In this episode, released on July 27, 2021, we welcome Dr. Devra Davis, Epidemiologist and electromagnetic radiation expert. Dr. Davis is one of the most respected experts in the field of EMF, devoted to studying links between the environment and health, and developing public policy to prevent diseases locally, nationally and internationally.
The Safer Tech Podcast is the show bringing you a practical solutions-based approach to understanding how best to live in balance with our increasing reliance on tech.
The show from Shield Your Body brings you expert voices that clearly explain the science that matters to you, and the usable tips that you can use to live healthier, while defending against the health risks of modern day technologies.
In this episode we welcome Dr. Devra Davis, Epidemiologist and electromagnetic radiation expert. Dr. Davis is one of the most respected experts in the field of EMF, devoted to studying links between the environment and health, and developing public policy to prevent diseases locally, nationally and internationally. Through her work and research for leading institutions such as the U.S. National Research Council, World Health Organization, Harvard University, Georgetown University, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Dr Davis has been able to carry out major studies on avoidable environmental and workplace health hazards from air pollution, cell phones and other exposures. As you will hear in this episode, stunningly, the most popular gadget of our age has now been shown to damage DNA, break down the brain’s defenses and reduce sperm count while increasing memory loss, the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and even cancer, yet the majority of us still happily walk around with these devices in our pocket!
In this episode you will hear:
- Why children should not be using phones before the age of 16
- The most worrisome health issues were seeing emerge from EMF science
- The role of parents and teachers in protecting children from EMF
- Regulations that would make this EMF radiation safer
- How to reduce exposure to EMF
- Why Dr. Davis is in a legal battle to sue the FCC for ignoring cell phone radiation risks
For more information on the subject covered today head to https://www.shieldyourbody.com/ for resources, in-depth articles, free tips and PDF guides to learn all about EMF, health and protection.
For more information on Dr Devra Davis and her hugely important work head to https://ehtrust.org
R Blank 0:01
Hello, everyone, I’m R Blank and welcome to another episode of the healthier tech podcast, the podcast about a healthier approach to living alongside modern technology. Today, I am really looking forward to interviewing Dr. Devra Davis. For those in the SYB community, Dr. Davis likely needs no introduction, because her work is so well known, so respected and so important to those who care about EMF and Health. Dr. Davis, whom I’ve known for years and was friends with my father, is the founder and president of Environmental Health Trust, and she’s here today to discuss EMF regulations and advocacy, how all of us can make a difference in the world by helping to reduce EMF in the environment.
Dr. Devra Davis 0:38
I think the most worrisome health issues have to do with reproduction. Today, all around the industrial world, men and women who want to have babies are having a harder and harder time making them when they choose to do so.
R Blank 0:50
She has worked for the National Academy of Sciences and as a senior advisor in the US Department of Health and Human Services. She was appointed by former President Bill Clinton to his Chemical Safety and Hazard Mitigation board. And she served as a lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2007 along with former Vice President Al Gore. She’s written multiple books, including The Secret History of the War on Cancer. And with a résumé like hers, I could go on and on. But instead, I’ll put all that stuff in the show notes. So today, I’m going to be talking with Dr. Davis about her work. And I think it’s going to be really insightful for a lot of people to hear about issues of EMF and tech regulation directly from someone with Dr. Davis’ extensive experience, education and her unique perspective. And I’m hoping we can get her to talk a little bit about the major lawsuit that her organization has brought against the FCC. Before we begin, a brief word. This podcast is brought to you by my company, Shield Your Body, where it is our mission to help make technology safer for you and your loved ones to enjoy. Inspired by the life’s work of my father, Dr. Martin Blank, one of the world’s leading EMF scientists, I founded Shield Your Body in 2012. We provide a ton of great and free resources for you to learn all about EMF radiation, like articles, ebooks, webinars, videos and this podcast. And we also have a world class catalog of Laboratory Tested EMF and 5G protection products. From our phone pouch and laptop pad all the way up to our bed canopy, all of our shielding products are laboratory tested and include a lifetime warranty. Learn more about our products, why we have hundreds of thousands of satisfied customers around the world, at shieldyourbody.com. That’s shieldyourbody, all one word, dot com, and use promo code “pod” to save 15% on your first order with free shipping throughout North America and Europe. So without any further delay, let’s get started. Hello, Dr. Davis, welcome to the podcast. Really appreciate you making the time. Just to get started. I was hoping you could—and I know obviously you have a very lengthly c.v. but—if you could tell my listeners just a little bit about yourself and how you ended up focused in EMF.
