The environment most of us inhabit is filled with an invisible form of pollution that until recently has been largely ignored. But a growing volume of research is heightening concern that electromagnetic pollution may be negatively impacting the health and well-being of millions.
Who may be at risk? Anyone who uses electricity. Do you have a hair dryer, a digital alarm clock, a toaster, coffee maker, TV, or computer in the house? If you occupy a dwelling or office located near high-tension power lines, you may be at even greater risk. Only if you live far from a city with no electricity at all like the hermit are you unaffected.
Man’s ability to harness electrical power has transformed the world in a mere two hundred years since we first began to even understand electricity.
But electricity is more than just the energy that travels through lines and wires it creates an energy field that radiates from any electronic device, appliance, wire, or high-power transmission line. Our proximity to electricity places us within electrical fields twenty four hours a day.
Not until the 19th century did scientists understand that forces other than mechanical ones such as gravity are at work. Out of this grew the concept of force fields. Scientists began to realize that space is filled with invisible regions of energy that exist, unlike gravity, independently of material objects. These fields are what we now call electromagnetic fields, or EMFs.
Magnetism and electricity are interrelated, as electricity moves through a conductor, an electromagnetic field is generated. EMFs occur naturally, the earth is enveloped in a static magnetic field, believed to be created by its metallic inner core. The human body itself is electrodynamic, all cells and tissues generate electromagnetic fields.
Man-made EMFs emanate from whatever conducts or uses electricity, appliances, wiring, distribution lines under homes and along streets and highways, railroad cars on electrified lines, and high-tension power lines.
All electromagnetic energy travels in waves. The fields generated are commonly measured and quantified in two ways. Frequency, a function of its wavelength, is measured in hertz (Hz) or kilohertz (kHz). Intensity is measured in gauss, or milligauss (mG).
The human body is naturally accustomed to the earth’s static magnetic field. But we are now being continually bombarded by a growing array of man-made EMFs to which we have not adapted. The frequencies of greatest health concern are the extremely low frequency range, 30 to 300 Hz, and the very low frequency range, 3 to 30 kHz. High-tension power lines generate extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields. Video display terminals, another source of worry, fall with the very low range.
The field intensity emanating from common household items can vary from 3 mG to as high as 1600 mG. The intensity drops off sharply with increasing distance. But we may spend hours each day within a 300 mG field surrounding a computer, for instance. For total day-in and day-out exposure, the EPA has proposed a safety standard on one mG. According to many experts, anything over 3 mG is potentially hazardous. The potential detrimental health effects is turning EMFs into a major public health issue, and debate within the scientific community.
RESEARCH AND CONTROVERSY
A growing body of research suggests that prolonged exposure to EMFs increases the risk of cancer.
The studies are mainly epidemiological and occupational, which examines various population and occupational groups to look for trends and associations (ie. a study of the lung cancer among male smokers between 20 and 50 in a particular locale). The problem with epidemiological research, from a purely scientific standpoint, is that it only shows correlations between simultaneously occurring phenomena, such as smoking and lung cancer. In such research, there is no way to isolate all the variables. Thus, correlations do not constitute proof.
Many scientists often thus tend to dismiss or at least minimize findings based on such evidence only, yet numerous others, including investigators with the Environmental Protection Agency, think the overall evidence does indeed justify serious concern. In 1990, an EPA report Evaluation of the Potential Carcinogenicity of Electromagnetic fields concluded that exposure to 60 Hz fields characteristic of high tension power lines, is a probable carcinogen risk factor. A top EPA official presented this report in a meeting with OSTP officials, after which the statement calling EMF a probable carcinogen was deleted. Nevertheless, the report cites case-controlled studies showing that children living in homes near high tension lines had higher rates of cancer that those who did not.
The public awareness of EMFs has been increased by the famous and controversial book The Great Power Line Cover-up by Paul Brodeur. Brodeur has meticulously examined reports about neighborhoods located near power lines and electrical substations where cancers are occurring in sometimes shockingly high numbers. The picture painted is alarming. A disturbingly large number of these cancer clusters, areas with increased cancer rates, can be found where people live and work in close proximity to powerful sources of EMFs.
Local and state officials, citing the lack of proof and the wish to avoid creating public panic, tend to downplay any connection between EMFs and cancer. The pattern is one of reluctance among officials to even call for serious investigation, let alone to take action. Thus, innocent until proven guilty is the stance adopted at virtually all levels of government. But does this serve the public’s interest?
If we wait for conclusive proof before taking action, it may be too late. Moreover, what should be glaringly obvious amidst all the discussion about EMFs is the narrow health focus. The argument is mostly limited to whether or not EMF exposure causes cancer. Could EMFs also be factors in other health problems?
THE BODY ELECTRIC
More than a collection of atoms and molecules, the body is electrodynamic in nature. Within the body’s biomagnetic field, cellular activity is regulated by the harmonious flow of electrical impulses. It seems reasonable to believe that externally generated fields foreign to our natural environment could be disruptive to our biomagnetic field. If this is the case, we would expect that being bombarded by various frequencies and intensities of man-made EMFs could alter cellular activity in ways not necessarily beneficial to health.
