Statement by Ronald Melnick PhD on the National Toxicology Program Final Reports on Cell Phone Radiation
Ronald Melnick PhD, the National Institutes of Health Senior Scientist who led the design of the National Toxicology Program (NTP) studies on cell phone radiation released this statement after the NTP released their final reports on rats and mice exposed to long term radiofrequency radiation November 1, 2018. Melnick recently published an article in the journal Environmental Research debunking widely circulated criticisms of the NTP study and also released a scientific criticism of the way the NTP study was treated by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).
Update: The FDA has stated that they do not accept the findings. We interviewed Dr. Melnick, one of our senior advisors, to discuss the FDA action on the findings. His statement is below.
Note: Hardell and Carlberg also just published their expert commentary on the US National Toxicology Program study on rats and mice which concludes “that there is clear evidence that RF radiation is a human carcinogen, causing glioma and vestibular schwannoma (acoustic neuroma).”
Statement by Ronald Melnick PhD
November 1, 2018
An important lesson that should be learned from the NTP studies on cell phone radiofrequency radiation is that we cannot assume any current or future wireless technology is safe without adequate testing. In the interest of public health, government agencies must utilize results from these well-conducted health effects studies and issue clear recommendations to the public on how to reduce exposures to agents that are hazardous to our health. The NTP studies clearly show that non-ionizing radiation can cause cancers and other adverse health effects.
Prior to the start of the NTP studies, it was assumed by the industry and the regulatory agencies that radiofrequency radiation could not cause adverse health effects other than those due to tissue heating. So we designed this study to investigate if non-thermal exposures would cause health effects. In the NTP studies, there was clear evidence of cancer development and other adverse health effects at non thermal exposure levels. In the US, the FCC limits for human exposure to radiofrequency radiation are based on the assumption that only thermal effects can cause harm. The NTP studies prove this assumption of safety is not valid.
All new wireless technologies, including 5G, should be adequately tested before their implementation leads to unacceptable levels of human exposures and increased health risks.
It has been said that the NTP cell phone exposures were “high” and therefore the findings may not be applicable to humans. No toxicology or carcinogenicity studies mimic exactly human exposure scenarios. Higher levels of exposure than what most people experience are used in experimental studies due to their limited statistical power and their inability to identify risks in the range of one per thousand or one per million. Because of the widespread use of cell phones among the general public, even a small increase in cancer risk would have a serious public health impact.
Results from well-conducted animal studies have been and will continue to be used to quantify the health risks, including cancer risks, under various human exposure conditions. A quantitative risk assessment of the data from the NTP studies on cell phone radiofrequency radiation needs to be performed by the FDA and that information should be used by the FCC to develop health-protective exposure standards. In fact, it was the FDA that nominated cell phone radiofrequency radiation to the NTP, and I quote “to provide the basis to assess the risk to human health of wireless communication devices.” Therefore, I urge the FDA to immediately conduct the risk assessment of the NTP data.
The NTP studies not only found cell phone radiation increased tumors in the heart and brain but also induced heart damage (cardiomyopathy of the right ventricle in male and female rats) and DNA damage in brain cells of rats and mice. Health and regulatory agencies need to warn the public about the health effects of radiofrequency radiation and provide clear information on how to reduce exposures, especially for children and pregnant women.
We also can no longer state that adverse effects of radiofrequency radiation are not replicated. Increases in tumors from cell phone radiation have indeed been replicated in several studies. The Ramazzini Institute large-scale rodent study found increased Schwannomas in the heart at lower radiation levels than in the NTP studies. The Lerchl et al., 2015 study also found radiofrequency radiation (at significantly lower doses than the NTP studies) promoted cancer development, with evidence for a heightened synergistic impact when combined with a known carcinogen. It should also be noted that the adverse health effects caused in rats exposed to GSM-modulated radiofrequency radiation were also observed in rats exposed to CDMA-modulated radiofrequency radiation.
Ronald L Melnick, PhD, was a senior scientist for 28 years with National Institutes of Health leading studies on numerous industrial chemicals and led the design of the National Toxicology Program/National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences’ Cell Phone Radiofrequency Radiation Studies. Melnick was Director of Special Programs in the Environmental Toxicology Program at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), National Institutes of Health, USA and is now retired and Senior Advisor to Environmental Health Trust.