EMF ??
Memorandum on Cell Phones and Health
by Dr. G.J.Hyland, December 1999

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Posted:
1 March 2000

POTENTIAL ADVERSE HEALTH IMPACTS

OF

MOBILE TELEPHONY
 
 

MEMORANDUM*
 
 

Copyright Ó G J Hyland, February, 2000

Department of Physics

University of Warwick

Coventry, UK

and

International Institute of Biophysics

Neuss-Holzheim, Germany

The opinions expressed herein are based entirely on my own independent research, and are neither endorsed nor rejected by the University of Warwick.

Dear Roy,

By 'coherence', I mean that the frequency of the technologically produced microwave radiation used in GSM is rather sharply defined, in consequence of the consecutive emissions from the source of the radiation being 'in phase' (or 'in step') with each other.

It is this property that distinguishes laser light from that given off by an electric light bulb, or the Sun, for example (where the successive emissions are, by contrast, essentially random, in the sense that their phases are random.)

Hope this helps!

Gerard
 
 
 

1. Existing safety guidelines governing exposure of the public to the radiation employed in mobile telephony are totally inadequate, and the philosophy underlying their formulation is fundamentally flawed.
 
 

2. Existing guidelines regulate only the intensity of the radiation in an attempt to protect the human body from adverse health effects that are known to be linked to intensity – namely, the absorption of energy by biological tissue. In the case of microwave irradiation, the energy absorption, which here results in heating, is via the electric field of the microwaves; on the other hand, exposure to extremely low frequency (ELF) magnetic fields, leads to the induction in the body of circulating electric currents. Both these effects have been well understood for almost a hundred years, and always occur - irrespective of whether the irradiated system is a living organism or a piece of inanimate matter; indeed, they were first discovered in the realm of the latter. Existing safety limits are set [1] by restricting the intensity to ensure that the temperature rise, or induced electric currents are kept well below the thresholds of the onset of established bio-negative effects i.e. the limits are dictated by the body’s ability to maintain homeostasis under exposure to a given external field. It must be noted, however, that even if the body’s thermoregulatory mechanism succeeds in maintaining the temperature at the pre-irradiation value, a certain stress still develops, which, if sustained for a prolonged period, can of itself result in adverse health effects. It is thus possible that the current guidelines fail to afford an adequate level of protection, even within their own alleged domain of competence!

Existing safety guidelines are, however, inadequate in a quite different, more fundamental way. Namely, that they completely fail to consider the possibility of adverse health effects linked to the fact that living organisms – and only living ones – have the ability [2] to respond to aspects of technologically produced radiation, other than its intensity, and can, accordingly, respond at intensities well below the limits imposed by the safety guidelines.
 
 

3. The crucial discriminating feature of technologically produced radiation (whatever its intensity) - which is necessary if it is to carry information - is its coherence, the degree of which is significantly higher than that characterising radiation of natural origin, such as sunlight, to which Mankind has evolved a certain degree of immunity. This immunity does not, however, extend to the much more coherent radiation of technological origin, to which we have only relatively recently been exposed. Coherence is a concept that is, of course, familiar in the context of lasers, whose light, due to its coherence, is in-step (in phase) with itself, and thus particularly ‘pure’ in frequency (colour) - much more so than is that from an ordinary lamp. This still obtains in the case of the much less intense radiation emitted by other devices – in particular, those employed in mobile telephony – whose coherency greatly facilitates its discernment by the living organism against the level of the ever-present (incoherent) thermal background emission appropriate to its own physiological temperature – i.e. the high coherence of technologically produced radiation significantly increases its potency to affect living organisms.
 
