Dear Professor Rodney Croft,
I felt compelled to write this open letter to you after participating on a number of phone calls with you to discuss an upcoming EHS study you and your team are planning. I also felt that it is necessary to respond to a number of points you raised in your presentation on EHS at the recent Electromagnetic Energy Reference Group (EMERG) meeting, hosted by the Australia Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) on the 20th of May 2015, which I believe are contestable.
Below I have listed some feedback for both of these areas of concern. I would appreciate your considered response.
Firstly, in relation to the EHS study, a number of people including myself were invited to assist you to help develop a study protocol that could potentially improve your chances of showing a link between EHS subjective symptom development and Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR) exposure. We stressed the critical importance of including biological tests to look for somatic responses and biological changes that could also be used later to identify potential biological markers for possible future diagnostic criteria. Unfortunately when listening to you describe the expected protocol recently it was clear that there are some fundamental issues. These include the following:
1. None of our suggestions have been considered, or if they were, they have not been included;
2. The study is seriously constrained in terms of time, money and the type of tests to be conducted to the point it is likely to be of little scientific value;
3. The study includes no real objective tests to validate whether EHS is a physiological reaction to EMR exposure; that is, it does not provide any testing methodology to determine or measure somatic responses as a result of EMR exposure;
4. It suffers glaring faults that have previously been identified in my personal EHS case study that I shared with you more than 18 months ago. My Personal EHS case study feedback was based on a test protocol that was provided to me in confidence by Dr Vitas Anderson some years ago. The same aforementioned study was also heavily criticised by Dr Alexander McDonald in relation to his EHS Comcare compensation case. Your study appears to be identical to Dr Anderson’s;
5. It uses a device that does not duplicate a signal typically encountered in everyday life, such as 2.4GHz WiFi or an LTE base station 100 metres away that sufferers are claiming affects them;
6. It uses a device that is operating close to the permitted exposure maximum and is not typically representing the levels being experienced by most sufferers. There is very little point in testing with exposure levels and modulation patterns that are rarely or never encountered in daily life. As you are probably aware, research has shown that higher power levels do not necessarily translate into a larger biological response - 2013 Panagopoulos et al.
7. It is a subjective test that looks at subjective symptoms and has the test subject rate a single symptom using a subjective scale that can easily be misinterpreted because the person who will interpret the data is not EHS and may not have a clear view of EHS symptom development or progression.
8. Can be affected by other influences such as recovering from a recent illness (e.g. flu, head cold etc.), performance anxiety, over analysis of feelings or under estimating/over estimating current
state of wellbeing etc. that cannot be accurately measured and may significantly interfere with the outcome of the test;
9. Does not take into account how cells respond to stress and does not indicate what the physiological mechanism between exposure and conscious perception of, and distress to, the exposure might be.
Unfortunately, it looks as though this study will offer no new insight into EHS or its cause. Even if the study does show a possible association with EMR, it will be lumped in with the rest of the more than 40 provocation style studies (both positive, neutral and negative) that I have systematically reviewed. It will also easily be dismissed by industry because of the aforementioned limitations and poor testing protocol criteria that I have previously identified.
Given the number of issues raised, we do have to question what the real purpose of this study is? There are mechanisms in place to request increased funding to expand the testing scope in order to support a more robust test protocol. As you indicated previously no request has been made and so it raises the question in the eyes of the EHS community as to whether there is any real intention to look at EHS objectively?
It looks to me like Australian science going through the motions to give the impression that it is looking for answers but in reality there is no serious scientific effort being undertaken to ascertain whether EHS is linked to EMR exposure. Underlying this concern is the feeling that there may be a potential biased attitude that is not expecting to find any correlation. An even more troubling proposition would be if the study has been intentionally designed to avoid finding an association.
EMERG EHS presentation
In relation to your presentation at the recent EMERG committee meeting you indicated that there have been no double blind tests that have been able to demonstrate subjective symptoms are linked to EMR exposure. Dr Vitas Anderson had previously repeated this claim to me, some years ago when I contacted him about potentially being tested. However, this claim is clearly not correct. There are many such studies; for instance, see “Health Council of the Netherlands. TNO study on the effects of GSM and UMTS signals on well-being and cognition” which can be found here http://www.salzburg.gv.at/tno-fel_report_03148_definitief.pdf
The TNO study was a well-controlled double blind test that used simulated GSM and UMTS signals on 72 test subjects. The Researchers confirmed, under laboratory conditions, the existence of a microwave syndrome that at least 23 teams of scientists in 16 countries have reported to be wide spread in the vicinity of cell towers, and among users of cell phones.
Your slides also made reference to the work performed by Rubin as an example to support your case that EHS is likely to be a nocebo effect. Many EHS sufferers and scientists have a low opinion of Rubin and his dubious provocation trials, with scientists such as Professor Andrew Marino saying this of Rubin’s work:
“James Rubin, King’s College London published a blindingly biased paper in which he argued that there was no such thing as electromagnetic hypersensitivity (no robust evidence). His numerous studies on electromagnetic hypersensitivity are all negative, but that negativity was manufactured by employing
experimental designs and statistical analysis that were virtually guaranteed to produce negative results. By means of jaundiced analyses he comes to the conclusion that EHS sufferers have a purely psychosomatic disease, a viewpoint that has untold benefits for his clients and funders, particularly the cell-phone companies.
His work is a scientific Ponzi scheme in which he gets money from the phone industry effectively by promising negative results, creates and publishes such results, and is then rewarded by the industry with even more funds, like petting a trained dog. The natural consequence of his work is to stigmatize EHS sufferers as neurotics who need the care of a psychiatrist, not an internist or allergist. Rubin is almost a perfect example of a scandalous scientist in a scandalous system that consists of cell-phone companies having enough money to buy any results they want, dependable trained dogs who produce the desired results, and scientific journals such as Bioelectromagnetics that publish the results without properly vetting them, and without insistence on simultaneous publication of conflict-of-interest statements.”
Professor Andrew Marino has himself performed a double blind study on a lady who claimed she was sensitive to ELF frequencies.
“In a double-blinded EMF provocation procedure specifically designed to minimize unintentional sensory cues, the subject developed temporal pain, headache, muscle twitching, and skipped heartbeats within 100 s after initiation of EMF exposure (p < .05). The symptoms were caused primarily by field transitions (off-on, on-off) rather than the presence of the field, as assessed by comparing the frequency and severity of the effects of pulsed and continuous fields in relation to sham exposure. The subject had no conscious perception of the field as judged by her inability to report its presence more often than in the sham control.”
Obviously we have different views on EHS and the potential causes as demonstrated in the content of our presentations on EHS at the recent EMERG meeting. However, despite these differences in opinion and your reluctance so far to adopt some of our recommendations, I am still willing to continue making myself available to impart my knowledge on EHS to you and your team especially as I have considerable experience with this condition having been EHS for more than 13 years.
PS I have attached a full version of my Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity PowerPoint that I presented at the recent EMERG meeting. Due to time constraints the presentation on the day was a significantly cut down version.