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Manmade electromagnetic radiation increases in the environment as new applications are frequently adopted. Humans serve as receiving antennas for electromagnetic waves. Thus various new responses can be expected. In addition to radio and television programs, mobile telephony, distant reading of electricity and water consumption and many other technologies load us electrically and magnetically both out- and indoors. Most exposures are active all the time, day and night, continuously or in regular pulses. Personal devices are also important sources, since they touch the skin and are held near the brain and heart. Humans are good bioindicators, as their physiological parameters, such as heart function and blood biochemistry, are frequently recorded. Data storage and analysis are getting better. Humans also report symptoms that cannot be directly measured, and carry valuable information on bioeffects. Studies from recent decades have shown that exposure to electromagnetic waves can break DNA chains, damage proteins, even increase the blood brain barrier permeability, disturb sleep, and cause fatigue, memory and concentration problems. Neural, hormonal and psychosocial development is affected. An increase in human brain tumours has been described in correlation with mobile phone use on the exposed side of the head. The symptoms of electrohypersensitivity cause morbidity, but the interaction between multiple radiation frequencies and the mechanisms leading to frequency sensitivity are still poorly understood. Producers of mobile communication devices continuously warn users not to keep personal devices in skin contact. The Precautionary Principle that has been signed by many nations applies to all environmental risk factors, including exposure to electromagnetic waves.
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57. Electromagnetic radiation and health: Human indicators
Yael Stein
Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, Hebrew University-Hadassah
Medical Center, Jerusalem, Israel
and
Osmo Hänninen1,*, Paavo Huttunen2, Mikko Ahonen3 and Reijo Ekman4,
1. Department of Physiology, Kuopio Campus, University of Eastern Finland, P.O. Box
1627, 70211 Kuopio, Finland. E-mail: osmo.hanninen@uef.fi
2. Department of Electrical and Information Engineering, Laboratory of Optoelectronics and
Measurement Technology, P.O. Box 45500, 90014 University of Oulu, Finland
3. Department, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland
4. Degree Program in Electronics, Radio and EMC Laboratory, Turku University of Applied
Sciences, Joukahaisenkatu 3C, 20511 Turku, Finland
Correspondence Osmo Hänninen Department of Physiology, Kuopio Campus, University
of Eastern Finland, P.O. Box 1627, 70211 Kuopio, Finland. E-mail:
osmo.hanninen@uef.fi
Abstract
Manmade electromagnetic radiation increases in the environment as new applications are
frequently adopted. Humans serve as receiving antennas for electromagnetic waves. Thus
various new responses can be expected. In addition to radio and television programs, mobile
telephony, distant reading of electricity and water consumption and many other technologies
load us electrically and magnetically both out- and indoors. Most exposures are active all the
time, day and night, continuously or in regular pulses. Personal devices are also important
sources, since they touch the skin and are held near the brain and heart. Humans are good
bioindicators, as their physiological parameters, such as heart function and blood
biochemistry, are frequently recorded. Data storage and analysis are getting better. Humans
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also report symptoms that cannot be directly measured, and carry valuable information on
bioeffects. Studies from recent decades have shown that exposure to electromagnetic waves
can break DNA chains, damage proteins, even increase the blood brain barrier permeability,
disturb sleep, and cause fatigue, memory and concentration problems. Neural, hormonal and
psychosocial development is affected. An increase in human brain tumours has been
described in correlation with mobile phone use on the exposed side of the head. The
symptoms of electrohypersensitivity cause morbidity, but the interaction between multiple
radiation frequencies and the mechanisms leading to frequency sensitivity are still poorly
understood. Producers of mobile communication devices continuously warn users not to keep
personal devices in skin contact. The Precautionary Principle that has been signed by many
nations applies to all environmental risk factors, including exposure to electromagnetic
waves.
Keywords: city planning, electromagnetic fields, human antennas, radiation; sensing,
animals; humans; symptoms; oxidative stress; tumours
57.1 Introduction human exposure to electromagnetic waves
Humans and all living organisms are receiving antennas for electromagnetic radiation.
Atoms, molecules and ions in human tissues interact with the electromagnetic waves, for
example iron, present in many catalysts, haemoglobin and other carriers of oxygen, and
magnetite crystals. The antenna function of the human body can be directly registered in the
same way data from physical antennas are recorded. Fig. 57.1 presents radiation signals
recorded with a spectrum analyzer from the skin of a sitting subject.
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A
B
Fig. 57.1 Radiation spectra around the 100 MHz commonly used in frequency modulated
(FM) radio transmissions, recorded with a spectrum analyzer (GW Instek GSP-827).
(A) The horizontally polarized signals were captured with the aid of a 150 cm long dipole
antenna.
(B) Directly recorded from the same site level from the elbow skin of a sitting subject (one of
the authors served as the receiving antenna).
