If you have ever written a letter to a government department voicing your concerns about detrimental health effects of wireless technology such as 5G you've no doubt heard of the ICNIRP. ICNIRP stands for the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection and they are the international organisation our government constantly defers to as the authority on the subject when concerns are raised.

So who are they exactly? They're made up of thousands of the world's finest and most respected scientists in the field right? You'd be forgiven for presuming that, but no. Try to do a little digging and things quickly become confusing. As a result the details surrounding this organisation are often hotly debated. Several Ireland For Safe Technology members decided there was too much confusion around the ICNIRP and took on this deep dive to get to the facts for everyone else to see.

First though, we really ought to get a look at them. What do the ICNIRP actually look like? Here they are, all... 13 of them. Considering most countries in the world adopt the ICNIRP guidelines it really is an incredible amount of power for 13 people. These are the 13 who are setting the radiation limits in Ireland (and most other countries).

incnirp

OK so we now know it's a very small group. Now let's have a closer look.

  • ICNIRP claims to be independent and transparent and “to protect people and the environment against adverse effects of non-ionizing radiation (NIR)”. It says it does this by developing and disseminating science-based advice on limiting exposure to non-ionizing radiation including the technology behind wifi, smartphones, and smart meters. Yet, a closer look shows that it appoints its own members and scientific advisors opaquely, and it is unclear to whom they are accountable outside ICNIRP. Also, many members of ICNIRP have disclosed or undisclosed conflicts of interest, meaning the group might not be as independent as it claims to be. Some members are also members of organisations such as the AGNIR (Advisory Group on Non-ionising Radiation) and PHE (Public Health England).

  • The Scientific Expert Group does not represent the range of views of the scientific community, as none of the very many scientists who have found harmful effects of EMFs at non-thermal levels and/or signed various appeals on the topic is represented in the group. Indeed, since 1998, the scientific literature has shown that EMFs can have harmful effects well below the threshold adopted by ICNIRP. Whilst ICNIRP accepts that there can be biological effects below the threshold they themselves set, it states that it is “not convinced those effects are harmful to health” (https://www.investigate-europe.eu/publications/how-much-is-safe/), a claim that would be very strongly disputed by the existing epidemiological evidence on the topic, and the 3700+ studies on the topic, not to mention the experiences reported by EHS people all over the world.

  • ICNIRP appears to take the opposite view to the Council of Europe’s Resolution 1815 (2011) on the precautionary principle, which states, “The Assembly regrets that, despite calls for the respect of the precautionary principle and despite all the recommendations, declarations and a number of statutory and legislative advances, there is still a lack of reaction to known or emerging environmental and health risks and virtually systematic delays in adopting and implementing effective preventive measures. Waiting for high levels of scientific and clinical proof before taking action to prevent well-known risks can lead to very high health and economic costs, as was the case with asbestos, leaded petrol and tobacco.” The Council of Europe recommended to all European governments action be taken on this resolution, and it was acted on by numerous countries such as Belgium and France. Other governments, notably Ireland’s, chose to ignore it. ICNIRP takes the view that until incontrovertible proof of the risks of EMFs is available nothing should be done. This turns on its head the principle of being safe rather than sorry. http://assembly.coe.int/nw/xml/XRef/Xref-XML2HTML-en.asp?fileid=17994

  • ICNIRP does not claim that its recommendations should have legislative or legal standing, and they are not safety standards as is widely believed. Many countries do not follow these recommendations. At a presentation to the Radiation Research Trust Conference in September 2008, Paolo Vecchio, the then Chairman of ICNIRP, stated that, “The ICNIPR guidelines are neither a mandatory prescription for safety, the “last word” on the issue nor are they defensive walls for Industry or others.” Nevertheless, ICNIRP’s recommendations are adopted as a gold-standard by some, such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) and in countries such as Ireland, whilst they are not followed (or they have been added to) by others such as Belgium, Russia, China, Lichtenstein, India, Austria, Italy, Israel, Slovenia, the Netherlands... The Council of Europe described ICNIRP as “an NGO whose origin and structure are none too clear and which is furthermore suspected of having rather close links with the industries,” in its 6 May 2011 resolution (see appendix).

