Report from NIR session at the ARPS2017: EHS, sleep & non-thermal effects by Dariusz Leszczynski

The annual meeting of the Australasian Radiation Protection Society (ARPS) Inc., was held in Wollongong, NSW, Australia, August 6-9, 2017.

Report from the ARPS2017: EHS, sleep & non-thermal effects
The ARPS 2017 meeting included a key-note plenary talk on radiation emitted by the wireless communication devices and networks:
Dariusz Leszczynski, University of Helsinki, Finland
BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE: THE ART OF RADIATION PROTECTION IN THE WIRELESS ERA
Slides of the presentation at ARPS2017 are available here final-arps2017-between-a-rock-and-a-hard-place
Video and Slides of an expanded ARPS talk, presented at the Griffith University, Brisbane, Qld, Australia, are available here

The long list of Conclusions of the key-note lecture is as follows:

2011 IARC classification of cell phone radiation as a possible carcinogen is a sufficient reason for invoking Precautionary Principle
Claims that the current safety standards protect all users are not supported by the scientific evidence
Children should be especially protected by precautionary measures
Schools should use only wired internet -a precautionary measure
Users should be better informed about the current scientific uncertainty and advised to limit exposures whenever  possible and feasible and strongly discouraged from keeping cell phones close to body (in pockets)
Real radiation exposure data should be used in epidemiological and human studies
ALARA principle should be implemented for cell phone radiation exposures
Science is limited, ambiguous, contradictory and with many gaps
More research is needed but it is trivialized
Evaluation of science is scientifically biased = advice to decision-makers is biased
Technology is very useful –“mesmerizing effect”; seeing only one side of the coin
Technology deployment is based on biased evaluation of science
Policy of “low power” used as an excuse for unrestricted deployment
Implementation of the Precautionary Principle is considered as “scaremongering”
Need for temporary moratorium on 5G & IoT deployment due to lack of health research

EXCERPTS

report-from-arps-2017

Adam Verrender presented results from two studies where the research group led by Rodney Croft attempts to determine whether the EHS (IEI-EMF) exists. The issue is of importance because, as reported in several studies there might be a substantial part of population affected by (self-diagnosed) EHS (see Prevalence table slide). Finding out whether the self-diagnosis is correct and finding ways for physicians to be able to correctly diagnose EHS is of great importance.

The Study #1 presented by Verrender was to address “…the methodological concerns of IEI-EMF provocation studies by taking a novel, case-study approach to testing (self-reported) sensitive individuals, using a sufficient number of EMF-tailored sham and active provocation trials to determine statistically, within an individual, whether any individually-tailored symptom – exposure relationship is significant…”

DL comments on Study #1 by Verrender et al.

  • 1. From the slides presented it appeared that, as for now, the study has failed. In spite of the very ambitious design to expose group of self-diagnosed EHS persons in various conditions and repeatedly, to examine responses of the same person exposed numerous times in the same circumstances, the goal of achieving statistically analyzable data did not materialize because only 3 (three) volunteers participated in the study.

2. There are few possible reasons for the lack of volunteers willing to participate:
Simple scheduling problems – not everyone is able to take 3 days off for participation in experiments
EHS volunteers might have gotten concerned that extensive experiments over 3-days period will be a too heavy burden on their health. Studies of this research group always show lack of existence of EHS and some volunteers might have re-considered whether to participate.

3. The major problem of this, and other EHS studies, is the assumption by the scientists that the volunteers, with the self-diagnosed EHS, indeed have symptoms caused by EMF exposures. There is no such certainty. The volunteers are self-diagnosed and might assume they are EHS but, in reality, some of those participating in experiments might suffer from symptoms caused by sensitivity to something else, not EMF. In this context, experimental EHS group is likely “tainted” by the non-EHS volunteers and the results of experiments using such “tainted” group are skewed towards no effect.
I asked Rodney Croft about this problem – the contamination of the EHS volunteer group by non-EHS sensitive persons that, in practice, invalidates obtained experimental results. The only answer that I received from Rodney Croft was that the scientists have no method to objectively determine who is and who is not an EHS and they have to rely/accept the self-diagnosis.