Without antenna, only minor noise was recorded (not shown). (Hänninen et al., 2013
reproduced with the permission of the J. African Association of Physiological Sciences).
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Living organisms have been adapting to exposure to electromagnetic radiation from
natural sources, and its effects, over millions of years. Outdoors, humans are exposed to the
natural environment. We must start to consider that in the 21st century we have become too
remote from the natural conditions to which humans and all other living organisms have
adapted. The growing use of electromagnetic radiation by industry, the military, and the
general public has raised the environmental baseline exposure to electromagnetic waves by
several orders of magnitude. All species must now readapt to this new man-made artificial
environment. Adaptation and evolution is not necessarily a fast process. Members of a species
may show variation in their adaptation capacity. Therefore, precautionary measures must be
taken rapidly to protect susceptible sub-populations in the general public.
Research results are still accumulating regarding the relatively new abundance of
electromagnetic applications used by the general public since the last decades of the 20th
century. Synergistic or additive effects of interactions between different factors, and the long-
term effects of low level exposure on humans, are even less known. Nevertheless new
applications are adopted all the time, based on the assumption of safety. These are mostly
controlled by regulations, but since much is still unknown, current exposure limits may not be
protective. Indeed, there are many studies that show biological effects (bioeffects) at levels
below current exposure limits. The planning of research is slow and the execution of studies is
even slower than the rapidly advancing technology. Due to the scarcity of clear results and
knowledge, lay findings and individual case reports are an additional important source of
information, as they have always been, especially since modern information technology
facilitates collection of these data.
A large part of our lives is spent indoors, protected from harsh climate conditions; but the
indoor ambience exposes humans to multiple agents, such as cigarette smoke, chemicals and
electromagnetic waves emitted from devices. It is notable that skin tumours are often seen in
covered parts of the body and not only in the areas exposed to sunshine, as would intuitively
be expected.
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When people commute they are not in a natural environment either. Transportation
vehicles like busses, trains, cars and ships have metal frames and their exterior is covered in
metal. The lighting inside the vehicle is an artificial light. Many cars, trains, and busses
operate wireless telecommunication or Internet connection inside the vehicle, e.g., cellphone
antennas, Bluetooth or WiFi connections. Electromagnetic means are also used for tracking
the transport of goods and of people, via satellites.
In many countries, regulations are not up to date with the most recent scientific knowledge
on the possible human effects of electromagnetic radiation. Electromagnetic bioeffects were
assumed in the past to be insignificant, and therefore regulations paid little attention to them.
Recent studies and re-emerging data from the 1970-80’s from Eastern Europe and the United
States indicate the significant existence of bioeffects of human exposure to electromagnetic
radiation (see Bioinitiative Report 2012). Susceptible members of the general population,
such as children, pregnant women, the sick and elderly, and those with a weaker immune
system, are more at risk. The effect of long-term exposure, even at lower intensities, is not
known.
57.2 City and house planning
Increasingly more adults, children and teenagers spend their time indoors, at work and
leisure. Populations live and act in buildings, in cities, and along their streets. The planning of
areas is regulated.
Urban blocks of flats are usually made of steel-reinforced concrete. The roofs, and even
the walls, are covered by materials that contain steel or other metals, which do not enable
electromagnetic radiation to penetrate, but are reflective. Many small houses made of wood
have roofs that contain iron or other metals.
Steel roofs of buildings help to protect the indoor inhabitants from exposure to an outdoor
source of electromagnetic radiation. But electromagnetic waves can be reflected on the outer
surface of the roof and redirected farther away, exposing others. Radiation from an external
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source can enter a building through the side walls. Radiation that enters a building is then
reflected inside the building. Direct radiation and its reflections can interact, to form standing
waves and hot spots. These can hamper the indoor electric processes. Fig. 57.2 illustrates
reflections of radiofrequency waves outside and inside a house.
Many common building materials enable electromagnetic radiation to penetrate the walls.
There are, however, materials that can be used to damp the electromagnetic waves and their
reflections. Insulation materials containing aluminium foil are effective. If the building
contains sensitive systems, it is possible to protect them by steel walls. Therefore, some
factories install coverings made from metallic and other specialized materials to block the
propagation of electromagnetic waves indoors. There are also metal-containing paints and
curtains that limit radiation somewhat, but their efficacy is limited because the protective
layer is very thin.
Electromagnetic radiation is emitted from radio and television systems, as well as, in
higher frequencies, from radar transmission towers. In many urban as well as rural
environments these and other sources, such as electric power lines, are activated all the time.
Towers allow the radiation to reach a wide diameter. However, radiation beams are
directional. If the beams are directed to the horizon, the immediate proximity of a tower may
have lower exposure to the radiation. Negative health effects in the proximity of radiation
emitting towers, if found, could be due to coexisting significant environmental exposures,
e.g., chemical exposures. (Atzmon et al., 2012).
