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EMF Radiation:
Its Clear and Present Dangers

What Kryptonite is to Superman, EMF radiation is to human physiology. Research studies have implicated wireless energy and strong magnetic fields in the onset of brain tumors, leukemia, sterility and a plethora of other conditions that cause cells to malfunction, degenerate and mutate. But the Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization don't seemed to be worried. Should you be?

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At top, iron filings near a magnet fall in line in the familiar pattern known as "lines of flux". Below, a PowerPoint slide shows how iron-rich blood cells do something similar when exposed to an electromagnetic field. In less than ten minutes, blood flow is altered, and you may eventually experience fatigue, blood sugar changes or other symptoms. Graphics: Wikicommons, Dr. Magda Havas

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August 12, 2020 -- While mobile phones and WiFi may seem indispensable to our lives, it turns out the body can absorb only so much EMF radiation before it starts to unravel. EMF is short for "electromagnetic field", an invisible cloud of energy hovering around electric devices and wiring whenever they're powered on or conducting current. If the field is strong enough, anyone caught inside the cloud will get irradiated.

EMF's are different from nuclear and X-ray exposures in that they're a non-ionizing form of radiation. UV radiation from the sun is also non-ionizing, but that doesn't stop a melanoma from forming after repeated exposures. And while it may take awhile for an EMF-triggered pathology to knock you off your feet, its symptoms may present after a single exposure. For instance, experiments have shown disruptions inl blood flow after several minutes on a mobile phone or laptop, as the two graphics above illustrate. Other telltale signs that all is not well is a persistent ringing in the ears, also known as tinnitus, or a sudden intense headache that strikes during or right after a phone call. EMF safety advocates caution that such headaches may portend a serious underlying condition that should be checked out immediately.

Unlike the hard-wired EMF's powered by wired electricity and batteries, wireless energy is transmitted and received by antennas. These signals generate radiofrequency (RF) radiation, which propagates (travels) through the air. In cities, cell phone towers are the biggest source of RF waves. Other sources include mobile phones, tablets, computers and a multitude of other devices -- including Smart appliance in the home.. In recent years, the combined onslaught of all these waves at one time has been dubbed "electrosmog".

Imagine a group of children standing around a small pond, tossing in pebbles that create circular ripples in the water. Wireless signals spread out in the same way. And when they reach your body, they don't stop and go around you. In fact, each one of your fifty trillion cells experiences these energy pulses. Those who measure EMF radiation have also discovered that the more signals you have propagating in one place, the higher the radiation level. Called "hotspots", these locations need to avoided whenever possible. Nowadays, consumer-grade EMF meters are available on Amazon or through a variety of EMF safety online stores that can help you identify hotspots. Alternatively, you can search "EMF meters" or "RF radiation" on YouTube, and watch videos posted by people as they take measurements at home and outdoors. This way, you can learn how meters work and get a general idea of the average intensity of RF waves in different places.

While wireless technology has been around for a century, there's a reason the Telecom industry disguises all those cell phone towers as pine trees today. These powerful signal generators can propagate waves that travel up to 50 miles, passing effortlessly through buildings, vehicles and sometimes even tunnels. Undoubtedly, the steady pulsing of billions upon billions of communication signals in populated areas represent a drastic change from the days of AM/FM radio, CB, analog TV signals and ham radio networks. Yet as far back as the 1930's, medical investigators were aware that radiofrequency waves were deadly. Many radio operators experienced radiation sickness or died from their long-term exposures.

So developing a personal plan to mitigate against EMF's is a no-brainer. Mobile phones, tablets, Bluetooth headsets, and basically any device equipped with an antenna to receive or transmit signals places you at the center of a potent RF radiation cloud. It's not a place where you should linger. Although it's rare for short-term EMF emissions from these devices to cause disease, the accumulation of exposures over time can get the job done just the same. Besides the symptoms already mentioned, you may experience heart palpitations, shortness of breath, blood pressure changes, indigestion, or a rash during your stint on a computer or other device when it's not in flight mode. Remember, these symptoms may be the only heads-up you'll get before an underlying condition takes root in your body for the long haul. And the longer you wait to respond, the harder it will be to recover later. Research studies both old and new continue to demonstrate this plain fact.

Of course, the onset of a radiation-related illness depends on many variables. These include the devices you use, the amplitude (intensity) and duration of your daily exposures, and whether or not EMF shielding or grounding products are being used. In addition, everybody has a different threshold of tolerance for EMF's. Things to consider are your age, state of health and co-morbidities (e.g. diabetes, hypertension, auto-immune disease etc.). In most cases, people who practice good nutrition and exercise can steer clear of trouble longer than those of who don't. People who live in rural areas may experience fewer and less intense exposures.

