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Rocky Mountain Environmental Health Association

Members' Notes


This newsletter contains the following sections -

Weak Electromagnetic Radiation Bioeffects

Some thirty years ago, when cell phones first came on the market, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) made a hurried decision to regulate the energy that the body was exposed to on the basis of an assumption that there is no harm to the body if there is no temperature rise in the body. Based on that assumption, we now have a big bureaucracy that has given us such rules as the Specific Absorption Ratio (SAR) that implies we are safe using cell phones and the many devices that use electromagnetic radiation (EMR). The FCC's recommended maximum full body exposure is about one milliwatt per square centimeter (milliwatts/cm2), about 20 milliwatts/cm2 for the brain, and 50 milliwatt/cm2 for the hands, wrists and ears. Of course most people hold their cell phones against their head (instead of the recommended distance of one centimeter or so), so their real brain exposure usually amounts to about 50 milliwatts/cm2 or 50,000 microwatts/cm2.

In 2007, the BioElectroMagnetics Society (BEMS) published a Bioinitative Report that reviewed the many scientific studies appearing in the literature that reported various biological changes, even harms, that were appearing around the world. That study resulted in the European Parliament (EU) signing a resolution stating that the actual safety limits for EMR exposure are obsolete and to warn the EU governments about the increase of environmental illnesses such as EHS, MCS and Dental Amalgam Mercury Syndrome.

In 2012, the BEMS published an update to their previous study covering some 1,800 new scientific studies. They said that "bioeffects are clearly established and occur at very low levels of exposure to electromagnetic fields and radiofrequency radiation. Bioeffects can occur in the first few minutes at levels associated with cell and cordless phone use. Bioeffects can also occur from just minutes of exposure to mobile phone masts (cell antenna towers), WI-FI, and wireless utility 'smart' meters that produce whole-body exposure. Chronic base station level exposures can result in illness."

This 2012 study, on a public health basis, recommended that the the BioInitiative 2007 recommendation of 0.1 microwatts per square centimeter (microwatts/cm2) for cumulative outdoor pulsed EMR exposure be reduced down to some three more orders of magnitude lower than the previous "safe" value. A precautionary action protection level of 0.003 microwatts/cm2 to 0.006 microwatts/cm2 was suggested.

One of the criticisms of those scientific studies was the claim that there was no known mechanism to explain biological harm at such small or non-thermal exposure levels. That criticism appears to have been answered by a study by a lecturer at the Imperial College in London who had a long professional career in studying calcium chemistry and metabolism in electromagnetically treated water systems, living cells and how cells, tissues and organisms are affected by low-level non-thermal EMR exposure.

The study is - "The Biological Effects of Weak Electromagnetic Fields" by Andrew Goldsworthy.

Professor Goldsworthy looked at how the structurally important calcium ions in the body, and especially in cell walls, are affected by very small EMR exposures that disrupt the ion structure. This article claims that most of the non-thermal effects of EMR exposure can be accounted for by this cell membrane disruption or leakage.

It appears that all cells have an evolution-developed survival mechanism that is activated by an unusual calcium ion flow. When the calcium ion distribution is disrupted, the cell switches over to prepare for a "fight or flee" mode of body support. It decreases direct body support, it generates heat-shock proteins to protect the DNA, and it develops its energy from stored fat reserves. It appears this mechanism developed as a result of occasional lightening storms, or possibly cosmic ray damages.

For example, if you have been in an open field or on a mountain ridge during a low lightening storm, you may have felt a hyper or stimulated feeling which could have been part of this survival mechanism being activated by lightening strokes in the area or the electric field from the cloud.

But if the stimulation continues too long, the cell runs out of stored energy and eventually dies. So there is a quick response of high energy, but a long-term response of cell damage or even cell death.

This phenomenon is called hormesis when the aggravating toxin is either ionizing (such as medical X-rays or whole-body CT scans) or non-ionizing radiation (such as EMR exposure). A basic principle in toxicology studies is that the dose makes the poison. Such that doubling the dose of a toxin doubles its effect. Health physicists call this a linear-no-threshold (LNT) hypothesis. But with hormesis, the cell is fighting the toxin with its stored energy, so researchers have even seen where using an exposure of 1/100 the energy of a previous exposure even doubled the toxic effect.