Transmission towers and base stations are often located in densely populated areas. Small
base stations, used for cellphone communication, can be found on roofs, on street poles, and
inside shopping centers. In some countries, legislation still allows cellphone companies to rent
space for use by base stations in vacant apartments or even on people’s balconies, sometimes
even without notifying the public about this exposure.
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Recently, electric energy, water and gas companies have begun installing electronic
wireless “Smart meters” instead of analog meters. Such wireless devices, installed on external
or internal walls in people’s houses, emit pulses of radiofrequency waves all day and all night,
several seconds in every hour, or more. Chronic all-day every-day exposure is more likely
than short and intermittent exposure, such as cell phone use, to produce harmful health
effects. Although the exposure levels may be lower, the accumulated exposure over time has
the potential to be greater, and to cause greater harm.
Fig. 57.2 Electromagnetic radiation and common house materials A European-type single family
house with steel roof that prevents the penetration of radiation and reflects the radiofrequency
radiation to air. However, when the steel structures create odd reflections inside the house,
radiofrequency radiation gets in through windows (in high power densities).
The discussion above has been about radiofrequency radiation and alternating current (AC)
magnetic and electric fields. However, in many locations the static magnetic field can be
generated or altered by ferrous structures and by direct current (DC) electrical currents. A
typical example of this anomaly is a bed with metal springs occasionally causing a substantial
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DC magnetic anomaly. Man-made pollution created by extensive static magnetic field-
generating structures has recently been reviewed and illustrated (Armadillo et al., 2012).
Biological cell proliferation and differentiation can be heavily affected by both AC and DC
magnetic fields (Portelli et al., 2013). When inspecting health effects, both AC and DC fields
need to be measured and understood.
57.3 Testing for short term and long term exposures
Exposure to electromagnetic radiation and fields continues, day and night, since radio and
television broadcasts are continuous. Electric power lines and switchboxes emit low
frequency electromagnetic waves all the time. Surveillance of traffic, energy and water
consumption is constantly transmitted from central locations or via remote “Smart” meters
near every home. Electromagnetic waves from such devices, located on the external walls of
homes, penetrate the normal building materials, exposing families and pets constantly.
Cellphone towers, antennas and base stations emit electromagnetic waves all the time. Many
people also expose themselves and their families voluntarily to WiFi wireless Internet
network routers in their homes, or they may be exposed by their neighbours' routers. Wireless
technology is installed in coffee shops, at hospitals, in government buildings and large
workplaces.In many large cities people are involuntarily exposed even in the streets.
We do not know the cumulative effects of these chronic, long term exposures.
Commercial bodies continue to claim that there is no evidence of harm, but much evidence
has accumulated, raising questions on the validity of current regulations that take only thermal
effects into account and ignore all non-thermal reported health effects and bioeffects.
In required safety tests for cellphone communication, the electromagnetic waves emitted
by cellular phones are tested only for short-term effects of heating. In 1975, research
determined the heat levels caused by microwave heating that leads to damage to animals.
The measurement currently performed is the specific absorption rate (SAR), i.e., the amount
of power or heat energy absorbed per unit mass of tissue (Watt per kilogram). In the
experiment, trained rats stopped working for food after their whole body exposure reached
average SAR of 4 W/kg (D’Andrea et al., 1975).
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Specific Anthropomorphic Mannequin (SAM) is the standard model used for radiation
testing of mobile devices by their manufacturers. This is a large plastic head mannequin
(Beard and Kainz, 2004), with an opening at the top of its head, containing a liquid whose
electrical permittivity and conductivity parameters are equivalent to the average electrical
parameters of the 40 tissue types in the human head (Gandhi et al., 2001). The size of the
model head was initially based on the 90th percentile of 1989 United States military recruits
(Gordon et al., 1989). The model is exposed to electromagnetic waves in the radio frequency
microwave range, from the device being tested, and the currents induced within the salt
solution inside the plastic head are measured for six minutes. Then the values are averaged.
There are no official limit values for long term exposures, and therefore they are not
measured.
One drawback of this system is that in reality, the human brain is a complicated network
made of millions of neurons and other cells. No pathophysiological conclusion can be drawn
by the Specific Absorption (SAR) tests recorded in this technique on long-term functions of
neural networks. Another problem is that the test does not reflect the physiology of smaller
individuals, including women and young children.
