Letter of Dr. Robert Baan from IARC

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Feb 19, 2012, 8:24:01 AM2/19/12

Note the difference in positions between IARC and WHO. Suggested to take Dr. Baan's letter to decision makers today.

Iris Atzmon


----Original Message-----
From: Robert Baan

Date: Mon, 29 Aug 2011 09:47:10 
To: connie...@yahoo.com<
Cc: COM (
Subject: EMF Class 2B Classification 

Dear Dr Hudson,

Thank you for your message, which was forwarded to me, and to which I would like to respond as follows.

The IARC Working Group classified "Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields" (RF-EMF) as possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B).
The information that formed the main basis for this evaluation was found in epidemiological studies on cell-phone use, where a slightly increased risk for glioma (a malignant form of brain cancer) and acoustic neuroma (a non-cancerous type) was reported among heavy users.

There were some indications of increased cancer among radar-maintenance workers (occupational exposure), but no reliable data from studies among, e.g., people living close to base-station antennas, radio/TV towers, etc (environmental exposure).

Although the key information came from mobile telephone use, the Working Group considered that the three types of exposure entail basically the same type of radiation, and decided to make an overall evaluation on RF-EMF, covering the whole radiofrequency region of the electromagnetic spectrum.
In support of this, information from studies with experimental animals showed that effects on cancer incidence and cancer latency were seen with exposures to different frequencies within the RF region.

So the classification 2B, possibly carcinogenic, holds for all types of radiation within the radiofrequency part of the electromagnetic spectrum, including the radiation emitted by base-station antennas, radio/TV towers, radar, Wi-Fi, smart meters, etc.

An important point is the radiation level. The exposure from cellular phones (personal exposure) is substantially higher and much more focused (usually on the brain) than exposures from radio/tv towers, antennas, or Wi-Fi.

I hope this is useful.

Thank you for your interest in our work.

Sincerely yours,

Robert A Baan PhD
The IARC Monographs


 Monday, August 29, 2011 3:31 AM
To: Ellen Marks
Cc: Van Deventer, Tahera Emilie; Osseiran, Nada A.L.
Subject: FW: Please clarify confusion


Dear Ms. Marks,


Your email below regarding WHO's position on health effects from mobile phone use was forwarded to me for reply. A WHO fact sheet entitled "Electromagnetic fields and public health: mobile phones" (N°193) was re-issued in June 2011 to incorporate the new classification of IARC of radiofrequency fields as possible carcinogen (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs193/en/index.html).


The Fact sheet states that "To date, no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use", summarizing the current scientific knowledge. IARC classified RF fields from mobile phones as "possibly" carcinogenic (Class 2B). The evidence for an association between radiofrequency fields and adverse health effects was "evaluated as being limited among users of wireless telephones for glioma and acoustic neuroma, and inadequate to draw conclusions for other types of cancers. The evidence from the occupational and environmental exposures mentioned above was similarly judged inadequate" (http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/pr/2011/pdfs/pr208_E.pdf).


If carcinogenic effects had been established, RF fields would have been classified as "carcinogenic to humans" (Class 1). For further information on the IARC classification, please see http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Preamble/index.php.


I hope this clarifies your understanding.



Dr. E van Deventer


Dr. T E van Deventer | Team Leader | Radiation Programme | Department of Public Health and Environment | World Health Organization | Tel: + 41 22 791 3950 | Email:vandev...@who.int |





Feb 19, 2012, 8:25:08 AM2/19/12
  • "The "smart meter", working via wireless connection is not continuously on sending information. It is like cell phone on table when we do not use it."  
  • "Let's focus on more real possibilities of health effects and not mess up things with "smart meters"..."
  • camillar
  • Robert A. Baan, PhD on behalf of IARC said the following, indicating that the RF from smart meters would indeed fall under the 2B Classification as a Possible Carcinogen: 

  • "Although the key information came from mobile
    telephone use, the Working Group considered that the three types of exposure
    entail basically the same type of radiation, and decided to make an overall
    evaluation on RF-EMF, covering the whole radiofrequency region of the electromagnetic

    In support of this, information from studies with
    experimental animals showed that effects on cancer incidence and cancer latency
    were seen with exposures to different frequencies within the RF region.

    So the classification 2B, possibly carcinogenic,
    holds for all types of radiation within the radiofrequency part of the
    electromagnetic spectrum, including the radiation emitted by base-station
  • antennas, radio/TV towers, radar, Wi-Fi, smart meters, etc."Take home message: There is reason for serious concern.
  • dariusz_leszczynski

    According to Doris you did not present the quote in full. The omitted sentence is of paramount importance.