The twentieth century has seen the appearance of new therapeutic methods that work with the body as an electrodynamic system, so-called energy medicine. Though largely ignored or suppressed in the U.S., energy medicine is widely practiced with success in Europe and other countries. The body’s ability to be healed by electromagnetic energy has been known since at least the 19th century. One of the pioneering geniuses in electronics, Nikola Tesla, conducted research into the effects of electromagnetic waves on living cells which he reported in 1889. Experiments done in the 1920s showed that plant tumors could be destroyed by radio frequencies. In the 1930s, Royal R. Rife invented a machine which used radio frequencies to destroy cancer cells in humans. (Few people have even heard of Rife. When reports of clinical successes using Rife’s technology began receiving national attention, his discoveries, which might have heralded a new era in medical treatment, were ruthlessly suppressed, and remain so to this day.)
If the fundamental nature of living organisms is electrodynamic, and if, as the discoveries of Rife and others have shown, electromagnetic energy can be harnessed for healing purposes, does it follow that these energies bombarding us daily have ill effects on health? Research has already found that electromagnetic fields do indeed alter cellular activity in numerous ways. According to Thomas S. Tenforde, a leading scientist and researcher in environmental health with the Department of Energy, A glaring omission in the executive summary of the OARU panel report is the failure to mention recent advances in understanding the molecular-level events that occur in cells exposed to ELF fields. These events include alterations in membrane functional properties … and altered gene expression. Research at UCLA has demonstrated changes in the brain cell activity and behavior of animals exposed to electromagnetic fields. Other studies have found that human cancer cells exposed to electromagnetic radiation in the test tube grow more quickly than normal, and resist destruction by the immune system.
One of the keys to understanding how EMFs can influence the body may lie in the pineal gland, a tiny organ located at the center of the brain.
THE MELATONIN CONNECTION
Melatonin is an endocrine hormone secreted from the pineal gland that controls the body’s circadian rhythms, the natural cycles of sleeping and waking, temperature changes, moods, and so forth. The pineal’s melatonin output fluctuates naturally with changes in daylight and seasonal variations. Man-made electromagnetic fields have been shown to alter circadian rhythms, including sleep-wake, performance, and rectal temperature rhythms. There is now ample evidence that EMFs alter melatonin secretion. According to a report in Science magazine, female rats with EMF-suppressed levels of melatonin are more susceptible to chemically induced breast tumors. The OARU report cited earlier also notes that, changes in pineal melatonin production as a result of either electrical or magnetic field exposure may be substantial. Reductions in melatonin, it is now believed, impair the immune system and promote cancer cell growth.
Unproven as it yet is, the melatonin connection is being taken with increasing seriousness by the scientific community. Melatonin may be an even more critical factor; based on research showing it does far more than simply regulate our biorhythmic patterns. Melatonin now appears to be an important modulator of immune system function. Recent studies reveal that melatonin also neutralizes free radicals, highly reactive molecules in the body which are believed to be involved in cancer and other chronic illness, and may play a role in determining our sensitivity to stress.
In fact, stress itself may be the key factor in the EMF-health equation.
A NEW THEORY
Amidst the confusion and the controversy about the health effects of EMFs, clearly years away from resolution, a revolutionary new theory has emerged about how both high and low frequency radiation impacts the human biomagnetic field. Based on recent discoveries, the most profound effects of EMFs may lie beneath the level of wavelength and frequency, at the subatomic level, the world of the electron and the photon. Photons are packets of energy in the electromagnetic spectrum. Electrons, surrounding the nucleus of the atom, are not really particles in the material sense. Electrons are actually energetic regions in space, called shells, which absorb and emit energy in the form of photons. The cell can be thought of as an information center, composed of molecules which in turn are composed of atoms constantly sending forth and receiving streams of photons. Photons create a signal potential of subatomic information. In order for cells to function together in the body, the signal potential the transfer of information in the form of photon streams from cell to cell must flow smoothly in an orderly fashion, a coherent signal potential.’
If something disrupts the natural order and coherence of this dynamic flow of photons, the photon stream becomes disrupted. As photon streams become more incoherent, the cellular information flow breaks down. It may be that optimal function of the human body depends upon the smoothness and coherence of the photonic signal potential at the subatomic level. If this is true, disease itself could be a direct manifestation of a breakdown in this subatomic energetic communication that is perhaps the fundamental coordinating mechanism for all physiologic activity.
This research based on an understanding of sub-particle physics that may have profound implications has led to the development of a new technology for removing EMF pollution from the home and work environment. This technology takes the form of software that can be encoded into the circuitry of electronic devices such as digital clocks. The effect is to realign the random, chaotic sub-particle energy in the environment, thus restoring a naturally coherent field. The stress-inducing sub-particle static created by surrounding EMFs is neutralized. EMF fog the electromagnetic pollution pervading the environment is cleaned-up.’
Electromagnetic pollution is here to stay. The electronic age has brought us many wonderful benefits no one would want to give up, but we clearly need to better understand the consequences of living and working in environments filled with electromagnetic energies…