 

4. The ability of living organisms to respond to external coherent radiation arises because they are electromagnetic instruments of great and exquisite sensitivity, which themselves support a variety of highly organised, coherent electrical activities, each characterised by a specific frequency, and each playing a central role in the organisation and control of the living organism [3-6]. These natural (endogenous) coherent electrical activities ‘precondition’ the living organism to be highly sensitive to external, coherent electromagnetic radiation, in a non-thermal way that is not primarily dependent on its intensity, but rather, on its frequency, which, as already noted, is very sharply defined. Accordingly, the organisation and control of a living organism is vulnerable to interference by external electromagnetic radiation of frequencies (including those of any amplitude modulations) close to those employed by the organism itself - in much the same way as is the reception on a radio. It is essential to appreciate that electromagnetic fields are not alien to living systems – a fact that can undermine the appropriateness of attempting to understand non-thermal influences in terms of a ‘dose-response’ relationship (a concept inherited from toxicology), as is empirically often found, and exemplified by the existence of ‘windows’*, only within which do the non-thermal effects manifest themselves.
 
 

5. The reality of adverse bioeffects not primarily dependent on intensity of the field (although the intensity must, of course, be sufficient for the organism to be able to discern the field) is well illustrated by the ability of a light flashing at a certain frequency (between 15 and 20 times per second) to (non-thermally) induce seizures in small fraction (about 5%) of (photo-sensitive) epileptics. It is not so much a question of the amount of energy absorbed from the irradiating field (which depends on its intensity) that provokes the seizure, but rather the information transmitted to the brain by the (coherent) regularity of its flashing. For if this frequency either matches, or is close to one utilised by the brain itself, the brain will ‘recognise’ the radiation; in this way, the radiation can access the brain in a purely non-thermal way, and interfere with (or even entrain) its electrical activity.
 
 

6. The microwave signals used in the digital GSM system of mobile telephony similarly ‘flash’, 217 times per second, this flashing being ‘punctuated’ at the much slower rate of 8.34 per second. More precisely, the transmitted signal is divided into 8 time slots, allowing 8 channels to co-exist within each carrier. The total time to transmit all 8 slots (known as a ‘frame’) is 4.6 milli-seconds, so that 217 frames are transmitted per second. These (main) time frames are, however, grouped into multi-frames, each containing 26 frames, one of which, however, is simply a synchronisation frame; it is this feature that gives rise to the 8.34Hz component in the emitted signal (i.e. there are approximately 8 distinct groups per second, each containing 25 ‘flashes’) - a frequency that happens to lie in the range of the important alpha brainwaves!** At least one carrier is transmitted by each antenna, the first time slot of the carrier (containing important signalling information) being known as the broadcast control channel (BCCH), and is always transmitted at the maximum power of the Base-station; the other 7 time slots function as traffic channels. Unlike the BCCH, the other channels are active only when required to carry calls, and are transmitted only with sufficient power to maintain communication with the mobile phones, more power being required the further away a phone is from the mast. If no calls are being taken, the maximally transmitted BCCH results in a strong 217Hz pulsing of the signal, punctuated at the 8.34Hz multi-frame frequency. Once the remaining 7 time slots are filled with calls that require full power to maintain communication (which is usually not the case), the 217Hz pulsation will be masked, but the lower frequency punctuation at 8.34Hz remains. If more than 7 calls are required within the sector serviced by the antenna, an extra carrier is sometimes transmitted (depending on the particular Base-station), thereby giving 8 more traffic channels, and the 217Hz pulsing starts again.