    Not only the "quality" of radiation is important but also the "quantity".

    The quantity coming from cell towers and wlan is small and therefore difficult to study.
Doris-mf Collapse


"So the classification 2B, possibly carcinogenic,
holds for all types of radiation within the radiofrequency part of the
electromagnetic spectrum, including the radiation emitted by base-station

antennas, radio/TV towers,
radar, Wi-Fi, smart meters, etc"


Is this a
conclusion/speculation from you or a declaration made by Dr. Baan?


Baan et al in  Lancet
Oncology 22 June 2011


"In reviewing studies
that addressed the possible association between environmental exposure to
and cancer, the Working Group found the available evidence insufficient for any
  • Biron

    Could you clarify?  Are you aware of this statement by Robert Baan?  Is it to be taken as an official position of the IARC working group?  Is this posted anywhere on the WHO website?
  • Doris-mf
    I've found the E-Mail from Robert Baan to Cindy Sage in the web and there are really the words from Dr. Baan.
    But Camilla R. has NOT posted the last sentence from the mail.

    The mail ended with the following sentence:

  • An important point is the radiation level. The exposure from cellular phones (personal exposure) is substantially higher and much more focused (usually on the brain) than exposures from radio/tv towers, antennas, or Wi-Fi
  • Dear Doris, 

    The email correspondence from Dr. Baan clearly states that smart meters are in the 2B classification. The end of Dr Baan's email does not negate the first part just so you know. We must be realistic. Enrico
  • camillar
    Glad you found Dr. Baan's letter on the web, signedSincerely yours,

  •  Robert A Baan PhD
    The IARC Monographs
    IARC, Lyon, FRANCE
  • The point I am making is that the Class 2B classification, all things considered, was meant by IARC according to Dr. Baan to apply to all RF from cell phones, other RF emitting devices as well as smart meters. AS WELL AS SMART METERS. Though it is true and obvious that cell phones emit more radiation than smart meters, the 2B classification as a "Possible Carcinogen" still applies to smart meters. Those who are familiar with the reseatch, for example Leif Salford''s work at Lund University, know that there are paradoxical effects, in addition to dose-response relationships, where the greater damage in certain areas--such as neuron death and blood brain barrier permeability--occurs at lower not higher SAR. We must be concerned about the RF radiation no matter what the level as no level has been shown to be safe. In fact, quite the opposite. Smart meters emmitting RF should be avoided in favor of hard-wired meters.
  • dariusz_leszczynski
    If the quotations are correct, it means that Camilla said the truth but not all the truth.

    She said what is good for her cause but omitted what may put her cause in doubt.

    This is a "common tactic" among both, the "Activists" and the "Anti-Activists".

    Those who say things without omissions are accused by the both extreme groups as the "enemies of the cause".

  • Dariusz,

     "enemies of the cause". < what cause would that be? and who are the extreme groups? are they those terrorists endangering the health of whole of humanity and the ecology for $$$?When you say "Activists" I presume you mean those whom are concerned about health impacts, and when you say "Anti-Activists" I presume you mean Industry bloggers? * I did think once upon a time that health impacts would be every persons concern. I suppose $$$ talks, power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. < do not take offence to this paragraph, as it is a generalisation, and try to behave yourself, and stop claiming that you are insulted when you insult others who do not agree with you on a constant basis.Enrico.
  • alasdairp
    There is a lot in this BRHP blog that needs untangling.

    1/. "Smart Meters" are not simply "remote reading meters" (though some utilities are purposely confusing the terms). Remote reading meters just put human meter-readers out of work and save the utilities money. Smart Meters can be read remotely, of course, but that is not the rationale behind them.

    2/. As populations increase and power use transfers more and more to electricity, we do need to conserve energy and we need to spread out electricity demand to smooth the high peaks in demand that occur several times each 24 hours. These cause the need for power stations to be run up to "spinning standby", ready to provide large amounts of extra powers at very short notice. This is both wastefully expensive and wasteful of actual power. Also large, usually overhead, powerlines need to be made larger than really necessary to cope with the high peaks in demand. Smart Meters are designed to help us deal with these issues.

    3/. There are a variety of ways Smart Meters can communicate.

