• 05 MAR 06
    • 0

    Protecting Workers from the Known and Emerging Health Risks of Non-ionizing Radiation

    Following is a presentation from Dr. Joseph Bowman given on Feb 23, 2006 to NIOSH’s Cincinnati employees, where Dr. Bowman lays out what NIOSH wants to do to keep RF education and research alive in the US. Not an easy task in the current neo-conservative environment where anti-regulation forces abound.
    Coming from Dr. Bowman this cannot be simply dismissed as uninformed opinion. Note some real gems sush as : “Cell phones at maximum power can expose the brain to radiation up to 97% of the current US health standard.” and: “As a rule, NIR toxicity increases with frequency. So RF radiation is more toxic, but power frequency EMF is more prevalent.”

    Following the presentation is a message from Dr. Bowman that he widely circulated.

    Don

    Protecting Workers from the Known and Emerging Health Risks of Non-ionizing Radiation
    – Presentation to NORA Town Hall Meeting

    Joseph D. Bowman, PhD, CIH
    Engineering and Physical Hazards Branch/DART
    February 23, 2006

    Definition on non-ionizing radiation (NIR) – electric and magnetic fields (EMF) which are weaker than X-rays and gamma rays that ionize molecules, but can still have biological effects at higher intensities.

    Although UV, visible light, lasers, and IR all have well-known health risks, NIOSH research has focused on radio frequency (RF)/microwave radiation (300 gigahertz – 10 megahertz) and EMF at power frequencies (50/60 Hz).
    o As a rule, NIR toxicity increases with frequency. So RF radiation is more toxic, but power frequency EMF is more prevalent.

    Known health risks from high intensity EMF:
    o tissue heating from RF (e.g broadcast antenna construction and maintenance, plastic heat sealers)

    o electrostimulation of nerves from power-frequency EMF (e.g. high-voltage transmission line workers and induction metal furnaces)

    o exposure limits exist for these health effects, so DART’s research agenda has concentrated on control technologies:

    Possible health risks from EMF exposures below the exposure limits.

    BOX:
    Research priorities on NIR control technologies — from “NORA at Nine”:
    ß Improve instrumentation and techniques to address measurement and control of exposures in the near-field.
    ß Improve engineering controls, personal protective equipment (PPE), and monitoring instruments for dealing with NIR exposures in the workplace.
    ß Encourage participation of both industrial hygienists and management to address NIR workplace hazards effectively.
    ß Improve worker and safety professionals= awareness of NIR issues through training.
    END BOX

    Possible health risks from EMF exposures below the exposure limits.
    o Power-frequency magnetic fields are a Possible Human Carcinogen, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and NIEHS. These evaluations are based on epidemiologic studies of cancer and neurodegenerative diseases at levels less than 1/1,000 th of the exposure standards.

    o New epidemiologic evidence of acoustic neuromas and brain cancer from long-term use of cell phones.

    o DART research has concentrated on improved methods of exposure assessment for occupational epidemiologic studies conducted with partners at IARC, NCI, and the Electric Power Research Institute. The goal is to determine whether these low-level EMF are truly a health hazard, and therefore the present paradigm for setting health standards needs to be re-examined.

    o DART and EID also starting risk assessment research on how to manage workplace exposures to these “possible” health risks.

    Surveillance of emerging wireless technologies.

    o Cell phones are an example of potential public health impact of any unforeseen health effects from the new wireless technologies.
    ß 65% of the US population are cell phone subscribers
    ß Cell phones at maximum power can expose the brain to radiation up to 97% of the current US health standard.

    o New wireless technologies are coming out constantly for communication, surveillance, tracking inventory, data transfer, and computing. An implantable chip has just come on the market.

    NIR and NORA

    o NIR is a multi-faceted health hazard that fits into many of the present NORA categories, but is currently recognized only by Engineering Controls. Below are all the places where NIR might fit within the new NORA Program Portfolio.
    ß Sectors:
    – Manufacturing
    – Transportation, Warehousing & Utilities
    – Public & Private Services
    ß Cross-sector Programs:
    – Cancer, reproductive, cardiovascular, neurologic & renal diseases
    – Global collaboration
    – Health hazard evaluations
    ß Coordinated Emphasis Areas:
    – Exposure assessment
    – Engineering controls
    – Surveillance

    o Suggested NIR Research Priorities

    ß Maintain NIOSH’s expertise in NIR research.

    ß An epidemiologic study of occupational RF and chronic health effects (cancer, neurologic, etc.) – collaboration with IARC

    ß RF protective suits

    ß Epidemiologic studies of power-frequency magnetic fields with the new exposure assessment tools developed by DART

    ß Interventions to reduce occupational exposures to power-frequency EMF

    ß Health Hazard Evaluations and surveillance on new NIR technologies.

    END PRESENTATION

    Following is a letter widely circulated by Dr. Bowman

    Dear friends,

    I could use yourhelp in support of NIOSH funding for research on RF and ELF health effects.

    NIOSH’s process for dispersing intramural and extramural research funds is called the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/nora/, which is currently undergoing an 10-year update. Non-ionizing radiation was not explicitly part of the original NORA and we never got any NORA funding for our work.

    It will be a battle getting support from NORA in the next 10 years, but I had a chance to make a pitch at a “Town Hall Meeting,” which was held last week for NIOSH’s Cincinnati employees (attached). In hearing what the NORA process will be for getting funding, outside voices in support of EMF research will be key.

    You can enter statements in support of RF and/or ELF research at the NORA website: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/nora/comments.html. The statement need to be entered by the end of March to have the greatest impact.

    Those of you in Washington,DC can also help by attending the NORA symposium on April 18-20: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/nora/symp06/default.html. The first two days are mainly presentations on NORA accomplishments, but the last day, Thursday April 20, will be workshops where NIOSH will be asking for input on future funding.

    Also, pass this on to contacts you have in academia, industry, and labor.

    Thanks,
    Joseph Bowman, PhD,CIH

    Engineering and Physical Hazards Branch
    National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    USA

    +1-513-841-4127

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