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*These windows are of (i) power density (a measure of the intensity of the field), (ii) frequency (both of the carrier and of any slower modulations), and (iii) the duration of irradiation.
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**By contrast, and potentially more pernicious, is the particular digitisation employed in the new TETRA system, in which the fundamental pulse repetition rate is 17Hz – a frequency in the range of the beta brain-waves, and close to that at which visible light can induce epileptic seizures (vide infra)!
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Given that both (visible) light and microwaves belong to the same electromagnetic spectrum, differing only in their frequency and degree of coherence, there is no reason to suppose that the deleterious effect of a flashing visible light does not extend to (invisible) microwave radiation flashing at a similarly low frequency, since this can penetrate the skull. Indeed, experiments to investigate this possibility (using human volunteers) are currently being planned [7], whilst from in vivo and in vitro animal studies there are already preliminary results [8, 9] showing synergistic effects, involving epileptic activity, between low power, pulsed microwave irradiation and certain drugs. Furthermore, the in vitro study on hippocampal slices of rat brain indicates [9] that microwaves can modify nervous transmission; it will be recalled that the hippocampus is an area of the brain involved in learning, short-term memory, and epilepsy. In assessing the likely relevance of these results to humans, it should be noted that the relatively large distance of the hippocampus from the surface of the skull is not necessarily the impediment it might seem to be, since there are indications that the dielectric properties of living brain matter (which together with the carrier frequency of the impinging radiation dictate its penetration), are rather different from those of the non-living, brain matter simulants used in phantom heads studies.

The effect of this punctuated flashing of microwave radiation can easily be detected as a crackling sound when a turned-on mobile phone handset is held near a switched-on radio receiver, or when an AM tuned radio is located in the vicinity of a transmitting Base-station mast.

That pulsed microwave radiation of the kind used in mobile telephony does have effects other than heating is, of course, well recognised and accepted (in the context of so-called Electromagnetic Compatibility, EMC), in connection with the interference this radiation can have on other electronic devices. This is illustrated by the prohibition on the use of mobile phones in aircraft and in hospitals, on the grounds that their signals might interfere with the plane’s control systems, or medical equipment; similarly, the possibility of interference with personal medical devices, such as cardiac pacemakers [10] and hearing aids [11], is well-recognised. To maintain that the electromagnetic functioning of the human organism - whether it is in the (far) field of a Base-station mast, or the (near) field of a phone antenna*** - should somehow enjoy a peculiar immunity from similar interference - as is effectively done by the Bodies that set safety guidelines (such as the National Radiological Protection Board [NRPB] and the International Commission for Ionising Radiation Protection [ICNIRP]), displays an appalling ignorance, both of the fundamental role electromagnetic fields play in the organisation and control of biological processes in living organisms at a variety of levels [3-6], and of the history of the subject!

If the undeniable benefits of modern telecommunication technology are to be enjoyed with a higher degree of safety than is possible at present, it is essential that this awareness of the importance of inter-device electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) be now extended to encompass electromagnetic biocompatibility, in order to ensure compatibility between the radiation used in mobile telephony and the alive human organism.
 
 

7. Adequately metabolising living organisms themselves support a much less well-known kind of organised (coherent) electrical activity, the frequency of which happens to fall in the microwave band [12], to which the carrier frequencies of the radiation used in mobile telephony belong. Accordingly, just as a relatively slowly flashing (visible) light can affect certain (electro-chemical) neurological processes characterised by a similar (ELF) frequency, so living systems have a preconditioned sensitivity also to ultra-weak microwave radiation. Thus, in addition to a sensitivity to the low frequency (8.34Hz) punctuation of the microwave ‘flashes’ used in mobile telephony, the human organism can be sensitive also to the ‘colour’ of these flashes (i.e. to the microwave carrier frequency). Accordingly, there is the possibility [13] of (i) a resonant amplification of an internal biological electrical activity in the microwave range of frequencies (perhaps to a dangerously high level), or (ii)interference with it, resulting in its degradation. It is also possible for external radiation to augment the naturally prevailing level of metabolism, and, after a sufficient time, and above a power density threshold (typically of the order of mW/cm2) to thereby effectively ‘switch on’ an internal microwave activity that Nature did not intend to be on; it should be noted that power density thresholds of this order are 1000 times lower than the levels permitted by the current, thermally based guidelines.
 
