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News from Moscow


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#1 Margaret Meade Glaser

Margaret Meade Glaser

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Posted 15 February 2003 - 07:48 PM

I invited physicist, Dr. Vladimir Binhi, from Moscow, Russia, to tell us a little about what's been happening in his country regarding EMF issues. He has been kind enough to send us the following message, as well as provide us with a summary report on the Third International Conference "Electromagnetic Fields and Human Health" held in Moscow/St. Petersburg, Sept. 2002 (see next posting).

Dr. Binhi is head of the Radiobiology Laboratory at the General Physics Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences. He is also a member of the Russian National Committee on Protection from Non-Ionizing Radiation and author of the groundbreaking physics text "Magnetobiology" (Academic Press, 2002)
Now, Dr. Binhi...


Dear Forum Readers,

Mankind just relatively recently began to use wireless communication
technologies in so dense a way. Therefore, we do not know and we cannot know now the remote consequences of such a Janus-like progress. We have not time enough to empirically observe the possible chronic electromagnetic effects. It takes presumably 20-30 years for the effects to
reveal themselves. This depreciates the significance of any epidemiological
studies.

Laboratory studies regarding non-thermal biological effects (those
arising from infinitesimal electromagnetic exposures) are difficult to
replicate. However, this does not necessarily mean the absence or
insignificance of those effects. The power and frequency of elecromagnetic
waves emitted, say, by cell phones, are similar to the brightness and colors of the optical radiation that human eyes discern [visible light]. The eye sees the world colored, not gray. There is a lot of scientific evidence for "colored" perception of electromagnetic waves by the human body. This means the non-thermal effects are real.

Why don't we observe those effects always and everywhere in laboratories? Because it is a very problematic task, in general, to detect a 1% biological effect of electromagnetic fields in any scientific bio study, due to the great variance in any bio studies; yet such an effect, being real, entails huge social consequences in people lost. Electromagnetic fields may be less evident but not less insidious than smoking.

From the other side, there is no recognized physical theory for those
effects that could help to build right electromagnetic safety standards. It means 50/50 for pro and con of cell-phone danger. And this situation will remain until a good physical theory is developed and full scientific knowledge is obtained for electromagnetic biological effects.

Therefore, concerning the phrase: [note: he refers to my summary of his conference notes which follow]

"The U.S. standards and those proposed by WHO are 100 times more lenient than the Russian standards. This is a problem for Russia, which must harmonize its standards if it is to enter the World Trade Organization"

I am not sure that it is a problem for Russia. I would not like it to be so,
but perhaps it is a future problem for the U.S., where people are 100-fold exposed to electromagnetic fields--according to the law. The harmonization implies common motion in right direction. Which one is right is a purely scientific question and it should not be considered in
connection with the trade interests.

Sincerely yours,
Vladimir Binhi
Margaret Meade Glaser
EMR Network, Board of Directors


#2 Margaret Meade Glaser

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Posted 15 February 2003 - 08:08 PM

Summary of V. Binhi's Report on the Third International Conference "Electromagnetic Fields and Human Health"

Moscow/St.Petersburg hosted The Third International Conference on
"Electromagnetic Fields and Human Health" September 17-25, 2002.
Scientists from 18 countries participated, spanning Europe, Asia, and
North and South America. It was organized by the Russian Ministry of
Health, the Russian Academy of Sciences, and the World Health
Organization (WHO), among others, in cooperation with the U.S. Air Force
Research Labs, the International Committee on Non-Ionizing Radiation
Protection (ICNRP), and others.

Experts at the conference recommended taking guidance from the
Precautionary Principle, in order to prevent possible, or even probable,
damage to human health from EMF exposure. This is of particular concern
since there are now so many sources of chronic, low-level EMF in close
proximity to populations.

Participants observed research on possible carcinogenic action of EMF,
as well as bioeffects of chronic exposure, a syndrome of
hypersensitivity, and effects on the central nervous system and immune
system. Possible medical and therapeutic applications of EMF were also
noted and were seen as good directions for research.

One of the major problems to be addressed at the conference was the
question of harmonization of standards (the WHO seeks to make all
countries' safe exposure standards the same). Currently, the maximum
permissible levels of EMF in various countries differ by a factor of as
much as 100, depending on each country's definition of adverse
bioeffects, and level of recognition of non-thermal effects.

The U.S. standards and those proposed by WHO are 100 times more lenient than the Russian standards. This is a problem for Russia, which must harmonize its standards if it is to enter the World Trade Organization.
Two days of the conference were spent analyzing and discussing the
research underlying the lower Russian limits on allowable EMF (also
those of other former Eastern block countries). The Russian scientists
offered a set of steps they saw as necessary for the successful
realization of the harmonization program.

In December 2002, Dr. M. Repacholi of WHO met with Russian scientists
in Moscow to discuss the issue of protection of the Russian population
from EMF bioeffects, and the participation of Russian experts in the WHO
international program "EMF and Health," as well as in the process of
international harmonization of EMF standards.


Based on current research on the biological action of EMF from cellular
communications, it is the opinion of the Russian National Committee on
Protection from Non-Ionizing Radiation that:

1. The Precautionary Principle be a guide. Therefore, they propose the
following recommendations to the public:
a. Non-use of cell phones by children under the age of 16.
b. Non-use of cell phones by pregnant women.
c. Non-use of cell phones by persons suffering from
neurological conditions or diseases.
d. Limiting the duration of phonecalls to a maximum of three
minutes, with a period no less than 15 minutes (minimum)
between calls. Mainly, they suggest the use of headsets
and hands-free systems.

2. The cell phone manufacturers and retailers should include the following information to accompany engineering specifications:
a. all of the above recommendations regarding use.
b. data and conclusions on relevant health and epidemiological
testing on cell phones, measured EMFs, and the name of the
test lab.
Margaret Meade Glaser
EMR Network, Board of Directors

#3 Margaret Meade Glaser

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Posted 16 February 2003 - 11:26 AM

Dr. Binhi's important new book, "Magnetobiology: Underlying Physical Problems" (Academic Press, 2002), is the first of its kind. In it he draws on fundamental physical principles to derive a reasonable model for interaction of electromagnetic fields with biological systems. Although written for physicists, it may also be of interest to those working in chemistry, biology, medicine, and related fields.
Margaret Meade Glaser
EMR Network, Board of Directors




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