Dr. Devra Davis 2:58
Well, I began my career working on environmental health hazards, how to identify them and how to reduce them. And early on, I worked at the National Academy of Sciences, leading one of the studies that was done there on whether or not it was safe to have tobacco smoke in the environments of children and on airplanes. And in working on those two committees at the National Academy of Sciences, it became apparent that tobacco smoke as a secondary pollutant actually could sicken and, frankly, kill people. And that was a big debate. And your listeners may not be aware of that it used to be legal to smoke on airplanes. And that when you finished a long flight you were full of the smell of tobacco. Well, it took the committee, there at the Academy, of distinguished experts quite some time to come to the conclusion that no, you should not have tobacco smoke in the environment because it was causing poor health problems for everyone. But it took longer to get the report released than it did to write it. And that was because of the incredible political pressure that was exerted by the tobacco industry very effectively portrayed in the movie Thank You For Smoking, where the industry swore that they had no knowledge that there could be any problem either with the addictive properties of nicotine or with the fact that tobacco smoke would be injurious to the health of spouses of smokers as well as their children. We worked at the Academy on a number of things, another was relating to pesticides and their residues in food. And in all of this work, we identified things in the environment that needed to be reduced, could be controlled and would have a benefit to health. And we’ve actually seen a dramatic benefit from the decline in lung cancer all over the world in areas where smoking has been controlled and banned. So I went from that topic and from that experience, when I first began to look into the issue of cellphones, almost 20 years ago, when my first grandchild was born. He’s now 16. And he was a bright little baby who could crawl over when he was nine months of age, find a phone that was turned off, turn it on and play a game. That was extraordinary. And he’s a pretty extraordinary kid now. Of course, like all grandparents, at first I was very proud of his obvious intelligence. But having served for the Centers for Disease Control on their committee on childhood lead poisoning, I was well aware that the brain of a child doubles in the first year of life, and that it absorbs heavy metals, when absorbed basically stay forever and have a damaging effect on the brain of that child forever. And because of my knowledge of neuro-development in the child brain, I began to look at what we knew about the brains of children and cellphone radiation. So, concerned about the developing brain in children, I looked at what we knew about the developing brain and cellphone radiation. And I was shocked, because I found a report done in England for the Royal College of Physicians, which warned that children should not be using phones before the age of 16 and that there was not adequate data on their safety. And the more I looked, the more concerned I became. I found a 1994 report from Henry Lai, and VJ Singh, where they had specifically examined the DNA inside the brain of rats exposed then to what became cellphone radiation subsequently. And it was clear evidence that the DNA in the brain can be damaged by cellphone radiation. Now, at that point, I owned three phones, and I wore them kind of like a gunslinger—two of them on my hip, another one I carried around. And like a lot of people enthusiastic about the technology in the beginning, I was thrilled with the capacity to send annoying notes to my staff, telling them what to do at eight o’clock at night, and of course expecting answers. Because what has happened with the technology is that there’s no boundaries set anymore about when does work end and when does play begin? When does the rest of your life go on? When can you not answer a call? And in the beginning, I was quite an enthusiastic user, and I still am. But I use these devices in a very different way nowadays. As a result of my growing awareness of the impact on children, I became concerned. And in my book, The Secret History of the War on Cancer, which was published in 2007, the last chapter of that is called “Presumed innocent.” In that chapter, I discussed several potential hazards, including CAT scans—that’s computerized tomographic screening—of children, which were then equivalent to up to 4,000 chest x-rays for a single CAT scan. And that led to a lot of radiologists working for the Pediatric Radiology Association to come up with the concepts of reducing radiation to children to as low as reasonably achievable called “ALARA.” And that is now the established concept, there, that the pediatric radiologists have developed. But there’s no such concept when it comes to phones. And phones are not ionizing radiation. They’re non-ionizing radiation. That means they can break the DNA bonds in a different way than the ionizing radiation. Ionizing radiation picks off electrons. And we know that ionizing radiation is damaging to DNA, no question about it. Non-ionizing radiation is too weak by itself to damage DNA at low levels, but the pulse of the signal is different than its power. The pulse of the signal is what carries the information and has the potential to be biologically damaging. So, and the more I looked at that, the more concerned I became. And in that book, which is a big book that took close to 20 years to write, it was successfully reviewed in many places around the world, but the only issue on which I got any pushback at all, for this rather big book, was what I said about cellphones. There was a huge response, a negative response—now I learned subsequently—funded by industry. And as a consequence of that, I went on to then three years later write the book Disconnect: The truth about cell phone radiation. I took—left the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, where I had been the Director of the Center for Environmental Oncology, and devoted myself to what I thought was going to be a year or two project on cell phones. That was in 2009. And obviously, it’s been more than a year. And the longer I work on this, the more complicated the issue becomes. And that’s—I got interested in it, frankly, first as a grandmother just trying to find out what was a good thing to do for my grandchildren. And now I’m working with hundreds of scientists around the world who are experts on this issue and who share my concerns and who have published, as I have, in this field.
R Blank 10:09
So. And I definitely I want to get into that in a minute. Before we get into the work you’re doing now and the people you’re collaborating with, you mentioned some of the science that you identified about 16 years ago that was compelling to you regarding health effects of exposure to this type of radiation. That body of science has continued to grow over that period. And I’m wondering, what are some of the most worrisome health issues that you were seeing emerge from EMF science?
Dr. Devra Davis 10:44