 

8. It is thus apparent that existing safety guidelines (which address only effects dependent on the absorption of energy from the field) do not, and cannot protect against any adverse health effects that might be provoked specifically by the wave nature of the radiation, such as its frequency (‘colour’), coherence (purity of ‘colour’), amplitude modulations, etc. Thus, for example, these guidelines afford no protection [2] against the seizure inducing ability of a flashing light, since they regulate only the brightness of the flashes; it is not, however, the brightness of the light that is here primarily the issue, but rather the particular (regular) flash rate, which the brain ‘recognises’ because it makes use of a similar frequency itself!  In other words, it is the information content of the radiation, rather than its intensity (or energy content) that causes the problem. Clearly there is ‘another side of the coin’ to be taken into account – just as, in addition to photography (an intensity based process), there is also holography (a process intimately related to the wave nature of light, specifically its phase). It must be stressed, however, that these other possibilities are contingent on the organism being alive; for it is through its vitality that it is ‘sensitised’ – just as a radio has to be switched on before it can respond to a signal. Effects due solely to intensity, by contrast, do not require the organism to be alive – i.e. are not specific to living systems; for example, a microwave oven will cook a piece of (dead) meat, just as it will a (living) animal.

Current safety guidelines thus fail to take into account the possibility of non-thermal influences of ultra weak electromagnetic radiation allied to the most discriminating feature of all – namely the "aliveness" of the organism being irradiated!

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***In this connection, it should be pointed out that when a mobile phone handset equipped with discontinuous transmission (DTX) is in listening mode, there is an even lower frequency pulsation at 2Hz. This is of particular concern since it falls in the range of the so-called ‘delta’ brain waves, which, if present in the EEG of awake adults, are symptomatic of neural pathology, and therefore should not be promoted by exposure to radiation of the same frequency. On the other hand, brain activity at this frequency also characterises deep sleep; accordingly, reports of tiredness experienced during the day are perhaps not surprising. In children, by contrast, the presence of delta waves in the awake EEG is normal, and thus, equally, should not be disturbed by external interference.


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9. In turn, whilst the aliveness ‘opens’ the system to certain features to which it would not otherwise be sensitive, it also means, however, that any particular non-thermal influence (together with any adverse health effect that it might provoke) cannot, in principle, be predicted to occur with the same absolute certainty as that with which thermal effects, dependent solely on intensity, can - against which existing safety guidelines do afford some degree of protection. In the case of ultra weak microwave radiation, for example, even the occurrence of the primary, (initiating) non-thermal influence cannot be predicted to occur with certainty, since, unlike the intensity-based heating effect, it depends (via metabolic rate, or example) on the ‘aliveness’ of the irradiated subject, which, in general, varies from person to person.Thesituation is similar to the variation in the susceptibility of different people to succumb to the same virus; even in the case of an epidemic not everyone is affected! It should be noted that this (so-called non-linear) dependence of the response of a living organism on the state of the organism at the time it is irradiated is shared, to a certain extent, even by adverse health effects provoked by microwave heating. For, whilst the occurrence of heating itself is not dependent on aliveness - and can thus be predicted to occur with certainty (i.e. it is a linear effect) - the consequence of this heating for human health is dependent on the aliveness of the heated organism, and thus cannot be uniquely predicted; for example, a rise in the temperature of the human body by 10C can be life saving or lethal, depending on the state of the body at the time it is irradiated..(To allow for a reasonable range of conditions, it is usual to incorporate a certain safety margin into the guidelines; it is the variation of these safety margins between different Regulatory Bodies that is partly responsible for the variation in the permitted levels of exposure.)

This, of course, has serious implications on the acceptability of the philosophy underlying the current formulation of safety guidelines by the NRPB and other Regulatory Bodies, such as ICNIRP - namely, that they can be based only on established, reproducible effects. The intensity-based heating effect of microwave radiation conforms, of course, to this criterion, since being independent of whether the irradiated organism is alive or dead, it can be predicted to occur with certainty. Necessarily excluded, however, are effects contingent on the ‘aliveness’ of the human organism - in particular, the non-thermal effects discussed above, which, in principle, cannot enjoy the same degree of reproducibility. Whilst this admittedly makes them more difficult to regulate against (than is the case with thermal effects), it is not a licence either to neglect them, or to deny that they might initiate adverse**** health effects.

