East-West "Blue World" War (Maisch)


22 January 2000

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, 22 Jan 2000 08:46:05 -0600 (CST)
From: "Roy L. Beavers" <>
To: emfguru <>
Subject: East-West "Blue World" War (Maisch)..

Hi everybody:

......Don Maisch has forwarded an excellent essay about the differences that are arising as scientists and "standards-setters" from the two opposite sides of the "Iron Curtain" are now trying to get together on the truth about EMF risks and standards.....

As he skillfully explains -- it may just be that the "science" on "our" side has been badly skewed by political and economic influences......  Paradoxical, isn't it??!!  Here, we alwys thought that "they" were the political/economic idealogues.....!!!!

Cheerio.....  (Many thanks, Don....)

Roy Beavers (EMFguru)

It is better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness

People are more important than profits!!

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 23 Jan 2000 00:46:31 +1100
From: Don Maisch <>
Subject: Article for distribution

Hi Roy

The following article I put together after reading the excellent article in the latest Microwave News  (Nov/Dec 1999) "Standards Harmonization Meeting: Russia and West Far Apart."

The current push to get ICNIRP  accepted as an "International"  standard should be considered just as serious as the MAI push.  The consequences will be similar if it is sucessful. For those who can get hold of the Microwave News article it is very important reading.  <> Please distribute as you see fit.


Don Maisch

Setting radio frequency/Microwave (RF/MW) exposure guidelines to protect workers and the public: Russia and the West in major conflict.

By Don Maisch


Russian, and other Eastern European countries' exposure limits for radio frequency and microwave  (RF/MW) radiation are far stricter than those in either the U.S. or Western Europe, a situation that has existed for over 30 years, mainly due to a fundamental difference between East and West as to exactly what exposure standards should provide protection against.

With the previous "cold war" between East and West now well over, and the present push toward "globalisation", an attempt was made to resolve this difference at the 2nd International Conference on Problems of Electromagnetic Safety of the Human Being, held in Moscow, in late 1999. This conference was sponsored by the Russian National Committee on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (RNCNIRP) and many other Russian scientific organisations, in conjunction with the World Health Organisation (WHO), the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) and the U.S. Air Force.

Despite extensive discussions during this conference, the attempt to "harmonise" RF/MW standards was unsuccessful with little chance of a compromise in the near future.  As mentioned by Professor Yuri Grigoriev, chairman of the RNCNIRP and a senior research scientist in Moscow, "So far we have entirely different approaches to "harmonisation". Western standard setting organisations have emphasised protection from RF/MW thermal effects," Grigoriev said, "while Russia's more restrictive standard also reflects a concern over non thermal effects and subjective symptoms."

Grigoriev emphasised the need to take into account possible cumulative effects from repeated exposure to relatively low levels of radiation as well as the potential bioeffects of specific modulated patterns. "If we bring our viewpoints together, we will have a shorter way to harmonise," he said.

Way back, during the second world war, concerns began to be raised from military personnel that there may be health hazards from working with radar equipment. Servicemen standing in front of the radar antenna soon discovered it was a great way to keep warm on a cold night but rumours began to circulate that it could also cause temporary sterility.  In the 1940's various US military and government agencies investigated the possibilities of health hazards. They all found no evidence of hazards but recommended avoiding prolonged exposure as a precautionary measure.

After the war in the late 1940's several studies came to light that indicated that there were possible hazards involved with the use of microwaves. In 1948 two U.S. studies reported a possible link with cataracts and testicular degeneration in dogs. These studies were largely ignored, simply because the companies, that had developed microwave technology for the military, saw an opportunity for wide commercial use of microwaves, such as Diathermy equipment and later microwave ovens. As such, there was no interest in funding research that may put a damper on this expanding business opportunity. It must also be remembered that this was the start of the Cold War between the East and West and military uses of Radar and other new equipment were seen as paramount to the national interest.

However in 1953 a study of workers at Hughes Aircraft Corp. found excessive amounts of internal bleeding, leukemia, cataracts, headaches, brain tumours, heart conditions, etc. in those employees working with radar. This study resulted in the US military initiating the first investigation into the biological effects of microwaves with the aim to develop "tolerance levels" for both single and repeated exposures.  Since little research data existed at that time [that could be used in determining tolerance limits] it was decided that the known ability of microwaves to heat up tissue (thermal effects) would be the main criterion used in developing limits. This decision, based more on a lack of scientific data than anything else, quickly gained favour with both the military and industry as it avoided the unknown issue of other possible non-thermal health effects not caused by tissue heating.

The "thermal school of thought" quickly became the accepted norm with Western standard setting organisations and as a result the vast majority of research in the West was directed at short term, high level exposures, with the aim of gaining a better understanding of thermal effects and refining exposure standards to give adequate protection against body heating. Research that may be directed towards other health effects than thermal was not favored; and any findings, especially epidemiological, that indicated that low level biological effects may exist were criticised and not followed up on. It simply was bad for business!

This situation was well described by Dr. Rochelle Medici, a researcher on animal behaviour, who said, " It is though scientists had retreated from doing challenging, frontier studies because such work engendered too much controversy or elicited too much criticism. We are left with "Safe" but meaningless experiments. The results of such experiments are a foregone conclusion".

Now, almost 50 years after the first enquiry into setting an exposure standard in the USA, the arbitrary decision to consider thermal effects only ... has become a paradigm in the West.

Today the ICNIRP exposure guidelines (thermal only) are being promoted as 'the best that science has to offer' for an "international" standard,  and many countries are now being urged to incorporate it as their national standard.

In Russia however a vastly different political, economic and social situation resulted paradoxically in giving their scientists far more democratic and academic freedom (and funding) than their Western counterparts in choosing the focus of  their research efforts, without interference from vested interests. This has resulted in a Russian RF/MW exposure standard with a different viewpoint on what "protection" should mean in regards to  ensuring people's health.

While thermal effects are accepted by both Western and Russian scientists, it was only the Russians that expanded their own research to include extensive studies with human workers that were exposed to non-thermal electromagnetic fields.  The reasons why Eastern scientists had more freedom in this regard are as follows:

Now that East and West are talking about the standard setting process, it is only rational that the large body of Russian medical research into non-thermal biological effects should now be included in standard setting. Unfortunately however, it appears that the current attitude of ICNIRP is that the process of harmonisation means total acceptance of the existing ICNIRP guidelines (thermal effects only) without alteration.

This was very much the case in the 1999 Australian Standards TE/7 Committee: Human Exposure to Electromagnetic Fields,  where an alliance of government/industry/military representatives would consider no changes to ICNIRP, despite concrete evidence being submitted that the ICNIRP guidelines were incorrect and biased in their interpretion of the Western scientific literature.

Now that the large body of Russian literature is becoming available to the West, which convincingly shows that the ICNIRP voluntary standards do not provide adequate protection for workers and the public, how will our standard setting bodies handle that?

If it turns out that ICNIRP still insists that only high level thermal effects can be considered in standard setting then the question must be raised: just who does ICNIRP provide protection for, anyway!?! 

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