A different method for measuring and modelling tissue absorption using computational
electrodynamics is the Finite-Difference Time-Domain (FDTD) method. According to
several authors, the finite-difference time-domain (FDTD) algorithm is the most widely
accepted computation method for SAR modelling, because this method simulates more
anatomic tissue models derived from MRI or CT scans (Chan et al., 1997, Gandhi 2002,
Gandhi et al., 2011). In the FDTD method, every cell is modelled according to specifically
defined tissue characteristics. The area around the head is also modelled. This way, the
interaction between different tissues and the emitting source are seen in the model, and we
can identify "hot spots" in the tissues, which are areas that absorb more energy. The FDTD
computer simulation cell phone certification process is immediately available and provides
three orders of magnitude higher resolution than the SAM-based system for the head.
A serious health risk not taken into account by modern wireless technology is that
functional neural networks take about two decades to develop in humans, beginning
prenatally and continuing throughout childhood. In modern life, cell phones, radiation
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emitting tablet devices, computers, WiFi and other sources radiate all the time near the
child’s and teenager’s constantly developing tissues. Brain neuronal networks must make an
unnatural effort to meet the electric challenge in response to the abundant electrical signals
of the environment, i.e., electromagnetic noise.
The best protection against exposure to radiation and electromagnetic noise is distance
from the body. Radiation decreases in the distance squared. Terrain affects and especially
rocks can provide measures of safety.
57.4 Mobile technology
People use mobile technology to run their daily personal and business matters. Cellular
phone and tablet devices are often kept in skin contact. Mobile computers, emitting
electromagnetic waves, are held in people’s laps, near their reproductive organs.
Wireless communication devices interact with transmission and receiver stations.
Traditional high radiofrequency transmission towers are often complemented by smaller base
stations. Both types are active day and night. Exposure from base stations depends on
distance, direction, and use. If more personal mobile devices are sending and receiving data
via the base station, it emits more radiation. The density of base stations is high in the cities,
allowing the supply of fast mobile communication speed to more people. In rural areas the
distance to the base station is greater. Therefore, the transmitted connecting signals from the
personal devices must be stronger to reach the base stations and the receivers. The greater the
distance, the more energy is needed in contacts.
As industry offers more and more services via wireless, people forsake the option of
landline and wired communication and embrace the convenience of wireless technology,
disregarding the warnings of potential hazards. Medical associations have expressed concerns
about the levels of electromagnetic load to which people are exposed. For instance, the
Austrian Medical Association recommends that microwave radiation exposure levels should
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be less than 10 uW/m2, one millionth of the limit value currently allowed in Finland (e.g.
Johansson 2009).
Children are constantly exposed to electromagnetic radiation from cellphones carried
by other children and by wireless Internet at school. Schools are areas where radiation
limitations are important, as are homes, especially bedrooms. Constant exposure to
electromagnetic fields from the proximity of mobile devices and their chargers, networks
induced by routers, and exposure from Smart meters or external base stations can affect the
learning process, disturb night sleep, and hamper the normal development of the brain.
57.6 Symptom based bioindication in humans
Humans absorb electromagnetic signals and act as receiving antennas as shown in Fig.
57.1.
Humans are actually one of the most useful sensitive bioindicator species, as they are
constantly exposed. In addition to measured reactions and health statistics, people can also
express their sensations (Huttunen et al., 2009). Human data banks provide possibilities to
follow health developments in different areas. In Sweden, it has been reported that the general
public health markers have deteriorated with the increase in electromagnetic exposure
(Hallberg and Johansson, 2009).
Feldman et al. (2008, 2009) and Safrai et al. (2012) have suggested a unique
environmental indicator for remote sensing of physiological effects in humans and primates.
Eccrine sweat ducts in human skin are helically shaped tubes, filled with a conductive
aqueous solution. The skin spectral response in the sub-Terahertz region is governed by the
level of activity of the perspiration system and shows the minimum of reflectivity at some
frequencies in the frequency band of 75110 GHz. It is also correlated to physiological stress
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as manifested by the pulse rate and the systolic blood pressure. The technology for remote
sensing of this physiological signal is under development.
It is important to note that human exposure to emissions in the sub-Terahertz frequency
band may interact with this physiological mechanism, causing perception of pain or other yet
unrecognized health-related or psychological consequence.
57.6.1 Oxidative stress, increased brain metabolism, and cognitive effects
Radiofrequency and microwave fields from mobile phones held close to the body have
been shown to increase free radicals, especially in neural cells. These free radicals appear to
enhance mainly lipid peroxidation, and change the antioxidase activities of human blood, thus
leading to oxidative stress (Moustafa et al., 2001; Aitken et al. 2006; Friedman et al., 2007;
Campisi et al., 2010.)
Volkov et al. (2013) demonstrated direct effects of RF radiation on the brain with cell
phone use. In healthy participants, 50-minute cell phone exposure was associated with
increased brain glucose metabolism in the region closest to the antenna as compared with no
exposure.
Effects on sleep and cognitive performance in humans have been described by Regel et al.
