Radiation Protection

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How You Can Search For EMR Literature

The rapid introduction of new technologies that use electromagnetic radiation (EMR) (such as mobile phones, power lines, etc) in Australia and worldwide has generated public concern about the possibility of any associated health issues. Scientific research developments in the area of EMR and health are frequently the subject of media headlines and public discussion. With the advent and expansion of the internet more scientific information is being put into the public domain and a growing number of organisations are becoming involved in promoting and discussing the issue and reacting to new research claims.

With so much information available it is often difficult to judge which research claims should be taken seriously and which may be misleading. Often scientists are reported as claiming conflicting ideas. So how should the general public know what to believe?

The scientific community uses a system to decide which research results should be published in reputable scientific journals called peer review. Peer review subjects scientific research papers to independent scrutiny by other qualified scientific experts (peers) before they are made public. This helps to ensure that research conforms to high standards of scientific practice and that conclusions may reasonably be drawn from the work undertaken.

Government bodies also often conduct their own review of the scientific literature in an attempt to obtain an overall summary or consensus position. This may be done in order to develop safety standards or simply to evaluate a new technology from the point of view of public health. These reviews are often published without the formal peer review of a scientific paper but nevertheless will usually have undergone considerable examination by experts from diverse fields, and will sometimes have undergone a public comment process as well.

Reliable information on the issue of EMR and health that is based on peer-reviewed research can usually be obtained from universities, government bodies and scientific organisations. Below are links to some of these:

In some countries, notably USA and Australia, internet web-sites from government bodies and educational institutions are usually distinguished by URLs with .gov and .edu in their web address. In the UK and New Zealand these are .go and .ed.

Funding of Research and Conflicts of Interest

Information from a wide variety of sources may be obtained and used providing its source is taken into account when evaluating it. The importance of the source depends on the type of information. Statements of judgement and opinion are more likely to be subject to biases and undue influence than are bare statements of research results. It is important to realise that no-one is completely unbiased and personal interests, pre-held views and even personal gain can be associated with all areas of society.

Many publications require authors of scientific papers to declare conflicts of interest and sources of research funds. Some writers will dismiss completely research funded from industry sources but others will see as appropriate industry-funded research.

Many projects are set up so to provide “arms-length” funding whereby the funds come from industry but there are procedures in place aimed at maintaining the independence of research decisions.

Literature Databases

PubMed is a database of biomedical journal articles developed by the National Center for Biotechnology Information in the US. It is a text-based search and retrieval system so key words like “radiofrequency” and “mobile phone” will show bibliographic information of available literature on the subject. The database is located at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?db=PubMed

RWTH Aachen University in Germany runs a database of literature related to electromagnetic fields research. This database offers text-based search like PubMed as well as search by different topics. The database is located at: http://www.emf-portal.org/

Google Scholar

Google Scholar is another text-based search and retrieval system available on the web that provides a simple way to broadly search for scholarly literature across many disciplines and sources including peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, abstracts and articles. Google Scholar is located at: http://scholar.google.com.au/

Government Bodies

Governmental radiation protection authorities provide updated information usually in the form of fact-sheets and reports. Some of these are:

Scientific Organisations

There are several scientific organisations which specialise on the issue of EMF and health. Regular updates on the latest research are usually posted on their websites. Some of these are:

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