We are all increasingly surrounded by “electrosmog”. In 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and World Health Organization (WHO) reclassified radio frequency (RF) electromagnetic fields (EMFs) as a Class 2B (possible) carcinogen. This is the same category as the pesticide DDT, lead, gasoline engine exhaust and dry cleaning chemicals, just to name a few. Power or extremely low frequency (ELF) EMFs were designated as a Class 2B carcinogen about a decade ago, but many people have never heard of them Many scientists believe there’s already sufficient evidence for ELF EMFs and RF radiation to be designated as Class 1 (definite) carcinogens and it’s just a matter of time before the evidence is so overwhelming, that to deny the health effects of EMFs would be akin to denying the effects of tobacco.
Several international studies conclude that RF radiation is harmful at levels thousands of times below existing US safety standards, which are based on faulty assumptions and outdated science. The US safety standards are based on the outdated and false assumption that EMFs are only harmful when they cause thermal heating of bodily tissues. There's substantial newer evidence, however, that indicates that EMFs can have serious adverse health effects at levels far below those required for heating of tissue.
You might be surprised where some EMF “hotspots” are located in your home and office. Like possibly where you lay your head for 8 hours at night due to the extremely low frequency (ELF) EMFs from electrical wiring in the wall behind your bed or radio frequency (RF) radiation from the wireless router on the other side of a wall or the nearby "stealth" cell tower that’s disguised to look like a tree.
Unlike chemical liquids and vapors, EMFs cannot be seen and have no odor. You might be surprised where you're exposed to high levels of these invisible fields in your home and office; possibly 24/7. In addition to cancer, EMFs have also been linked to neurological disorders including Alzheimer’s, ALS, Parkinson’s and autism as well as other health issues such as chronic fatigue and headaches. Based on existing science, many public health experts believe we may soon face an epidemic of one or more of these health issues caused by increased exposure to EMFs/RF radiation.
Children are even more at risk, due to their thinner skulls and their developing brains and neurological systems. EMFs have been linked to increased risk of leukemia, brain cancer, autism, ADD, and more.
When it comes to cancer and many other diseases,
an ounce of prevention is worth infinite pounds of cure.
Too often, there is no cure.
Much of the following information is from the BioInitiative Report (see full report), which was a long-term collaboration by fourteen international scientists across the physical, biological, engineering
and environmental sciences as well as public health and public policy experts.
Another dozen outside reviewers have looked at and refined the report.
The BioInitiative Report documents bioeffects, adverse health effects and public health conclusions about impacts of non-ionizing radiation (electromagnetic fields including extremely-low frequency ELF-EMF
and radiofrequency/microwave or RF-EMF fields).
You cannot see it, taste it or smell it, but it is one of the most pervasive environmental exposures
in industrialized countries today. Electromagnetic radiation (EMR) or electromagnetic fields
(EMFs) are the terms that broadly describe exposures created by the vast array of wired and
wireless technologies that have altered the landscape of our lives in countless beneficial ways.
However, these technologies were designed to maximize energy efficiency and convenience; not
with biological effects on people in mind.
Human beings are bioelectrical systems. Our hearts and brains are regulated by internal
bioelectrical signals. Environmental exposures to artificial EMFs can interact with fundamental
biological processes in the human body, including DNA reproduction.
In some cases, this can cause discomfort and disease. Since World War II, the background level of EMF
from electrical sources has risen exponentially, most recently by the soaring popularity of wireless
technologies such as cell phones, cordless phones, WI-FI and WI-MAX networks.
Several decades of international scientific research confirm that EMFs are biologically active
in animals and in humans, which could have major public health consequences.
In today’s world, everyone is exposed to three types of EMFs:
(1) Extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields (ELF) from electrical and electronic appliances,
power lines and electrical wiring in walls.
(2) Radiofrequency radiation (RF) from wireless devices such as cell phones and cordless phones,
cellular antennas and towers, and broadcast transmission towers.
