People who lived within 328 yards of a power line up to the age of five were five times more likely to develop cancer. Those who lived within the same range to a power line at any point during their first 15 years were three times more likely to develop cancer as an adult.
Although numerous studies have produced contradictory results, many experts, including me, are absolutely convinced that the threat of electromagnetic fields (EMF) is indeed very real.
By 1990, over one hundred studies had been conducted worldwide. Of these, at least two dozen epidemiological studies on humans indicated a link between EMF’s and serious health problems.
These studies showed that EMF from power lines, home wiring, airport and military radar, substations, transformers, computers, and appliances have the potential to cause brain tumors, leukemia, birth defects, miscarriages, cataracts, heart problems, nausea, chest pain, forgetfulness, cancer, and other health problems.
According to the World Health Organization, some of the harmful effects EMF’s can have on your body include:
- Sleep disturbances
- Skin symptoms like prickling, burning sensations, rashes, muscle pains and aches
Even the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued warning, stating, "There is reason for concern" and advises “prudent avoidance."
But the far more important and serious effects relate to their tendency to disrupt foundational physiological processes, and increase your risk for virtually every chronic degenerative disease, including cancer. In my article “Are EMF’s Hazardous to Your Health?” you can find more information about how to protect yourself from harmful EMF’s being emitted from seemingly innocuous sources like home wiring, computers, electric blankets, and so on.
Interestingly enough, the EPA originally recommended that EMF’s be classified as a Class B carcinogen -- a "probable human carcinogen,” joining the ranks of formaldehyde, DDT, dioxins, and PCB’s.
However, once the EPA’s draft report was released, utility, military, and computer lobbyists came down hard. Their final revision ended up not classifying EMF’s as a Class B carcinogen. Rather, the following explanation was added: “At this time such a characterization regarding the link between cancer and exposure to EMF’s is not appropriate because the basic nature of the interaction between EMF’s and biological processes leading to cancer is not understood."
Can EMF’s From Your Cell Phone Damage Your Health?
Studies have also linked EMF emissions from your cell phone to such wide-ranging problems as:
- Reduced sperm count in men
- Brain tumors
- Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
- Pacemaker disruptions
The 2004 REFLEX report also summarizes multiple projects from a dozen different research groups, on the genotoxic potential of radio frequency radiation.
Agents that can damage cell DNA are called genotoxins, and are presumed to have carcinogenic potential. The REFLEX report received a lot of attention because of the genotoxicity reported, including:
- Intermittent, but not continuous, Extremely Low Frequency ELF-EMF exposure damages DNA in human cells.
- DNA damage is dependent on the frequency, but higher frequency does not necessarily correlate with more damage. The frequencies causing DNA damage were ranked, from high to low damage, as follows: 50 Hz, 16 2/3 Hz, 3 Hz, 300 Hz, 550 Hz and 30 Hz.
- DNA strand breaks after ELF-EMF exposure is dependent on the person’s age, with older individuals showing a higher rate of DNA damage.
- DNA damage through ELF-EMF radiation is cell type specific. For example, human melanocytes (deep layer epidermal cells that synthesize melanin) reacted, whereas skeletal muscle cells did not.
- ELF-EMF radiation generated several types of chromosomal abnormalities in human cells.
To date, there are few alternatives to ensure complete safety, but there are some common sense recommendations:
- Use the speakerphone instead of putting the phone to your ear
- Limit calls inside buildings
- Use the phone in open spaces as often as possible
- Limit use by children and pre-adolescents
- Limit the amount of time you spend on the phone
- Attach a ferrite bead to your headphones to decrease RF interference
Can Sernelius’ Finding Explain the Link Between EMF’s and Your Health?
In 2004, a Swedish physicist named Bo Sernelius, stumbled across a surprising finding that suggests non-thermal radiation can cause a massive increase in the forces that living cells exert on each other. He discovered that electromagnetic forces might act on cells by affecting the attractive forces between them, without thermal heating.
Water molecules have poles of positive and negative electrical charge that create attractive forces between cells, known as van der Waals forces. Van der Waals forces are much weaker than chemical bonds. And, whereas chemical bonds need high frequency ionizing radiation in order to break, van der Waals forces are disrupted by much smaller thermal fluctuations.
These intermolecular forces may be weak, but without them, life as we know it would be impossible.
Sernelius found that the water molecules inside cells will try to align their positive and negative poles with the alternating field produced by cell phone radiation. The result? They all end up pointing in the same direction, and this strengthens the van der Waals forces. In the fields of 850 MHz (around the frequency used by mobile phones), the van der Waals forces leap—from a billionth-billionth of a Newton, to micro Newton strength—a massive jump of around 11 orders of magnitude.
Although it’s still only theoretical, this may be the missing link when trying to explain tissue damage from non-ionizing, non-thermal radiation. Stronger attractive forces between cells can also make them clump together, and cause blood vessels to contract.
All in all, I believe the evidence is clear that EMF’s can indeed harm your health, and that you would be best served to do whatever you can to limit your exposure to as many sources as possible.