    (a) Wide Area Network (WAN): These communicate with the electricity supplier at regular intervals, typically every 15 minutes. The long term aim is to do it this frequently as this is necessary in order to be able to influence electricity demand through a variable time-of-day and total-power-used-now cost tariff (even if some companies are only doing it once a day at present!). The price per unit (kWh) may vary from about 3 US cents to as much as 50 US cents or more at peak demand times. The current price will be shown on the Home User Display and high-energy-use "Smart Appliances" (such as washing machines, tumble driers, etc) will be able to be set so that they only operate when the price is below a level that the consumer can pre-set.

    The USA and Canada seem to have mostly opted for the cheap MESH network scheme that allows meters to pass on messages between each other to get to the MESH hub. These do expose local people to higher and unpredictable levels of RF. The UK and Finland and some other countries are using the normal mobile phone networks and, effectively, put a mobile phone in each Smart Meter. France, Germany and some other countries are using low frequency RF (typically about 70 kHz) that is carried along existing cables to the local electricity substation. These systems have a single continuous carrier which switches between two nearby frequencies to carry the data and they have a much lower chance of affecting biological systems and people. It would also be possible to use the home's wired or fibre-optic broadband connection, but no-one is offering that for Smart Meters at present.

    (b) Home Area Network (HAN): These use a variety of microwave RF systems (Zigbee, Z-Wave, WiFi, etc) to communicate with the Home User Display. These communicate continuously and are equivalent of adding a private WiFi network transceiver into your home. Some utilities have said that these can be switched off, however I am certain that they will all default to being on, whether you want them or not. As far as I know, there are no wired options being offered.

    4/. Although mobile phone use does expose people to the highest levels of RF energy, this only contributes to about 28% of a modern person's time-weighted total exposure, with another 28% from base-stations and 28% from DECT cordless emissions, 10% from broadcast TV and radion and 6% from WiFi. (Frei, et al, 2010, EI 36, 710-720).

    Many countries have electricity meters externally mounted on outside walls. In the UK, where I am, something over 50% of meters are inside houses, often right in the centre underneath the stairs. I would not want a mobile phone meter located there in my home as the meter would have to transmit at higher power to get a signal out to the base-station.

    Dariusz writes that a chosing a wired option may help some people "cope with the uncertainty". Many people (including me) choose not to have WiFi or DECT in their home, especially overnight when it can interfere with their sleep quality as we are convinced that such pulsing or intermittant RF does affect our wellbeing. There is no uncertainty for us even if most scientists can not, as yet, understand how we can be affected (other than mentally!). We do not want microwave RF transmitters forced on us inside our homes when there are perfectly good ways of implementing Smart Metering that do not require microwave RF transmissions.


  • Biron
    I would be interested in the 28% weighted allocation to cell towers.  I have seen measurements of one nearby antennae being less than 1%, with broadcast FM and TV being the dominant factor -- but this was not a rigorous study.

    Is that 28% allocation in general agreement with other studies?
  • dariusz_leszczynski
    The "smart meter", working via wireless connection is not continuously on sending information. It is like cell phone on table when we do not use it. The most of energy is emitted when it sends text message = info to electric utility company. So, the exposures are minimal.

    That is why, to reduce exposures to very low, people are adviced to send text messages instead of calling.

    We have bigger problems to solve. First with the exposures to cell phones - do they cause cancer or other aiulments. We do not know yet.

    Then, there is a difficult problem how to study cell tower radiation exposures that are very low but are 24/7.

    Making scare of "smart meters" prevents research on these two bigger problems.

    "Smart meter" exposures are very very low as compared with cell towers and extremely very very low when compared with cell phones.

    Let's focus on more real possibilities of health effects and not mess up things with "smart meters"...
  • Soapboxjill
    You are wrong here, man. Our water meters send signals every 4 seconds from every person's basement. The town only reads them once per quarter (every three months).
    The pulsed nature of this radiofrequency radiation is what makes it biologically active according to studies, even at levels far below FCC standards, which only deal with heating effects despite much evidence for other effects and harm.
    Please look at the 2000 some studies from the 1970s compiled by Zory Glaser for the U.S. military dealing with radiofrequency health affects. Also read through the BioInitiative Reports 2000+ studies. Then tell me there is no reason to use the Precautionary Principle, and playing Russian Roulette with these emissions is perfectly acceptable.
  • alasdairp
    Sorry, Dariusz, I disagree.

    Smart Meters are continuously sending HAN information - both to the in house display (if the people have one) and for future "Smart" appliances. That uses Zigbee, Z-wave, WiFi and other microwave RF systems at 2.4 or 5.x GHz. That is a continuous WiFi-like network signal. That is separate from the higher-powered but less frequent WAN information to/from the electricity supplier.