There are also counter-measures you can take following exposures to reduce their long-term impacts. For instance, sleeping well at night (preferably in a room free of EMF's) can be helpful in restoring your normal bio-rhythms whenever wireless waves throw them out of whack. Besides conventional medical treatments, there's also several relatively new alternative therapies that have been shown to stimulate recovery from radiation symptoms and illnesses. Needless to say, the most important thing anyone can do is minimize their risk in the first place. This includes limiting daily exposures to EMF's and keeping a safe distance from signal transmitters like cell towers.

All that said, not everyone will bounce back from radiation exposures overnight. For instance, if you're under 18, you're more susceptible to harm due to your softer bones and tissue, as well as a less-developed immune system. Young bodies also reproduce cells at a faster clip, which opens the door for quicker mutations once existing cells start to malfunction. The risk is even greater for a fetus or baby. Besides that, EMF experts like British physician Dr. Erica Mallery-Blythe have warned that the incidence of sterility may spike in the coming years because so many young adults place wireless devices in their laps - near testicles or ovaries - or work on desktops more or less level with these organs.

Carrying a mobile phone in your pocket when it's not in flight mode can also impair sperm motility or (in due time) render unusable the finite number of eggs stored in your ovaries. The fact that so many K-12 schools host cell phone towers on their property to earn extra income isn't helping the situation, either. Sprint had to relocate one of its towers after parents at one school complained their children were stricken with cancer.

Since EMF radiation attacks at the cellular level, its symptoms affect virtually every system in the body. There's even a new illness associated with electromagnetic fields called Electro Hypersensitivity Syndrome (EHS). Graphic: Dr. Erica Blythe

Why EMF and RF Emissions Aren't Seriously Regulated

To truly appreciate the gravity of EMF radiation, it helps to understand how the human cell works. Only visible under a microscope, our cells are what make up the organs, tissue, blood and skin of our bodies. Other types of cells carry out specific functions, like fighting viruses and repairing damaged tissue. Significantly, all cells rely on electrical energy, along with specific vibrational frequencies to carry out their assignments. So when strong magnetic fields and wireless waves pass through them 24/7/365, things can go awry.

In addition, the constant pulsing of very high-frequency waves can have a "walls of Jericho" effect on cell membranes over time. Most cell phones on the market today transmit voice calls at 2.4 gigahertz, the same frequency in which microwave ovens agitate water molecules in food. In 2012, biochemist Martin Pall discovered changes in calcium fluxes and calcium signaling in cell membranes. This altered "voltage-gated channeling" routine, as he describes it, disrupts cell chemistry, causing a domino effect of dysfunction. Pall has prepared a briefing paper for non-scientists that lists the many pathologies that have been linked to EMF radiation.

Given so much circumstantial evidence of a public health crisis unfolding, EMF safety advocates question why EMF radiation isn't nearly as regulated as nuclear radiation. While both the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have set exposure limits for the Telecom and electronics industries, these only apply to radio-frequency radiation (i.e. wireless waves). The standards are based on a single set of experiments performed in 1996, and only measured the thermal (heat) effects of radiation exposure. For reasons never disclosed, the medical studies documenting wide-ranging non-thermal effects of EMF's were not included as part of that safety review.

Outside the United States, most other western countries follow a similar set of limits set by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). In 2016, this standard was challenged by both independent investigators and the Council of Europe. In particular, the commission was accused of conflicts of interest, as well as suppressing research that demonstrated biological harm far in excess of levels that it had claimed were safe.

Currently, there are no exposure limits at all for hard-wired radiation emissions. Examples of hard-wired EMF's include high-voltage transmission lines, motor-equipped appliances such as refrigerators, power tools (especially grinders), and consumer products like electric ovens, hair dryers and blankets. Large stereo speakers (which contain magnets) also put off potent EMF's, as do dimmer switches. (If you're wondering about your microwave oven, the cooking chamber is equipped with a metal cage that traps the microwaves inside it -- at least so along as the seal on the door remains intact.) In her 2010 book, Zapped,award-winning women's health journalist Ann Louise Gittleman describes other EMF's known to sicken people in their homes. Labeled "dirty electricity", they include:

  • voltage transients moving through the utility grid into your home
  • voltage transients generated by digital electronics in your home
  • faulty wiring and aging circuits
  • stray electric currents running along copper pipes, sometimes into sinks, bathtubs and water heaters
  • electrical transformers, whether mounted on utility poles or humming inside appliances
  • fluorescent light fixtures

"By some estimates," Gittleman writes, "we're exposed daily to as much as one hundred million times more electromagnetic radiation than our grandparents were."