  • There is a substantial body of evidence showing that ICNIRP is selective in the scientific information that it disseminates, ignoring much that is not favourable to the wireless communications industries. For instance, a study by Starkey et al in 2016 has demonstrated that ICNRIP does ignore some research, namely, in one instance, 40 studies demonstrating DNA damage, and 22 showing effects on male fertility. https://www.jrseco.com/wp-content/uploads/Starkey_2016_ICNIRP.pdf

  • What is more, much information on the ICNIRP website appears to be dated (a lot of it is from 1996-2011), and may not give an accurate picture of the current level of knowledge on the topic. The EMF guidelines found on the website and still currently in use (as they apply to frequencies up to 300GHZ) are from 1998 and predate smartphones!

  • Also of interest is the fact that ICNIRP does not issue guidelines for children, animals or plants and that cumulative and long-term effects are not taken into account. The guidelines are based on exposure to a single device for 6 and 30 minutes respectively, which does not seem to give a good representation of our current exposure in a modern connected society. In effect, with the advent of smart phones, smart meters and other smart devices the vast majority of us will be exposed to RF 24/7 from our own and/or neighbourhood devices, mobile phone base stations, satellites etc. The effects of this constant exposure in the long term are unknown.

  • It must be noted that the way the vast majority people use their technology nowadays, especially mobile phones, means they might be in breach of the ICNIRP “guidelines” and of the SAR values they endorse. Dr Arazi, of the Phonegate Alert Association, France has clearly demonstrated that when used close to the body in actual conditions of use, mobile phones will often if not always exceed the SAR values given by the manufacturers.

  • As a result of the above, ICNIRP has been widely criticized by scientists and official European bodies, such as the Council of Europe, the European Parliament (which both recommend lowering the ICNIRP exposure limits), the European Environmental Agency, Professor Dominique Belpomme from France, Dr. Sarah Starkey and many others. See the appendix for a SELECTIVE list of these criticisms, with extracts from the relevant documents.

TO SAY THE LEAST, IT APPEARS ODD THAT MANY GOVERNMENTS RELY ON A SINGLE AND VERY CONTENTIOUS SOURCE OF INFORMATION FOR PUBLIC HEALTH POLICIES REGARDING EXPOSURE TO WIRELESS RADIATION, A CLASS 2B CARCINOGEN ACCORDING TO THE INTERNATIONAL AGENCY FOR RESEARCH ON CANCER (IARC)!

APPENDIX - SELECTED SOURCES OF EVIDENCE IN SUPPORT OF THE ABOVE

  1. The European Parliament resolution 2008/2211(INI) calls for particular consideration of biological effects when assessing the potential health impact of electromagnetic radiation, especially given that some studies have found the most harmful effects at lowest levels;
    calls for active research to address potential health problems by developing solutions that negate or reduce the pulsating and amplitude modulation of the frequencies used for transmission;
    is greatly concerned about the fact that insurance companies are tending to exclude coverage for the risks associated with EMFs from the scope of liability insurance policies, the implication clearly being that European insurers are already enforcing their version of the precautionary principle. https://oeil.secure.europarl.europa.eu/oeil/popups/summary.do?id=1074023&t=e&l=en

  2. The Council of Europe’s Opinion of 6 May 2011 on health risks associated with electromagnetic fields (12608) states: “The rapporteur underlines in this context that it is most curious, to say the least, that the applicable official threshold values for limiting the health impact of extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields and high frequency waves were drawn up and proposed to international political institutions (WHO, European Commission, governments) by the ICNIRP, an NGO whose origin and structure are none too clear and which is furthermore suspected of having rather close links with the industries whose expansion is shaped by recommendations for maximum threshold values for the different frequencies of electromagnetic fields. If most governments and safety agencies have merely contented themselves with replicating and adopting the safety recommendations advocated by the ICNIRP, this has essentially been for two reasons: in order not to impede the expansion of these new technologies with their promise of economic growth, technological progress and job creation; and also because the political decision-makers unfortunately still have little involvement in matters of assessing technological risks for the environment and health.” https://www.jrseco.com/nl/eu-rapport-jean-huss-commissie-voor-milieu-landbouw-en-regionale-zaken/

