EHT has obtained an important new draft study from top Irish analyst Professor Tom Butler who provides a historical analysis of wireless radiation safety guidelines and traces the serious ethical breaches in the development of safety standards since the 1950s.

This paper, released in February 2021, traces the history of the development of safety guidelines and why they haven’t changed since the 1990s, and suggests “potentially unethical behaviour in a variety of institutional and organisational actors, the consequence of which is a significant risk to the health and wellbeing of adults and children.”


Digital wireless technologies increasingly employ radiofrequency non-ionizing radiation (NIR/RFR) for wireless communication. Early wireless technology innovation focused on military, aviation, and telecommunication applications, such as radar and microwave communications. However, the 1980s saw the rollout of commercial consumer-oriented wireless cellular telecommunications systems. While concerns on adverse health effects from exposure to RFR emerged in the military-industrial context in the 1950s, it was not until the early 1990s that there was an institutional response to calls for health and safety protection guidelines. Unfortunately, these guidelines were based on NIR/RFR thermal risks only—the science and technology experts ignored and dismissed a considerable body of research finding adverse health effects from non-thermal exposures. By 2020, that body of research had grown considerably. Yet, for reasons that are unclear to concerned scientists, guidelines from the 1990s remain unchanged. This study conducts a path constitution analysis (PCA) and a retrospective ethical risk analysis (eRA) to help foster an understanding of how historical guidelines were arrived at and why they remain immutable to change. The study finds potentially unethical behaviour in a variety of institutional and organisational actors, the consequence of which is a significant risk to the health and wellbeing of adults and children.

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Wireless communication technologies enable digital transformation and business model innovation across industries (Hacklin, Björkdahl, and Wallin, 2018). The digital technology and telecommunications sectors are mainly dependent on the use of wireless systems and devices to enable their business models, while transport, medical, entertainment, retail sectors, finance, and so on, also depend heavily on these technologies to innovate, underpin business value propositions, and to deliver services. Consequently, domestic homes are increasingly digitized through a range of wireless communication technologies in smart devices from home security, to heating, to domestic appliances, and of course devices smartphones, tablets, and wearable and other personal devices, leading to the ‘digitisation of individuals’ (Turel et al., 2020). WiFi routers have become the beating heart of the digital home and workplace, connecting as they do all end-user wireless devices to the Internet (Wenbo, Quanyu, and Zhenwei, 2015). 5G technologies are posited to underpin next-generation business model innovation (Yrjola, 2020).

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Until the advent of 5G wireless technologies and the public controversy surrounding them, most people paid little attention to what was widely reported in science and technology studies (STS)—wireless technologies carried known risks to human health and well-being from non-ionizing radiation (NIR), which is being emitted from such devices. The considerable increase in human and environmental exposures to NIR from all sources is generally unrecognised despite its significance (Bandara and Carpenter, 2018).

What are the findings of peer-reviewed scientific studies on the health effects of radiofrequency non-ionizing radiation and the implications for human health and wellbeing?

Most peer-reviewed scientific studies on radiofrequency non-ionizing radiation1 (RFR) conclude that human health and wellbeing may be under significant threat from wireless technologies. 

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READ THE FULL REPORT Source: Environmental Health Trust