Interagency Committee on the Health Effects of Non-Ionising Fields
Draft Notes from the Zoom Meeting held on 18 February 2021
Peter Berry (Electricity Engineer’s Assoc.), Veerendra Bhim (Energy Safety Group, WorkSafe
NZ), Ben Blakemore (Telecommunication Carriers Forum), Simon Cooke-Willis
(Telecommunication Carriers Forum), Martin Gledhill (Ministry of Health – Acting Secretary),
John Dockerty (University of Otago), Kimbal McHugo (Ministry of Education), Adam Tommy
(Kordia), Matthew Walker (Transpower New Zealand Ltd), Andrea t’Mannetje (Massey
University), Theresa van Rooyen (Radio Spectrum Management), Pippa Player (ministry of
Business, Innovation and Employment), Ken Karipidis (ARPANSA), Sarah Loughran
(ARPANSA), Dave McLean (Massey University), Sally Giles (Ministry of Health).
Richard Jaine (Ministry of Health – Chair), Marie Gibson (DHB Public Health Units), John Duffy
(Consumer NZ), Isobel Stout (local government), Elaine Gyde (Ministry for the Environment),
Sally Gilbert (Ministry of Health).
As well as presenting his apologies and announcing his resignation, Jon Duffy noted that there
was no-one in Consumer NZ able to replace him, but he offered to suggest replacements.
Due to the absence of Richard Jaine, Dave McLean took the chair, welcomed everyone to the
meeting and led a round of introductions.
Finalise the agenda
The agenda was confirmed. An item to discuss a replacement for Jon Duffy was added to
Minutes of the previous meeting
The minutes of the meeting held on 13 August 2020 were confirmed as an accurate record of
There were no action points from the previous meeting.
under the Official Information Act 1982
New Zealand Information on ELF and RF
Isobel Stout sent a report that there had been no local government issues.
Ministry of Education
The programme to replace all wireless equipment in schools is now back on after delays due
to Covid-19. Resilience for internet connections is also being installed, with 4G connections as
a backup for fibre.
Ministry of Health
The volume of correspondence on 5G (Ministerials and OIAs) has been lower than last year.
Energy Safety Service/Worksafe
There have been no queries received.
Update on Standards
Adam Tommy noted the revised ICNIRP Guidelines and that they had been incorporated into
the ARPANSA RPS S-1 RF Standard. ICNIRP has a long-term project to review its ELF
The joint Standards Australia/Standards New Zealand TE-007 committee that develops EMF
exposure assessment Standards has proposed the direct text adoption of several relevant IEC
Health Canada has updated the limits in the Canadian Safety Code 6 (SC-6) RF exposure
Standard dealing with brief and/or pulsed exposures at frequencies greater than 6 GHz. The
approach takes a modification of that proposed in ICNIRP 2020.
The IEEE is reviewing limits at frequencies less than 10 MHz in its C95.1 Standard.
Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment
MBIE is looking at RMA reform but waiting for guidance from MfE.
Industry Update on Engineering and Technical Developments
Peter Berry reported that he has not heard of any significant EMF issues from the electricity
Matthew Walker said that Transpower is receiving a low level of EMF enquiries, about one per
week. He referred to the recent Climate Change Commission report, and a Transpower report
on the electrification of the economy, both of which foresee a move towards increased use of
electricity and the consequent need to upgrade the grid.
Ben Blakemore reported that public concerns on RF and 5G seem to have decreased since
Simon Cooke-Wil is noted that Spark and Vodafone are rolling out 5G sites and promoting 5G
phones. Internet of Things use over platforms suc
Official h as LoRaWAN is increasing in applications
such as agriculture where data volumes are low and using cellular data services would not be
The next generation of WiFi using IEEE 802.11ax protocols is being introduced. It is frequently
referred to as “WiFi 6”, which risks confusion with “6G”. It has the same transmit power
restrictions, and uses the same frequencies, as current generations of WiFi. In some
jurisdictions, a 6 GHz band is also becoming available. WiFi 6 is more efficient than previous
generations at serving multiple users, and can transfer data at rates up to 10 Gbps.
