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The Risks to Health from Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR)

by Patty Hemingway(more info)

listed in environmental, originally published in issue 130 - December 2006

wBecoming Aware of the Problem

I had thought that I was recovering well from heavy metal toxicity and adrenal exhaustion, when I suddenly had a recurrence of some old symptoms: tachycardia, spikes of high blood pressure, palpitations and breathlessness. Why had this happened while I was relaxing at home in a soothing bath at the end of a busy but normal day?

Being aware that exposure to Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR) could damage health and impede recovery, I had been in the habit of using an Electrosmog Detector[1] to scan my home to check for ‘hot spots’ from mobile phones, masts and digital cordless (DECT) telephones, and the bathroom had previously tested clear. However, I now found a strong signal across the bathroom and adjacent bedroom, which I soon discovered was coming from my neighbour’s wireless broadband connection which he had just installed near the party wall. In the18 months since that incident, I have detected signals in my house and garden from DECT phones and WiFi, coming from houses much further away, which is indicative of the strength of these pulsed microwave frequencies and their ability to travel over distances and pass through walls and ceilings, creating an electronic smog which we cannot escape – even in our own homes.

A few weeks after my discovery in the bathroom, I was scanning a client’s house, which was overlooked by four BT mobile phone masts, and as I stood directly in the beam, I felt myself begin to haemorrhage. Over the next two weeks, treatment with well-indicated homeopathic remedies for uterine bleeding had no effect until I took two homeopathic remedies more usually used for treating radiation sickness, after which the bleeding stopped.

By now I was also seeing clients in my homeopathic practice with symptoms that could be directly linked to their exposure to various sources of EMR. The children seemed to be particularly badly affected; often becoming hyperactive or developing skin conditions which did not respond to treatment, but which improved when they were away from their usual environments. I observed that these children were either living in the vicinity of phone masts, often as many as three or four clustered together, living beneath pylons, or were used to playing with their parents’ mobile or cordless phones and computers. In one case, after I had suggested that a child who had suffered with skin rashes his whole life be denied all contact with phones and computers, his mother reported that his skin cleared completely within a week, and before he had even taken a single homeopathic remedy.

I had already stopped using a mobile phone for all but emergencies, had caused discord at home by throwing out the DECT phone my children were desperate for, and was avoiding public areas where wireless technology predominated, so I was stunned to discover that I had become sensitive, and that such minimal exposure could provoke such a strong reaction. I was determined to find out why this was happening and what could be done to protect people against these effects, and treat those who were already sensitive to EMR.

Electrosensitivity

Rod Reid who runs the support group ElectroSensitivity-UK,[2] has collected case histories from many sufferers, some of whom are forced to live in isolation, on a restricted diet, without modern comforts, such as electricity or heating, because they have developed multiple chemical sensitivity in addition to their electrosensitivity (also referred to as electro-hypersensitivity or EHS). If early warning signs are not heeded, some EHS sufferers can go on to develop allergies to almost everything in their environment, and in extreme cases this can include any source of light.[3]

So what are the early warning symptoms? In 2002, a group of German doctors made a plea for stricter safety limits on mobile telecommunications technology, which included a list of symptoms based on their clinical observations of patients exposed to EMR in their daily life. In this document, known as the Freiburger Appeal,[4] they state that, “One can no longer evade these pulsed microwaves. They heighten the risk of already-present chemical/ physical influences, stress the body’s immune system, and can bring the body’s still-functioning regulatory mechanisms to a halt,” causing:

  • Learning concentration and behavioural disorders (e.g. Attention Deficit Disorder, ADD);
  • Extreme fluctuations in blood pressure, ever harder to influence with medications;
  • Heart rhythm disorders;
  • Heart attacks and strokes among an increasingly younger population;
  • Brain-degenerative diseases (e.g. Alzheimer’s) and epilepsy;
  • Cancerous afflictions: leukaemia, brain tumours;

Moreover, we have observed an ever-increasing occurrence of various disorders, often misdiagnosed in patients as psychosomatic:

  • Headaches, migraines;
  • Inner agitation;
  • Chronic exhaustion
  • Sleeplessness, daytime sleepiness;
  • Tinnitus;
  • Susceptibility to infection;
  • Nervous and connective tissue pains, for which the usual causes do not explain even the most conspicuous symptoms.”

