Alex Taylor, of Mokoia Intermediate School, asks :-

Has there been any suppression of research of electromagnetic radiation? If not has there been any research proving or disproving the question that electromagnetic radiation can cause disease in humans?

Martin Gledhill, a physicist at the National Radiation Laboratory, responded.

The nature of your question makes me think that you may be referring to radiofrequency (RF) radiation - that is, the radio signals produced by radio and TV transmitters, walkie-talkies, cordless phones, cellphones, microwave ovens, and the like.

Most of the research investigating health effects of exposure to RF radiation has been published in science journals which are freely available. Although some work was only written up in reports which are less easy to get hold of, the results are still accessible and I am not aware of deliberate attempts to try and hide any. (Of course, if research has been successfully suppressed, we would not know about it at all!) However, because of the interest in this area, it is likely that another group would have independently carried out similar work anyway.

Research into the health effects of exposure to RF radiation has been reviewed by several health agencies, including the World Health Organisation (WHO), over recent years. The WHO is now part-way through a further five year review program. From these reviews, it has become clear that high exposures do make people ill, and limits have been set to ensure that exposures are kept to what are believed to be safe levels. In New Zealand, exposures of the public, even close to radio transmitters, are generally a small fraction of the exposure limit.

Proving or disproving health effects only works one way. Well conducted research can prove whether there are harmful effects, and at what levels these occur. On the other hand, finding no harmful effects does not prove safety, because there is always more research which could be done. Nevertheless, failure to find a wide range of harmful effects gives good grounds for believing that any other harmful effects would be unlikely.