Accordingly, the philosophy underlying current safety guidelines must be considered to be fundamentally flawed!

The same is true a fortiori of statements to the effect that ‘there are no established health hazards of radiation of sub-thermal intensity’. For, given that only the possibility of the primary non-thermal influences can be meaningfully spoken of, let alone whether any adverse health effects are thereby provoked (the severity of which, in turn, depends on the robustness of the person’s immune system), we here have a two-fold uncertainty to contend with. This renders inappropriate any appeal to the concept ‘cause and effect’ in the traditional sense, and mandates its replacement [15] by the more relevant one of ‘signals and responses’ - a notion familiar in sociological contexts, where, for example, the response of different people to the same signal can vary enormously, particularly if in one person it ‘strikes a raw nerve’ that is absent in another. Similarly, under exposure to the same low intensity microwave radiation, not everyone can be expected to be adversely affected to the same extent, or necessarily even at all; the possibility of being adversely affected, however, can never be ruled out.

The current requirement of a strict causal connection between exposure to microwave radiation of sub-thermal intensity and the manifestation of an adverse health effect is a criterion far more stringent than is normally applied in epidemiology when considering hazards connected with other kinds of pollution, where it is necessary to establish only an association (or correlation) between exposure and an associated health risk. For example, epidemiological studies on tobacco or asbestosis did not establish that these cause cancer, but only that they entail a significant increase in the risk of cancer developing. In the case of electromagnetic pollution of the kind presently under consideration, there is an increasing portfolio of evidence - dating from the early 1970s [16] - indicating that exposure to the kind of radiation now used in mobile telephony does indeed increase the likelihood of adverse health effects; this was, of course, the precise aim [17] of the Soviet irradiation of Western Embassies with low intensity microwaves during the Cold War!

It is thus clear that effects not allied to intensity inevitably ‘slip through the net’ of existing safety guidelines. The essentially linear approach adopted by the NRPB and ICNIRP to a problem that is intrinsically non-linear only exacerbates the situation, making it impossible even to ask the appropriate questions; out-dated knowledge is worse than ignorance - at least the ignorant know what they do not know!

This, of course, raises the question as to how a more comprehensive level of safety might be ensured. Before considering this, it is necessary to consider the evidence consistent with the potentiality of living organisms to be influenced in various non-thermal ways by microwave radiation of ultra-low (sub-thermal) intensity, and to respond adversely.

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****To illustrate the inadequacy of the protection afforded by the ICNIRP safety guidelines, reference can be made to a two-fold increase in the incidence of cancer that has been found [14] in humans exposed long-term to pulsed microwave radiation from radar installations, at power densities 5 times lower than the ICNIRP (thermal) limit of 1mW/cm2; this level is, of course, appreciably higher than those found near Base-stations, but is lower than those in close proximity to a mobile phone handset.


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10. Firstly, it is to be noted that the preconditioned hypersensitivity of adequately metabolising living organisms to ultra-weak microwave radiation of a particular frequency (which has already been referred to in Paragraph 7) is a quite general prediction of modern biophysics [12], reflecting the self-organising ability of open, dissipative systems in the non-linear regime, far from thermodynamic equilibrium, whereby once the rate of metabolic energy supply exceeds the rate at which the system can turn it into heat (i.e. dissipate it), a certain fraction of this energy is (non-thermally) channelled into a highly organised (coherent) collective vibration of the whole system, wherein it is stored mechanically, and effectively protected against dissipation - the frequency of this vibration being in the microwave band.
 