(2006-7) and Hutter et al. (2006), as well as symptoms, such as Alzheimer’s disease, migraine
and vertigo (Huss et al., 2009 and others).
Highly electromagnetically exposed people complain of one or more of the symptoms
described in Table 57.1, mostly due to neural-related problems. Many people connect their
symptoms with their exposure to different sources, such as mobile phones, cordless phones,
mobile phone stations, other electric appliances, television, computers, TV and radio
broadcasting, and microwave ovens (Hagström et al., 2013). Cardiac arrhythmia has been
Comment [M1]: Moved paragraph
above table
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reported by some to be increased when becoming sensitive, but this may also be due to
increased age. The prevalence of implanted pacemakers increases steadily, e.g., in Finland,
but again this may be due to population aging.
Table 57.1 Reported main symptoms of electromagnetically hypersensitive persons
during their acute phase (194 returned valid responses,80.9% women and 19.1% men
(Hagström et al. 2013).
Symptom
%
Stress (nervous)
60.3
Sleeping disorders
59.3
Fatigue
57.2
Concentration problems
56.7
Memory problems
54.6
Anxiety
52.6
57.6.2 Cardiovascular system
Easiest to quantify are the cardiovascular and respiratory cycles. Cardiovascular responses
are easy to register. Ancient Chinese traditional medicine has done so for 3000 years or more.
In ancient Chinese medicine the examiner compares the findings with his own pulse i.e. heart
rate and arterial tonus, with respiratory cycles (Veith, 1997). Electrocardiograms are easily
recorded by skin contact electrodes, or the signal can be recorded by mobile networks from a
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distance, even through a telephone connection. The blood pressure and respiratory cycles can
be recorded remotely, although this is seldom done. With computer programs readily
available, more data can be obtained and analysed. Fig. 57. 3 illustrates some cardiovascular
responses to activation of a mobile phone in a person carrying a pacemaker.
Fig. 57.3 A
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Fig. 57.3 B
Fig. 57.3 The cardiovascular responses (heart rate (A) and mean arterial pressure (B)) in a
person carrying a pacemaker, when a silent mobile phone was turned on and off to enable the
phone to make contact with its base station. This experiment was performed in a laboratory
Faraday cage. The phone was placed behind the occiput of the blinded person (Hänninen et
al., 2013, reproduced with the permission of the Journal)
57.6.3 Reproductive effects
Animal studies indicate that electromagnetic radiation may have a wide range of
damaging effects on the testicular function and male germ line (Dasdag et al., 1999; Davoudi
et al., 2002; Mailankot et al., 2009). Men who used their cell phones the most had significant
poorer sperm quality than those who used them the least. The lowest average sperm count was
found in men who used their cell phone more than four hours a day (Agarwal et al., 2008).
Purified human spermatozoa exposed to raised levels of RF/microwave radiation exhibited
significantly reduced sperm motility and vitality (De Iuliis et al., 2009). Use of mobile phones
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may have a harmful effect on male and female fertility (Erogul et al., 2006; Wdowiak et al.,
2007; Gul et al., 2009).
57.7 Electrohypersensitivity and Multiple Chemical sensitivity
The interaction of electromagnetic fields with biological systems is known at different
levels, but understanding and unravelling the cumulative effects are a big challenge (Blank,
2009; Bioinitiative report, 2012).
Manmade radiation is constantly turned on, for example radio and TV transmissions,
military, police and rescue personnel communication systems and naval systems. It has been
shown that pulsed fields have an effect on the EEG and the central nervous system (Bawin et
al., 1975).
One can expect to see responses in different species and in humans due to the
electromagnetic changes in the environment that have taken place in recent decades. As we
know, there is biological variation regarding human sensitivity and hypersensitivity to
allergens. The brain has a central role in the allergy response. After hypersensitivity is
initially triggered, the allergic or hypersensitive response to different allergens can broaden to
include new agents, varying from chemical to physical agents and vice versa.
After a person has developed hypersensitivity to a chemical or to a certain frequency of
electromagnetic waves, the patient’s pattern of response stays the same whether the
trigger is chemical, biological, particulate, nutritional, or electrical it is characteristic of
the patient. Typical subjective symptoms that have been described are drowsiness, malaise
and headache, mood swings, tearfulness and eye pain, poor concentration, vertigo and
tinnitus, numbness and tingling, nausea, convulsions, noise sensitivity, alteration in
appetite, visual disturbances, restlessness, blushing, and muscle pain.
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Wireless networks, such as WLAN, Wi-Fi etc., in offices and in many homes, and
wireless radiating Smart Meters, increase the environmental irradiation load. Indoor sources
of radiofrequency waves, such as those emitted from portable computers connected to a
network, or sources of electromagnetic waves in other frequencies, such as high frequency
voltage transients from electricity lines, add to this load (Milham 2010).