I think the most worrisome health issues have to do with reproduction. Today, all around the industrial world, men and women who want to have babies are having a harder and harder time making them when they choose to do so. Now, there are many things that I know affect this. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals have been identified by my colleague, Shanna Swan, in her new book as a major cause of reproductive harm. What’s missing from that book is the realization that current levels of cell phone radiation can damage sperm, can reduce sperm quality, sperm quantity. Now, to make a healthy baby, one needs to have estimated a quarter of a million sperm, because you want the strongest sperm to survive. For a sperm to survive is the equivalent of swimming from Hawaii to Los Angeles. That’s how hard the journey is, and you want the healthiest sperm to succeed in fertilizing the egg. And studies from the Cleveland Clinic, now more than 13 years old, by Ashok Agarwal, subsequently confirmed by my colleague, Massoud (??) Sepherenish(??), originally from Iran and now working in Louisiana, have shown that if you take a regular cell phone signal and under controlled conditions in a laboratory, in a Faraday cage, and you take sperm from a man and put it into two different test tubes, one test tube gets exposed to cell phone radiation for two hours, and one test tube does not, all of the sperm are going to die because they’re not used to living in a test tube. They die three times faster if they’re exposed to cell phone radiation. And they have three times more damage to the DNA on their engines of the sperm called mitochondria. That, to me, is a very important finding. Other work done by Nesrin Seyhan, in Turkey, and by Suleyman Kaplan, in Turkey, with their teams of researchers that they have been leading for 20 years—other work that they’ve done has shown that if you expose pregnant animals to cell phone radiation—and the pregnancy for these animals lasts just three weeks, by the way, that’s why we use rodents in our studies—that those exposed rodents develop smaller brains with more brain damage in their hippocampus, which is a critical part of the brain for memory, impulse control, balance and a number of very important functions. In addition, prenatally exposed animals develop smaller testes, and more abnormalities in their testis, indicating that they will have difficulties in reproduction. And because rodents reproduce so rapidly, over four generations of rodents have been studied. And as they reproduce, the damage is passed on, it may be an epigenetic phenomenon, where you are damaging the capacity of animals to reproduce. In addition to the studies in Turkey, which have been supported by NATO, there are other studies that have been done at Yale University also with prenatal exposure to pregnant animals. And they have found that animals that are exposed, compared to those that are not exposed, have greater amounts of learning difficulties, as measured by a standard protocol for measuring learning in animals—their reaction time, their response to fear, and their ability to learn tasks that are standard rodent tasks. And when you put all of that together, the animal research itself is compelling, but what the Cleveland Clinic and other institutions around the world have shown is that men who carry devices in their pockets—which many men do around the world today—have reduced sperm counts and reduced sperm quality. That is, I think, the most alarming finding that we have at this point, and I discussed that in my TEDx talk, as well. In addition to the findings on reproduction, studies are being produced now in Europe by Martin Roosli and his team in Switzerland. And they have shown that teenagers who use phones more—looking at phone records—have more memory problems, statistically significant memory problems. And I think the effects on the brain, of the developing brain, and obviously on the testis are very important. With Anthony B. Miller, one of the world’s most distinguished epidemiologists, who has published more than 600 publications in his long career, we recently produced a paper showing unexplained increases in colorectal cancer in people under the age of 40, specifically in the United States, a quadrupling—quadrupling—in one decade of this very rare cancer in young people. And when this cancer is picked up in somebody young, it’s not a question of improved diagnosis. Sadly, many of them are first diagnosed when the disease is metastatic, because nobody ever thinks of looking for colorectal cancer. We have shown in this paper that this increase in colorectal cancer has occurred in the United States and Iran. But recently, I’ve been told the same increase is occurring in this cancer in the UK as well. And nobody has an explanation for it, in the past decade alone, a dramatic increase in rectal cancer. Now, rectal cancer is caused by HPV—that’s Human Papilloma Virus associated with HIV AIDS. But there has not been a fourfold change in HIV AIDS. In fact, if anything, the rate of that disease is falling. So we don’t have an explanation for the increase in colorectal cancer. And in our paper, which can be found on our website at ehtrust.org, we specifically talk about the fact that a likely explanation for this unexplained quadrupling of rectal cancer in young people is keeping cell phones close to the body. That also could account for the continuing unexplained decline in sperm count, which is certainly due to endocrine-disrupting chemicals and pesticides but for which electromagnetic fields from cell phones must be playing a role. Because as you probably understand, a cell phone is a two-way microwave radio, and 900 times a minute it’s sending a signal to the tower: “Where are you? Here I am. Where are you? Here I am.” And as long as it’s turned on in your pocket, whether you’re calling or not, it’s working. And unless you turn off all of your apps, to not to update all the time, your phone is going to be sending that radiation directly into you, because the antennas on the phone are omni-directional, they’re symmetrical, and so half of that radiation goes directly into the area of the lower abdomen where the testis and the colorectal area is located. Those are the most alarming findings that I….
R Blank 18:09
Wow. Yes, I know. And those those cover some, I mean, obviously some pretty important areas: human reproduction, brain function and carcinogeneity[sic] in a part of the body that had not been seeing these trends before. This is just…. Yeah, sorry. Go on.
Dr. Devra Davis 18:30
There are three other cancers that I really should mention. Yale University did a case control study on thyroid cancer, which is also increasing and we don’t know exactly why. Some of the increase in thyroid cancer has been dismissed as just improving ability to diagnose it. And I’m sure that’s correct. But this case control study looked at people with thyroid cancer compared to those who do not have the disease, and looked at snips—that’s a kind of single nucleotide excision repair enzymes that we all have. That’s why when you’re exposed to the oxidation from sunlight, you don’t automatically get cancer because you have DNA repair onboard. And they looked at specific types of snips in people with thyroid cancer and found that those who had a particular type of snip had four times more thyroid cancer if they use phones in a regular way. So thyroid cancer is also one of the ones we have to look at. Testicular cancer is another where again pesticides and endocrine-disrupting chemicals are clearly a factor, but cell phone radiation is certainly something that could be important here, because we know from studies of police officers that would keep their radar guns between their legs, that they have an increased risk of testicular cancer. And radar is another form of microwave radiation, non-ionizing but can be damaging. And lastly there’s brain cancer. And I say lastly because the industry has devoted millions of dollars to trying to refute every study that comes out indicating that there is an increase in brain cancer risk. It’s a usually controversial topic because the controversy is manufactured, in large part. There are legitimate questions when it comes to studying cancer, because it’s a long-latency disease—it takes many years before exposures for the disease to develop—except not necessarily in the young. And so for brain cancer in older people, there are case control studies. And every brain cancer study ever done, that looks at people who’ve used a cell phone regularly for 10 years or more, finds an increase in highly malignant brain cancers. And the reason that’s important is because animal studies done in these two-year lifetime of these rodents, at levels of radiation that do not induce heat, clearly damaged the DNA of those animals and increased their risk of malignant brain tumors. The good news, if it is, is that this is a rare tumor in the animals and rare in people, but it right now is at a rate of 7 per 100,000 in the United States. And if it were to quadruple, it would be a huge disaster. And that is why we at Environmental Health Trust have provided materials that explain all of these in more detail.
R Blank 21:25
So you’ve mentioned the domain ehtrust.org. And you just mentioned now Environmental Health Trust. It’s a really important organization, and I was hoping you could inform the listeners what Environmental Health Trust is, and what its mission is.