Not everyone who is exposed is affected to the same degree, or manifests the same symptoms. As a Homeopath used to treating the individual and not the disease I do not find this surprising, but this is often given as a reason for the reluctance in the UK to acknowledge that EHS exists, so the real cause goes untreated and the patient may be persuaded that their illness is psychosomatic. Recently a new provocation study, to look at whether or not people reported symptoms when exposed to mobile phone mast frequencies situated within the Psychology Department at Essex University.[5] We need to ask why research funds were found for a psychological appraisal, when biophysicists in this country find it so hard to fund research into the bio-chemical and bio-energetic effects of different frequencies on the human body. Some people who volunteered for the Essex study were rejected on the grounds that they were too sick, and others were cautious in volunteering for fear that any exposure would make them sicker, so it is difficult to see how the results from this study will move the debate forward.

In 2005 the Health Protection Agency (HPA) issued a statement recognizing that some people experience ‘hypersensitivity’, but did not acknowledge that they were being affected by EMR. Only in Sweden and Germany are there retreats designed for people needing to recover from EHS. In Sweden, EHS has been a recognized disease since 2002, and there is government sponsored support for those who need to live and work in EMR free environments to stay healthy. Olle Johansson,[6] Professor of Neuroscience at the Karolinska Institute, and an expert on the effects of EMFs, was quoted as saying that he estimates “around three percent of the UK population will display hypersensitivity with maybe ten percent to 15% affected in some other way”. (The Guardian, April 10, 2004). Two years on, and the experts are still trying to draw attention to the need to exercise the precautionary principle with regard to health and safety, as the electrosmog around us grows ever denser.

The Precautionary Principle

Sir William Stewart Chairman of the HPA (which since 2005 has incorporated the National Radiological Protection Board) has been calling for the precautionary principle to be exercised since his first report in 2000,[7] and he is not alone.8 Many people have begun to challenge the government over the lack of health and safety regulations, and are calling for proof that this new technology does not have the potential to damage health before further expansion is sanctioned.[9]

According to Stewart, there is already sufficient research to show that mobile phones are not ‘without potential adverse health effects’, so why have the mobile phone companies managed to convince so many people that there is no proof that EMR is detrimental to health, and how can they continue to claim that any studies showing adverse health effects are flawed?[10]

Scientific Evidence

In seeking answers to some of these questions I met with Ingrid Dickenson, who is determined that the scientific evidence will be given the opportunity to speak for itself, and to this end she has set up h.e.s.e.-UK (www.hese-project.org/hese-uk/en/) to work in conjunction with its European partner, the Human Ecological Scientific and Economic project (www.hese-project.org), to bring awareness of these problems to the attention of the medical and scientific community in the UK.

Ingrid first began looking at research into EMR and health effects in the mid-1990s when her son fell ill with nose bleeds and headaches, and tests showed a reduced white blood cell count, as a result of exposure to a mobile phone mast at school. She is a German speaker and already had contact with German doctors who were studying the effects of EMFs, and through them heard about the extensive research in the former Soviet Union, as well as studies carried out in Germany and Sweden. Ingrid summarized the findings of some of the most important studies which show that EMR has the potential to affect any and all systems in the body. (See Figure 1).

Figure 1. Actions and Effects of Electromagnetic Pollution on Human Health – A Model Exposure to an electromagnetic field triggers provable physical-chemical effects on the cell membranes and receptors. It causes changes in the gene expression (Protein synthesis) which result in a cascade of further effects
(see literature at http://members.fortunecity.com/fruzicka/Elektrosmog.htm).
Actions and Effects of Electromagnetic Pollution on Human Health – A Model Exposure to an electromagnetic field triggers provable physical-chemical effects on the cell membranes and receptors. It causes changes in the gene expression (Protein synthesis) which result in a cascade of further effects

Laboratory studies on rats have demonstrated that the blood-brain barrier can be breached by microwave fields operating at the same frequencies as those used in mobile telephony. Once the blood-brain barrier is dismantled the brain is unprotected from toxins, and after only two hours exposure, the researchers found evidence of brain cell death. These results when extrapolated to human brains could predict an epidemic of premature dementia or other illnesses linked to ageing, such as Alzheimer’s.[11]

There is research showing that normal sleep patterns are disrupted in the vicinity of a mobile phone mast.[12] This is important because deep sleep involving REM (Rapid Eye Movement) is necessary for healing. Light waves will prevent the pineal gland releasing melatonin, which is why it is important to sleep in darkness, but we know that the pineal gland is extremely sensitive to changes in electromagnetic fields, and that extremely low frequencies within the pulsed magnetic fields are registered by the pineal gland as if they were light frequencies, causing it to shut down production of melatonin, which is an important onco-static agent. We see the same problem in night-workers who have to sleep during daylight hours, and have a higher than average incidence of cancer.

