Self-referencing authorships behind the ICNIRP 2020 radiation protection guidelines
Else K. Nordhagen and Einar Flydal
In March 2020, ICNIRP (the International Commission for Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection) published a set of guidelines for limiting exposure to electromagnetic fields (100 kHz to 300 GHz). ICNIRP claims this publication’s view on EMF and health, a view usually termed “the thermal-only paradigm”, is consistent with current scientific understanding. We investigated the literature referenced in ICNIRP 2020 to assess if the variation in authors and research groups behind it meets the fundamental requirement of constituting a broad scientific base and thus a view consistent with current scientific understanding, a requirement that such an important set of guidelines is expected to satisfy. To assess if this requirement has been met, we investigated the span of authors and research groups of the referenced literature of the ICNIRP 2020 Guidelines and annexes. Our analysis shows that ICNIRP 2020 itself, and in practice all its referenced supporting literature stem from a network of co-authors with just 17 researchers at its core, most of them affiliated with ICNIRP and/or the IEEE, and some of them being ICNIRP 2020 authors themselves. Moreover, literature reviews presented by ICNIRP 2020 as being from independent committees, are in fact products of this same informal network of collaborating authors, all committees having ICNIRP 2020 authors as members. This shows that the ICNIRP 2020 Guidelines fail to meet fundamental scientific quality requirements and are therefore not suited as the basis on which to set RF EMF exposure limits for the protection of human health. With its thermal-only view, ICNIRP contrasts with the majority of research findings, and would therefore need a particularly solid scientific foundation. Our analysis demonstrates the contrary to be the case. Hence, the ICNIRP 2020 Guidelines cannot offer a basis for good governance…..
Our analysis shows that ICNIRP 2020 itself and, in practice, all its referenced supportive literature stem from a network of co-authors with just 17 researchers at its core, most of them affiliated with ICNIRP and/or the IEEE and with ICNIRP 2020 authors in prominent positions, where those who are not are still closely related.
The overlaps between ICNIRP and the committees authoring the referenced literature reviews have been documented multiple times [4, 19, 20]. However, it was not anticipated that these ties would be so strong, that they include all committees behind the literature reviews, as well as the authorships of all the peer reviewed papers used to underpin ICNIRP 2020. Indeed, we would never have expected to find as few as 17 key authors as the smallest set of authors involved in all the literature used to underpin the ICNIRP 2020, and that they constitute a network heavily overlapping with the ICNIRP 2020 authors themselves. It was also not anticipated that the ICNIRP 2020 authors themselves would be represented in all committees. This means that the authors of ICNIRP 2020 are exclusively referring to themselves and their fellow network members as the basis for their own scientifically highly controversial recommendations.
As well, it was highly unexpected to find that the WHO report  described in ICNIRP 2020 as “an in-depth review from the World Health Organization on radiofrequency EMF exposure and health” [2 p. 486] and presented in these words: “This independent review is the most comprehensive and thorough appraisal of the adverse effects of radiofrequency EMFs on health” [2 p. 517], is in fact a retracted draft where five out of six WHO core group members were ICNIRP affiliates, of whom three are among the authors of ICNIRP 2020. Such a claim and circularity of authorship is encroaching upon something very similar to fraud.
From our findings we draw the conclusion that the referenced literature used in ICNIRP 2020 to underpin its guidelines is neither varied, nor independent or balanced, and is by no means “consistent with current scientific knowledge”, as claimed by ICNIRP 2020 [2 p. 484]. ICNIRP 2020 bases this claim within this small network only, a claim that runs contrary to the majority of biology-oriented researchers and publications within this research field. Hence, our review shows that the ICNIRP 2020 guidelines fail to meet fundamental scientific quality requirements as to being built on a broad, solid and established knowledge base, uphold a view contrary to well established knowledge within the field, and therefore cannot offer a basis for good governance when setting RF exposure limits for the protection of human health.
SEE FULL PAPER, AND SHARE FROM, HERE: https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/reveh-2022-0037/html