A multitude of electronic devices is used every day in the homes for various tasks. Many
of these devices also emit stray electromagnetic waves that have no useful function. The
electric lines carry long distances transients, which are harmful. High frequency voltage
transients affect individuals with Multiple Sclerosis, may elevate blood sugar levels among
people with diabetes and prediabetes conditions, and contribute to triggering Electromagnetic
hypersensitivity (Havas, 2006)
Fig.57.2a gives the electromagnetic spectrum of a commonly used computer and Fig.
57.2b shows the huge increase in electromagnetic radiation of the attached WLAN in another
computer (note the logarithmic scale).
57.8 Electrohypersensitivity Recovery is possible
When a person has become sensitive, the first step towards recovery is to minimize the
electromagnetic exposure. Many people who have become electromagnetically sensitive have
previously suffered allergies to other agents, and know that they should avoid these
exposures. Most important is to keep sources of electromagnetic waves such as mobile
phones, TV sets, and computers turned off when not in use. Unfortunately, base stations and
wireless networks cannot be turned off by individuals who wish to avoid this exposure, and
therefore regulations must limit the installation of electromagnetic radiation emitting sources
near people’s homes, or near schools, where children, who are highly sensitive to all
exposures, will be exposed. Fig. 57.4 illustrates cardiovascular hyperactivity in an
electrohypersensitive individual, and reduction of this response after avoidance of
electromagnetic exposure for several weeks.
The major mobile phone producers have regularly issued warnings to their users, urging
them not to keep their active mobile phones in skin contact. This may indicate a new turn in
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their attitude, possibly as an outcome of their failure to get health-related insurances for their
products. However, these warnings are written in small font inside the device’s user manual
and therefore are not read by most users (Davis, 2010).
Some devices emit more electromagnetic waves than others. Fig. 57.5 compares the
radiation spectra of two Hand Held Tablet Personal Computers. One device has extremely
high emissions that cannot be tolerated by an electrohypersensitive person. The other device
emits lower, more acceptable levels.
In the countryside one can find niches, e.g., rock surrounded valleys, where the
electromagnetic load is weaker. The radiation “silence” can be recorded using the person
her/himself as the antenna (see also Fig. 57.1). Food rich in essential components, such as
amino acids, unsaturated fatty acids, vitamins and other elements, increases the endogenous
defence against the attacks of oxygen free radicals.
One can also reduce the penetrating radiofrequency radiation by paint on walls and
curtains with conducting threads in accordance with electric safety regulations in different
countries. If the person avoids electromagnetic exposure and uses nutritional supplements,
positive results of reduction in hypersensitivity symptoms may be expected within about three
months (Hagström, 2010/2013, personal communication).
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Fig. 57.4 Avoidance of electromagnetic exposure in a rural cottage outside a city. The
cardiovascular abnormality of a sensitive person normalized in several weeks at least
partially. The recordings of the heart rate and blood pressure were made in a Faraday cage,
calculating the Index of Vegetative Regulation. (Hänninen et al., 2013, reprinted with
permission of the Journal).
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A
B
Fig. 57.5 Radiation spectra of two Hand Held Tablet Personal Computers measured in a
Faraday room of a Radio laboratory. European Union EMC directive emission standard EN
55022 is indicated by the thin horizontal red line. According to the directive, one cannot sell
dators exceeding this line, but these emissions were much exceeded in the lower tracing (B)
of one tablet sold in Finland and sensitized persons cannot use it. The upper curve (A) shows
that some devices emit more acceptable levels and can be used more safely.
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
35
40
45
50
55
60
65
70
75
80
30M 50 60 80 100M 200 300 400 500 800 1G 2G 3G
Level in dBµV/m
Frequency in Hz
EN 55022 Class B 3 m QP
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
35
40
45
50
55
60
65
70
75
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30M 50 60 80 100M 200 300 400 500 800 1G 2G 3G
Level in dBµV/m
Frequency in Hz
EN 55022 Class B 3 m QP
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57.9 Discussion human effects as environmental indicators
There are various ways to document the human abnormalities and effects caused by
electromagnetic exposure. As the direct recording of the antenna function of the human body
is possible, this would be recommendable, in order to demonstrate the exposure and to
correlate body effects or responses with the absorbed radiation (Fig. 57.5).
As the skin is directly exposed to electromagnetic load, one can expect the greatest
changes there, as one would expect skin cancers in skin exposed to the sun. Skin cancers are
common, including melanoma, which has increased,possibly due to sunbathing. The
electromagnetic exposure of a person can be detected by recording the signals directly, to
identify the irradiation sources currently activated. For example, signals from the fingers
during typing on a keyboard, as seen in Fig. 57.6.
