Five years after the initial BioInitiative 2007 Report, the BioInitiative Working Group issued an updated 2012 Report to provide a strengthened rationale for biologically-based exposure standards for low-intensity electromagnetic radiation. Prepared by 29 world-recognized experts in science and public health policy from 10 countries, the BioInitiative 2012 Report reviewed over 1800 new scientific studies and shows reinforced evidence of risk from chronic exposure to low-intensity electromagnetic fields (EMF) and to wireless technologies (radiofrequency radiation (RFR) including microwave radiation). The Report concludes that existing public safety limits are inadequate to protect public health, and that new, biologically-based public safety limits are needed.
The 2012 Report presents the following new evidence and key information:
- About 1800 new scientific studies have been published in the last 5 years (2007-2012) reporting biological/health effects at exposure levels ten to hundreds or thousands of times lower than safety limits in most countries of the world. The levels of concern have dropped lower in 2012 by 10s to 100s of times.
- New studies largely reinforce the potential risks to health. A snapshot of the reported evidence shows a broad range of biological and possible adverse health effects from chronic exposures, including:
- Genotoxic effects, including DNA damage, abnormal gene transcription, chromatin condensation, micronucleation, and impaired repair of DNA damage in human stem cells.
- Molecular and cellular effects, including changes in cell membrane function, cell communication and cell metabolism, cell death, increased free radical production, activation of proto-oncogenes, and production of stress proteins.
- Brain and nervous system effects, including pathological leakage of the blood–brain barrier, changes in brain glucose metabolism, altered brainwave activity (altered EEG), neurotoxicity, memory loss, headaches, fatigue, sleep disorders, retarded learning, slower motor function and other performance impairment in children.
- Cancers in humans including increased risk of brain tumors and acoustic neuromas.
- Immune function effects including increased allergic and inflammatory responses
- Reproductive effects, including serious impacts on human and animal sperm quality and function, effects on offspring behavior and effects on brain and cranial bone development in the offspring of animals that are exposed to cell phone radiation during pregnancy, altered fetal brain development and ADHD-like behavior in the offspring of exposed pregnant mice.
- Effects on Autism (Autism Spectrum Disorders).
- There is inadequate warning and notice to the public about possible risks from wireless technologies in the marketplace. There is no informed consent for consumers (warning labels on cell phones, for example, have been defeated by telecom industry lobby groups). It is still difficult or impossible for a consumer to get reliable information on levels of exposure from wireless devices. There is little indication that cell phone users (whose numbers have risen from roughly 2 billion in 2006 to 6 billion users globally in 2012) are aware of the risks.
- The issues around fetus and childhood exposure are of particular importance. There is good evidence to suggest that many toxic exposures to the fetus and very young child have especially detrimental consequences depending on when they occur during critical phases of growth and development (time windows of critical development), where such exposures may lay the seeds of health harm that develops even decades later. There is overwhelming evidence that children are more vulnerable than adults to many different exposures, including RFR, and that the diseases of greatest concern are cancer and effects on neurodevelopment. Existing FCC (Federal Communications Commission) and ICNIRP (International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection) public safety limits seem to be insufficiently protective of public health, in particular for the young (embryo, fetus, neonate and very young child).
- In 2011 the World Health Organization International Agency on Cancer Research (IARC) classified radiofrequency radiation (RFR) as a Group 2B Possible Human Carcinogen, joining the IARC classification of ELF-EMF that occurred in 2001. The evidence for carcinogenicity for RFR was primarily from cell phone/brain tumor studies. While a definitive link between cell phone radiation and brain cancer has not been established, these studies and others clearly demonstrate the need for further research into this area and highlight the importance of reassessing the current SAR to determine if it is protective of human health.
- The standard for taking action should be precautionary; action should not be deferred while waiting for final proof or causal evidence to be established that EMF is harmful to health and well-being. The Precautionary Principle has been developed to help justify public policy action on the protection of health where there are plausible, serious and irreversible hazards from current and future exposures and where there are many uncertainties and much scientific ignorance. EMF is characterized by such circumstances.
The critiques of the Report include its selective, rather than comprehensive review of the literature in various research topics and therefore a lack of balance in general.