Scientific basis for Soviet and Russian RF standards

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Jul 4, 2012, 10:19:38 AM7/4/12
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The Russian guidelines for children sound sensible as they take a precautionary approach in protecting children's health:

Children are not small adults since they are developing organisms with special sensitivities and might be expected to be more sensitive to EMF than adults [Grigoriev, 2005; Kheifets et al., 2005].

On 2012-07-03 Joel Moskowitz wrote:

In the attached review paper just published online in Bioelectromagnetics, Repacholi and colleagues allege that there are methodologic weaknesses with the research that underlies the Russian RF standards; however, they claims the purpose of the review was not to criticize the research. The main purpose of this paper is to take issue with the "philosophy" underlying the Russian standard setting, a philosophy based on the precautionary principle.

Repacholi et al. point out that the Russian RF standards were based on studies that demonstrated autoimmune effects of exposure to RF that were not necessarily pathological. In contrast to standards adopted by other governments including the U.S., Russia adopted a precautionary approach in setting the RF standards:
The general approach to public health protection and setting exposure limits by previous Soviet and current Russian committees is that people should not have to compensate for any effects produced by RF exposure, even though they are not shown to be adverse to health (pathological). In other words, these committees assume there could be long-term health consequences if people have to compensate for RF exposures that produce biological but not pathological effects. Exposure limits are then set that do not cause any possible biological consequence among the population (regardless of age or gender) that could be detected by modern methods during the RF exposure period or long after it has finished. Their approach to protection is that limits of RF exposure should not cause even a temporary initiation of the protective or adaptive compensatory mechanisms over the near or long term. Thus, the final exposure limits are set as a fraction of the minimum RF exposure that is capable of provoking some adaptation-compensatory reactions in people.
This is an important difference from the approach used by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), which bases its limits on the lowest RF exposure that causes any established adverse health effect (RFLowest). Limit values in their guidelines are then set by assuming that there is maximum absorption of the RF field by people and then reducing the RFLowest by large safety factors to produce the final limits, normally by a factor of 50 lower than the RFLowest for the general public [ICNIRP, 1998].
Repacholi et al. fail to mention the serious limitations of the ICNIRP and IEEE standards that form the basis of the U.S. and European standards. These standards only recognize adverse health effects caused by heating tissue (i.e., thermal effects) and not the various adverse health effects that research has shown to be caused by non-thermal mechanisms.

Unlike our FCC standards which treat children just like adults, the Russian guidelines for children sound sensible as they take a precautionary approach in protecting children's health:
Children are not small adults since they are developing organisms with special sensitivities and might be expected to be more sensitive to EMF than adults [Grigoriev, 2005; Kheifets et al., 2005]. Thus, results of studies conducted on adults might not be validly extrapolated to children; therefore, the NCNIRP considered that children need special consideration when developing exposure limits. According to the RNCNIRP, the following health hazards are likely to be faced in the near future by children who use mobile phones: disruption of memory, decline in attention, diminished learning and cognitive abilities, increased irritability, sleep problems, increase in sensitivity to stress, and increased epileptic readiness. For these reasons, special recommendations on child safety from mobile phones have been incorporated into the current Russian mobile phone standard [Russian Standard, 2003].

Recommends limiting mobile phone call time as much as possible and limiting possibility of use by children age < 18 years, pregnant women and pacemaker wearers (see 2003 Russian standards in Table 2)
However, Repacholi et al. disparage Russia's "philosophy of protection of the public:"
The philosophy of protection of the public—that RF exposure of individuals should not cause any compensatory response—is not used in standards outside
of Russia. National authorities in most countries want to know what health effects they are protecting against and not make assumptions about what effects may occur. This is the philosophy of the ICNIRP and IEEE committees.
Which philosophical approach makes more sense if one's goal is to protect population health?

Happy Independence Day!

===

Scientific basis for the Soviet and Russian radiofrequency standards for the general public

Michael Repacholi, Yuri Grigoriev, Jochen Buschmann, Claudio Pioli. Scientific basis for the Soviet and Russian radiofrequency standards for the general public.
Bioelectromagnetics. Publ online Jul 2, 2012.

