Analyses of ICNIRP’s criticism of the National Toxicology Report by Dr Ronald Melnick

Conclusion: ICNIRP ‘misrepresented’ the study and should not have dismissed the carcinogenic effects … [from] exposure to Radiofrequency/Electromagnetic Fields.”


Analyses of Criticisms of the National Toxicology Program study on cell phone radiation made by ICNIRP (the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection)

In a new paper published in Health Physics, Ronald Melnick PhD, a toxicologist, for 28+ years at the United States government’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program (NTP), and lead designer of the NTP study on cell phone radiation, analyzed criticisms made by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) of the National Toxicology Program Study on cell phone radiation. Melnick’s analysis concluded that ICNIRP “misrepresented” the study and should not have dismissed the carcinogenic effects found in experimental animals exposed to RF-EMF.

Melnick reviews the ICNIRP criticism point by point with scientific documentation related to the methodology, interpretation, and relevance of the National Toxicology Program studies on cell phone RF radiation. Topics that he covers in this paper include pathology review procedures, rat survival rates, significance levels, and the need to establish a verified mechanism. Melnick explains how criticisms that the exposures were too high are unfounded, as when you consider the exposure in the brain, those were similar to or only slightly higher than the localized exposure limits (FCC ICNIRP) for the general population and lower than the localized limits for occupational exposures. The NTP study was designed to investigate effects from non-thermal chronic RF-EMF non-ionizing radiation exposures.

Melnick also pointed out that ICNIRP focused on only the carcinogenicity of RF-EMF from animal studies, “but neglected to point out that other adverse effects were observed in the NTP studies, including reduced birth weights, DNA strand breaks in brain cells (which is supportive of the cancer findings), increased incidences of proliferative lesions (tumors and hyperplasia) in the prostate gland, and exposure-related increases in the incidence of cardiomyopathy of the right ventricle in male and female rats. In addition, other studies have reported adverse effects on male and female reproduction and neurobehavioral effects resulting from exposure to low-intensity non-ionizing radiation.”

Melnick concludes the paper, “The NTP studies show that the assumption that RF radiation is incapable of causing cancer or other adverse health effects other than by tissue heating is wrong. If ICNIRP’s goal is truly aimed at protecting the public from potential harm, then it would be appropriate for this group to quantify the health risks associated with exposure to RF-EMFs and then develop health-protective guidelines for chronic exposures, especially for children, who are likely to be more susceptible than adults to adverse effects of RF radiation.”

“At the very least, ICNIRP should promote precautionary advice for the general public rather than trying to justify their decision to dismiss findings of adverse health effects caused by RF-EMFs and thereby retain their 20+ year-old exposure guidelines that are based on protection against thermal effects from acute exposures.”

Melnick, Ronald Regarding ICNIRP’S Evaluation of the National Toxicology Program’s Carcinogenicity Studies on Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields, Health Physics: June 2020 – Volume 118 – Issue 6 – p 678-682 doi: 10.1097/HP.0000000000001268

Video of Dr. Melnick presenting comments at the National Toxicology Peer Review


Melnick, Commentary on the utility of the National Toxicology Program study on cell phone radio frequency radiation data for assessing human health risks despite unfounded criticisms aimed at minimizing the findings of adverse health effects, Environmental Research 2019


Dr. Ronald L. Melnick served as a toxicologist for 28+ years at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the National Toxicology Program (NTP), before retiring in 2009. Dr. Melnick received his BS from Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ and his MS and PhD from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He was a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Physiology-Anatomy at the University of California in Berkeley and then an assistant professor of Life Sciences at the Polytechnic Institute of New York. At NTP/NIEHS, Dr. Melnick was involved in the design, monitoring, and interpretation of toxicology and carcinogenesis studies of numerous environmental and occupational agents, including 1,3-butadiene, chloroprene, isoprene, water disinfection byproducts, etc. He led the design of the NTP carcinogenicity studies of cell phone radiofrequency radiation in rodents. In addition, his research has focused on the use of mechanistic data in assessing human health risks of environmental chemicals.

He was manager of the NIEHS Experimental Toxicology Unit, Carcinogenesis and Toxicology Evaluation Branch, and group leader of the NIEHS Toxicokinetics and Biochemical Modeling Group, in the Laboratory of Computational Biology and Risk Analysis. He spent one year as an agency representative at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to work on interagency assessments of health risks of environmental agents and on risk assessment research needs in the Federal government. Dr. Melnick has convened several national and international symposiums and workshops on health risks associated with exposure to toxic and carcinogenic agents, and he has served on numerous scientific review boards and advisory panels, including those of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency. He is a fellow (emeritus) of the Collegium Ramazzini. Dr. Melnick is the recipient of the American Public Health Association’s 2007 David P. Rall Award for science-based advocacy in public health.

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