 

11. Secondly, much experimental evidence – both in vitro and in vivo - has accumulated over the past 25 years that is consistent not only with the existence [18-22] of this endogenous microwave activity, but with associated non-thermal, highly frequency-dependent influences - such as, for example, alterations in the growth rate of E.coli [23, 24] and the yeast, S. cerevisiae [25], synchronisation of cell division in the yeast S. carlsbergensis [26], and E.Coli [27], the ‘switch-on of certain genetic processes, such as the induction of colicin [28] and lambda phage in lysogenic E.coli [29, 30], and alteration [31-33] in the activity of important enzymes, such as ornithine decarboxylase (ODC); this enzyme is essential for cell growth and DNA synthesis, high ODC activity being characteristic of the unregulated growth of tumour cells.

There is also evidence that other organised electrical activities in quite different frequency ranges, such as brainwaves, can likewise be influenced in a non-thermal way by external fields, whose amplitude modulations contain features having similar frequencies. Thus, for example, a delayed increase in spectral power density (particularly in the alpha band) has been corroborated in the awake EEG of adults exposed to the radiation from a mobile phone [34, 35], whilst in the case of asleep subjects, the stage of REM sleep is found to be shortened (with possible adverse effects on learning), during which the power density in the alpha band again increases [36]; in addition, exposure to mobile phone radiation causes a significant decrease in the preparatory slow potentials in certain regions of the brain [37].

Other non-thermal effects of exposure to phone radiation include effects on human blood pressure [38], severe depression of the immunological and endocrinological responses of young chicks [39] and of the efficiency of lymphocyte cytoxicity [40-42], increases in the permeability of the blood-brain barrier [43] and erythrocyte membrane, resulting, in the latter case, in loss of haemoglobin [44, 45], and increases in calcium efflux from brain tissue [46-48]. In addition, there are effects involving other aspects of brain electro-chemistry, such as the dopamine-opiate system - which together with the blood-brain barrier appear to be involved in headaches [49] - influences (in conjunction with certain drugs) on epileptic activity [8, 9], and most dramatically, a significant increase in the mortality of chick embryos [39].

Finally, there are reports of increases in the numbers of chromosome aberrations in human lymphocytes [50], as well as of double and single strand breaks [51, 52] in the DNA***** of rat brain cells (probably due to a radiation-induced inhibition of repair, rather than to an increase in the number of breaks per se) under microwave irradiation, at power densities comparable to those realised when using a mobile phone handset; in addition, there is also a report of increases in the promotion of certain cancers (in particular, B-lymphomas) in mice that have been genetically engineered to be predisposed to develop cancer [54].

Although the power density of the radiation used in these experiments is typically that associated with mobile phone handsets, and thus much higher than that found in publicly accessible areas the vicinity of a Base-station, the information content of the radiation emitted by the latter is the same; accordingly, these results are not irrelevant to the consideration of potential adverse health effects associated with chronic exposure to Base-station radiation. Indeed, there are instances where the response of the living system is either sharper [25], or actually increases (see, for example, Ref. [48]), as the irradiating power density decreases - possibly due to a corresponding decrease in thermal influences, which at higher intensities tend to mask (and eventually obliterate) any (contra-thermal) non-thermal effects.

It should be stressed that experimental difficulties encountered in independent attempts to reproduce these findings are not unexpected, but indeed reflect the non-uniqueness in the response of living organisms mentioned above. It must be appreciated that not only are these experiments extremely difficult in themselves, but also that the relatively large numbers of variables involved in the full characterisation of the living organism, and the existence of the frequency and intensity ‘windows’, already mentioned (not to mention deterministic chaos [55]) both militate against the realisation of the identical conditions necessary to ensure reproducibility. In many cases, positive results were only obtained, with considerable patience and effort, after many initial failures. Since the odds are so stacked against a positive result, the realisation of one must be considered to be rather significant.
 
