In contrast to the FCC, ICNIRP updated its guidelines for RFR exposure in April 2020 for the first time since 1998. RF EMF GUIDELINES 2020 clarifies ICNIRP’s position that the 1998 guidelines are sufficiently protective of public health, but that public concern over the introduction of 5G technologies demanded the issuance of new guidelines. Here are some key takeaways from the update:

  • The new guidelines serve to largely to increase transparency and fine-tune some existing RFR standards, not to make significant changes.
  • ICNIRP considers “evidence of adverse health effects arising from all radiofrequency EMF exposure… including those referred to as ‘low-level’ and ‘non-thermal’” and references the large body of research investigating a linkage between RFR exposure to cancer-relevant effects, such as the disruption of cell life-cycles, oxidative stress, gene damage and mutation, and DNA strand breaks.
  • Agrees with the FCC that these studies’ reproducibility problems and lack of independent verification, and the irrelevance of in vivo experiments to the regulation of human environments
  • ICNIRP found no meaningful evidence from in vivo studies of health impacts caused by RFR exposure in combination with exposure to known toxins.
  • Studies on human populations have also failed to demonstrate a link between cancer and RFR exposure from cell phones and communications infrastructure. Most of these studies have focused on brain tumors, and have relied on retrospective self-reporting by subjects. The two studies with prospective information did not cover long enough periods of time to draw meaningful analyses.
  • Epidemiological cohort studies, although hedged against recall and selection bias, have not convincingly demonstrated a relationship between cell phone use and higher risk of glioma, meningioma, or acoustic neuroma and other types of tumors.
  • Another vein of the literature investigating possible associations between cancer and environmental RFR sources, such as cell towers, has also failed to provide convincing evidence.
  • “In summary, no effects of radiofrequency EMFs on the induction or development of cancer have been substantiated.”

ICNIRP also published this summary of the differences between the 1998 and 2020 guidelines:

Differences Between the ICNIRP (2020) and Previous Guidelines - In April 2020, for the first time since 1998, the ICNIRP released its first updated guidance for RFR up to and including higher frequencies used for 5G technologies. This document describes the changes to the guidelines, and why ICNIRP decided it was time to update their guidelines after over two decades.