NCRP Scientific Committee 89-3 on ELF EMF

There is a rumor that a National Council on Radiation Protection report in Washington that recommends a maximum permissible exposure limit for the general public of 2 milligauss will be suppressed. Fact, or fiction ? You tell me.

Here is an excerpt from Bridlewood EMF Health Effects, that may answer the above query:

The latest official recognition of the health risk comes in a leaked [emphasis mine, ed.] United States National Council on Radiation Protection report funded by the Environmental Protection Agency and written by eleven leading American experts in EMFs. Bob Edwards, in the October 7, 1995 issue of New Scientist, writes that the report recommends an EMF safety limit of 2 mG (0.2 microteslas). He writes:
"EPA officials say the report is the most comprehensive study ever on the health effects of low-frequency EMFs. Its findings represent a fundamental challenge to the electricity industry. The authors say that their recommendations, if accepted, could force `complex and costly' changes in society`s use of electricity.
"The committee`s chairman, Ross Adey, a neurologist from the Veterans Affairs Medical Centre in Loma Linda, California, says there is now a `powerful body of impressive evidence' to suggest that very low exposure to EMFs has subtle, long-term effects on human health. `The sensitivity of the brain and its mechanisms to these fields is the key to understanding this issue,' he told New Scientist.
"The report recommends that future developments adopt a safety limit of 0.2 microteslas, [2mG]. This is a very weak magnetic field, and stronger fields are common around electricity pylons and close to electrical appliances. New nurseries, schools and houses should not be built where EMF exposures breach that guideline, says the report, and power lines should be kept away from residential areas. Offices should be designed to keep workers'exposure from computers, photocopiers and printers below 0.2 microteslas."
The final report is expected [emphasis mine, ed.] to be released to the public in late 1996 or 1997.

An article in Science (Vol. 269, 18 August 1995, p. 911) reported that "After spending nearly a decade reviewing the literature on electromagnetic fields (EMFs), a panel of the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP) has produced a draft report concluding that some health effects linked to EMFs such as cancer and immune deficiencies appear real and warrant steps to reduce EMF exposure... Biologists have failed to pinpoint a convincing mechanism of action."

The American College of Radiology made a statement on the release of preliminary NCRP information. "Contrary to many erroneous sources of information, the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP) has not made recommendations on Extremely Low Frequency Electromagnetic Fields (ELF EMF), according to Charles Meinhold, NCRP president."

According to "Battling EMF Reports" in Environews: "A draft report of the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP) calls for exposure limits to minimize potential health hazards associated with EMFs, but it's unclear whether the prematurely publicized recommendation will survive peer review."

And from the NCRP itself, a press release:

October 11, 1995

NCRP Has No ELF EMF Recommendations

Contrary to many erroneous sources of information, the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP) has not made recommendations on Extremely Low Frequency Electromagnetic Fields (ELF EMF). Draft material formulated by NCRP Scientific Committee 89-3 on ELF EMF has been improperly disseminated and does not reflect NCRP recommendation. When an NCRP scientific committee completes what it considers to be its final draft, the draft enters an extensive review process. This process generally follows the following scenario: (1) general peer review by several selected expert reviewers, (2) revision of the report based on the comments received, (3) review of the revised draft by the 75 NCRP members and approximately 50 organizations involved in the Council's program, (4) further revision of the report to address the comments proffered -- keeping in mind that the 75 Council members must be virtually unanimous in approval before a report can be issued. The draft report in question will soon be ready to enter step (1) above. Therefore, it has absolutely no standing at this time. Thus, it should not be copied, quoted, cited, or referenced outside of the NCRP. Considering the extensive nature of the review process, it is impossible to predict when the NCRP may have a report on the subject of ELF EMF and it is not possible to know the extent of recommendations that might be made.

One of the primary objectives set forth in the Congressional Charter of the NCRP is to collect, analyze, and disseminate information and recommendations about radiation protection and measurements. The unauthorized distribution of the current draft material is certainly not the sanctioned means of "disseminating" information. This situation makes evident the value of following NCRP's procedures, which for more than 60 years have served the public interest, and have proved effective in producing a consensus of the leading scientific thinking on matters of radiation protection and measurement. It is hoped that interested parties will ignore the improperly disseminated draft report material and allow the NCRP process to proceed.

The National Council on 7910 Woodmont Avenue, Suite 800
Radiation Protection Bethesda, Maryland 20814-3095
and Measurements Telephone: (301) 657-2652
FAX: (301) 907-8768

And here is a link to Microwave News, where: "Reprinted below is Section 8 of the June 13, 1995, draft of the report of NCRP Scientific Committee 89-3 on Extremely Low Frequency Electric and Magnetic Fields, which contains its conclusions and recommendations."

So while I can understand why somebody might use the word "suppressed", it is probably not technically accurate. If you follow the above link and read the DRAFT report, you'll see that most of the quotations, while accurate, were made slightly out of context, making the recommendations seem more extreme; and, the review process was entirely overlooked. Review or not, it looks like this NCRP report is going to be a major political hot-potato ...