A consequence of this cellular survival mechanism is that many functions normally supported by the cell are degraded by long exposure to EMR. One mechanism is the closeness of capillaries that support the tight junctions that make up the barriers around the brain and areas such as glands. Glands turn out to be especially sensitive to this degradation.

The thyroid gland shows deterioration in laboratory animals. The animals lost their ability to produce thyroid hormones after three months of EMR exposure. Common consequences of hypothyroidism are chronic fatigue syndrome and obesity, both of which conditions have increased markedly in our society in recent years.

The adrenal gland produces the cortisol and adrenalin hormones which are the body's response to some kind of stress. Studies are demonstrating that even short term EMR exposure increases cortisol which can suppress the immune system which in turn increases the risk of developing tumors from precancerous cells. Known side effects of too much adrenalin include headaches, cardiac arrhythmia, high blood pressure, tremors, anxiety, inability to sleep. Research studies report that these symptoms are common to people who have lived within 100 meters of a cell phone antenna for five or more months.

Autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) have increased 60-fold in recent years. This increase cannot be explained by better diagnostics, but can be explained by changes in the environment. This increase corresponds in time to the proliferation of mobile telecommunications, WiFi, and microwave ovens as well as extremely low frequency fields (ELF) from mains wiring and domestic appliances. The cellular survival mechanism of letting more calcium ions into neurons appears to explain how ASD can happen in terms of electromagnetically-induced membrane leakage leading to brain hyperactivity and abnormal brain development.

A developing model for how the human brain develops suggests that before and just after birth, the brain is a blank canvas, and it goes through an intense learning process to recognize its new sensory inputs. During this process, the neurons make an immense number of organized connections which comprise its memory.

But after several months, neurons that have not been connected undergo a trimming or pruning process so they are removed from the brain, and the remaining neurons are hard-wired into the child's psyche.

But, if the brain has been exposed to EMR during this training period, that exposure can cause many neurons to become hyperactive and make many random connections which in turn causes the trimming process to recognize them as an active part of the brain. But since those are random connections, they amount to random noise and detract from proper brain development and functioning.

Electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) or electromagnetic intolerance that causes people to have a wide range of problems if exposed to weak EMR. This condition can be explained by the calcium ion disruption model. EMR is recognized as causing damage to the blood brain barrier (BBB). If the BBB is degraded, internal body chemicals can leak into the limbic or thalamic areas which in turn causes many of the EHS symptoms. When skin cells leak, the body perceives it as body damage and treats it as a rash.

When heart muscle cells leak, the electrical signals that manage the heart can get out of control, and the person can suffer cardiac arrhythmia. When calcium ion leakage in the sensory cells in the ear, it gives a false sensation of sound. If the leakage happens in the vestibular system, it causes dizziness, motion sickness and nausea.

The calcium ion disruption model gives a reasonable mechanism for DNA damage. Research has shown that the radiation from cell phones caused DNA damage. But the DNA molecule is very stable, so it is not likely to be damaged directly. But the EMR exposure can damage the lysosomes that are present in every cell. The lysosome is a cellular organ that effectively digests unused molecules in the cell. Sort of an internal garbage disposal. One enzyme the lysosome uses is DNase. If the lysosome is damaged by EMR exposure, the DNase is able to degrade the DNA. And a consequence of this damage is predisposing many areas of the body to cancer.

Not all consequences of the cellular survival mechanism are bad. Medical devices are now available that with carefully controlled and *short* EMR exposures can promote faster bone healing.

There are many more examples of where this calcium ion model can explain the many biological effects of EMR exposure on the human body. Overall, Dr. Goldworthy has given us a realistic scientific explanation of how weak EMR can cause the many health effects that have been reported worldwide. The full paper, which is some 14 pages long and is available at -

The Bioinitiative 2012 report is available at -

Supplemental reading -

RMEHA comments on the Goldworthy article

*** Precautionary principle time - A baby's bed must be as far away as possible from a smart meter, since smart meters are often the most common source of involuntary EMR exposure in most homes. And papers are now appearing on the internet that explicitly claim "microwaves cause autism."


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Revised '30-Apr-2018,7:51:44'