Fig. 57.6 The finger temperature of a
sensitized person recorded by infrared
camera during typing a heavily radiating
laptop computer. While the increasing
temperature can be seen from the keyboard
the temperature of fingers was cooling. At
the same time the person sensed pain and
the hands got clumsy. (Hänninen et
al.,2011, J. Environmental Sciences, with
permission of the journal)
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In the skin or near it are various types of glands and glandular tissue. The breasts are a
type of glandular tissue. The incidence of breast cancer has been rising and rising in the
Western world. The causes of breast cancer are multifactorial. While the specific triggers for
eruption of the disease in each person is difficult to specify, electromagnetic waves that have
the ability to affect cells and chromosomes may act as an added factor or a catalyst in this
morbidity.
The salivary glands are relatively superficial, near the skin. The parotid gland is
particularly exposed to electromagnetic waves in the RF/MW range, due to the use of mobile
phones near to, or in skin contact with, the ear and the head. A study from China has shown
that parotid cancers have recently increased some 30-fold (Duan et al., 2011). A recent study
from Israel (Czerninski et al., 2011) demonstrated that the total number of parotid gland
cancers in Israel increased 4-fold from 1970 to 2006 (from 16 to 64 cases per year), whereas
other major salivary gland cancers remained stable.
Glandular cells are more exposed than cells of the central nervous system, i.e., the brain
and the spinal cord. The brain is protected by the skull. Nevertheless, the incidence of brain
tumours has doubled during the last decades, since the introduction of mobile telephony. A
recent study demonstrated that use of a mobile phone for a total of 1600 hours seems to
double the incidence of acoustic neuroma. Gliomas and astrocytomas are more common on
the side of the head where the electromagnetic wave load has been greater than on the other
side, i.e., the side that the person uses the phone. (Hardell et al., 2010, 2013). A large
epidemiological study found greater odds ratios for acoustic neuroma in those who used
cellphones for 1640 and more cumulative hours. In some cases, use of over 5 hours a day was
reported (Interphone Study Group, 2011). The tumour morbidity is expected to grow in the
future, as young children actively use mobile phones extensively.
The permeability of the blood brain barrier against the entrance of harmful molecules has
been shown to increase after mobile phone radiation exposure (Nittby et al., 2009). Children
are especially susceptible to this effect, since the protective skull grows until the bone sutures
have closed, and skull bone thickness continues to increase until adulthood.
23
A unique mechanism in which electromagnetic waves of a specific frequency (Sub-
terahertz) can enter the body through the skin is directly via the eccrine sweat glands that are
found over most areas of the skin, in humans and primates (Feldman et al., 2009). The exact
physiology and mechanism of function of this recently discovered frequency-specific
biological sensor is currently being researched.
Biochemical responses in humans and other creatures can by analysed as indicators, e.g.,
hormones, such as cortisol, and melatonin (Burch, 1999). The release of iron has also been
used as an indicator for effects and responses to exposure to both radio frequency and low
frequency electromagnetic waves (Allen et al., 2000; Cespedes and Ueno, 2009). The first
step in this process is probably activation of plasma membrane NADH oxidase and generation
of oxygen free radicals, followed by activation of protein kinases (Friedman et al. 2007).
Fragmentation of DNA has been shown to occur (Phillips et al., 2009; Campisi et al., 2010)
and genotoxic effects are expressed (Ruediger, 2009). The exposure to electromagnetic waves
also activates the synthesis of heat shock proteins which act as chaperons and transmute the
three dimensional structures of proteins (Blank and Goodman, 2009). These cause changes in
cellular metabolism and can be seen also in the proteome findings. There may be differences
between the responses to exposure to different wave lengths (Nylund et al., 2010).
Measurements help to quantify the sensations reported. For instance, a decrease in skin
temperature is a sensation that a number of people have reported, and it can be followed with
the aid of infrared thermography of the fingers. The person who is being monitored can report
when feeling pain in the fingers and also the sensation that their hands are becoming clumsy,
qualities that are more difficult to measure. Fig. 57.4 a & b shows how exposure to
electromagnetic waves constricts the circulation in the fingers and cools them within a few
minutes to room temperature, although the computer induces heat that is expected to warm
the fingers. Other people have reported a sudden feeling of heat in the head or neck or a sharp
sensation of pain after exposure to electromagnetic waves. A testing mechanism should be
developed to examine these phenomena.
24
Phone conversations while driving and especially text messaging distract the driver’s
attention. This affects the driver mentally and can cause car crashes (Drews and Stayer, 2004;
McEvoy et al., 2006).
Humans can sense the standing waves of some radio transmissions. People feel these
waves in the form of a spontaneous muscle contraction. Some more sensitive individuals
seem to be able to sense the differences of standing waves in different wavelengths, with a
unique sensitivity, almost as most of us can differentiate between colours (Huttunen et al.,
2009). Such people are specifically frequency sensitive.