Dr. Devra Davis 21:43
Our mission is to identify environmental health hazards that can be reduced or controlled in order for people to have healthier lives. We have been focusing most recently on electromagnetic fields. In previous times, we have addressed issues such as the avoidable causes of breast cancer, as well as other forms of cancer, particularly in farmers and those who work with pesticides. We’ve also worked on air pollution. When I was a member of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we worked on the public health impacts of fossil fuels. And I led a team of researchers that produced in The Lancet the first study to estimate what the full burden on public health was from just burning fossil fuels. But Environmental Health Trust now has been focused on the issue of electromagnetic fields. And it seems that we’re going to be continuing to do that for some time. We provide materials to parents and teachers. We have very simple things to show people who are skeptical about the issue. We have a section of our website, you know, for those who know nothing about the issue. And you can drill down deeply and find all the different scientific evidence that we’ve established, that some of which I’ve talked about here today. So the website is a go-to source of information on what is known about the hazards of current levels of wireless radiation. We have a Facebook page, and we’re on Instagram. And we have a Patreon program where growing numbers of people are supporting us with modest contributions every month to get the inside information about the latest science, and transcripts and interviews with some of the top scientists in the world who are working on these issues.
R Blank 23:28
So that’s just so the listeners know, we’ll put all those URLs into the show notes once this is done. What are some of the—so I know your website, it’s a fantastic website, just an amazing amount of information. What are some of the activities or messages that you try to convey to audiences like parents and teachers? What is it you’re trying to get them to do?
Dr. Devra Davis 23:52
Well, first of all, we want them to understand that distance is their friend. And right now, young children should not be having devices on their bodies—phones, or iPads or tablets. They’re called tablets, because they belong on tables. And children should use them ideally they should download what they need to work on and have them on airplane mode. I’m talking to you now on a computer that has an ethernet cable connection that goes into my Apple computer. And you can get an adapter so that you can put your ethernet cable directly into almost any device, including by the way your phone, and use it without wireless radiation exposure. Because wireless radiation, we explain to people, can damage cells and we have not done adequate research on the environmental impacts and the impacts on public health—and as I just indicated, they are a growing literature. I became concerned about this more than a decade ago, and at this point the literature has become much more robust, indicating that there are damaging effects from this radiation. And that’s particularly relevant for 5G. So we tell parents and teachers: distance is your friend; children should not use phones except for emergencies; and children need to know that there are safe practices. If you use a phone when the signal is weak, the phone is smart and it will put more radiation into you. And you should only use a phone when the signal is strong. And you should only have the phone on airplane mode or speakerphone. The air pods that are proliferating now are particularly problematic. Because we are now doing some modeling studies—the air pods work by sending Bluetooth signals through the brain as well as to the hearing nerve. We are seeing more and more children with hearing problems and vision problems. In fact, it’s very, very usual that in classroom half the kids will be wearing glasses nowadays; that is an unusual development. And we think the combination of the squinting to be close to the screen and other things are—lie behind some of these problems. So we have materials on our website that can be given to teachers and parents. We’re working with several school districts now that are moving to wiring their connections. And they’re doing this because scientists have come in and advised them. The New Hampshire Commission on Wireless Radiation and 5G has just issued a series of recommendations for parents and teachers that are very valuable. This comes from a Republican state, a legislature that brought in independent scientists to get the best advice. And that’s what they came up with. So all of that can be found on our website as downloadable materials that can be shared with others.
R Blank 26:56
That’s great. Thank you. And so, what I what I really like is how you just highlighted a lot of activities and actions, specific actions that people and institutions like schools can take to make it safer to use this technology. But I also know that you work through the Environmental Health Trust on some on some bigger issues. And in order to kind of get into that topic, I want to start with a discussion on regulations. And you know, because a lot of people have this assumption, walking around, you know, going into a store, if something’s available for me to buy, that means it’s safe. But that’s—that’s just not, I mean, as your career has shown in field after field after field, that’s just not true. But when it comes to let’s take a specific example of something like a cell phone, how is that not true with a cell phone?
Dr. Devra Davis 27:57
Well, cell phones have never been tested for safety for their long-term effects. Cell phones are tested with a big empty bowling ball of a head, of a 12-pound head, of this big guy called “Standard Anthropomorphic Mannequin,” we call him “Sam” for short. And fluid is poured into this empty head. And our brains are not fluid. Our brains contain different densities of different materials of different parts of our brain that are developing rapidly in children. That is why the #WeAreNotSam hashtag has been developed to make sure people get the message. We are not an empty bowling ball full of fluid. They are tested—Sam is not a very talkative guy—they’re tested for a six-minute phone call—he speaks for six minutes—and only tested to see, with a computer that dips a stick into to check the temperature, to make sure his brain doesn’t heat up above one degree centigrade. Most people don’t realize this but your brain cannot sense heat or pain. The brain itself. The skull can sense it, the skin can sense it, but inside the brain there are no receptors for pain or heat. That’s why they do this spectacular brain surgery on people who are awake, because they numb the skull, get into it and then move around and want to make sure they’re not causing permanent damage. So they ask the patient to keep talking. The patient of course is somewhat sedated. We test phones against Sam’s head with a spacer against the head. That means we put a space between his actual skull and where we test it. Now the skull is thick, dense bone. We are in fact thick-skulled people when we get to be mature. Children’s skull is thin. That’s why you have to be very careful with them. We put bike helmets and we put them in car seats to protect them because their brains are especially sensitive. The skull is thinner, their brains contain more fluid. The more fluid in an item, the more radiation it will absorb. So this is a test for six minutes; it doesn’t test the thousands of minutes that most people nowadays are using their phones over their lifetime. And again, the epidemiologic studies that have been done show that the more exposure a child has to these devices, the greater the risk of developing brain cancer. The outstanding work of Dr. Lennart Hardell, from Sweden, has consistently found, in case control studies, that when children start to use phones, if they have been followed in case control studies for 15 and 20 years, their risk of brain cancer is four or more times higher, if they’ve been using phones since they were children. And that is why we at Environmental Health Trust are very concerned, because the test has been done on Sam, for a six-minute phone call to avoid heating its brain; it isn’t looking at the long-term effects. And the long term is what we’re concerned with, we want everybody to be healthy for the long term.