In the light of the arson attacks on cellsites last year, Vodafone has commissioned some short
videos to show on social media that explain what 5G is really about.
The FAQs that acco
Released mpany the ICNIRP 2020 guidelines are recommended reading for any
Australian Information on ELF and RF
Ken Karipidis and Sarah Loughran spoke to their report. Ken Karipidis has jointly authored a
paper with Andrew Wood (Swinburne University of Technology) on calcium movement in and
out of cells. Andrew Wood’s contribution was funded by the Ministry of Health. The paper
concludes that RF fields do not have any effect on calcium movement. ARPANSA has paid for
the paper to be open access.
ARPANSA has contributed A$350,000 towards the WHO EMF project to help fund systematic
reviews of the RF research.
RPS S-1 has been reviewed and accepted by the Australian Radiation Health Committee and
wil be published on Thursday 25 February.
Sarah Loughran has been engaged as Director of ARPANSA’s EME Programme. This
programme has now started, and activities wil include exposure surveys in the home and
workplace, looking at the cumulative exposures from different sources and how these change
over time. The calibration facility wil be upgraded with a new anechoic chamber. The
programme wil also fund research carried out by ARPANSA and other organisations. In
response to a question Sarah said that ARPANSA wil not be adding capability to measure SAR
from handsets, as this requires specialised, expensive equipment and is already undertaken
International Information on ELF and RF
International Reports (ELF)
John Dockerty gave an overview of the recent papers that he had selected: 1982
• Chen – Dave McLean was a co-author of this paper and gave an overview of the work
undertaken, and the conclusions that motor neurone disease was associated with
occupational exposure to electric shocks but not ELF magnetic fields. Potential for
exposure was assessed using established job-exposure matrices which. While generally
suitable for this purpose, they do have limitations. The findings appear to be biologically
plausible as electric shocks are a high energy event, whereas ELF magnetic field exposures
• Jalilian – In contrast to the findings of the Chen paper, Jalilian’s systematic review and
meta-analysis came to opposite conclusions: ELF magnetic fields are associated with
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, the most common form of motor neurone disease) but
electric shocks are not. The overall conclusion from the papers is tha
Information t more data is needed.
• Nunez-Enriquez – A well conducted study, in an area with higher exposures than most, but
few exposed cases.
• Ingle – No effects of ELF fields on fertility were found.
• Huang – The meta-analysis found an association between magnetic fields and dementia,
but the data were imprecise.
• Brascher – Provides evidence that people wil experience a nocebo effect if told that they
could experience adverse effects.
the Sarah Loughran commented that there had been similar
findings in a study at Wollongong.
• Harakawa – 10 kV/m electric fields appeared to suppress a stress response in mice.
International Reports (RF)
• Health Council of the Netherlands review of 5G and Health – Concludes that there is no
reason not to deploy 5G at 3.5 GHz frequencies, but recommends that 26 GHz are not used
until there has been further research. The review is based on the WHO 2014 draft RF EHC
document, supplemented by the Swedish yearly reviews and the Health Council’s own
search for more recent papers. The conclusion on the 26 GHz band is surprising, as is the
decision to consider only research in the frequency range 20 GHz – 40 GHz to draw
conclusions about health effects in this band. Some papers that did carry out research in
this frequency range were not included in the review.
• National Academy of Sciences investigation of symptoms experienced by US embassy
personnel in Havana and Guangzhou – This concluded that directed, pulsed RF energy
appeared to be the most likely cause of the symptoms experienced. However, this
conclusion is based on speculation as to whether such exposures actually cause some of
the symptoms (eg vestibular disorders) rather than a firm evidence base, and recent
reviews discount the possibility of RF fields causing many of the reported symptoms.
• BERENIS review of EMFs and oxidative stress – this is a summary of a longer review to be
published on a Swiss government website. It notes the poor quality of some of the research
but concludes that there may be effects. Ken Karipidis commented that the authors appear
to rely on the numbers of studies finding effects when drawing conclusions, rather than
taking account of study quality. One of the systematic reviews commissioned by the WHO
considers oxidative stress.