Keywords: radiofrequency fields; Soviet Union standards; Russian standards; public health

Abstract

The former Soviet Union (USSR) and the USA were the first countries to introduce standards limiting exposure to radiofrequency (RF) fields. However, the exposure limits in the USSR standards were always much lower than those in the USA and other countries. The objective of this article is to provide a history of the development of the Soviet and Russian RF standards. In addition, we summarize the scientific evidence used to develop the original USSR RF and subsequent Russian public health standards, as well as the mobile telecommunications standard published in 2003, but we do not critique them. We also describe the protective approaches used by the Soviet and Russian scientists for setting their limits. A translation of the papers of the key studies used to develop their standards is available in the online version of this publication.

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/bem.21742/abstract

<Russian RF Standards 2012.pdf>

I tried to excerpt the key points from the review paper below but recommend you read the full paper (attached).

Excerpts

Radiofrequency (RF) standards for both the public and occupational health issued by the former Soviet Union (USSR) and more recently, the Russian Federation, have always contained exposure limits that were well below those in non-Soviet Bloc countries.

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Electromagnetic Field (EMF) Project held a number of meetings in Russia to understand the results of scientific studies that formed the basis for their RF standards.

In the 1970s, the USSR’s Ministry of Health, Council of Ministers, Military Medical Academy, and the Aerospace Institute of the Ministry of Defense (Moscow) funded research for some 15 years to investigate the effects of EMF exposure on human health [Grigoriev et al., 2003a]. The results of these
studies, specifically those commissioned by the USSR Ministry of Health, formed the scientific basis for the first general public RF standard published in 1978 [USSR Ministry of Health, 1978].

... some of the most important studies providing the basis for the RF exposure limits were immunological studies

In 1958, the USSR Ministry of Health approved the first RF standard and subsequently issued more than 30 separate standards on 50 Hz, EMF in general,
RF fields, and EMF-emitting devices such as airport and meteorological radars, video display terminals (VDTs), and others.

Basis for Public Health Standards
While the USSR and Russian standards were based on many areas of research, the immunology studies were viewed by the standards committees as providing the most consistent results and so were important for setting exposure limits. More details of key studies used to develop RF exposure limits are given in Grigoriev et al. [2003c]. We summarize the most important of these studies and their results in Table 1.

When the public health standards committees analyzed all studies, they agreed with the conclusions of Vinogradov et al. [1987] and summarized them as follows: chronic daily exposure to 100–500 microW/cm
2 can induce persistent pathological reactions (based on the immunology studies above), the most striking effect being offspring death after injection of foreign serum; ~50 microW/cm2 is the threshold exposure for the unfavorable biological effects found in the immunology studies but these effects were not pathological since the organism could compensate for the exposure, and continual compensation could lead to longterm adverse effects and thus should be protected against; and chronic exposure to <=10–20 micro W/cm 2 does not induce any noticeable biological changes in small laboratory animals.

Mobile Phone Standards Assessment
Because mobile phones have become an essential part of most people’s lives, the RNCNIRP decided that they needed a special standard, especially since
their use involves daily, repeated, and potentially life-long RF exposure to the brain, a critical organ. The committee felt there was a lack of data on long-term low-level (non-thermal) exposure to the brain. Further, mobile phone use by children was seen as a special situation since they may be more susceptible to RF exposure than adults [Grigoriev, 2005; Kheifets et al., 2005]. Finally mobile phone exposure was seen as an uncontrolled source of potentially health-threatening RF exposure; no such source of exposure to the population existed before mobile phones.

