Norwegian Group Says Weak Electromagnetic Fields Pose No Risk

Due to concerns about the impact of low level electromagnetic fields on health, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health commissioned an expert committee to assess their impact. The Committee, chaired by Professor Jan Alexander, assistant director-general at the Institute, assessed a number of possible health effects from low level electromagnetic fields and evaluated the research in each area.

The conclusion was that “The group found no evidence that the low-level fields around mobile phones and other transmitters increase the risk of cancer, impair male fertility, cause other reproductive damage or lead to other diseases and adverse health effects, such as changes to the endocrine and immune systems.”

The report, Low-level radiofrequency electromagnetic fields--an assessment of health risks and evaluation of regulatory practiceis approximately 200 pages long. It includes an evaluation of reports of hypersensitivity to RF which found, “There is also no evidence that individuals with health problems that they attribute to electromagnetic fields are able to detect such exposure. Blind trials show that symptoms also occur when subjects are not exposed. This means that electromagnetic fields do not need to be present for health problems attributed to electromagnetic fields to occur.” 

“We have no grounds to say that the symptoms are imaginary,” said Alexander. “But a large number of studies suggest that these symptoms must have other causes than the physical effects of low-level electromagnetic fields around mobile phones, wireless transmitters and other wireless equipment. Research provides no evidence to support that interventions help, such as reducing the use of mobile phones or wireless networks.

He added: “Our opinion is that patients with these health problems must be taken seriously by the health service and should be treated as other patients. There is a need for greater expertise in the health service for this group of patients.”

The Report also addresses the heat from cell phones: “The skin warms up slightly due to heat from the battery and not from the radio transmitter in the phone. The electromagnetic field will have very little or no heating effect. The body will remove the heat through normal blood flow, in the same way as the body otherwise regulates temperature.”

How certain are the researchers that there is no risk?

The Report says, “There is always an element of uncertainty in all risk assessments. In this case, the Committee considers the uncertainty to be small. Some uncertainty is associated with high exposure over time, such as extensive use of mobile phones over several decades. Until now, this has been impossible to study. Cancer registries should follow the development of cancer incidence in the future and research should not cease. Studies of animals that have been exposed throughout life provide no evidence that low level RF fields cause cancer. It is unlikely that long-term use of mobile phones will cause health risks that are unknown today.”

What about exposure from cell phone base stations and broadcast transmitters?

The Report concludes: “Regarding equipment that provides the lowest exposure, such as base stations, wireless networks, broadcasting transmitters and proximity to other mobile phones, the experts believe that the risk assessment has negligible uncertainty. In other words, it is reasonably certain that such equipment is not associated with health risks.”

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.