The Bioiniative Report

A Rationale for Biologically-based Public Exposure Standards for Electromagnetic Fields (ELF and RF)

“The 2007 BioInitiative Report was prepared by world- recognized experts in science and public health policy. Prepared by 29 authors from ten countries, ten holding medical degrees (MDs), 21 PhDs, and three MsC, MA or MPHs. Among the authors are three former presidents of the Bioelectromagnetics Society, and five full members of BEMS. Outside reviewers also contributed valuable content and perspective. It was concluded even in 2007 that existing public safety limits were inadequate to protect public health, and agreed that new, biologically- based public safety limits were needed five years ago. The public health cost of doing nothing was judged to be unacceptable in 2007.   This did nothing to change the rules, nor roll back the technology tsunami of wireless-everywhere.

The last five years worth of new scientific studies tell us the situation is much worse than in 2007 and yet people around the world have so much more daily exposure than even five years ago. Exposures are linked to a variety of adverse health outcomes that may have significant public health consequences. When added across billions of people world-wide, no argument for the status quo can be persuasive now.

In twenty-one technical chapters of this 2012 update, the contributing authors discuss the content and implications of about 1800 new studies. Overall, there is reinforced scientific evidence of risk where there is chronic exposure to low-intensity electromagnetic fields and to wireless technologies (radiofrequency radiation including microwave radiation).

There is more evidence in 2012 that such exposures damage DNA, interfere with DNA repair, evidence of toxicity to the human genome (genes), more worrisome effects on the nervous system (neurology) and more and better studies on the effects of mobile phone base stations (wireless antenna facilities or cell towers) that report lower RFR levels over time can result in adverse health impacts. There has been a big increase in the number of studies looking at the effects of cell phones (on the belt, or in the pocket of men radiating only on standby mode) and from wireless laptops on impacts to sperm quality and motility; and sperm death (fertility and reproduction).


  • The existing ICNIRP and FCC limits for public and occupational exposure to ELF and RF are insufficiently protective of public health.
  • Biologically-based public and occupational exposure standards for extra-low frequency and radiofrequency radiation are recommended to address bioeffects and potential adverse health effects of chronic exposure to ELF and RF. These effects are now widely reported to occur at exposure levels significantly below most current national and international limits.
  • A biologically-based exposure limit is one that is protective against ELF and RF intensity and modulation factors which, with chronic exposure, can reasonably be presumed to result in significant impacts to health and well-being.
  • Research is needed (but should not delay) regulatory action for ELF and substantive preventative action for RF proportionate to potential health and wellbeing risks from chronic exposure.
  • A biologically-based exposure limit should reflect current scientific knowledge of bioeffects and health effects, and impose new limits based on preventative action as defined by the Precautionary Principle (EEA, 2001).
  • Biologically-based exposure standards shall be protective against exposures levels of ELF and RF that affect or change normal biological functioning of organisms (humans). They shall not be based solely on energy absorption or thermal levels of energy input, or resulting tissue heating. They shall be protective against chronic exposure responses. The existing standards are based on thermal (heating) limits, and do not address non-thermal (or low-intensity) exposures which are widely reported to cause bioeffects, some likely leading to adverse health effects with chronic exposure.
  • Biological effects may include both potential adverse health effects and loss of homeostasis and well-being.
  • Biologically-based exposure standards are needed to prevent disruption of normal body processes. Effects are reported for DNS damage (genotoxicity that is directly linked to integrity of the human genome), cellular communication, cellular metabolism and repair, cancer surveillance within the body; and for protection against cancer and neurological diseases. Also reported are neurological effects including impairment of sleep and sleep architecture, cognitive function and memory; depression; cardiac effects; pathological leakage of the blood-brain barrier; and impairment of normal immune function, fertility and reproduction.
  • Frequency, intensity, exposure duration, and the number of exposure episodes can affect the response, and these factors can interact with each other to produce different effects. In addition, in order to understand the biological consequences of EMF exposure, one must know whether the effect is cumulative, whether compensatory responses result, and when homeostasis will break down.
  • Plausible biological mechanisms that can account for genotoxicity (DNA damage) are already well known (oxidative damage via free-radical actions) although it should also be said that there is not yet proof. However, proof of mechanism is not required to set prudent public health policy, nor is it mandatory to set new guidelines or limits if adverse health effects occur at lower-than-existing IEEE and ICNIRP standards.

Safe EMF Education Network

Helping communities make informed decisions & access technology safely

Adelaide, South Australia

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