    If the utilities (and governments) could guarantee one SMS text message per day, during the daytime, as the maximum and only RF signal from a Smart Meter, then I imagine that most people would accept that. But the agreed Smart Meter long-term concept and justification would not work if that were the case. That needs readings at least every 15 minutes during peak load times of day. It is clear (please watch some of the You Tube videos!) that the USA and Canada meters transmit every few 10s of seconds in their MESH networks.

    I think you are missing the main reasons for the objections - RF SMs are being forced on electricity (and gas) consumers AND they/we are paying for the change (either through government grants from taxes to the electricity industry as in the USA or, like in the UK, thorough a structured long-term price rise to raise about £10,000,000,000 GBPounds sterling to pay the industry back for the implementation cost).

    I don't want to be forced to pay for an enormous extra wireless infrastructure when the Smart Metering could have easily been implemented without using microwave RF technology. I sleep badly when in a house or hotel with WiFi and/or DECT cordless technology. I am not prepared to allow that technology to be forced on me inside my own home. I hardly ever use a mobile phone (I have a pay-as-you-go handset that I have put £10 GBPounds in that has lasted 3 years and I still have a few pounds credit left!).

    If people want to hold RF devices to their heads - then that is their choice. I don't (although I was a big user of amateur transmitters in the past and I built and used walkie-talkies while still at school in the 1960s) and I don't want wireless devices (especially 24/7 ones) inside my home. They are not necessary.

    When EU/EC EMC rules were implemented in the early 1990s a susceptibility test of 3 V/m was set for consumer electronics. At the time that level was chosen as it was 10 times higher that the likely levels of RF in the home environment other than next to a working microwave oven. That level is now exceeded near to WiFi routers,  XBoxes, DECT base units, etc.

    For me, your suggestion is like recommending more scientific "fiddling while Rome burns".

    This issue is not mostly about science, per-se. It is about appropriate public consultation and societal implementation of national utility infrastructure schemes. This seems mainly to be a way to boost GDP and save the electricity industry money. However, some countries, like Germany and France, are doing it without using microwave RF technology. We were denied that debate and choice in the UK and so were USA and Canadian citizens. It seems "wireless with everything" is what we get, whether it is the best societal choice or not.

    Yes, more EMF and RF health and bio-effects related research is needed and should be properly funded. I would suggest something in the order of a 0.1% tax on all mobile phone call charges should be allocated to it. That would raise enormous research funds each year without any great difficulty or cost to individuals. It would be just 2 cents from a $20 USD per month cellphone contract, but would raise about $200M (million) USD per year for appropriate research.

    In the meantime good precaution along the lines of good electromagnetic (EMC) hygiene should be practised and microwave RF only used when there is no practical alternative. There are good alternatives for Smart Meters.

  • dariusz_leszczynski

    The difference between us is that you are sure that "Rome burns" whereas I dont know if "Rome burns". While I am concerned with cell phones and their impact on health, you and others are more concerned with emissions that are thousands of times smaller than emissions from cell phone. And it has to be said that even the health impact of cell phone emissions is not yet certainty because IARC classified it as possibly, not even probably, carcinogenic.

    My first concern is to prove that cell phone radiation is or is not harmful to our health.

    This is of course not enough for persons claiming to be EHS but somewhere one needs to begin...

    And it is not my fault that there is no research money...
  • Janvank
    Dariusz, you know high frequency radiation has non thermal effects and you do not know for certain how that works - so, your argumentation 'negligible compared to other sources so no concern' is false.
  • dariusz_leszczynski
    No, my argumentation is not false. Do you suggest that e.g. sending one text message a day causes such level of exposure that it might be harmful to health. No, certainly not. Get real.
  • Dariusz,                                                                                                                              

    Why do you write to Janvank with such malice?                                                                                                                      Is it rational behaviour for so-called professor Dariusz to reply in such a condescending manner to Janvank, and others who may not agree with him on TWTC?                                                                                                            The several attempts by Dariusz to marginalize and malign the many persons whom may not share his view is clearly distasteful conduct, unbecoming of a so-called professor, whom may be relied upon because of his qualifications.                              I would suggest that persons evaluate the content on TWTC with due care, and not be misled, as qualifications are irrelevant when the health harm is continuously denied/doubted by those looked upon whom are in position of authority.                                                                                                            Could Dariusz be viewed as a extreme serious health impediment to mankind and the ecology, by continuously spreading disinformation on TWTC? In brief I think we must take everything into consideration and understand that not all that glitters are diamonds ... Enrico.
  • dariusz_leszczynski

    Please, point the "malice" in my answer to Janvank. I do not see it.