• Roosli – concludes that epidemiology studies do not suggest increased brain or salivary
gland tumor risk with mobile phone use but there is uncertainty about long latency periods
[more than 15 years].
• Choi – In contrast to the Roosli conclusions, the Choi review and meta-analysis found
evidence linking mobile phone use to increased tumour risk. Differences between the Choi
and Roosli approaches included the fact that Roosli considered ancil ary data, such as
registry studies, to provide a check on the plausibility of some of the epidemiology findings,
and Choi considered the Interphone study to be of poor quality (despite the extensive
• Carlberg – Looked at time trends for thyroid cancers and concluded that they could be
consistent with RF from mobile phones being a causative factor.
• Chen – Found that mobile phone use might result in a decreased risk of meningioma.
• Dos Santos – The studies considered did not provide a lot of evidence, but overall indicated
no genotoxic effects on the oral epithelium associated with cellphone use. Further studies
are needed to evaluate other potential cytotoxic ef ects.
• Cabre-Riera – Found that higher exposure to RF is related to lower non-verbal intelligence,
but cautioned that the nature of the study meant that this could be a chance finding or
reverse causality. The exposure measure, in terms of accumulated dose (mJ/kg/day) is
different to that normally used for exposure assessment (specific absorption rate in
• Karadeniz – Highlights the poor general knowledge amongst the public about causes of
• Shih – The meta-analysis found that some sources of exposure were associated with
increased risk of breast cancer but others were not. Overall they concluded that RF
exposures did give an increased risk. Dosimetry is likely to be poor.
• Kacprzyk – A systematic review and meta-analysis found that cellphone use is not
associated with tinnitus.
• Elwood – An overview article concluding that RF fields do not cause a specific syndrome
of il health. Many of the symptoms reported are common in the population and similar to
those reported with other perceived environmental hazards.
• Wallace – Heart rate variability does not seem to be caused by exposure to GSM signals.
• Koh – Looked at the factors associated with risk perception of 5G networks in Korea.
• Martin – Found that measured exposures to RF fields from cellsites are not associated with
non-specific symptoms or insomnia.
• Frank – An opinion piece recommending a moratorium on 5G roll-out pending more
research. The opinion is based on a limited review of the research, and un-nuanced view
of the precautionary principle.
• Redmayne – Proposes a new model of Electrosensitivity, that needs testing experimentally.
• Eggert – Found that effects of RF exposure on sleep did not appear to be age-dependent
in men, and did not indicate any adverse health effects.
• Lopez – Although exposure to WiFi overnight appeared to improve performance in one
cognitive task, ot
Released hers were not affected and this could be a random finding.
• Lee – Found variations in exposures to the head from mobile phones depended on the year
the measurement was made and the network the phone connected to. Mobile phone output
power was normally far below the maximum possible.
• Wust – Found that the effects of heating cells with RF were significantly different from
heating them to the same temperature in a water bath.
• Leszczynski – A catalogue of studies of mmWave exposures on the skin, that concludes
that more studies are needed to ensure safety. Ken Karipidis commented that ARPANSA
has prepared two papers reviewing studies of exposures to mmWaves at levels below the
ICNIRP limits, and they have been accepted for publication.
• Lee – Long term exposure to mice resulted in cognitive enhancement at middle age.
• Wood – Reviewed the research on effects of RF on calcium flow in and out of cells (as
discussed previously by Ken Karipidis).
• Selmaoui – Reviewed research on the effects of RF exposures on melatonin and cortisol
and found conflicting results.
• Delen – Found effects of RF exposure on rat brains that could be mitigated by melatonin
• Romeo – A proposed systematic review of in vitro studies of genotoxicity of RF fields, that
supplements the WHO systematic reviews being undertaken.
• Suri – Found no association between ELF magnetic field exposures in power plants and
reproductive hormone levels.
• Binboga – Reported evidence for effects of 28 µT ELF fields on heart rate parameters.
