Environmental Health Trust (EHT) is releasing information from the almost 1000 pages of internal documents EHT obtained though the Freedom of Information Act revealing that in 2014 the US Centers For Disease Control (CDC) hired Kenneth Foster, Professor of Bioengineering at University of Pennsylvania to be the subject matter expert to develop the CDC’s new website pages on wireless wearables, powerlines, smart meters, Wi-Fi and electromagnetic hypersensitivity.  

EHT’s executive director Theodora Scarato led a years long investigation into the CDC’s drafting of website content on wireless radiation after the CDC removed advice to reduce exposure to cell phone radiation in 2014. Scarato found that the CDC brought Foster in via a contract for hourly consultation. It is unknown if there was a vetting for conflicts of interest before his hire as the CDC has a policy that “our planners, content experts, and their spouses/partners wish to disclose they have no financial interests or other relationships with the manufacturers of commercial products, suppliers of commercial services, or commercial supporters.”

Longstanding Financial Ties to Industry 

Kenneth Foster PhD, has published numerous research studies on 5G and wireless radiation directly funded by wireless and electric company organizations such as the Wi-Fi Alliance, the Mobile Manufacturers Forum, the Electric Power Research Institute and the GSMA who “represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide.” (Click here to see examples of his studies and industry group sponsors.) 

Foster has a long history of being hired by companies to serve as the safety consultant in smartmeter, cell tower and high voltage powerline cases. He lists Motorola, Bell Atlantic Mobile, Comcast Metrophone, Sprint Spectrum, Omnipoint Cellular Communications, and Electric Power Research Institute. (Search Foster to see his CV). An online search finds several examples of Foster presenting as the industry “safety expert” for T Mobile, Towers of PA, AT and T  regarding cell tower safety. 

Furthermore EHT’s  investigation of Foster’s industry connections shows that as soon as some of Foster industry financed papers were published, these very same papers were then used as the cornerstone of  “health and safety brochures” put out by the wireless industry’s foremost public relations associations. In other words, the industry uses industry funded science in their scientific pamphlets as proof of safety.  

Most recently Foster has co-authored Transient Thermal Responses of Skin to Pulsed Millimeter Waves (2020) which states, “The work of Kenneth Foster, Martin Ziskin and Quirino Balzano was supported in part by the Mobile and Wireless Forum.” 

Foster is listed as co-author to several papers that the Mobile Manufacturers Forum (MMF) listed in a 2018 report entitled “Twenty Years of Research”  explaining how the MMF  “support of scientific research has resulted in the following peer-reviewed publications.” 

The above is just a small sampling of the industry financed papers published by Kenneth Foster. Foster has expertise in measureing radiofrequency radiation levels and exposures. However, his papers use the FCC or ICNIRP limits as the benchmark for safety and compare his measured levels to these limits. Thus most people reading his papers will think they assure safety. However FCC and ICNIRP limits do not protect people, nor birds, bees and trees from biological non thermal effects or effects from long term exposure. 

Only Two CDC Webpages Finalized

Documents show Foster helped draft several webpages but only two were ever posted. These pages underwent extensive editing by several members of the CDC in addition to consultation with Foster.

The CDC webpages now online are:

Documents show Foster also helped draft CDC webpages that were never finalized.  Both put forward the industry message that harm is not proven and that electromagnetic hypersensitivity is also not proven to be caused by electromagnetic radiation. These read like content from the wireless industry found here.

Internal Documents Show the CDC Wireless Wearables Webpage Content Dramatically Changed After Foster’s Involvement.

The CDC asked Foster to help with content on wireless wearables. Prior to Fosters consultation, the CDC had developed initial content for the wearable technology webpage and sent it to Foster.

11/20/2014 CDC staff email to Kenneth Foster

In response, on 1/21/2015 Kenneth Foster sent an email to the CDC with suggested wording. Here is an example of one of his emails regarding the wireless wearables page. 

The Bottom Line: The Final CDC Webpage on Wearable  Technology Whitewashes The Issue of Health Effects


EHT has analysed hundreds of emails back and forth between CDC staff and Foster. The content was edited numerous times by various CDC staff. EHT was not able to obtain documents that fully explain the decisions that were made and who made them. Not all of Foster’s recommended text was used and the editing process took months with numerous back and forth communications.  However the final product fully minimizes health effects. 

Rather than an explanation of possible health effects as the CDC initially asked for, the CDC page does not share any  “health effects” to the general public. Information on minimizing exposure is not provided at all.  The CDC’s initial statement that wearables would “increase” a person’s radiofrequency exposure (from their first draft) is removed. “Increase” is replaced with new descriptions such as “low”, “small,” “short,” and “reduced.”

The word “low” is now found 5 times on the current CDC webpage. 

Examples of current text on the CDC website: 

“RF transmitters in wearable devices operate at extremely low power levels and normally send signals in streams or brief bursts (pulses) for a short period of time. As a result, wearable devices expose the user to very small levels of RF radiation over time.”

The final CDC webpage “wordsmiths” any concern away. 

Remember, at the start the CDC staff stated in the email their goals were to inform citizens about sources of exposure, possible health effects and how people can minimize this exposure”.  The final CDC webpage that went live in 2015 does not discuss possible health effects, does not discuss how to minimize exposure and does not inform the public that their RF exposes increase with wearable use. The final website text effectively misinforms the public. 

No “health effects” are explained AT ALL on the final CDC wearable page. 

The only “safety concern” that this page now explains about wearable technology is that it “can distract you.” The page does stateFor more information on non-ionizing radiation and possible health effects, click here” which leads you to a page explaining the difference between ionizing and non-ionizing radiation but even if you click through to it, the webpage still states absolutely nothing about “possible health effects”. 

https://ehtrust.org/the-cdc-hired-an-industry-consultant-to-develop-website-information-for-the-public/ Source: Environmental Health Trust