57.9.1 Occupational data on human exposure to electromagnetic fields (mostly in
military settings)
In 1972, Glaser published a 106 page report for the US Naval Medical Research Institute,
reviewing over 2,300 articles that assess biological responses and effects of non-ionizing
radiation on humans. Many of these effects had been called microwave sickness. He classified
the biological effects into 17 categories, listing both thermal and non-thermal effects. These
include: changes in physiologic function such as blood and vascular disorders, biochemical
changes (enzymes and others), metabolic, gastro-intestinal, and hormonal disorders,
alterations in the nervous system, histological changes, genetic and chromosomal effects,
psychological disorders, behavioural changes in animal studies, and others.
Steneck et al. and Cook et al. reported in 1980 on research published during the years
1940-1960 in Russia and East Europe on the biological effects of microwave radiation.
In 1996 and 2001, Szmigielski published data on cancer morbidity of military personnel
occupationally exposed to electromagnetic radiation from radar for a follow up period of 20
years. Grayson (1996b) found a slight excess risk for brain tumour after exposure to
electromagnetic radiation (ELF and RF/MW) in the US air force. Robinette et al. (1980)
looked at 20,000 US Korean War Naval Veterans 1954-58 with occupational exposure to
25
radar. The subgroup defined as the most intensely exposed, Aviation Technicians, had the
highest level of crude death rates per 1000. Groves et al. (2002), in a follow-up study of
Robinette’s cohort 40 years later, reported a difference in one high-exposure occupation group
out of three, in which rates of non-lymphocytic leukemia were significantly elevated.
Degrave et al. (2005, 2009) found an excess incidence of hematolymphatic cancers in two
retrospective cohort studies in Belgian male military personnel exposed to anti-aircraft radars
in Western Europe between the 1960s and1990s.
Occupational exposures to EMF have also been described by Goldsmith. In his report of
1997, Goldsmith presents evidence of chromosomal changes in lymphocytes cultured in vitro
from employees who had worked in the U.S embassy and had been unknowingly exposed to
low levels of radiofrequency/microwave radiation.
Richter et al. reported exposures and cancers in several sentinel patients in a cluster of
such workers and in patients. Some of the patients presented with brain cancer with short
latent periods of less than 10 years.
Stein et al. (2011) reported a sentinel case series of 47 cancer patients, who had been
occupationally exposed to RF/MW or ELF, in various mostly in military settings. Data
analysis suggested a coherent and biologically plausible pattern of cancer latency in relation
to the onset of exposure to EMF and accompanying agents, since latent periods for testicular
tumours were very short, the latency was longer for Hemato-Lymphatic cancers and still
longer in solid tumours
57.10 The Precautionary Principle
The Precautionary Principle is a notion which supports taking protective action before
there is complete scientific proof of a risk; that is, action should not be delayed simply
because full scientific information is lacking. The precautionary principle or precautionary
approach has been incorporated into several international environmental agreements, and
some claim that it is now recognized as a general principle of international environmental
law.
26
Currently, safety thresholds for electromagnetic exposure of the general public are being set
mostly by engineers, not by public health experts, and are based on thermal effects only,
totally ignoring reported bioeffects.
In view of the Precautionary Principle, the prudent conclusion is to reduce exposure of
susceptible members of society, such as children, pregnant women, the sick and elderly and
electrohypersensitive individuals, as a protective measure until the safety of the exposures is
proven.
57.11 Conclusions
Ever-growing manmade electromagnetic radiation and fields cover the globe. This load
has increased rapidly, by orders of magnitude, due to increasing mobile telephony, distant
recording of services such as electricity and water services using wireless “Smart” meters, and
Internet Wi-Fi networks applied in public spaces, including mandatory exposure of children
in schools. All organisms are exposed to different degrees. Humans and other creatures serve
as antennas. All people are passively exposed at least to some degree, but many are exposed
much more, due to the active use of mobile telephones of other citizens including their
neighbours at their homes.
Examples of animals, plants and humans indicate that they are harmfully affected. Human
questionnaire surveys and epidemiological studies provide increasing evidence of risks of
increased morbidity. Electrohypersensitivity is becoming more common. The worst signs are
studies showing DNA damage and increased carcinomas.
Birds are able to leave high exposure areas. Humans seem to be able to recover, if they
diminish use and avoid the presence of active radiating devices, or flee to radiation-free
zones. Children need increased concern. The Precautionary Principle signed by many nations
should be used and observed.
27
57.12 Acknowledgements
This work was supported in part by the Environmental Health Trust, a non-profit and policy
organization, and by the Yael Piton fund for support of research in Environmental Studies.
The occupational data was collected together with Prof. Richter from the Unit of
Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Hebrew University - Hadassah School of Public
Health.
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