    On the other hand you are getting "personal" by using term "so-called professor Dariusz".

    You may disagree with my opinions as well as I may with yours, but, please, do not insult me for my scientific opinions.

    Thank you.
  • dariusz_leszczynski
    This comment applies to all comments in the discussion here:

    Is the amount of radiation emitted by smart meter networks or by wlan, or by wi-fi of by cell towers sufficient to trigger any biological effects?

    Let us remember that these radiation levels are thousands times lower than the radiation levels emitted by cell phones.

    Already with cell phone radiation levels is not so easy to study biological effects because radiation level is low and effects might be cell-type-dependent etc.

    The argument that some people feel the effects of the low radiation emitted by cell toers, wlan or wi-fi, needs to be "revisited". Why? Because all human provocation studies, where volunteers asked whather they feel when radiation is on/off - have failed. WHY?

    My argument is, and always was, that the studies based on what people feel are imprecise and easilty prone to error associated with experimental stress.

    If the sensitive people feel when radiation is on then there is no need for further research but time for regulation only?

    But why resaerch studies fail because sensitive people cannot feel when radiation os on...

    The EHS people are "shooting their own foot" by claiming that they know better whats up. If they know then research is not needed.

    But the decission makers ask for science to back-up their decissions. And there is only science of failure to recognize when radiation is on...

    How to get pass the impasse?

    I am TRYING TO HELP, but I am being "shot down" by the both sides.

    Quality of radiation is not all. Quantity is of paramount importance. If there is not enough of quantity then quality will not indice any effect beyond, maybe, some background noise, that is unimportant to biology or health.

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Feb 19, 2012, 8:25:58 AM2/19/12
deever Collapse
In Toronto, Canada, before we had our regular smart meter replaced, RF tinnitus was provoked in myself at 15 minute intervals, as the meter fired off its needless data. I could tell time by it, witnessed by others. As I have commented repeatedly, this RF-induced tinnitus must be taken as an early alarm, since there is no pain or heat signal in the brain as elsewhere in the body. We have now heard, especially among older people in Toronto, of tinnitus arising in the past couple of years, in line with the presence of these meters. It's possible a major error might have been to not have disabled transmissions during the lengthy period post-installation but pre-activation of the meshed system, leading to very frequent useless attempts at communicating, before settling down, as it were, to (at least) 1/4-hourly. Possibly during this period of wayward emissions were I & others "sensitized", as my own symptoms arose in an otherwise relatively low RF area where we live, and I had been sleeping a few feet from the household electrical intake, the tinnitus "heard" first in bed . It's too late now. Further, it is suspected that serious additional "grid pollution" has been effected by the operation of this meter network. There have been various starter attempts by utilities here at accommodating those who prefer to opt out, for whatever reasons, as we have for health reasons. But neighbourhood increased "electrosmog" prevails, to all our detriment.

It is an error where advocates do not frame more specific issues such as wifi in schools or these meters in terms of the broader EM assault. But Dariusz Leszczynski's comments here miss the mark almost totally. This tinnitus seems easy & not costly to study. We guess it is not as prestigious as molecular level study. But it is patently absurd to base public health recommendation prioritizing the latter kind of study over the former.
dariusz_leszczynski Collapse

Tinnitus is not a "panaceum" to resolve the controversy and end debate.

Tinnitus is caused by a variety of causes. Here is quote from Mayo Clinic:

"...Tinnitus (TIN-i-tus) is noise or ringing in the ears. A common problem, tinnitus affects about 1 in 5 people. Tinnitus isn't a condition itself — it's a symptom of an underlying condition, such as age-related hearing loss, ear injury or a circulatory system disorder.
Although bothersome, tinnitus usually isn't a sign of something serious. Although it can worsen with age, for many people, tinnitus can improve with treatment. Treating an identified underlying cause sometimes helps. Other treatments reduce or mask the noise, making tinnitus less noticeable..."

Even more causes of tinnitus are listed in wikipedia definition.

So, it is not so easy to use tinnitus as an end-point in a study.

Intersetingly, tinnitus can be caused by the damage to ear caused by listening to laud music using earphones (wikipedia). Walking around one can see lots of young people doing just that and some passers-by can hear their music too = too much noise!

So, also tinnitus is not good for the study, as are other end-points used, such as heart beat, blood pressure and like.

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