R Blank 31:13
So you mentioned this six-minute test. I mean, obviously, as you indicated, you’re not going to—you’re not going to develop a brain tumor in six minutes, you’re not going to become infertile in six minutes, what possibly could happen in six minutes that this test is designed to protect against?
Dr. Devra Davis 31:31
It’s going to detect heat. That’s it. And that’s important. Okay. We should, we should make sure to do that. The French have recently done work where they have showed that, in fact, even the Sam test is exceeded by the majority of phones that they tested. The France—France has an agency, a national agency that actually test devices for radiation. You do not have that in the UK, we don’t have that in the United States or Canada. So the French have been testing devices. And they have disclosed that when you test devices with Sam, by the way, and you test them directly on the body without this spacer, that what happens is you get a dramatic increase in the heat effect itself. And so 9 out of 10 phones that they tested, out of 400, failed the current Sam test. And because of that, in France they have been recalling phones—recalling phones—and they are slowly moving to give people more information about it. But of course, because the industry is so powerful, this is a multi-trillion dollar global industry that spends more money lobbying, and promoting and marketing things like 5G, than they do on research—there’s very little independent research in this field. And when you look at the independent research, which Henry Lai and others have done, you find that the small amount of independent research does consistently find an increase in problems associated with cell phone radiation.
R Blank 33:11
So obviously, you know, I have a lot of questions based on what you’re saying. But you talk about this, this six-minute Sam test, and it clearly has some deficiencies, which I want to get into, but then you mentioned that this, this governmental organization in France tested these phones and it found that they failed the test. So what I’m confused about is how did these phones get on the market if they couldn’t even pass this test?
Dr. Devra Davis 33:39
You know, that’s a good question. You might want to talk to Dr. Marc Arazi, who is the founder of Phonegate Alert, in France, and I’m an advisor to that organization. His organization has pushed the government to release their data, which they acquired. There’s one other part of their study that I want to mention to you. Not only did they test the phones against the head, the real way they’re used, they also tested phones effectively in the pocket. And when you do that, because in the pocket, you have a model of the body, there is no skull there’s just the fluid of the lower abdomen. Think about what I told you about rectal cancer increasing in young people, testicular cancer, and more reproductive problems in young women. And all of those certainly have multiple causes, but one of them is surely the massive increase in wireless radiation exposure that’s going on. So phones are tested against the brain and against the body, but they’re tested up to an inch off the body. So remember, every millimeter away, that’s every millimeter away can be 15% less exposure. So the current tests for phones are rigged. They are rigged, just like the diesel engine tests were rigged. So the phones pass those tests because they’re not being tested in the way they’re used.
R Blank 35:03
So, wow. So they’re—so the companies, they’re just allowed to test it in a way that doesn’t even reflect how people use this technology, what their actual exposures are going to be?
Dr. Devra Davis 35:15
That is correct. Every one of the 7+ billion wireless devices that are being used today for communications has been tested through a rigged system that they cannot fail. When the French government tested them in the way people use them, they failed.
R Blank 35:31
Wow. So the six-minute test, it’s obviously the science has shown, by this point, that there’s there’s longer-term health effects that we need to be worried about and protecting against. But where did this sort of six-minute test standard come from? When was it formulated?
Dr. Devra Davis 35:55
It is 25 years old. It was formulated by the United States Federal Communications Commission by a gentleman who, as soon as this test was developed, left that agency and began a very successful career working for the US government.
R Blank 36:12
So this test, the safety standard, quote/unquote “safety standard” that these phones are tested for, it’s 25 years old. But as you were telling us earlier in this conversation, I mean, the science has really evolved in that time, right? I mean, we now know a lot more about these long-term health effects. So this sounds really outdated.
Dr. Devra Davis 36:33
Well, that is why we filed our lawsuit. But before we get into that, let me just say, the Federal Communications Commission has a huge portfolio. Their mandate right now is to expand telecommunications. I think that’s great. We need to have that. But right now, our telecommunication system is quite vulnerable to cyber security attacks, because it is so dependent on wireless radiation, and because we have failed to follow through on the mandate that Congress passed to have wired backbone—meaning cables that run our telecommunications, like the old phone cables, where they exist, they can be used so that you can have fiber to and through the home? It’s called….
R Blank 37:21
Sorry, if I could just step back just for our listeners. So you mentioned the Federal Communications Commission. And I think the reason that you mentioned that is because in the United States that’s the governmental organization that regulates cell phone radiation, is that correct?
Dr. Devra Davis 37:36
That is correct. And they do not employ a single full-time health person.
R Blank 37:41
Wow. So you mentioned—and so just so everyone knows, Federal Communications Commission, that’s abbreviated as FCC. You mentioned litigation. Could you help catch my listeners up on this litigation?
