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           Home >  Health N Environment  > Electromagnetic Radiation  :

New Zealand Expert Discusses EMR Issues - Part 1
Neil Cherry 19/01/01

Strong international concern about the dangers of Electromagnetic Radiation - New Zealand expert in demand around the world

Dr Cherry updated the material on this article in November 2002.Click here to view the updated version.

Worldwide interest in Dr Cherry's work is confirmed by the numerous hits and pieces of backchat on the articles already published in NZine. In this article he looks beyond the scope of this website to the increasing demand for his presence as a speaker and an expert witness well beyond New Zealand, especially in the year 2000. - Editor

To read more about Dr Neil Cherry aand his work, please visit his website for more information.

Dr Neil Cherry
Dr Neil Cherry
My involvement with international EMR health effects started with my university sabbatical in 1996/97, multiple presentations in the US and Australia during 1997/98 and participation in the November 1998 Vienna EMR scientific workshop.

World Breast Cancer Conference
Next came the World Breast Cancer Conference in Ottawa in August 1999, where I presented a paper on Electromagnetic Radiation and Breast Cancer. Out of this came a major documentary which has been produced and circulated in Canada.

Presentation on the ICNIRP guidelines
Next came the Italian Congress in Trento in November 1999 where I did a presentation criticising the ICNIRP Guidelines. ICNIRP is the acronym for International Commission for Non Ionising Radiation Protection.

The ICNIRP group believe that there are only thermal effects. I first heard of this attitude in 1995 when the WHO expert, Dr Michael Repacholi, appeared for BellSouth in the Environment Court (then the Planning Tribunal) appeal, the McIntyre case. He made the claim that the result of exposure to electromagnetic radiation was only heating effects. The court decision rejected this evidence and set the public exposure level at 2µW/cm2. Dr Repacholi was the chairman of ICNIRP at that time. He chaired the WHO EMR task group in 1993. Ten of the fourteen participants were members of the IRPA who moved on to form ICNIRP. This included nine of the fourteen WHO participants.

Late in 2000 I was involved in a court case about a cellsite near Brisbane in which Dr David Black appeared for Telstra. Dr Black explained that he is involved internationally, being on the New Zealand Standards Committee, the Australian Committee and American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Committee, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineering Committee (IEEE) and an ICNIRP working party and a WHO working party. All of these groups have a preconceived view that there are only heating effects and probably invited Dr Black onto their committees as he agrees with their opinion. However, the fact that Dr Black is on six of these committees confirms the fact that it is only a very small group of people who claim that the international consensus of science is that RF/MW only produces tissue heating.

Is ICNIRP really an independent body of scientists?
In 2000 in Europe I talked with scientists who described ICNIRP as a self-appointed NGO. This description seemed to make sense as they only appoint people who agree with them.

They claim that they are independent of the WHO and are recognised by it. "Who in the WHO recognises them?" is my question. The answer is "Dr Michael Repacholi". He claims to be independent of ICNIRP, but actually helped to form it, chaired it for many years and is currently Chairman Emeritus.

I believe that this is a construct to give each other status and credibility. When independent scientists look at the ICNIRP and WHO scientific assessments these assessments are obviously and demonstrably selective, biased and methodologically wrong by inappropriately dismissing epidemiological evidence. This has been demonstrated in my ICNIRP review report and in my presentations in Europe.

Conference in Brussels
I was asked by a group of MPs of the European Parliament to present the evidence of low level biological and health effects of EMR at a Conference on 28 June in Brussels. The paper was entitled: "Evidence that Electromagnetic Radiation is Genotoxic: The implications for the epidemiology of cancer and cardiac, neurological and reproductive effects."

I was surprised to find that in filed copies of publicly available papers, all of which were referenced on Medline, there were eighteen studies showing that RF and microwave radiation damage chromosomes, four studies showing dose response relationships, and one documenting a significant dose increase in cell death. This is now confirmed by multiple, independent laboratories showing DNA damage and enhanced oncogene activity (cancer genes).

This is a substantial body of research which under normal circumstances would be taken to prove that RF/microwave radiation is genotoxic.

In its 1998 cancer assessment ICNIRP maintains its view that RF/Microwave radiation is not genotoxic and cannot cause cancer. This is achieved by ignoring and not citing the extensive evidence that it damages chromosomes and by inappropriately dismissing the epidemiological evidence of cancer and miscarriage.

Epidemiological evidence of genetic damage by EMR
In the paper I presented in Brussels I said, "This evidence is confirmed and consistent with epidemiological evidence of human beings exposed to these fields, because if a substance damages the genetic material of cells, chromosomes, DNA and genes then it damages tissue cell by cell by cell and therefore causes cancer, reproductive effects, neurological effects and cardiac effects?"

How does this happen?
The long strands of DNA get folded to form the chromosomes and the genes are elements of the arms of the chromosomes which are made out of DNA. DNA damage occurs daily from toxins, stress and even from breathing oxygen. Our bodies have very advanced repair systems. Most of the damage to DNA is repaired by enzymes. Most cells whose DNA is not correctly repaired commit suicide. This is called programmed cell death - apoptosis. Therefore DNA damage causes enhanced cell death. Most damaged cells that do survive are seen as foreign by the immune system and they are attacked by the natural killer cells. The occasional mistake is made and a damaged cell survives to become a cancer cell. It typically takes decades for cancer to be promoted by more damage, and to progress to a detectable cancer, such as leukaemia, or a malignant tumour. Therefore epidemiology is extremely important as it looks at large populations and often involves follow up over decades.

Epidemiological research
Papers have been published which show significant increases in all the above health effects including dose response increases in disease and death. The higher the dose the higher is the rate of disease and death. For example the US physiotherapists study shows that the miscarriage rate for pregnant physiotherapists increases in proportion to the number of monthly treatments for diathermy which result in exposures to microwaves.

Associating a particular dose with each treatment gives a dose response with a threshold of zero as the only safe level. As a result of this very few physiotherapists around the western world now use microwaves to heat their patients. If we look at the genotoxic information above we can see that it causes damage to the genetic material of the foetus resulting in abnormality that leads to miscarriage. The foetus has a very rapid and vulnerable cell division and if a cell is damaged it will rapidly amplify, leading to miscarriage or congenital malformation.

Similarly around radio towers when you compare the undulating long term mean radial exposure levels they closely match the undulations in the cancer rates of children and adults.

In electrical industries, where people are regularly exposed to a wide range of electromagnetic fields and radiation, dose response increases in multiple sclerosis and in suicide have recently been identified.

Similarly there are dose response increases in heart attacks, and arrhythmic heart disease and death. A number of studies of people in television transmission stations show raised blood pressure and a significant reduction in heart rate variability - a known risk factor for heart disease. This confirms that in the short term there are alterations in blood pressure and heart rhythm and in the long term heart disease and attacks and death.

EMR proven to be genotoxic:
All of these effects have been shown in multiple studies for cancer and miscarriage, neurological and cardiac effects. The results are totally consistent with EMR being genotoxic, but also interfering with the body's natural telecommunication system. The brain is particularly sensitive because it is very electromagnetically active as is shown by the EEG, and the brain communicates with the organs and the cells of the body using enzymes, hormones and ion currents for example. More than sixteen studies show that EMR across the spectrum reduces human melatonin levels. Melatonin is a potent antioxidant, and maintains the health of the immune system. Reduced melatonin is associated with aging, sleep disturbance, chronic fatigue, arthritis, diabetes, and also with cancer, miscarriage, cardiac and neurological disease and death.

Next week read Part 2 of Dr Cherry's article.
"Important insights into interference with natural processes"

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