Rodney Croft’s team relies solely on the subjective self-diagnosis of EHS presented by the volunteer. This means that EHS experiments performed by Rodney Croft’s team use groups of volunteers where scientists do not know how many members of the volunteer group have real EHS and how many are “contaminating” non-EHS sensitive persons.
The “contamination” of the experimental group means that the experimental results obtained in this and other EHS research studies are useless as proof that EHS does not exist.

The Study #2 presented by Verrender was to “…test whether watching a short video which claims that EMF is harmful can influence symptom detection, risk perception and physiological response in a general population sample, including those who do not have high pre-existing levels of anxiety…”
Study #2: The Nocebo Effect
Research Question: Can public messaging about the harmful effects of EMF exposure act as a potential trigger for a nocebo response in the general population? Aim:
To test whether watching a short video which claims EMF is harmful can influence:
Symptom detection
Risk perception
Physiological response
Design of the experiments: two groups of participants were shown two different videos. Thereafter, they were exposed to RF or sham and asked about the severity of the primary symptom.
Results of the Study #2 – data presented at the conference were not yet analyzed with statistical methods but the authors arrived at the following conclusion:
Explicit suggestions and the Nocebo Effect – Some evidence that public messaging produces negative expectations which may lead to an IEI-EMF Nocebo Effect
DL comments on Study #2 by Verrender et al.
It is worth reading what I wrote about such “video” studies in my blog and in my report from the BioEM2015:

Report from the BioEM2017

Gunnhild Oftedal has quoted a  study showing how media influences peoples’ opinions. In an experiment subjects were shown two movies, one warning about health risks of EMF and the other, neutral to EMF and health issue. Following the presentation, study subjects experienced more EHS symptoms after seeing the movie warning of EMF health risk danger. One important aspect of this study was, again, very small subject sample of 147 persons in total (76 + 71).
This study shows that, indeed, we are affected by what we see and hear around us. That is why court juries, in important cases, are sequestered… Nothing new… Just an obvious – we, the people, are affected by the media…

This study is being used as a “proof” that EHS link to EMF is imaginary and that the increasing prevalence of EHS in  the population is caused by the news media reports, and not by the EMF…”

DL:I have concluded then, in 2015, and I have the same opinion now, in 2017:
“…The data gathered in studies where persons are asked how they feel when in laboratory conditions are being exposed to real or sham radiation are unacceptable as scientific proof of lack of causality link between EMF and EHS… because the study subjects are affected by the experimental setting and their answers are subjective, not objective. The study subjects come to the experiment with their pre-conceptions of what is good and what is bad about EMF exposures. This all affects their reactions and responses made to investigators.…”
Also, in my blog ’“Nocebo effect” proves: Available EHS research is useless for decisions-making‘,

“Nocebo effect” proves: Available EHS research is useless for decisions-making

I stated that:
“…The existence of nocebo effect proves neither lack nor existence of causal link between EHS and EMF. However, the nocebo effect proves that the research data collected in the to-date executed EHS studies is absolutely unreliable…”
In the search for the answer whether EHS exists is necessary to move from the subjective methods of psychology to objective methods of molecular biology. Continuation of the psychological “feelings” studies will not resolve the issue of EHS and EMF. Continuation of psychological research is just a waste of resources and time.

It is utterly puzzling why the Rodney Croft’s team stubbornly misrepresents results of own studies and pretends that the EHS can’t be caused by the individual variability (individual sensitivity), refuses to study EHS with sensitive and objective methods instead to continuing futile research with subjective “feelings” approach, and refuses to acknowledge that the biological effects induced by RF exposures that are well below safety limits are, what ICNIRP calls, the non-thermal effects.

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