 

12. Thirdly, given the above ways in which such radiation is known to affect a variety of brain functions, it can surely be no coincidence that the problems reported by users of mobile phones and people resident in the immediate vicinity of the associated Base-stations - as well as by parents of children attending schools that have a mast either on or near to their property - are themselves (apart from the nose bleeds found in some infant school children, and the muscular twitches reported by some adults [56]) predominantly of a neurological nature, such as headaches, sleeping disorders (wakefulness), chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), impairment of short term memory (with associated learning difficulties), anxiety states, etc., and an increase in the frequency of seizures in children with a history of epilepsy. In the case of one particular epileptic child living near a Base- station, a significant increase in the frequency of seizures has been found [57]. Prior to the erection of a mobile phone mast close to her home, she was having, on average, 2 seizures per month; now, with the mast in place (and operating), she is having up to 8 seizures per day! Most significantly, when, unbeknown to her or her family, the mast is not functioning (or when she is removed from its vicinity) her condition improves dramatically, only to deteriorate again once she is brought back. (A similar reversibility is generally found to characterise other complaints; for example, the headaches and nose bleeds suffered by some school children disappear once they return home, where they are no longer in the vicinity of a mast). On the other hand, in the case of an adult female with no previous history of epilepsy in either herself or her family, a number of Grand Mal seizures have been suffered, immediately following intensive use of a mobile phone [58].

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***** Independent evidence that the DNA is the ultimate target of ultra-weak microwave irradiation is to be found in recent experiments [53] on E.coli.


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What is so appallingly scandalous from a regulatory point of view is that the majority of these symptoms have been known - from experience with radiation having certain features in common with that now used in mobile telephony - for over 25 years, but have been studiously ignored, presumably on account of the negative impact their revelation would undoubtedly have had on the market growth and development of mobile telephony products; it is interesting in this connection to note the following statement that appeared in a United States Defence Intelligence Agency Report [16] on contemporary Soviet research into biological effects of low intensity microwave radiation, dating from as long ago as 1976:…‘If the more advanced nations of the West are strict in the enforcement of stringent exposure standards, there could be unfavourable effects on industrial and military functions.’ It is somewhat ironic that in recent years, the Russians – who were the first to discover [59, 60] the existence of frequency-specific, non-thermal bioeffects induced by microwave radiation (at intensities intermediate between those encountered when using a mobile phone hand-set, and those realised several hundred metres from a Base-station) and the associated possibility of provoking adverse health effects in humans – have relaxed somewhat their permitted exposure limits (which were originally 1000 times more stringent than those in the West), and are (together with China) currently being encouraged by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to participate in a global programme of ‘harmonisation’, the implementation of which would, of course, further facilitate market growth.
 
 

13. Fourthly, epidemiological evidence that coherent radiation of an intensity comparable to that found in the vicinity of a Base-station (but having somewhat lower frequencies) has an adverse impact on an exposed population is to be found in the studies carried out in the environs of (Latvian) Skrunda radar installation, and of the (Swiss) Schwarzenburg Short-wave radio transmitter. The latter operated (in CW mode) at frequencies between 3 and 30MHz. Following many years of reports of health complaints from people living in the vicinity of this installation, a study [61] was undertaken in 1995 by the University of Berne, which revealed statistically significant effects on health and general well-being that varied systematically with exposure. Adverse effects on sleeping and learning were reported down to mean levels of 0.4nW/cm2!. Furthermore, when - unbeknown to the local inhabitants - the transmitter was not functioning for a number of days, sleep quality improved markedly, and for the nights concerned the melatonin level in cattle (that would otherwise have been exposed) reached their highest nocturnal peaks. Since there is no reason to suppose that human nocturnal melatonin levels were not similarly reduced when the transmitter was operating, and given that it is known that nocturnal melatonin peaks are related to sleep quality, the degradation in human sleep quality is understandable. More serious implications of reduced nocturnal melatonin levels relate to certain cancers, such as breast cancer, as has been found by laboratory studies. Transmissions ceased in 1997, and the transmitter was dismantled the following year. Presumably not unconnected with these findings is (at the time of writing) a proposal before the Swiss Federal Government to limit public exposure to 4.5mW/cm2 (9mW/cm2) at 900MHz (1800MHz).

