IEMFA Statement Stavanger

Chronic EMF-Related Diseases Are a Potential Risk for Everyone,
and a Precautionary Approach Is Urgently Needed!

Non-ionizing electromagnetic fields and health.
Ongoing developments in biological sciences increase worldwide consensus amongst life scientists that the multitude of cellular changes induced by non-ionizing electromagnetic fields may over longer time accumulate into a range of serious health problems, due to prolonged exposure at levels significantly below the current exposure guidelines. These fast emerging long-term effects form a wide threat for public health.

The International EMF Alliance (IEMFA).
The mission of IEMFA is to protect the world’s long-term health from non-ionizing electromagnetic fields and accordingly to encourage the recognition of persons with EMF-related illnesses that are medically unexplained, especially electro-hypersensitive people. It is done by disseminating coherent, health-oriented information and advice, particulary to national and international health authorities. The worldwide organization IEMFA is supported by an independent and growing global body of empirically-based scientific experts on living processes, with a multilevel and multidisciplinary health focus.

Current situation

Increase of chronic multisystem illnesses, including EHS.
A growing number of people worldwide report specific health problems related to non-ionizing electromagnetic field (EMF) exposure[1]. It frequently involves a severely incapacitating combination of fatigue, headaches, joint and muscle pains, concentration difficulties, allergies, dizziness, nausea, heart palpitations and/or digestive problems, related to a disruption of control or communication systems due to prolonged stress. The occurring symptoms are also known as electrohypersensitivity or EHS-syndrome. The syndrome has a striking overlap with a group of chronic multisystem illnesses such as chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and multiple chemical sensitivity, as well as cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome, neurodegenerative diseases, auto-immune diseases and cancer. These multisystem illnesses show an increasing prevalence[2]. They are based on similar pathological mechanisms and may be environmentally related[3]. The exact causes are medically not understood. For the EHS-syndrome there is strong evidence for a cause, since electro-sensitive persons point to specific electromagnetic fields in their environment as causes of their symptoms.

Increase of chronic exposures to EMFs.
Environmental exposure to man-made sources of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) has risen constantly in the recent decades, driven by demand for electricity, increasingly more specialized wireless technologies and changes in the organization of society. The end effect is that every individual is now being prolonged or repetitively exposed to a complex mixture of electric and magnetic fields of different frequencies, both at home, at work and outdoors, which may result in adverse effects on human health[4]. Apart from extremely low frequencies, this heterogeneous mix also contains intermediate frequencies (‘dirty electricity’), radio frequencies and microwaves (‘wireless’).

Increase of EMF precautionary appeals by physicians.
Since 1998 increasing numbers of international groups of medical physicians present jointly signed appeals, drawing urgent attention to governments and health authorities for in their practices revealed health problems from electromagnetic fields. They stress the need for precautionary measures, because they see a growing group of patients with chronic EMF-related symptoms. For instance the Freiburg Appeal (2002), Bamberg Appeal (2004), Helsinki Appeal (2005), diverse Germany Appeals, diverse International appeals and Dutch Appeal (2009)[5] .

Long-term health effects of EMFs systematically underestimated.
The current risk assessment system substantially underestimates the long-term health effects of environmental factors such as EMFs. It has partly to do with still predominant physical-theoretical perspectives and frameworks in the field of EMF-influences on living processes, partly with a commercial bias in knowledge development and the current state of science[6]. In addition is the current medical-reductionistic methodological request for ‘scientific absolutism’ virtually inappropriate for complex environmental health domains, including EMFs & long-term health. Also there is a lack of studies on long-term effects. Epidemiological research further has major statistical inadequacies for detecting long-term effects of low levels of exposures[7].

Life scientists alarmed for serious long-term health problems.
Many empirically-based scientific experts on the biological effects of EMF are alarmed[8]. The reason for this is that EMFs can cause a diversity of physiological, stress and immune system reactions[9], depression, anxiety and cognitive dysfunctions and impairments. Frequently, observed effects increase at prolonged exposure. Related to this, chronic or repetitive EMF exposure can cause damages to local tissues as well as generally to the entire body, and can eventually lead to a heterogeneous range of long-term health problems[10][11].

More and more people risk long-term health problems.
The unregulated proliferation of technologies that transmit ‘wireless’ microwaves, radio signals and low frequency electromagnetic fields (including dirty electricity) places the long-term health and well-being of more and more people worldwide at risk. Children and the unborn are amongst our greatest concern. This highly underestimated problem drives up health care costs, diminishes quality of life, resulting in structural declines in economic productivity and causes genetic problems that may well affect generations to come. There is an emerging picture that the improvements which EMFs bring to quality of life in terms of safety and security, may be outbalanced by an insidious and wide undermining of public health which already is taking place. A short-term social-economic profit may thus be exchanged by a wide and long-term loss of public health.

