Last weekend, deep in the lush greenness of a manor house in rural Sussex, three of the world’s leading experts on electromagnetic radiation came together to answer that very question – Dr George Carlo, Professor Olle Johansson and Dr Dimitris Panagopoulos. In this least threatening of settings they expounded on atmospheric changes, the crucial importance of polarisation, the deficits in so much of the current research on the dangers of mobile telephony, and the risks as they see them.
I am giving links to their research papers below but since they are couched in very technical language I will try to give a layman’s overview. First Dr Panagopoulos.
How thunder and lightning can affect human health
Atmospheric electrical discharges during thunderstorms, and their related electromagnetic fields or waves, known as sferics, can be sensed by humans a long way away – usually felt as headaches or unusual fatigue. Indeed, there is a condition known as meteoropathy in which particularly sensitive people regularly react to electrical storms. The symptoms are similar to those suffered by those who are sensitive to mobile telephones.
Sferics consist of partially polarized electromagnetic pulses (see below) at very low frequency with extremely low frequency pulsed repetition – not that different to those emitted by mobile telephone base stations and handsets. For more on sferics and their effects on human health see Dr Panagopoulos’ paper, On the biophysical mechanism of sensing atmospheric discharges by living organisms. December 2017.
In extremely simplistic terms, polarisation (in terms of electromagnetic waves) happens when electromagnetic waves all travel in the same direction along the same planes.
In the natural world, this does not happen. Natural electromagnetic waves are produced by ‘large numbers of molecular, atomic, or nuclear transitions of random orientation’. This means that the waves oscillate randomly along different frequency bands, thus effectively cancelling each other out.
Man-made electromagnetic waves, however, are polarised – they all travel in the same direction so they totally do not cancel each other out. Moreover, mobile telephony does not create just one polarised wave but many superimposed upon each other. These waves still oscillate but instead of oscillating (or pulsing) randomly they do so along the line of travel.
(For those of you with a reasonable grasp of physics, this is explained in some detail in this article which they published in in Nature 2015: Polarization: A Key Difference between Man-made and Natural Electromagnetic Fields, in regard to Biological Activity)
It is the constant oscillations or pulsing (the pulsing allows the signal to split to allow multiple users) that is damaging to human health.
Effects on cell health
As we all know, we are electrical beings. Cell communication, via tiny electrical pulses, is vital to the healthy functioning of the human body.
Our cells remain totally unaffected by the random oscillations of natural electromagnetic radiation even when it is relatively powerful because the very randomness of the oscillations allow them to cancel each out. But the polarised oscillations of man-made radiation ‘can potentially disrupt any cell’s electrochemical balance and function, leading to a variety of biological/health effects.’
Our cell membranes include ‘ion channels’ which run through the cell delivering nutrients and removing waste. However, under stress (from polarised EM radiation) the cell membrane can shrink, impeding the efficient functioning of the ion channels, and building up free radicals. But excess free radicals reduce the amount of mitochondrial energy available in each cell, energy that is needed to allow the cells to ‘talk’ to each other. So not only is the delivery of nutrients and removal of waste from the cells affected but cellular communication is damaged.
Moreover, if the cells shrink as a result of an ongoing ‘assault’ from excessive polarised EMR, the messaging within each cell will change, as will the DNA, so that the cells will the recreate themselves in their less efficient shrunken state.
Right now there seems no clarity on whether long term low dose radiation is more damaging than short term higher exposure.
However, it is quite clear that the intensity of the signal drops very rapidly in the ‘near field’ – so within 10-20 cms it will drop by 20-40%. There is then an ‘intensity window’ at 20-30cms, after which it drops off significantly after 50cm. And it seems that exposure is cumulative.
It is also clear that any bodily contact (head or even hand) with a mobile phone will increase exposure – so that if you want to use a mobile it is better to leave it sitting on a table and use the speakerphone. It is also clear that the intensity of the radiation from a mobile phone can increase up to ten fold when the user is enclosed in a metal container such as a lift or a car.
It appears that near-field radiation is more damaging than far field although radiation can till be detected up to several kilometres away. However, there is currently no way of accurately measuring close/near field exposure so, as of now, regulators do not take it into account…
Effects on fertility
Dr Panadopoulos described the study that he had recently carried out on fruit flies. Female fruit flies were exposed to damaging chemicals, were deprived of food and were exposed to electromagnetic radiation from a mobile phone.
The ovarian damage sustained by the fruit flies that had been exposed to the mobile phones was significantly greater that suffered by the fruit flies that had been food deprived or subjected to damaging chemicals. The resulting ovaries were smaller as the eggs that had been damaged by the polarised oscillating waves had been eliminated and not been replaced.
Professor Johansson not only related this study to the alarming decrease in sperm counts and fertility across the Western world, but warned that damage may prove to be trans-generational. If we do not get to grips with it we could have eliminated ourselves from the planet with five generations.
Other possibly related health issues
Professor Johansson pointed out some other health issues that may be related to electro magnetic radiation.
Allergy. In Sweden in the 1950s 0.5% of the population suffered from an allergy; now 30% of the population suffer from an allergy, and in children under 10 years the figure is 50%.
Mast cells. Electro sensitive people have been shown to have more and larger mast cells (white blood cells that are triggered by an allergen in allergy sufferers) than the normal population.
Eczema. Research in Japan has suggested that eczema gets worse when exposed to electromagnetic radiation.
Immune system. A 2009 paper showed that exposure to EMR appears to initially stimulate activity in the immune system but this falls off and then it gradually depresses its activity.
Antibiotic resistance. A study in 2017 showed that when bacteria was exposed in a petrie dish to mobile phone signals and wifi routers, they became antibiotic resistant.
Cancer. Dr Johansson pointed out that the studies which had shown that exposure to mobile phones didn’t cause cancer in rats were seriously flawed. It takes a cancer 2-3 years to develop while the rats used in the study had a life span of 1–2 years – so they would have been dead before the cancers had had a chance to develop.
Dr Johansson also pointed out that while the UK authorities still refused to recognise that man-made electromagnetic radiation could cause any problems at all, France, Norway, Nigeria, Uganda, Japan and a number of US states all did so, and were initiating measures, not to ban it, but to make its use safer.
And that there was a call for the WHO to upgrade wireless radiation from a Class 2B carcinogen to a Class 2A – or even to a Class 1. For interest, were you aware that Class 2B includes not only EMR but DDT, formaldehyde and lead?
As an addendum – none of the major players – telecoms companies, insurance companies etc – claim that the technology is ‘safe’ – and have not done so for some years. (What do they know that we don’t?) Indeed, in the small print, telecom companies warn advise users to keep all devices ‘away from their bodies’. But, even if you do not keep it in a pocket, in order to use your phone, your hand has to come in contact with it. So technically, you could not claim damages from them for ills that you my have suffered as a result of using their devices – as you would have failed to follow their instructions.
Why so many of these studies ‘showing’ that mobile phones do not cause adverse effects are invalid.
Although they did not discuss this on Sunday, professors Carlo, Panagopoulos and Johansson also provided us with a link to their 2015 study which showed that, to get valid results, researchers need to use commercially available mobile phones.
Most the existing studies at that point had used simulated electromagnetic fields or test phones. These were not subject to the constant and unpredictable oscillations of polarised EM waves that occur in ‘normal’ mobile phones and which are significantly higher when the user is speaking. It is these variations that cause the damage the human body. (See above.) For studies to be valid they need to be done on ‘real’ mobile phone users, using commercially available devices as they would normally use them – speaking on them, checking their emails, watching films etc.