Precautionary Principle

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The Precautionary Prinicple

  • The Precautionary Prinicple is used by regulators act to prevent harm when the science is not fully established,
  • The burden of proof to avoid applying this Precautionary Principle falls on anyone who believes there is no harm when the evidence suggests that there may be harm.
  • The Precautionary Prinicple applies to harm from electromagnetic radiation at non-thermal levels because of the WHO IARC cancer classification.

The evidence for the application of the Precautionary Prinicple is in part the WHO's IARC classifification in 2001 and 2011 of both Extremely Low Frequency and Radio Frequency or Microwave radiation as 2B carcinogens. Leading scientists now say that new evidence means that both should be reclassified as class 1 certain or class 2A probable.

European Countries

Countries in the Europe Union implement this Precautionary Principle under Article 191 of the Treaty of 2000. 

"The precautionary principle may be invoked when a phenomenon, product or process may have a dangerous effect, identified by a scientific and objective evaluation, if this evaluation does not allow the risk to be determined with sufficient certainty."


Abandoning precaution in 1968:

Testing of radiation devices after marketing, instead of prior to marketing:

In May 1967 General Electric had to recall 90,000 TV sets alleged to emit dangerous levels of radiation. At this time there was no federal limit on radiation.

Representative Paul G. Rogers of Florida then proposed, on June 13 1967, the Radiation Control for Health and Safety Act. This would have authorized the government to regulate and test all devices emitting man-made electromagnetic energy before their sale.

But the industry argued that such devices should be tested only after they had gone on sale. This meant that people injured and harmed by such devices would have to prove the cause of the damages inflicted only after the damage had already been inflicted. The resulting Act, of October 18 1968, an amendment to the Public Health Service Act, authorized the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only to set standards, enforce compliance, and undertake research, and not to ensure public safety by testing devices prior to marketing.

On October 6 1971 the first standard for microwave ovens came into force. Some 15 brands, however, still had 'measurable radiation leakage', according to Consumer Reports, which stated that no amount of leakage was acceptable. The FDA resisted this, however, apparently on the grounds that a zero-radiation policy would also ban shavers, food mixers and vacuum cleaners. The FDA argued that Consumer Reports was wrong to compare the high US microwave emission standards with the much lower USSR exposure standards. By 1975 the FDA admitted the need for additional safety precautions because of the uncertainties of possible radiation effects.

On August 1 1976 the FDA brought in the first standard for lasers.

On December 30 1977 the FDA published its first proposed standards for sun lamps. These came into effect on May 7 1980.

Cellphone regulations were set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The FCC lacked expertise on health and therefore handed over the responsibility to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), in consultation with the FDA. As the evidence of neurological, DNA and cancer harm builds steadily, it is becoming increasingly clear that cellphones, WiFi and similar radiation should never have been permitted at the high environmental levels now common. Proper prior testing, on the other hand, could have prevented needless deaths and neurological illnesses.

It is impossible to measure the number of deaths and amount of harm caused by failing fully to test devices emitting radiation before their marketing rather than after the damage has occurred. This is the opposite of the precautionary process. This sad story will doubtless be used by future generations as an exemplar of how the failure to adopt appropriate precautionary procedures can lead to vast, and unnecessary, amounts of human suffering, including people with electrosensitivity.