Dr. Devra Davis 37:57
Well, we are like the mouse that roared, or David and Goliath, here. We’re a small organization. But thanks to some very smart lawyers, we identified a big problem. The FCC, in its arrogance, has declared that they can continue to rely on 25 year old science to approve devices and even to apply to 5G, a technology that did not exist when the standards were developed 25 years ago. They actually issued a very arrogant statement that said: although we called for information on this and received thousands of submissions of peer-reviewed science, we are concluding that we don’t need to make any change in our 25 year old approach; and we have decided that the test in animals that we ordered for the National Toxicology Program of cell phone radiation, that found an increase in rare cancers of the brain and tumors in the heart, that the test we ordered, that we reviewed, that we approved and evaluated is no longer relevant to humans; we are rejecting animal research as relevant to humans in this case; and we are re-affirming our 25 year old standards. Now, they did that based on a thin letter that they got from the FDA—that’s the Food and Drug Administration—that gave them advice. Under the law, the FDA is supposed to turn to other agencies with expertise and ask them for their opinion. They ordered the National Toxicology Program to do this study in 1999. The study was not begun until—around the time that Environmental Health Trust was forming—to require and inquire about the study that hadn’t been done. The study was completed and then was subject to an unprecedented level of peer review because of industry pressure. And the industry reviewers, who came from the chemical industry, said there’s clear evidence of cancer in animals. The FDA told the FCC: you can ignore this $30 million study that you ordered, because we are telling you, on our personal opinion, I guess, that it’s not relevant anymore. Now, just take a minute. All pharmaceuticals, and vaccines, are first tested in animals; we test animals to predict effects in humans. In the case of cancer, every agent that we know for certain causes cancer in people produces it in animals when adequately studied. That’s why we test animals. The design of this study was approved and actually configured by Swiss engineers expert in designing cages and systems for delivering this radiation to animals without heating them up. The study went on for years. The results showed a clear evidence of cancer, as judged by an unprecedented peer review. And yet, the FDA rejects all of it, tells the FCC: you go ahead and ignore all of these things. Which the FCC did. In December of 2019, right before the Christmas holiday, we filed a lawsuit against this, saying: you have failed in your duty under the law to show a systematic rational consideration of the record. The record is substantial. Here it is, and you’re ignoring it. And the court held a hearing. This is the court in the United States that is just below the Supreme Court. A three-judge panel held a hearing in January, which can be found on our website at ehtrust.org, and one of the judges at one point said to the FCC lawyer: you’re going to have to tell me why I shouldn’t rule against you.
R Blank 42:02
Wow, so that that hearing was in January of 2020. Is that right?
Dr. Devra Davis 42:08
Right. Yes. And we are continuing—we are continuing to raise funds to support the lawyers. Because lawyers don’t work for free. And this is—it’s the most expensive enterprise we’ve ever taken on. But frankly, I—you know, truth is on our side. And I think the law is going to be on our side. But that will be up to the judges to decide. But they were….
R Blank 42:31
So can you…. Oh, sorry. Go on.
Dr. Devra Davis 42:33
They were mystified by some of the things the agency lawyers said. They couldn’t understand: how can you tell us that this is valid today when it was developed 25 years ago?
R Blank 42:45
So could you help my listeners understand what a successful outcome of this litigation might look like from from your perspective?
Dr. Devra Davis
Well, you know, I don’t want to—I don’t want to spook the whole thing but….
Whatever you’re comfortable, yeah.
Dr. Devra Davis 43:02
Yeah. I mean, at this point, it’s very difficult to anticipate what what a court will do. But a successful outcome would mean telling the FCC: go back to basics, look seriously and systematically at the substantial record, perhaps call on the National Academies of Sciences to give you advice, but bring in experts to review the data. They did none of that. There was no record submitted of any effort to look at the thousands of pages submitted, more than 11,000 pages, much of it peer-reviewed science.
R Blank 43:40
So before this call, you and I were chatting. And you were talking about some features, for example, of a cell phone that could be implemented if, let’s say a cell phone company was forced to make their technology safer, that would help reduce people’s exposure. Could you help my listeners understand just some of how a cell phone could change, still work, but how it could change if they were forced to by regulation that would make this stuff safer to be around?
Dr. Devra Davis 44:13
Phones—the software of phones, the operating systems could be altered, so that it really was principally a phone. And it could be kept safely in your pocket if it went to sleep. Because it would have an accelerometer which does senses that it’s next to the body. And it would wake up when a call came in, at which point you could remove it and answer the call. That would be one thing that would make phones safer. Their antennas could be instead of omni-directional and symmetrical, they could be uni-directional. Those are just two improvements that can be made. And they can work at a much lower power. In addition, routers, there is a baby-safe router that was marketed by Huawei in China. It puts itself to sleep, which means it’s using less energy, of course, and it turns itself on when needed—that would be saving greenhouse gases, and it would be sparing people from radiation. But most importantly, routers can be wired; you can put an ethernet cable into your router, and connect it to all of your devices, through things—even with the Apple devices, which are a little tricky to do. But all of that information about how to wire your home can be found on our website at ehtrust.org for Environmental Health Trust.
R Blank 45:38
So what—and I definitely encourage all of the listeners to check out ehtrust.org once this podcast, once you’re finished listening to this podcast; there is a lot of great information there, including not only the action items that Dr. Davis is talking about but also the litigation that we’ve been discussing. And Dr. Davis, I’m wondering, what can people who are listening to this podcast right now, what would you recommend that they do—like the top two things?
Dr. Devra Davis 46:11
Get your devices off your body and those of your children, because distance is your friend. And things, the further away things are from you, the lower your exposure. Make sure your routers and other things are not in rooms where people sleep; that’s really, really important. There has been—I think those are the, the most important thing to remember is, forwards: distance is your friend. But start to think about reclaiming your life and not being as tied in and connected. We have in this time of the pandemic, we end up with this sense that we’re always living under an emergency. And life is not an emergency. And when you have—when you feel that you have to answer things right away, that it’s always it’s an interruption of your normal life. And try to reclaim some time for yourselves and your children. For example, families can make a rule: no phones at the table, period, no devices for parents and children. And it may be very hard for some people to do that. But that I think is a sensible, a sensible start. And then understand that when the phone has weak signals, it should not be used except for an emergency.
R Blank 47:30
And if people have a little extra cash and believe in the cause, they’re able to donate to ehtrust through your website. Is that correct?
