His Excellency Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations; Honourable Dr. Tedros Adhanom, Director-General of the World Health Organization; Honourable Erik Solheim, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme; Member States of the United Nations.
We are scientists dedicated to the study of the biological and health effects of non-ionising electromagnetic fields (EMF). Based on research reviewed and published in scientific journals, we have serious concerns regarding the ubiquitous and increasing exposure to electromagnetic fields generated by electrical and wireless devices. These include – but are not limited to – radiofrequency radiation (RFR) emitting devices, such as mobile and cordless phones and their base stations, Wi-Fi, transmitting antennas, smart meters and baby monitors, as well as electrical devices and infrastructures used for electricity supply that generate very low frequency electromagnetic fields (ELF EMF).
Scientific support for the concerns we share
Numerous recent scientific publications have shown that EMFs affect living organisms at levels well below most international and national guidelines. Effects include increased risk of cancer, cellular stress, increased harmful free radicals, genetic damage, structural and functional changes in the reproductive system, deficits in learning and memory, neurological disorders and negative effects on the general well-being of humans. The damage extends beyond the human species, as there is increasing evidence of harmful effects on both plants and animals.
These findings justify our call to the United Nations (UN) and all member states of the world to encourage the World Health Organisation (WHO) to take a strong lead in promoting the development of EMF guidelines to protect the population, to promote precautionary measures, and to educate the general public about the health risks, especially for children and in the period of foetal development. By failing to take action, the WHO is failing in its role as the international body responsible for public health.
International guidelines for non-ionizing EMFs inadequate
The various bodies responsible for setting safety standards have failed to impose the necessary guidelines to protect the general public, and in particular children who are most vulnerable to the effects of EMFs.
The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) established in 1998 the “Guidelines for limiting exposure to time-varying electric, magnetic and electromagnetic fields (above 300 GHz) “1. These guidelines are accepted by the WHO and many countries around the world. The WHO is campaigning for all nations to adopt these ICNIRP guidelines to achieve international harmonisation. In 2009, ICNIRP issued a statement reaffirming its 1998 guidelines because, in its opinion, the scientific literature published since then “has not presented evidence of any adverse effects at levels below the basic restrictions and therefore does not require an immediate revision of its guidelines on the limitation of exposure to high frequency electromagnetic fields”.2 ICNIRP continues to this day to make these assertions, despite growing scientific evidence to the contrary. Our view is that since the ICNIRP guidelines do not take into account the effects of long-term low-level exposure, they are insufficient to protect public health.
The WHO adopted the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classification for low-frequency electromagnetic fields (EMF: ELF) in 20023 and for radiofrequency radiation (RFR) in 20114 . This classification states that electromagnetic fields (EMF) are a possible human carcinogen (group 2B). Despite both IARC conclusions, the WHO still maintains that there is insufficient evidence to justify lowering these quantitative exposure limits.
Since there is controversy over the rationale for setting standards to avoid adverse health effects, it is recommended that the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) convene and fund an independent multidisciplinary committee to explore the pros and cons of alternatives to current practices that could substantially reduce human exposure to RF and ELF fields. The deliberations of this group should be conducted in a transparent and impartial manner. While it is essential that industry participate and cooperate in this process, it should not be allowed to bias its proceedings or conclusions. This group should transmit its analysis to the UN and WHO to direct preventive action.