In the mid-1990s, Professor Dr Lebrecht von Klitzing noted the effect of EMFs on human brainwaves as a change in the EEG pattern when people were near a mobile phone mast, which did not revert back to the original pattern for several hours after the signal had been switched off.[13]

Ross Adey and others have shown that a 16Hz frequency at certain intensities, and in certain temperatures, can impede a calcium ion efflux from cell.[14] Calcium ion is an ubiquitous and important cellular messenger controlling processes as diverse as fertilization, learning and memory, contraction and secretion in the body.

The Importance of Researching the A-Thermal Effects of EMR

The police communications system Tetra pulses at 17.8 Hz per minute which is a very low frequency and Ingrid also pointed out that 17.8 Hz falls within our natural beta wave brain rhythm. Barry Trower, the scientist who investigated the safety of this system on behalf of the Police Federation in 2001, recommended that “Tetra system be halted until further research on safety has been carried out”.[14]
 
As Ingrid pointed out, there is a greater possibility for entrainment of human body rhythms in frequencies which pulse at under 300Hz or cycles per second; DECT phones pulse continuously at 100Hz whether in use or not, and have been observed to cause erratic changes in blood pressure in some people, which is unresponsive to medication, but resolves completely once the phone is switched off.

I pointed out to Ingrid that the HPA says that all EMR emissions in this country are within the guidelines set by ICNIRP (International Commission on Non-ionizing Radiation Protection), and that as a result they say they must be safe.[15] She replied that she had contact with scientists who were more concerned about monitoring the effect of the extremely low frequency pulse and not the high frequency carrier wave, and that the ICNIRP guidelines refer to the specific absorption rate (SAR) or thermal effect, and are focused on preventing a rise in tissue temperature only. In the mobile phone system the carrier waves on which the message is sent out are high frequencies, but it is not the strength of this carrier wave which worries researchers most. “What concerns us,” she says, “is the modulation within that high frequency carrier wave, where you have a pulsed modulation of 217Hz, that is 217 cycles per second, which has the bio-active effect, and this can be unrelated to the strength of the carrier wave”.

Ingrid also reminded me that, “the Schumann Resonance[16] which is the natural pulse that occurs within the Earth/ionospheric cavity, and is the basic Earth frequency, is being drowned out by man-made frequencies, and we should be concerned because it is the underpinning of life on this planet. Schumann Resonance has a main frequency of 7.8Hz, so its strength is minute (1/1000 of a volt), and yet, as Dr Neil Cherry has shown, our biological system is very much affected by fluctuations in Schumann Resonance.[17] If one-thousandth of a volt can have an effect then we need to consider what much higher voltages are capable of producing. We urgently need information on the effect of particular frequency ranges on the biological system, and in particular the so-called ‘window frequencies’, where the brain is very receptive,” she said.

Mechanism for EMR’s Adverse Health Effects

More recently, a study by Dr Ulrich Warnke at Saarland University[18] is pointing the way to a clearer understanding of a mechanism by which so many diverse symptoms could be triggered through exposure to EMFs, why some diseases will take longer to manifest, and why some people are more susceptible than others. In drawing attention to the role of NO (Nitric Oxide) in cellular metabolism he has demonstrated that EMR can interfere with the body’s biochemistry at a cellular level. Nitric Oxide synthesis (NOS) plays many vital roles in cellular communication and the production of energy. EMR affects the activity of NOS which in turn regulates NO on demand, causing inappropriate fluctuations in NO. He argues that disruption of nitric oxide synthesis will lead to mitochondrial damage and prove to be geno-toxic.

Susceptibility

Whether or not the body experiences EMFs as a threat, depends on individual susceptibility, as well as the intensity and duration of exposure. A body that has been damaged, or is under stress either for reasons of toxicity, injury, poor nutrition, or as a result of mental/emotional trauma, will be more vulnerable. The individual symptom picture will vary depending on individual as well as genetic susceptibility, and this can be observed in reports from families who are all affected by the same source but show a variety of symptoms, of differing intensity.[19]

Candidiasis is often found along-side EHS, and is thought by many clinicians and researchers to be a pre-disposing factor for EHS, which is also a candida stimulant. Toxicity from heavy metals has also been detected in many sufferers, as well as allergies and digestive problems.