Dr. Devra Davis 47:39
Absolutely. And we welcome it because right now this lawsuit, there are continuing costs dealing with that, and we’re also trying to develop—we have a small research program of doing high-impact studies. For example, we have published and done the work modeling the brain, which showed that the brains of children will absorb up to 10 times more radiation in the bone marrow of their skull, and up to 20 times more in the cerebellum or the hippocampus, which are critical organs. Again with thin skull, more fluid, they absorb more radiation. We’ve also worked with Professor Ronald Melnick, a toxicologist, who was the Director of the National Institutes’ National Toxicology Program study on cell phone radiation. And he has developed important criticisms of what has been done—important criticisms—and we, of the fact that the industry rejection of the science is fundamentally flawed. In my book Disconnect, I show that the industry has carried on what they actually called “war games.” That’s been their response to the science. They spend more money marketing than they spend on research. And these are things the public needs to know about, so that when they see these glorious ads romanticizing how 5G is going to revolutionize your life, think about it for a moment. Do you really need your coffee pot to talk to your cell phone?
R Blank 49:15
No. I can answer that question pretty clearly. No, I do not.
Dr. Devra Davis 49:21
And the new science on this is not being developed by just a few people—I am now part of it, hundreds of scientists and expert reports from government officials. For example, in our lawsuit, the former Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, with a distinguished career in the government for more than four decades, Dr. Linda Birnbaum, as part of our lawsuit has filed an amicus brief—meaning “friend of the court”—in which she says there’s a high probability from all the science that radiofrequency radiation causes brain tumors. The Swiss Government has an expert group of some of the top scientists in that hi-tech nation led by Meike Mevissen, who just issued a report confirming that there is substantial evidence that cell phone radiation can cause biochemical indications of damage called oxidative stress, they can cause many different health effects in children and those who are already ill. And therefore, they recommend reducing exposure to wireless radiation, because of this review that they have just concluded. Professor john William Frank in Scotland has issued a similar report. So there’s growing numbers of scientists who are now speaking on this issue. And I welcome them. Because what we’re doing with our work at Environmental Health Trust now is bringing these scientists together, developing materials that people can understand. So they can interpret the increases of cancer and increases of illness that we’re seeing, and understand that cell phone radiation and wireless radiation may be an important cause of a number of chronic illnesses that are otherwise unexplained. So we welcome contributions for our lawsuit and contributions to our research. Our current project right now is modeling children in classrooms, where they have whiteboards, and iPads, and phones and other devices. A number of countries are banning phones in schools, including China, and France, and Israel. And they’re not banning them just because of the bullying that goes on, which is horrible, horrible. They’re banning them because of the wireless radiation also. And I think it’s amazing to me that in England and the United States and Canada, you can put a cell phone antenna on a school, and that is against the law in France and Israel and India.
R Blank 52:04
I think that’s a great illustration of how laws and regulations, they’re not only different in the rest of the—in parts of the rest of the world than they are here in the United States, but they’re also continuing to evolve in a way where I think you’ve identified it’s not yet happening here in the United States. Yeah.
Dr. Devra Davis 52:25
That is correct. In the United States right now, our lawsuit is so important. It’s so consequential. It’s without precedence. We are saying to the FCC, basically: show us the evidence. Why are you telling us that we can take standards that are 25 years old and apply them to these devices that are still being developed? The 5G network is still being developed. And it’s something where you need in the United States a million new antennas. And now one of the other rules the FCC has put forward, called the “OTARD” rule, would allow them to put a 5G antenna anywhere they want. No local authorities have any control over siting. They are arguing that because these are called “small cells,” therefore they don’t need to be reviewed for any health or environmental impacts.
R Blank 53:20
Yeah, branding. Yeah.
Dr. Devra Davis 53:22
And we have shown that a 5G antenna, for it to work it will have to be able to take the 3G and 4G signals, which are supposed to be far away from us, and bring them right to our bedroom walls.
R Blank 53:37
Wow. Well, Dr. Davis, what I really appreciated about this interview—actually, there’s a couple of things—obviously first, it’s just such a clear, coherent and confident summary of what science is telling us about EMF health effects. And I know my listeners appreciate that. But even more than that is how I think what we’ve talked about today has helped our listeners learn about the significance of the role of regulations in tech safety. People like you and me, we constantly work to educate people on ways to use less tech, and to use it more safely to reduce their exposure. And obviously, that is important. But I think it’s really very important for people to also realize that this tech could be made safer from the get-go. There is no reason your cell phones need to admit as much radiation as they do. But these companies aren’t going to just change it themselves. I mean, some of the changes that you suggested, such as the proximity sensor to go to sleep, you know, those are not expensive, those are not difficult, but the companies aren’t doing it. They obviously need to be forced to do these things by modernizing regulations in light of what science has told us. And it’s people like you….
Dr. Devra Davis
Dr. Devra Davis 54:54
Sorry, I was gonna say: you’re absolutely right. And that’s why I think we need to call for a girlcotts. And what I mean by that is we have to organize people to demand the right to buy safer products. The analogy might be what happened with airbags and seatbelts. It wasn’t until Mothers Against Drunk Driving really insisted that there be strict rules about alcohol and driving, it wasn’t until Ralph Nader organized and objected to the crashes that were killing up to 100,000 people a year in the United States, that we had airbags and seatbelts. We need the equivalent of airbags and seatbelts for our electronic devices. And I want to say that this is especially pertinent for those who suffer from electromagnetic illness. And recently in the courts in the United States, in California, just in February, an appellate court said that a school teacher in Los Angeles was entitled to work in an environment without WiFi, because she was sensitive to Wi Fi, and it made her sick. And that teach—and that court ruling is a really important one, because it establishes that the court understood that the teacher complained of severe headaches and disabling things happening when she was in a classroom with high WiFi. And there, we do not know the number of people who are suffering from this, it’s never been looked at. And they’re often misdiagnosed and given psychiatric treatment. So it’s very important that we recognize this. And I think if we call for girlcotts to produce safer products, that industry will respond. And so that’s why your program and your interviews are so important as trying to lay the groundwork for why we need to do that.
