EMF Research Publications - SRP Position Statement

News Story from 2nd May 2018

EMF Research Publications - SRP Position Statement

From time to time the Society for Radiological Protection receives requests to comment on specific research publications about the possible effects of electromagnetic fields or optical radiations on health. Members of the Electromagnetic Fields & Optical Radiation Committee are radiation protection professionals who keep up to date with research developments as part of their professional work. However, as volunteers they are unable to provide detailed responses to questions about each specific research paper. Instead this Position Statement sets out some general principles that we believe should guide the evaluation of all research relating to the possible health effects of electromagnetic fields and optical radiations.

  • It is important to stress that the current state of knowledge is based on the results of a very large body of research literature that has accumulated over many years. Any new data simply adds to this body of information and cannot be viewed in isolation.   It is essential that new research should be subject to scrutiny by following a process of independent peer review. 
  • We believe that when considering the possibility of adverse health effects, the greatest weight should be assigned to evidence obtained from studies of people. These may be either epidemiological studies on groups of exposed people or provocation studies using volunteers. Both should adhere to the general principles for high quality research detailed in our Statement.
  • We recognise that the interpretation of evidence from studies of people may be complex. A study may provide evidence of a statistical association between an exposure and an effect on health, but this does not necessarily prove that the exposure causes the health effect. In 1965, the epidemiologist Sir Austin Bradford Hill established nine principles (listed in our Statement) to be considered when assessing if epidemiological results provide evidence of causality. These were not intended as rigid criteria, but rather as guidelines to aid the design of studies and assist in the interpretation of results. Although we recognise that these principles were established over 50 years ago and research techniques have developed considerably in the intervening period, we believe that the Bradford Hill Criteria still provide a useful basis for evaluating causality.
  • We are firmly of the view that the quality of research should be a major factor in deciding how much weight to place on the results. It is difficult to place hard rules on the definition of research quality and very little research is beyond any criticism. Elements that we consider to be of importance are listed in our Position Statement.

Click here for our Position Statement

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