Treatments

There is no single treatment for EHS, but various therapies and regimes have helped to mitigate the worst symptoms, and some people are able to recover over time, provided they can shield themselves from further exposure to EMFs, and allow the body to heal and recover.[19] However, they will need to be extremely careful around sources of EMFs and may be unable to return to their work, or previous lifestyle, because they are unable to use a telephone, watch TV or work at a computer.[20]
 
Those who are badly affected have no other choice but to wear protective headgear and clothing if they venture outside, in addition to shielding their homes. All materials designed to shield the body from EMR contain metal which creates a protective boundary through which EMR beams cannot penetrate. This material can be made to look like netting and has been made into bed canopies, curtains and protective veils, and there are paints and wallpapers designed to reflect or absorb microwaves. Alasdair and Jean Philips have written a comprehensive guide on how to protect yourself, and give advice about everything from electrical wiring and earthing computers, to how to avoid risks in pregnancy, in their book, the Powerwatch Handbook.[21]

It is difficult to generalize about treatments to restore health, as there needs to be an individual assessment made for each person with this illness, looking at their total health picture including nutritional deficiencies and toxicity, and relieving stress, is as important as identifying allergies, detoxing heavy metals and eating healthy foods. Alongside Homeopathy, and Nutrition, I have found EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique, www.emofree.com) helpful in restoring emotional balance in clients who have EHS.[22] Some people are reporting improvement from taking a chelating agent known as Zeolite, a naturally occurring form of silicon derived from volcanic lava, which has a long tradition of use in protecting people and animals from the effects of radiation.[23]

I no longer have daily crisis when exposed to EMFs, although I am aware that I need to keep increasing my level of protection to stay safe. It is, for example, becoming increasingly difficult to travel, as wireless communications of any form on transport increases. I would advise anyone who thinks they might be affected by EMFs to see a practitioner for advice, and read the Powerwatch Handbook, which explains how to keep safe. Some of us will have to continue to sleep under a protective canopy until such time as this environmental pollution is scaled down or switched off and replaced by a safe, bio-friendly technology.