  3. The European Parliament voted the limits set by ICNIRP as “obsolete” on 4 September 2008, by 522 votes to 16, following the publication of the first Bioiniative report in 2007, which compiles over 3800 studies showing harmful effects at levels well below those recommended by ICNIRP. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?language=EN&reference=A6-0089/2009#_part1_def5

  4. Prof. D. Belpomme (MD, MCS, Professor of Medical Oncology, and his colleagues stated in July 2018: “The specific absorption rate (SAR)-based ICNIRP safety limits were established on the basis of simulation of EMF energy absorption using standardized adult male phantoms, and designed to protect people only from the thermal effects of EMFs. These assumptions are not valid for two reasons. Not only do they fail to consider the specific morphological and bioclinical vulnerabilities of children, but also they ignore the effects known to occur at non-thermal intensities….” https://www.saferemr.com/2018/07/international-perspective-on-health.html

  5. A number of other studies and bodies of work have criticized the guidelines. These include Exposure limits: the underestimation of absorbed cell phone radiation, especially in children/ Gandhi OP1, Morgan LL, de Salles AA, Han YY, Herberman RB, Davis DL. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21999884 and https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5504984/ World Health Organization, radiofrequency radiation and health - a hard nut to crack (Review)/ Lennart Hardell

  6. Professor Jacquie McGlade, Executive Director of the European Environment Agency, Copenhagen, 15 September 2009, has stated: “The evidence is now strong enough, using the precautionary principle, to justify the following steps to reconsider the scientific basis for the present EMF exposure standards which have serious limitations such as reliance on the contested thermal effects paradigm and simplistic assumptions about the complexities of radio frequency exposures.” https://www.sehn.org/sehn/precautionary-principle-number-187

  7. Sir William Stewart, the Chairman of the Health Protection Agency has stated that he thinks that the WHO is wrong to state that there are no adverse health effects from low level long-term exposure to wireless devices (Panorama, 2007).

  8. www.emfcall.org signed by 164 scientists and medical doctors together with 95NGOs states: “In order to protect the public and the environment from the known harmful effects from electromagnetic fields (EMF) we ask the United Nations, the World Health Organization and all governments not to accept the ICNIRP guidelines. They are not protective, rather they pose a serious risk to human health and the environment since they allow harmful exposure to the world population, including the most vulnerable, under the unscientific pretext that they are “protective”.

  9. The International Commission for Electromagnetic Safety have said: “The non-ionizing radiation protection standards recommended by the international standards organisations, and supported by the World Health Organisation, are inadequate. Existing guidelines are based on results from acute exposure studies and only thermal effects are considered. A world wide application of the Precautionary Principle is required. In addition, new standards should be developed to take various physiological conditions into consideration, e.g., pregnancy, newborns, children, and elderly people” (ICEMS, 2008).

  10. The International Bio-Initiative report (2007) states: “what is clear is that the existing public safety standards limiting these radiation levels in nearly every country of the world look to be thousands of times too lenient. Changes are needed.”

  11. And straight from the 1998 ICNIRP report (p. 507): “Overall, the literature on non-thermal effects of electromagnetic fields is so complex, the validity of reported effects so poorly established, and the relevance of the effects to human health is so uncertain, that it is impossible to use this body of information as a basis for setting limits on human exposure to this field” In other words, a total rejection of the precautionary principle in the face of complexity.

Further reading available at:

https://magdahavas.com/conflict-of-interest-the-wireless-industry-and-icnirp/

http://phiremedical.org/safety-limits-and-political-conflicts-of-interest/

https://ehtrust.org/wp-content/uploads/SafetyGuidelineFraud2.pdf

'ICNIRP Guidelines Do Not Predict Biological Effects and Are, Therefore Fraudulent'. A 28 pages document by Martin L. Pall, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry and Basic Medical Sciences, Washington State University.

http://www.chronicexposure.org/limitsICNIRP.html good summary of existing criticisms

https://www.investigate-europe.eu/publications/how-much-is-safe/

ICNIRP is a cartel, according to Investigate Europe, a team of investigative journalists from the EU, who have exposed the WHO and related bodies in the EU as corrupt.

Download original document here.