The EMC Society has had a liaison-relationship with the IEEE Committee on Man and Radiation (COMAR) for many years. COMAR was originally a Committee of the IEEE but for the last few years it has been a Technical Committee of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. The author has been the liaison person between the EMC Society and COMAR for the past 25 years (I was appointed by the Board of Directors of the EMC Society in May of 1985).
COMAR develops and publishes Technical Information Statements (TIS) in the general area of biological effects of non-ionizing electromagnetic fields, including Radio Frequency (RF) energy.
Recent Developments with COMAR
COMAR has been dealing with what is called the BioInitiative Report (BIR) which was released on the internet in 2007. The BIR created a media-stir when first released but recently it has been criticized by several health organizations. Basically, COMAR concluded, after studying the BIR, that the “weight of scientific evidence in the RF bioeffects literature does not support the safety limits recommended by the BioInitiative group.”
To support its position, COMAR published a report on this topic in the October 2009 issue of Health Physics (Volume 97, Issue 4, Pages 348–356). The report was a COMAR Technical Information Statement titled “Expert Reviews on Potential Health Effects of Radio Frequency Electromagnetic Fields and Comments on the BioInitiative Report.”
The abstract to the report says (in part): “The public interest in possible health effects attributed to RF energy, such as emitted by mobile phones, wireless telephone base stations, TV and radio broadcasting facilities, Wi-Fi systems and many other sources, has been accompanied by commentary in the media that varies considerably in reliability and usefulness for their audience. The focus of this COMAR Technical Information Statement is to identify quality sources of scientific information on potential health risks from exposure to RF energy. This report summarizes the conclusions from several major reports and comments on the markedly different conclusions in the BIR.”
The abstract of the report concludes with the statement, “For this reason, COMAR recommends that public health officials continue to base their policies on RF safety limits recommended by established and sanctioned international organizations such as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers International Committee on Electromagnetic Safety and the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection, which is formally related to the World Health Organization.”
In 2009, COMAR also wrote a letter to the United States President’s Cancer Panel expressing its concerns regarding the information on RF exposure and cancer in a Summary-Report written by the Panel. COMAR was concerned that the Summary-Report did not provide a balanced and objective analysis of the currently available scientific and medical evidence describing the association of RF exposure and tumor development.
COMAR received a written response (dated July 22, 2009) from the Panel thanking them for their interest. They stated further, “The information you have provided regarding the scientific objectivity of the BioInitiative Report will be considered during the writing of the upcoming annual Panel report. A final 2008–2009 report will be released this fall and will be available online on the Panel website.”
The author checked the Panel website during the writing of this article (January 2010) and there was no 2008–2009 report on the website at this time.
COMAR serves a valuable function for the electrical engineering community. It responds to bio-effects reports (some of which are sensationalized by the popular press) with cool and logical engineering and scientific facts about the interaction of RF energy and the human body. The EMC Society is proud to be a liaison member of COMAR. EMC