Recent publicity about a start-up company in Las Vegas, named “Shield Your Body”, has produced much misinformation about EM( electromagnetic) energy and its exposure hazards. We single out here one particularly offensive set of statements but we point out that this is just one example of a fairly wide-spread electrophobia, which nowadays is focused on “low-level” sources like smart meters, WiFi in addition to cell (mobile) phones.
On the Vegas, Inc. website on Dec. 2, 2014, there was an interview with the founder, R. Blank, of the “Shield Your Body” company with some comments. The interview included several outrageous allegations of demonstrated health hazards of low-level EM radiation like WiFi from computers etc. The most egregious statement by Mr. Blank occurred in his response to a “Lauren Scott” who challenged his belief of a hazard with a quote from the WHO and Washington State Department of Health that “there is no evidence that RF exposure at low levels, such as those obtained from WiFi , cell towers and Bluetooth devices—has any adverse effect.”
Mr. Blank responded that “The WHO has said no such thing. Quite to the contrary, the WHO designates this type of radiation (at power levels associated with cell phones) as a Class 2B carcinogen( in the same category as lead and HP).”
In fact, the WHO has made many statements which support that cited by Lauren Scott:, e.g.
“Despite extensive research, to date there is no evidence to conclude that exposure to low-level electromagnetic fields is harmful to human health (Key Point #6)” http://www.who.int/peh-emf/about/WhatisEMF/en/index1.html (2007)
“Conclusion: Considering the very low exposure level and research results collected to date, there is no convincing scientific evidence that the weak RF signals from base stations and wireless networks cause adverse effects.”
“To date, no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use.” http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs193/en/index.html (2010)
Mr. Blank cites the classification by IARC in 2011 of cell phone radiation as a Class2B carcinogen as if this is for a “probable” carcinogen (Class2A). In fact, Class 2B for “possible carcinogen” should be taken in perspective. As pointed out by the American Cancer Society in 2011:”It’s also important to put the 2B classification into perspective. Many common exposures are classified in category 2B, including gasoline exhaust and coffee.” http://pressroom.cancer.org/index.php?s=43&item=312 (2011)
The fact of the matter is that experts within the IEEE (e.g. IEEE COMAR)—Committee on Man and Radiation) have collected 116 statements by official government agencies and professional societies (worldwide) between 2000 and 2014, which support the judgment of safety of exposures from EM radiation if below the limits of the two international committees, ICNIRP ( International Committee on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection) and IEEE ICES (International Committee on Electromagnetic Safety). This includes the TIS (Technical Information Statement) document from IEEE COMAR on smart meters and other low-level radiation.
In sum, the fears behind the statement by R. Blank are absurd but to better understand them we need to consider the source. R. Blank is the younger son of Martin Blank, a retired associate professor at Columbia University, who recently published a book , Overpowered, by Martin Blank, Ph.D., Seven Stories Press, NY 2014.
In this book, Martin Blank admits to being afraid of almost all EM energy and fields across the spectrum from 0 to 300 GHz. Thus he cites the Precautionary Principle as the guide for minimizing exposure. He describes how he is careful with ordinary 60Hz wiring in his house for minimizing exposure to 60 Hz B fields as well as banning WiFi in his home for minimizing exposure to “microwaves” and he agrees to opposing smart meters. He didn’t own a cell phone until recently and his wife’s cell phone is kept in her car only for emergencies when driving. He recommends “prudent avoidance” of EMF exposure—e.g. “It is easy to reduce usage of the microwave oven and to ensure that you aren’t in the kitchen when it’s in use.” He participated in preparing the BioInitiative Report which recommended safe exposure limits in the range of 0.003 to 1.0 µW/cm2 , in the microwave frequency range, instead of ~1000µW/cm2 which is on the order of internationally accepted limits by ICNIRP and IEEE ICES, in the microwave frequency range. , as averaged over a time period of 6 or 30 minutes. His notes and references for the 15 chapters includes several hundred references to authors who believe in the danger of “low-level” EMF but nary a reference to well-recognized research leaders like Schwan, Michaelson, Carpenter, Guy, Foster, Gandhi and the hundreds of scientists, worldwide, who support the limits in the ICNIRP and IEEE ICES standards for safe exposure.
The bottom line is that the current exposure to these irrational fears by R. Blank in Las Vegas, is understandable, considering the source of these views but not justifiable under a balanced common sense view of technology. We can rely on the fact that over 100 agencies and professional societies have endorsed the safety of modern EMF technology that comply with limits assuring exposure less than that specified by ICNIRP and IEEE ICES.
John M. Osepchuk, Ph. D.
December 22, 2014.