• Zhang – Exposed rats over 24 weeks to ELF magnetic fields up to 500 µT and found no
effects on blood properties, fibrosis or oxidative stress in the liver or kidney.
• Bouisset – Found that exposure to ELF magnetic fields and AC currents did not affect
Martin Gledhil spoke to his report on the GLORE meetings. He highlighted the comprehensive
review by Health Canada of mmWave health effects research (to date not published), which
supported ICNIRP’s basis for setting limits but suggested that a slightly dif eren
Act t approach was
needed for specifying basic restrictions and reference levels for brief and/or pulsed exposures.
He also mentioned the Telstra videos about 5G that have circulated on social media, that take
a humorous approach to countering some of the myths that have arisen. They have generally
Replacement for Consumer NZ representative
The Commit ee agreed that a replacement for a Consumer NZ (who represent the public
interest on the commit ee) representative should be found, and that Jon Duffy should be
contacted to obtain his suggestions for such a person.
The discussion turned to whether there should be wider representation on the commit ee.
Martin Gledhil noted that the commit ee was established as a technical advisory commit ee for
the Ministry and other government agenc
the ies, and that members are appointed based on their
expertise. Dave McLean considered that wider representation could do no harm. Kimbal
McHugo said the main purpose of the commit ee is to determine whether the science has
changed to the extent that a review of Health and government policy is needed. Simon Cooke-
Wil is said a consumer viewpoi
under nt is important to ask questions that consumers might have,
such as “Is this product safe” or “Is it covered by standards?”.
: Sally Gilbert to approach Jon Duffy to discuss options for Consumer NZ to continue to
provide representation on the Committee.
RF exposure standards in New Zealand
Adam Tommy noted that the Committee had discussed the ICNIRP 2000 guidelines at its
previous meeting, and that ARPANSA had incorporated ICNIRP’s approach into its new RPS
S-1 Standard, and asked whether New Zealand should also consider updating its guidance.
Ken Karapidis noted that some small but important changes had been made to the ICNIRP
guidelines in RPS S-1. It was noted that the age of NZS 2772.1 was often raised as an
objection to its validity.
The meeting decided to recommend that, in the light of ICNIRP’s 2020 guidelines and
recommendation that countries (like New Zealand) whose exposure standards are based on
ICNIRP 1998 update to the new 2020 guidelines, the Ministry of Health update its own
recommendations on limits for exposures to RF fields to be based on ICNIRP 2020, like RPS
: The Ministry of Health should consider updating its advice on limits for exposures to
RF fields to be based on ICNIRP 2020, like RPS S-1.
The approach to dispelling myths about 5G used in the Telstra videos was raised, noting that
it was a fresh approach and appeared to have been successful. Ben Blakemore raised a
question about research suggesting that symptoms at ributed to RF fields might, in fact, be a
nocebo effect, and asked whether that meant the committee should include someone with
expertise in that area. Sarah Loughran suggested that risk communication is best directed at
people who are undecided, but maybe the approach to how this is done by government
agencies needs to be reviewed. Martin Gledhil commented that the problem exists in other
areas, such as anti-vaccination and theories on the origins of Covid-19 (and indeed, whether
Covid-19 is real) so any change in approach to risk communication could be quite general. He
referred back to some comments in his notes on the GLORE meeting, that there was a risk of
humour undermining strong messaging, but also noting that the government of Victoria had
used humour in its Covid-19 messaging.
The commit ee decided to ask the Ministry of Health about the options used by the Ministry
(and perhaps other government agencies) for risk communication.
: The Ministry of Health should respond to the Committee about the options used by the
Ministry (and perhaps other government agencies) for risk communication.
The Committee noted the reports received and advised that there was nothing in the research
considered at the meeting that would lead the Commit ee to consider that
Information any change in current
policy was required.
Dave McLean announced that he is retiring and that this would be his last meeting with the
Commit ee. The Commit ee gave a vote of thanks f
Official or his many informed contributions over the
The next Committee meeting is proposed for Thursday 2nd September 2021. As part of the
Ministry’s approach to sustainability, participation over Zoom wil be offered.
19 February 2021