R Blank 56:37
Thank you. And it’s people like you, and you specifically and your team at EH Trust, and those working with you on this important litigation, and your other advocacy efforts that are taking really actionable steps to make this happen. I think it’s a really great illustration of empowerment. I know my listeners really appreciated learning about this straight from you. And on behalf of the entire community and all my listeners, I want to thank you for all your work, and for taking the time to help educate us today. So thank you very much for joining us today, Dr. Davis.
Dr. Devra Davis
Thank you so much. I really appreciate what you’re doing.
Well, wow. That was some real energy in that interview. I feel like I almost lost control of it a few times. But I think it turned out fantastic. As always, I’m joined by my righthand lady and Operations Manager at Shield Your Body, Stephanie. Stephanie, what did you think of that runaway freight train of an interview?
Stephanie Warner 57:36
This interview was a absolute testament to the, you know, the trailblazing lifelong work and advocacy that Dr. Davis has, has done through her, through her life. And, you know, I don’t think she needs questions because she has, you know, this wealth of information. And it was really amazing for her to take the time and to share so much with us. But also, you know, looking at her, her body of work, one thing that stuck out to me is that she’s always, she has always been working for the greater good of humanity. She’s always been on the forefront of important policy change that has a great impact on our overall health. From cigarettes. I mean, it’s uncountable, unmeasurable, how many lives she’s affected by her body of work.
R Blank 58:42
So getting into the top three things, you know, there’s one that really stood out. And it might sound simple to people that I really loved it when she said “life is not an emergency.” After—I don’t know exactly why that struck such a chord within me, but after the past year, with everything that’s gone on in the world, and even, you know, from my perspective, running a company under some pretty crazy circumstances, I think I actually just had lost sight of a few key things. And just hearing her say that, I felt really centered, in a powerful way. Did that line resonate with you the same way, Steph?
Stephanie Warner 59:24
Yeah, absolutely. You know, like you said, especially in the last year, year-and-a-half with everything with the pandemic, everything seems like a reaction rather than a response. And I, so I really did resonate with that a lot. Thank you for pulling that point out.
R Blank 59:41
Yeah. Second, I really I like, I love that she took the time out of her very busy schedule to share the updates about the FCC lawsuit with our audience. I—you know, I feel like this is bigger litigation than a lot of people yet realize. In fact, a lot of people don’t even realize it’s happening at all. But I think, you know, regardless of the outcome—and obviously, you know, we’re all hoping for the best—it’s a significant step forward for EMF regulation. Something like this has never happened before. And I, I really just appreciated that she took the time to share that information, you know, directly from, you know, from her, from herself.
Stephanie Warner 1:00:22
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And I, and then just taking a step back, I think a lot of people don’t understand the lack of regulation. And she really articulated that and hit that point home in this interview. You know, the, what did she say, the hash tag, “I am not Sam”? I pulled that out as a—because it was really interesting to hear her really describe how we, or how the FCC regulates or does not regulate, and the assumption that we may have that this stuff is regulated and is safe. And she blew all of those assumptions out of the water with her, with the information she shared during this interview. And last thing I want to say, to your point, is I think what she’s doing is going to go down in history as a very important turning point in how we approach the negative health effects of our wireless technology.
R Blank 1:01:29
And yeah. And that ties right into the third, the third takeaway that I have noted here, which is that what I thought was really important for our listeners to hear is how this tech can and needs to be made more safe. Now, it’s one thing to use tech more safely. And that’s the type of stuff that, you know, Stephanie, you and I spend all our all our days talking to people about: don’t carry your phone in your pocket, turn off your WiFi at night, never hold your phone up to your head, use airplane mode. You know, there’s things that we constantly advocate people to do to use tech more safely. But it’s a whole other thing, realizing that this tech can be made more safe in the first place, and it should be safer. And the companies need to be compelled to make it safer.
Stephanie Warner 1:02:19
Yeah, absolutely. I—that was a point I pulled out of this interview as well. You know, you and I both have a background in software development. So I know that updating software is not as simple as it may sound, but when Dr. Davis described, you know, an update to software could make changes, you know, changes that really can make a positive impact on our health, like, you know, the phone just turning off when it’s close to your body and then turning back on when there’s a call, like your phone actually disengaging so you don’t have to remember yet you also can still use it. I feel like that’s, you know, I feel like that’s really important. And I wonder, you know, and I’d love to hear your opinion, like, why, why aren’t cell phone companies taking this initiative (a), and (b) what can we do to push them to do that?
R Blank 1:03:13
Yeah, they’re not, they’re not making it safer, because (a) they don’t have to, and (b) you know, I, there’s, my, this is a guess but by taking steps to make it safer, they would be implicitly admitting that it’s not safe, and they don’t want to do that. But really, it all comes down to what they’re compelled to do. Car companies did not put seatbelts in willingly, they were forced to. And it’s such an obvious simple thing. You know, seatbelts—and today, you can’t imagine a car without seatbelts. But it was a battle to get that done. And so it’s not, it’s not going to happen until regulations compel it to happen. And so that’s why the work of Dr. Davis and others like her is so important to all of us, even those of us who are doing all the right things in terms of, you know, managing our interactions with technology to be more safe and minimizing our EMF in our environment. It’s still what Dr. Davis, the Environmental Health Trust and others like them are doing is just so critical to the future.
Stephanie Warner 1:04:20
Absolutely. And I want to thank Dr. Davis for, you know, her amazing career in academia and advocacy. And, you know, I, for one, appreciate everything she’s done. And I think after this interview, our listeners who may not have been familiar with her work will be thanking her as well.
R Blank 1:04:40
Yeah. So I encourage everyone to go learn more about Dr. Davis and her Environmental Health Trust organization at ehtrust.org. It’s a really amazing collection of resources she has there, and the link is in the show notes.
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