(3) High frequency voltage transients, aka, "dirty electricity" is a high-powered EMF that is constantly emitted by electrical wiring and electrical devices on contaminated circuits. And because much of this energy is in the radio frequency (RF) range it radiates a dangerous EMF several feet into a room - even when the electricity and electrical devices are not turned on.
They are each types of non-ionizing radiation, which means that they do not have sufficient energy
to break off electrons from their orbits around atoms and ionize (charge) the atoms, as
do x-rays, CT scans, and other forms of ionizing radiation.
The fact that this radiation is non-ionizing, resulted in the false
and scientifically outdated assumption that it is not harmful.
Today’s public exposure limits for telecommunications are based on the presumption that heating
of tissue (for RF) (or induced electric currents in the body (for ELF)) are the only concerns when
living organisms are exposed to RF (or ELF).
In the past, scientists and engineers developed exposure standards for electromagnetic radiation
based on what we now believe are faulty assumptions that the right way to measure how much
non-ionizing energy humans can tolerate (how much exposure) without harm is to
measure only the heating of tissue (RF) or induced currents in the body (ELF).
In the last few decades, it has been established beyond any reasonable doubt that bioeffects
and some adverse health effects occur at far lower levels of RF and ELF exposure where no heating
(or induced currents) occurs at all. Some effects are shown to occur at several hundred thousand times
below the existing public safety limits where heating is an impossibility.
For many new devices operating with wireless technologies,
the devices are exempt from any regulatory standards!
The existing standards have been proven to be inadequate to control against harm from low-intensity, chronic
exposures, based on any reasonable, independent assessment of the scientific literature. It means
that an entirely new basis (a biological basis) for new exposure standards is needed.
New standards need to take into account what we have learned about the effects of ELF and RF (all
non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation) and to design new limits based on biologically demonstrated
effects that are important to proper biological function in living organisms. It is vital to do so because
the explosion of new sources has created unprecedented levels of artificial electromagnetic
fields that now cover all but remote areas of the habitable space on earth.
Don't wait for the government to protect you from EMFs. Unfortunately, due to a variety of reasons,
it will probably be a long time before new standards are inacted; most likely too late to benefit most of us.
SUMMARY OF THE SCIENCE
Evidence for Cancer
There is little doubt that exposure to ELF is a cause of childhood leukemia.
The evidence that power lines and other sources (electrical wiring in walls, appliances) of ELF are consistently associated with higher rates of childhood leukemia has resulted in the International Agency for Cancer Research (an arm of the World Health Organization) to classify ELF as a Possible Human Carcinogen (in the Group 2B carcinogen list). Leukemia is the most common type of cancer in children.
The exposure levels for increased risk are quite low – just above background or ambient levels and much lower than current exposure limits. The existing ICNIRP limit is 1000 milligauss (mG) (904 mG in the US) for ELF. Leukemia risks for young boys are reported in one study to double at only 1.4 mG and above.
Increased risk for childhood leukemia starts at levels almost
one thousand times below the safety standard!
Several recent studies provide even stronger evidence that ELF is a risk factor
for childhood leukemia and cancers later in life. There is also some evidence that other childhood cancers may be related to ELF exposure but not enough studies have been done.
Brain Tumors and Acoustic Neuromas
Radiofrequency radiation from cell phone and cordless phone exposure has been linked in more
than one dozen studies to increased risk for brain tumors and/or acoustic neuromas (a tumor in the
brain on a nerve related to our hearing).
The following information relies on the combined results of many brain tumor/cell
phone studies taken together (a meta-analysis of studies).
For people who have used a cell phone for 10 years or longer predominantly on one side of the head, there is a 200% increased risk of a brain tumor!
For people who have used a cell phone for 10 years or longer (when the cell phone
is used on both sides of the head) there is a 20% increase risk.
For acoustic neuromas, with cell phone
use at ten years and longer (when the cell phone is used mainly
on one side of the head), there is a 240% increased risk!
The risk of brain tumor (high-grade malignant glioma)
from use of a cordless phone (when used mostly
on only one side of the head) is 470% higher!