Current guidelines only protect from acute health risks.
Many countries have adopted guidelines set by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). The ICNIRP standard is still predominantly based on a physical-theoretical approach of life. Accordingly it only protects from known acute health problems of high exposure levels of EMFs in humans, as the calculated result of a physical basic mechanism of heating of tissues. Effects of EMFs on biological mechanisms of living tissues are not yet considered. In other words, the ICNIRP, Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, Federal Communications Commission (US) and Food and Drug Administration (US) guidelines only protect one’s body from known acute risks of high levels of elevated temperatures.

Insufficient attention for gradually accumulating health risks.
The risks of deeper responses of the cellular biological system to relatively constant EMF signal structures, for instance by triggering the sensors in the cell membranes and generating a cascade of cellular events, are hardly taken into account. Rapid ongoing developments in biological sciences however, enlarge the insights that in response to EMF exposure a variety of biological effects in the cell metabolism is activated, such as changes in the activities of genes, hormones, enzymes and proteins. These occur both in animals and humans and are all putting cells in a stress mode. Especially if exposure is repetitive for a longer accumulating period, this can involve exhaustion of the cellular repair and recovery systems and a serious down regulation of the ability of enzymes and proteins of the cellular system to function, with increasing down-regulating effects on health.

Recommendations

Need for guidelines that protect from chronic risks.
A very substantial body of peer-reviewed scientific evidence, clearly shows many biological changes caused by low-level non-thermal exposure. But the protection for chronic health risks of long-term exposure of lower levels of EMFs, as a gradual result of an accumulation and intrinsic amplification of a multitude of empirically observed biological disturbances over time is lacking. Therefore, we urgently call for a complete overhaul of EMF exposure guidelines based on up-to-date credible information from empirically-based life sciences.

Urgent call to adopt future IEMFA guidelines.
The ironclad rule in environmental medicine is where there are cases of toxic exposures, the source of the exposures must be removed or diminished. We urgently call upon all nations to adopt the exposure guidelines that will be recommended by the International EMF Alliance scientists in the near future. These biologically-based guidelines will protect world citizens from a range of health risks of long-term exposure to non-ionizing electromagnetic fields.
Adopting these guidelines may possibly prevent an unnecessary further grow of earlier mentioned chronic multisystem illnesses and work-related health problems.

Call to recognize electrohypersensitivity.
In line with the above we urge the immediate recognition of electrohypersensitivity as a functional impairment by all nations of the world. It is according to the United Nations Human Rights Commission Resolution on Disabilities[12], ratified by many nations. Also the recent European Parliament Resolution on EMF “Calls on Member States to follow the example of Sweden and to recognize persons that suffer from electro hypersensitivity as being disabled so as to grant them adequate protection as well as equal opportunities”[13].

Need for funds to advance science on EMF-disorders.
Furthermore, we call on nations to expedite the allocation of research funds to fundamentally advance scientific knowledge regarding various EMF-related disorders, identify relevant mechanisms, multilevel pathways and biological markers, with particular attention to functional impairments and chronic multisystem illnesses that are often misdiagnosed. Long-term health oriented research is necessary in these fields, both for extremely low frequencies related to types of electricity, as for radio frequencies related to types of wireless communication.

Research in full continuum of EMF spectrum.
We recognize the European Parliament EMF Resolution, enacted on April 2, 2009, which stated: “whereas it is necessary to continue investigations into intermediate and very low frequencies so that conclusions can be drawn as to their effects on health, this resolution proposes that the EU’s indoor air quality policy should encompass the study of ‘wireless’ domestic appliances, which [..] have been widely adopted in recent years in public places and in the home, with the result that citizens are being continuously exposed to microwave emissions[14].” It means that for instance apart from studies on very low frequencies of domestic electric appliances and compact fluorescent bulbs, also studies are needed on intermediate frequencies (‘dirty electricity’), radio frequencies from radio transmission, and on ‘wireless’ microwaves of mobile phones, DECT landline telephones, Wi-Fi Internet, BlueTooth and smart meters.

Dissemination of information, research and precautionary measures.
In addition, we seek to disseminate credible public health information and research of international significance, including to recommend precautionary measures and to advocate that all nations adopt biologically-based EMF human exposure guidelines based on empirical life sciences, to enable policy makers, researchers and practitioners to be effective. We aim to protect and improve health among children and the unborn, those who have functional impairments, including electrohypersensitivity, and the general population.

[1] The World Health Organization International EMF Project
[2] EUROSTAT Statistics in Focus 63/2009
[3] The European Academy for Environmental Medicine International Appeal from Würzburg
[4] European Parliament resolution on health concerns associated with electromagnetic fields
[5] Appeals for EMF Precaution
[6] Don Maisch – The Procrustean Approach
[7] EC-directive on protecting workers from health risks related to exposure to EMFs at work
[8] Benevento Resolution
[9]
[10] The BioInitiative Report
[11] Special Issue of Pathophysiology
[12] United Nations Human Rights Commission
[13] European Parliament resolution on health concerns associated with electromagnetic fields
[14]