The RNCNIRP considered both national and international studies on RF, especially those involving low-level, short-term RF exposure on the nervous system. The following nervous system studies were considered important for developing the exposure limits for mobile phones since many of the studies summarized below were applicable to possible effects on the brain. <SNIP>

When determining the limit values for mobile telecommunications technology, the RNCNIRP decided to leave the limit value of 10
micro W/cm 2 for the general public unchanged, as it was set in 1984 and this value was well justified by previous research so there was no need for change. Thus, base stations should not expose the public to more than 10 micro W/cm 2 . To set the limit value for mobile phone users, an assessment of domestic and foreign studies was made by the RNCNIRP, and limits were set based on the results of an animal study performed earlier in the Research Institute of Occupational Medicine in
Moscow, Russia by Rubtsova and Paltsev, but only published in 2006, (110 rats, Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) 900 and 1800 MHz at 0.5 and 2 microW/cm
2 for 1 h/day for 40 days) [Rubtsova and Paltsev, 2006]. They reported changes in the immune status of animals exposed to 500 micro W/cm 2 .
The results of this study were in general agreement with earlier studies indicating that exposure to 500
micro W/cm 2 produced immune system changes considered pathogenic to the organism. A safety factor of 5 was applied to this power density, leading to a limit value of 100 micro W/cm 2 recommended for mobile phone users [Russian Standard, 2003]. This Russian standard regulates mobile phones and their base stations and was approved by Russia’s Chief Health Physician under federal law (‘‘On the sanitary and epidemiological welfare of the population’’, 30 March 1999, No. 52-FZ). However, as indicated to the RNCNIRP by Repacholi [2006], there are dosimetric concerns about compliance with these standards for mobile phones when a power density limit for mobile phone handsets is used for near-field exposures.

APPROACH TO SETTING LIMITS
The general approach to public health protection and setting exposure limits by previous Soviet and current Russian committees is that people should not have to compensate for any effects produced by RF exposure, even though they are not shown to be adverse to health (pathological). In other words, these committees assume there could be long-term health consequences if people have to compensate for RF exposures that produce biological but not pathological effects. Exposure limits are then set that do not cause any possible biological consequence among the population (regardless of age or gender) that could be detected by modern methods during the RF exposure period or long after it has finished. Their approach to protection is that limits of RF exposure should not cause even a temporary initiation of the protective or adaptive compensatory mechanisms over the near or long term. Thus, the final exposure limits are set as a fraction of the minimum RF exposure that is capable of provoking some adaptation-compensatory reactions in people.

This is an important difference from the approach used by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), which bases its limits on the lowest RF exposure that causes any established adverse health effect (RF
Lowest ). Limit values in their guidelines are then set by assuming that there is maximum absorption of the RF field by people and then reducing the RFLowest by large safety factors to produce the final limits, normally by a factor of 50 lower than the RFLowest for the general public [ICNIRP, 1998].

Children
Children are not small adults since they are developing organisms with special sensitivities and might be expected to be more sensitive to EMF than adults [Grigoriev, 2005; Kheifets et al., 2005]. Thus, results of studies conducted on adults might not be validly extrapolated to children; therefore, the NCNIRP considered that children need special consideration when developing exposure limits. According to the RNCNIRP, the following health hazards are likely to be faced in the near future by children who use mobile phones: disruption of memory, decline in attention, diminished learning and cognitive abilities, increased irritability, sleep problems, increase in sensitivity to stress, and increased epileptic readiness. For these reasons, special recommendations on child safety from mobile phones have been incorporated into the current Russian mobile phone standard [Russian Standard, 2003].

STANDARDS
The first general public RF standard was introduced in 1978 [USSR Ministry of Health, 1978] and limited exposure in the 300 MHz–300 GHz range to 5 micro W/cm 2 in inhabited areas during any 24 h period.

An important stage in standardization of RF exposure limits for the general population came in 1984, after methodological recommendations for the assessment of biological effects from low intensity microwave radiation for hygienic standards in the environment were issued by the Ukrainian Ministry of Health [1981]. The first practical result of the program was the drafting of standards that related to the time of exposure and rules for protecting the population from radio engineering devices. This document was based on EMF studies conducted in the USSR and also took into account discussions of the joint
Soviet-American Intergovernmental Commission on health standards for EMF.... Table 2 gives a brief summary of the key limit values in the USSR and Russian RF public health and occupational standards, as well as a summary of the mobile phone standard issued in 2003. These are compared with the limits recommended by the ICNIRP [1998] and IEEE [2006].

DISCUSSION
The overall objective of the Soviet-era immunology studies was to evaluate the effect of exposure to UHF RF fields on autoimmunity. The brain was considered an immunologically confined organ, meaning that under normal physiological conditions, cells could not enter the brain and produce immune
responses.