Scientists versed in both EMF research and electrical engineering, including Germany's Institute for Building Biology, claim the official exposure limits for RF radiation are up to one thousand times too high. Consequently, EMF safety advocates are urging consumers to observe the much lower limits posted by this German organization back in 2015. The guidelines, referred to as SBM-2015, include limits for hard-wired EMF's, which apply to dirty electricity and the other examples mentioned above.

The extent of EMF radiation penetrating a human head during a cell phone call depends on skull thickness and head size. The "absorption rate" is a standard measure of heat, technically referred to as SAR (Specific Absorption Rate). The exposure limit draws on how much heat penetrates a head during a call of less than ten minutes, with the phone held several inches away. Graphic: IEEE

With virtually no deterrent in place for failing to protect consumers from radiation-related illnesses, electronics manufacturers continue to churn out products that generate intense EMF's and RF waves known to cause harm. We are just beginning a wireless generation known as 5G, which refers in part to wireless signals now propagating at five billion hertz, or cycles (times) per second. As we speak, compact 5G transmission cylinders and boxes are being mounted on residential and commercial streets throughout the nation. In addition, Elon Musk’s SpaceX has rocketed over forty thousand wireless transmitting satellites into space in the past year. The units will form a new global communications network aimed at providing internet access worldwide. And an environmental impact study was not required beforehand.

When questioned about the incredible breadth of installation activity going on under their noses, local government authorities invariably complain that their hands are tied. Most point to the Telecommunications Act of 1996, a federal statute that prevents states and cities from banning or restricting any wireless equipment installation over concerns about the "environmental effects of its RF emission". In 2018, a new FCC regulation called the "5G FAST Plan" added insult to injury, eliminating the time normally allocated for local public hearings and permit processing. A dozen cities have since filed lawsuits in federal courts challenging the move. However, in a somewhat similar suit in 2013, a federal court sided with the FCC.

Scientists Rally to Spark International Action

In 2011, after considerable lobbying from EMF safety advocates and researchers, the World Health Organization finally classified EMF radiation as a Class 2B "Possible" Carcinogen. But few people were impressed by this ambivalent finding. The following year, a collaboration of scientists known as the Bioinitiative Working Group (BWG) responded with a report stating:

    "There is suggestive to strongly suggestive evidence that RF (radiofrequency) exposures may cause changes in cell membrane function, cell communication, cell metabolism, activation of proto-oncogenes and can trigger the production of stress proteins at exposure levels below current regulatory limits. Resulting effects can include DNA breaks and chromosome aberrations, cell death including death of brain neurons, increased free radical production, activation of the endogenous opioid system, cell stress and premature aging, changes in brain function including memory loss, retarded learning, slower motor function and other performance impairment in children, headaches and fatigue, sleep disorders, neurodegenerative conditions, reduction in melatonin secretion and cancers."

In the same report, the BWG asked national governments to investigate the modulated signals being sent by Telecom providers to their customer's mobile phones. Modulation allows a carrier like ATT or Verizon to piggy-back multiple signals in a single transmission, using a variety of frequencies. While most calls transmit at 2.4 gigahertz, email, text messages and voicemail transmit at much lower frequencies, sometimes under 30 hertz. Evidently, the extremely low frequencies require more power to transmit, which causes the phone's battery to emit enormous magnetic fields repeatedly whenever the phone is powered on and not in flight mode.

Some of the ways we experience the effects of EMF radiation from the new Smart utility meters, not to mention the many other wireless devices inside and outside our homes. Graphic: EMFSafetyNetwork.org

In 2014, after a rash of newspaper reports discussed several studies linking mobile phone use to brain tumors, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control for once did advise caution, specifically asking that kids' access to cell phones be limited. But even this modest recommendation was withdrawn a year later, according to the New York Times.

In 2015, EMF researchers from over 40 countries tried once again to force national governments to stop ignoring the dangers posed by the unchecked proliferation of wireless communications. This time, the scientists filed a petition with the United Nations, demanding remedial action be taken immediately to safeguard human health. Among other steps, the petition called for public health officials worldwide to :

  • update electronic product safety standards,
  • rewrite national electrical codes,
  • inform the public of the health risks, and
  • legislate stringent guidelines for more vulnerable children and pregnant women
  • A few governments (mostly in Europe) have since beefed up their EMF radiation standards in response to the petition and citizen complaints. Some occupational laws have also been revised. In 2013, for instance, the European Parliament passed the Physical Agents Directive 2013/35/EU, which specifically targets exposure to EMF radiation in welding and other occupations. Enforcement began in July of 2016, so that all European companies are now required to monitor exposure levels and enact counter-measures where maximum limits known as “action levels” are exceeded.

    Unfortunately, the American Welding Society continues to claim, as it has for many years, that there's no definitive proof of any health risk associated with repeated exposures to EMF's. For their part, both the CDC and WHO insist that direct cause and effect links between EMF exposure and illness have yet to be established.

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