link between tobacco and cancer for decades before it really influenced public policy, (similarly for asbestos.) Such was the power of the tobacco industry, and were perhaps the shortcomings of public risk management. It is impossible to prove something is safe, a fact that is used to advantage every day by corporations that want to generate revenue by selling you unsafe products or services. However, just because you cannot currently prove otherwise, that does not mean that it is safe.

While it is a logical fallacy to equate "biological effect" with "harmful effect," it is equally fallacious to equate "not proven harmful" with "safe."

This is a highly emotionally-charged issue. Why?


True Facts

This is not a good guys and bad guys issue, (at least I don't think it is.) There appear to be people of good conscience on both sides of the issue. It is very complex, both politically and technically. There is a lot at stake; a lot that is near and dear to people's hearts: family, health, jobs, money ...

When the people and organizations on each "side" of this issue are viewed collectively, we tend to remember the extremists, because those are the most high-profile entities. Maybe this tends to stratify the issue. What is important to keep in mind is that most people are probably closer to the center of the continuum on this issue.


NCRP Scientific Committee 89-3 on ELF EMF

There is a rumor that a National Council on Radiation Protection report in Washington that recommends a maximum permissible exposure limit for the general public of 2 milligauss will be suppressed. Fact, or fiction ? You tell me.

Here is an excerpt from EMF Health Effects, that may answer the above query:

An article in Science (Vol. 269, 18 August 1995, p. 911) reported that "After spending nearly a decade reviewing the literature on electromagnetic fields (EMFs), a panel of the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP) has produced a draft report concluding that some health effects linked to EMFs such as cancer and immune deficiencies appear real and warrant steps to reduce EMF exposure... Biologists have failed to pinpoint a convincing mechanism of action."

The American College of Radiology makes a statement on the release of preliminary NCRP information. "Contrary to many erroneous sources of information, the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP) has not made recommendations on Extremely Low Frequency Electromagnetic Fields (ELF EMF), according to Charles Meinhold, NCRP president."

According to "Battling EMF Reports" in Environews: "A draft report of the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP) calls for exposure limits to minimize potential health hazards associated with EMFs, but it's unclear whether the prematurely publicized recommendation will survive peer review."

And from the NCRP itself, a press release:

October 11, 1995

NCRP Has No ELF EMF Recommendations

Contrary to many erroneous sources of information, the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP) has not made recommendations on Extremely Low Frequency Electromagnetic Fields (ELF EMF). Draft material formulated by NCRP Scientific Committee 89-3 on ELF EMF has been improperly disseminated and does not reflect NCRP recommendation. When an NCRP scientific committee completes what it considers to be its final draft, the draft enters an extensive review process. This process generally follows the following scenario: (1) general peer review by several selected expert reviewers, (2) revision of the report based on the comments received, (3) review of the revised draft by the 75 NCRP members and approximately 50 organizations involved in the Council's program, (4) further revision of the report to address the comments proffered -- keeping in mind that the 75 Council members must be virtually unanimous in approval before a report can be issued. The draft report in question will soon be ready to enter step (1) above. Therefore, it has absolutely no standing at this time. Thus, it should not be copied, quoted, cited, or referenced outside of the NCRP. Considering the extensive nature of the review process, it is impossible to predict when the NCRP may have a report on the subject of ELF EMF and it is not possible to know the extent of recommendations that might be made.

One of the primary objectives set forth in the Congressional Charter of the NCRP is to collect, analyze, and disseminate information and recommendations about radiation protection and measurements. The unauthorized distribution of the current draft material is certainly not the sanctioned means of "disseminating" information. This situation makes evident the value of following NCRP's procedures, which for more than 60 years have served the public interest, and have proved effective in producing a consensus of the leading scientific thinking on matters of radiation protection and measurement. It is hoped that interested parties will ignore the improperly disseminated draft report material and allow the NCRP process to proceed.

The National Council on    7910 Woodmont Avenue, Suite 800
Radiation Protection       Bethesda, Maryland  20814-3095
and Measurements           Telephone:  (301) 657-2652
                           FAX:  (301) 907-8768

And here is a link to Microwave News, where: "Reprinted below is Section 8 of the June 13, 1995, draft of the report of NCRP Scientific Committee 89-3 on Extremely Low Frequency Electric and Magnetic Fields, which contains its conclusions and recommendations."

So while I can understand why somebody might use the word "suppressed", it is probably not technically accurate. If you follow the above link and read the DRAFT report, you'll see that most of the quotations, while accurate, were made slightly out of context, making the recommendations seem more extreme; and, the review process was entirely overlooked. Review or not, it looks like this NCRP report is going to be a major political hot-potato ...



Here are the links. Some you might use up in 15 minutes or half an hour, but others could take days of exploration ...

The list of links was getting kind of long for a straight alphabetic sort to be a useful form of organization. I divided it into arbitrary classifications. You can still just scroll down the list, within each group links are still alphabetically sorted. Most of the descriptions are direct quotes from the page referenced by the link, (these are "double-quoted.") Many of these sites are meta-sites with lists of links of their own.

If you are new to this issue, and don't know where to start, this is what I would suggest: read Power and the People. If microwaves are your thing, I highly recommend reading The Microwave Debate, by Nicholas Steneck, for a very informative history of the RFNIEMR Bioeffects controversy, (see the reading room for details.)


Quick Index to Link Classifications

I have divided the links into the following categories:
These divisions reflect the motivations these groups have in providing information, which sometimes tells more than the information itself. Let me know if you disagree with the organization, or if you have a suggestion for a better one than my previous alphabetical listing ...

Where you see this * marker, this is a link that the author found to be of particular value if you are new to this issue, or your time is limited; you might want to start with these links. (This is not a rating system, that would not be fair to the sites I have not thoroughly investigated yet.)


Businesses and Professional Services

These links are provided by businesses or professionals offering products and/or services related to EMFs. Inclusion of commercial service providers is not an endorsement, but they have information of interest at their sites.


Federal and Municipal Government Information

There is actually some pretty good information here. I haven't had time to review it all, but it looks pretty good. In particular, check out the San Diego Association of Governments link, (it is a very large document), I expect it makes interesting reading.


General Information

This is a good section to peruse if you are looking for an overview, or doing research on this issue. Some of these links have extensive information.


Groups and Associations

These are links to Citzen's Groups and Trade Associations. Here is where you are likely to find the most stratified perspectives, but there is still some of the best information at some of these sites.


Research Sites

These are links to sites where they actually do EMF-bioeffects related research.


I am interested in providing links to sources of information for all sides of this issue. If you know of any valuable links not represented here, please e-mail me so I can include them.


I want to hear if this document contains any errors in fact, if you found it useful, ignorant, arrogant, complete, lacking, fair, biased, silly, shocking, like yelling "FIRE" in a movie, like making jokes at a funeral, whatever. E-mail me.

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