The risk from cordless phone use is 220% higher
(when used on both sides of the head).
When the cordless phone is mainly used on one side of the head,
the increased risk of acoustic neuroma is three-fold higher (310%)!
There is rather strong evidence from multiple areas of scientific investigation that ELF is related
to breast cancer. Over the last two decades there have been numerous epidemiological studies
(studies of human illness) on breast cancer in both men and women, although this relationship
remains controversial among scientists. Not all, but many of these studies report that ELF exposures are
related to increased risk of breast cancer. It makes sense to take preventative actions.
These studies taken together indicate that ELF is a likely risk factor for breast cancer, and that
ELF levels of importance are no higher than many people are exposed to at home and at work.
Evidence for Changes in the Nervous System and Brain Function
Exposure to electromagnetic fields has been studied in connection with Alzheimer’s disease,
motor neuron disease and Parkinson’s disease. These diseases all involve the death of specific neurons and may be classified as neurodegenerative diseases.
There is evidence that high levels of amyloid beta are a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease,
and exposure to ELF can increase this substance in the brain. There is considerable evidence that melatonin can protect the brain against damage leading to Alzheimer’s disease, and also strong evidence that exposure to ELF can reduce melatonin levels.
Evidence for a relationship between exposure and the neurodegenerative diseases, Alzheimer’s
and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), is strong and relatively consistent (see Chapter 12).
Laboratory studies show that the nervous system of both humans and animals is sensitive to ELF
and RF. Measurable changes in brain function and behavior occur at levels associated with new
technologies including cell phone use.
Exposing humans to cell phone radiation can change brainwave activity at levels as low as 0.1 watt per kilogram SAR (W/Kg) in comparison to the US allowable level of 1.6 W/Kg and the International Commission for Non-ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) allowable level of 2.0 W/Kg.
It can affect memory, learning and normal brainwave activity.
Changes in the way in which the brain and nervous system react depend
very much on the specific exposures. Most studies only look at short-term effects, so the long-term consequences of exposures are not known.
People who are chronically exposed to low-level wireless antenna emissions
report one or more of the following symptoms:
problems sleeping (insomnia), fatigue, headache, dizziness, grogginess,
lack of concentration, memory problems, ringing in the ears (tinnitus),
problems with balance and orientation, and difficulty in multi-tasking.
In children, exposures to cell phone radiation have resulted in changes in brain oscillatory activity during some memory tasks. Although scientific studies as yet have not been able to confirm a cause-and-effect relationship; these complaints are widespread and the cause of significant public concern in some countries where wireless
technologies are fairly mature and widely distributed (Sweden, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy,
Switzerland, Austria, Greece, Israel).
For example, the roll-out of the new 3rd Generation wireless phones (and related community-wide antenna RF emissions in the Netherlands) caused almost immediate public complaints of illness.
The consequence of prolonged exposures to children, whose nervous systems continue to
develop until late adolescence, is unknown at this time. This could have serious implications
to adult health and functioning in society if years of exposure of the young to both ELF and RF
result in diminished capacity for thinking, judgment, memory, learning, and control over behavior.
The effects of long-term exposure to wireless technologies including emissions from cell
phones and other personal devices, and from whole-body exposure to RF transmissions
from cell towers and antennas is simply not known yet with certainty.
However, the body of evidence at hand suggests that bioeffects and health impacts can and do occur at exquisitely low exposure levels: levels that can be thousands of times below public safety limits.
The evidence reasonably points to the potential for serious public health consequences (and
economic costs), which will be of global concern with the widespread public use of, and exposure
to such emissions. Even a small increase in disease incidence or functional loss of cognition related
to new wireless exposures would have a large public health, societal and economic consequences.
Epidemiological studies can report harm to health only after decades of exposure,
and where large effects can be seen across “average” populations; so these early warnings of
possible harm should be taken seriously now by decision-makers.