Notes and References

1.    The Electrosmog Detector is a hand-held device, sensitive to signals as low as 0.02V/m and sources operating in the range 50MHZ to well over 3000 MHz (3GHz). Available from Perspective Scientific Tel: 0207 486 6837 or www.perspective.co.uk
2.    ElectroSensitivity-UK. Contact www.electrosensitivity.org.uk or Tel: 01353 778151.
3.    Nordstrom G. The Invisible Disease: Dangers of Environmental Illnesses Caused by Electromagnetic Fields and Chemical Emissions. O Books. Winchester. UK. 2004.
4.    For the English version and more information about the Freiburger Appeal visit www.mastsanity.org
5.    The Essex study is part of the UK’s Mobile Telephone Health Research Programme. Details on www.mthr.org.uk. For a discussion of this project, due to report 2006 end, visit www.tetrawatch.net/science/current.php
6.    Johansson O and Hallberg O. Letter to the European Journal of Cancer Prevention. ‘Linking disease trends and a decline in the health of the Swedish population with the introduction of GSM 1800MHz telecommunications system.’ they urged “responsible authorities to start an independent enquiry and to assign a scientific taskforce on a national basis to investigate possible consequences of the results presented here.” 13:535-538. 2004.
7.    Stewart (IEGMP) Report 2000. Mobile Phones and Health. ISBN 085951 450 1. From the HPA or free at www.iegmp.org.uk Also Stewart Report Update 2005. Mobile Phones and Health. Document of the NRPB. Vol 15. No. 5. 2004. Available at www.hpa.org.uk/radiation.
8.    Gibson I Dr MP. Chair of the Commons Committee on Science and Technology. Interview calling for the government to follow the precautionary approach. Reported in The Express and Echo. March 8, 2005. In July he was removed from his post as chair.
9.    www.tetrawatch.net. Excellent source for latest scientific research and discussion papers on health-related topics. Good links to other sites. Information on the safe sitting of mobile phone masts and other related issues on www.mastsanity.org
10.    Carlo G and Schramm M. Cell Phones: Invisible hazards in a wireless age. Carroll & Graf. 2001.
11.    Salford LG et al. Nerve cell damage in mammalian brain after exposure to microwaves from GSM mobile phones. Environmental Health Perspectives. 111(7): 881-3. Discussion. A408. June 2003.
Salford LG et al. Permeability of the blood brain barrier induced by 915MHz electromagnetic radiation, continuous and modulated at 8,16,50 and 200Hz. Micros Res. 27 535-542.
12.    Neil C Dr. “EMR Reduces Melatonin in Animals and People.” Lincoln University. NZ. www.feb.se/EMFguru/Research/emf-emr/EMR-Reduces-Melatonin.htm. July 26 2000.
    Sahley BJ PhD. The Melatonin Report. Pain & Stress Publications. San Antonio TX 78229. 1996.
13.    The influence of pulsed electron energetic fields on the electroencephalogram of humans. Science. Edition No. 9. In German. The Radio Research Council (RCR). July 1996. Dr von Klitzing now runs an EHS treatment clinic in Germany.
14.    Trower B. Report on cell phone dangers and Tetra. Available at www.Tetrawatch.net. Sept 2001.
15.    A useful summary of the debate over measuring and monitoring signals from masts can be found in Electro-pollution: keeping safe in a sea of EMFs, What Doctors Don’t Tell You. 2005. British guideline currently allows the highest emissions of any country in Europe:
    900MHz masts Britain 41 V/m (recently reduced from 112V/m); Switzerland, Russia, Italy 6V/m;
    Luxembourg 3V/m; 1800MHz masts Britain 58 V/m (was 194 V/m); Switzerland, Russia, Italy, Luxembourg 6 V/m. Source as above.
16.    Schumann Resonance. www.earth-breathing.co.uk
17.    Cherry N Dr. Schumann Resonance. A plausible biophysical mechanism for the human health effects of solar/geomagnetic activity. 9/8/ www.land-sbg.gvat/cherry-Schumann-Resonances.pdf
18.    Warnke U. Mobil und Kommunikationsfunk in Kooperation mit falscher Lebensweise – wie unsere Gesundheit durch stimulierte NO-Radikale (Stickstoffmonoxid) in Gefahr great. www.HESE-project.org. January 2004.
19.    Kind C. Our “Life” in the Main Beam of a Mobile Phone Base Station for UMTS and GSM. Report presented at 1st Bamberger Mobile Telephony Symposium. Bamberg. Germany. Kind describes how her family became progressively more debilitated and ill, and how when they went away for a two-week holiday they recovered, only to become ill again on their return home. These changes in health are supported by blood tests taken at various intervals which show significant changes in melatonin, and reticulocytes. January 29. 2005.
20.    Businessman Stein B. Describes how his lifestyle changed once he developed EHS. Allergy magazine. August 2006.
21.    Alasdair P and Alasdair J. Powerwatch Handbook: simple ways to make you and your family safer. Piatkus. 2006.
22.    Hemingway P. For more information on the use of EFT in treating EHS. What to do when electro-smog makes you sick. Homeopathy In Practice. Summer 2006.
23.    Hecht Prof. Naturalmineralien, Regulation und Gesundheit. How zeolite works. For more information on correct form of zeolite, visit www.HESE-project.org or contact Ingrid Dickenson www.earth-breathing.co.uk

Acknowledgement


This article is adapted from two articles which first appeared in Homeopathy in Practice: The Risks to Health from Pulsed Microwaves, an interview with Ingrid Dickenson, in Spring 2006, and What to do when electro-smog makes you sick, Summer 2006 (available from www.a-r-h.org/publications.htm).

Comments:

  1. Darryl H said..

    As a homeopathic practitioner, I have long remained convinced of the dangers of this kind of pollution ( see my first blog post on the topic here: http://homeopathicramblings.blogspot.co.uk/). It is time we all stood together in order to raise awareness and deal with this problem before even more people are taken ill needlessly.


  2. Jerry Chiappetta, Jr. said..

    Darryl, I could not agree with your comment more! I've been studying the effects of EMF Radiation and conducting EMF surveys in homes, offices, schools, day care centers, etc. since 1990. My findings over the years have been astounding! Why is there little information about EMF's in the news? Answer: Simply follow the dollar. In the electric universe we live in, there is little escape from EMF's, however we all can help spread the word to practice prudent avoidance and let others know that there is reason for concern. Best Regards, Jerry Chiappetta, Jr., EMF Surveyor http://www.photostix.com/emf.html


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About Patty Hemingway

Patty Hemingway MA Dip Hom(Med) MARH trained as a Homeopath after a 20 year career in Adult and Continuing Education, where she specialized in Communication Skills and Linguistics. She graduated from the Hahnemann College in 1998 and now practises Homeopathy in South West London. She has a special interest in helping people recover from stress and toxicity, while at the same time enjoying the opportunity her family-based practice offers to extend homeopathic treatment to a wide range of individuals looking for a gentle and holistic approach to staying healthy. She can be contacted via Tel: 020-8333 0413; pattyhemingway.phhc@ouvip.com

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