However, when assessing these studies it should be borne in mind that they were conducted some 20–40 years ago, when many details about the immune system were unknown, modern laboratory techniques were not available, and standards for conducting high-quality studies were not well established.... Studies of this quality would not be useful in the development of current standards.

Replication of the most important Soviet immunology studies was recommended in the WHO’s EMF Project research agenda [WHO, 2006]. Experiments with a protocol similar to the early Soviet-era studies, but using more modern methodology, were subsequently conducted in Bordeaux [Poulletier de Gannes et al., 2009] and Moscow [Grigoriev et al., 2010]. While the French study was uniformly negative, the Moscow study found some positive trends in their results. Despite efforts to standardize experimental conditions in both countries, the Russian scientists considered that there were sufficient differences in the conduct of the two separate studies to contribute to differences in the final results. The Russian scientists interpreted their findings as showing a compensatory response in rats exposed to chronic, low intensity RF but that these changes were not pathological. The Oversight Committee, with access to the raw data from both studies, concluded that the results were not convincingly confirmed [Repacholi et al., 2011].

The various USSR and Russian standards committees considered that chronic exposure to nonthermal levels of RF fields was potentially hazardous to human health. Further, the key philosophy used to set limit values in the Russian standards was that RF exposure should not produce any effect that had to
be compensated for by people because it was believed that this would lead to pathologic effectsover the long term [Grigoriev et al., 2003b,c]. As noted above, this was not the philosophy for setting limit values adopted by other national standards committees or by either the ICNIRP or the IEEE. Furthermore, the USSR and Russian committees did not consider dosimetry in their standard setting. It was not recognized that for the same power density, the absorption in mice and rats can be orders of magnitude higher than in humans.

There are concerns about the assessment of compliance with the limits for mobile handsets in the mobile phone and base station standard [Russian Standard, 2003] because it is not valid to just have power density limits for near-field exposures. Compliance with the head exposure limit of 100
micro W/cm 2 is assessed by ensuring that the power density is not more than 3 micro W/cm 2 at a distance of 37 cm from the phone. This is not a measurement in the near field where exposures to the head occur. Because compliance is assessed in the far field, higher specific absorption rate (SAR) phones measured in the near field can give a lower power density at 37 cm than lower SAR phones [Repacholi, 2006].

The philosophy of protection of the public—that RF exposure of individuals should not cause any compensatory response—is not used in standards outside
of Russia. National authorities in most countries want to know what health effects they are protecting against and not make assumptions about what effects may occur. This is the philosophy of the ICNIRP and IEEE committees.

TABLE 2 Excerpts

2003 Russian standards for public phone users and base stations basic limits (300 MHz - 2.4 GHz)
10 micro W/cm 2 for public from base stations; 10 m W/cm 2 for public from base stations;
Mobile phone head exposure <= 100 microW/cm
2 determined by phone emitting <= 3 micro W/cm 2 at 37 cm from phone;
Recommends limiting mobile phone call time as much as possible and limiting possibility of use by children age
< 18 years, pregnant women and pacemaker wearers

1998 ICNIRP basic restrictions for public EMF exposure
(300 MHz - 300 GHz) (reaffirmed in 2009: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/bem.21742/pdf)
For whole body 0.08 W/kg, for head and trunk 2 W/kg

2005 IEEE basic restrictions
(100 kHz - 3 GHz)
For whole body 0.08 W/kg. For head (except pinnae) and trunk 2 W/kg

CONCLUSIONS
The objective of this article is to provide the scientific basis for the Soviet and Russian RF standards, and not to provide a detailed critique of them. Copies of the complete articles translated from the original Russian into English are provided in the online version of this article.


==============================================
Joel M. Moskowitz, Ph.D.
Director
Center for Family and Community Health
The UC Berkeley Prevention Research Center
School of Public Health
University of California, Berkeley
50 University Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7360

Phone:  510-643-7314
E-mail: j...@berkeley.edu
WWW:    http://cfch.berkeley.edu
==============================================


Informant: André Fauteux
Russian RF Standards 2012.pdf
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