Effects on Genes (DNA)
Cancer risk is related to DNA damage, which alters the genetic blueprint for growth and
development. If DNA is damaged (the genes are damaged) there is a risk that these damaged
cells will not die. Instead they will continue to reproduce themselves with damaged DNA, and
this is one necessary pre-condition for cancer. Reduced DNA repair may also be an important
part of this story. When the rate of damage to DNA exceeds the rate at which DNA can be
repaired, there is the possibility of retaining mutations and initiating cancer. Studies on how ELF
and RF may affect genes and DNA is important, because of the possible link to cancer.
The European research program (REFLEX) documented many changes in normal biological
functioning in tests on DNA. The significance of these results is that such effects are directly
related to the question of whether human health risks might occur, when these changes in genes
and DNA happen. This large research effort produced information on EMFs effects from more
than a dozen different researchers. Some of the key findings included:
“Gene mutations, cell proliferation and apoptosis are caused by or result in altered gene
and protein expression profiles. The convergence of these events is required for the
development of all chronic diseases.”
“Genotoxic effects and a modified expression of numerous genes and proteins after EMF
exposure could be demonstrated with great certainty.”
“RF-EMF produced genotoxic effects in fibroblasts, HL-60 cells,
granulosa cells of rats and neural progenitor cells derived from mouse embryonic stem cells.”
“Cells responded to RF exposure between SAR levels of 0.3 and 2 W/Kg with a
significant increase in single- and double-strand DNA breaks and in micronuclei frequency.”
“In HL-60 cells an increase in intracellular generation of free radicals accompanying
RF-EMF exposure could clearly be demonstrated.”
“The induced DNA damage was not based on thermal effects and arouses consideration
about the environmental safety limits for ELF-EMF exposure.”
“The effects were clearly more pronounced in cells from older donors, which could point
to an age-related decrease of DNA repair efficiency of ELF-EMF induced DNA strand breaks.”
These are just some of the cancer issues to discuss. It may be reasonable now to make the
assumption that all cancers, and other disease endpoints might be related to, or worsened by
exposures to EMFs (both ELF and RF).
If one or more cancers are related, why would not all cancer risks be at issue? It can no longer be
said that the current state of knowledge rules out or precludes risks to human health. The
enormous societal costs and impacts on human suffering by not dealing proactively with this
issue require substantive public health policy actions; and actions of governmental agencies
charged with the protection of public health to act on the basis of the evidence at hand.
Effects on the Immune System
The immune system is another defense we have against invading organisms (viruses, bacteria,
and other foreign molecules). It protects us against illness, infectious diseases, and tumor cells.
There are many different kinds of immune cells; each type of cell has a particular purpose, and is launched
to defend the body against different kinds of exposures that the body determines might be harmful.
There is substantial evidence that ELF and RF can cause inflammatory
reactions, allergy reactions and change normal immune function at levels allowed
by current public safety standards.
The body’s immune defense system senses danger from ELF and RF exposures, and targets an
immune defense against these fields, much like the body’s reaction in producing stress proteins.
These are additional indicators that very low intensity ELF and RF exposures are a) recognized
by cells and b) can cause reactions as if the exposure is harmful. Chronic exposure to factors that
increase allergic and inflammatory responses on a continuing basis are likely to be harmful to
health. Chronic inflammatory responses can lead to cellular, tissue and organ damage over time.
Many chronic diseases are thought to be related to chronic problems with immune system function.
The release of inflammatory substances, such as histamine, are well-known to cause skin
reactions, swelling, allergic hypersensitivity and other conditions that are normally associated
with some kind of defense mechanism. The human immune system is part of a general defense barrier
that protects against harmful exposures from the surrounding environment. When the immune system
is aggravated by some kind of attack, there are many kinds of immune cells that can respond.
Anything that triggers an immune response should be carefully evaluated, since chronic stimulation
of the immune system may over time impair the system’s ability to respond in the normal fashion.
This is just a brief summary of the scientific evidence.
Don't wait for someone else to protect you and your family from EMFs.