It is, however, the situation that obtained in the case of the Skrunda radar installation (the environs of which have been described as a ‘living laboratory’ – the control group being constituted by the unexposed group to the rear of the beam) that is particularly relevant to assessing the possible effects of long-term exposure in the vicinity of a Base-station, on account of the pulsed nature of the emissions in the two cases, although both the carrier frequencies and pulse characteristics are somewhat different – the radar operating between 152-162MHz, with a pulse width and repetition frequency of 8ms and 24.4Hz, respectively. It is to be noted that here it is the fundamental pulse repetition frequency (rather than a low frequency ‘punctuation’ of it, as in the GSM case) that lies in a neurologically significant frequency range – specifically in the range of beta brain wave activity. The investigations carried out were very varied, and were not confined solely to humans. The findings, which occupy an entire issue of the journal, Science of the Total Environment, include reports of:

i) Less developed memory and attention span (as well as decreased endurance of their neuromuscular apparatus) of children living within a 20km radius of the installation, exposed to a maximum intensity 0.0028mW/cm2 [62].

ii) Reduced radial growth of pine trees, exposed to 0.0028mW/cm2, at a distance of 4km, dating from the time the installation became operational [63].

iii) Chromosome and reproductive damage in plants, 2km distant from the installation, where the field varied between 0.095 – 1.79mW/cm2 [64].

iv) A six-fold increase in chromosome damage in cows, subject to a likely maximum exposure of 0.1mW/cm2 [65].

(The cited field intensities are estimated from information on the electric field intensity as a function of distance from the radar installation, given in one of the contributions [66] to the above cited Journal).

The last observation is particularly interesting, in the light of subsequent reports [67, 68] of cattle being adversely affected by radiation from Base-stations, (the cattle being found to line up, all facing away from the mast), including effects such as severely reduced milk yields, emaciation, spontaneous abortions, and still births. What is particularly significant is that if they are removed to pastures well away from the mast, their condition dramatically improves, but again declines once they are brought back! There are also indications [69] that the immune system of domestic canine pets is adversely affected, again in a reversible way; in addition, there are reports of a decline in bird populations following the erection of a mast.

Given that the carrier frequencies used in GSM mobile telephony lie in the band of higher frequency microwaves to which living organisms have a particular predisposed sensitivity (as explained in Paragraphs. 7 & 10), together with the fact that the GSM pulses are much more aggressive (the GSM pulse repetition rate being almost a factor of 10 higher than that of the radar, and the pulse width a factor of nearly 15 smaller), and, like the radar case, also have a low frequency aspect (in this case, at 8.34Hz) that can potentially interfere with neurological activity at similar frequencies (specifically here, alphaactivity), it can reasonably be anticipated that the emissions from Base-stations are potentially more pernicious to health than are those from the above installations. In support of this, it should be noted that the adverse effects on cattle appeared only after GSM microwave antennae were erected on a tower that had formerly been used only to transmit TV and radio signals, associated with which there had been no evident health problems!

Pre-adolescent children can be expected to be (potentially) particularly at risk for the following reasons:

(i) The absorption of microwaves of the frequency used in mobile telephony is greatest in an object about the size of a child’s head. (This is because of the proximity of the typical linear dimensions of a child’s head to the wavelength of the microwave radiation – the so-called ‘head resonance’).

(ii) The brain-wave activity in a child is less robust to aggression by the pulses of microwaves (217 per second, punctuated 8.34 times per second) used in the GSM system, than is that of a mature adult. For, as already noted, the latter frequency (8.34Hz) lies in the range of the important alpha brain activity, which in a child is not fully stabilised until the age of 11 or 12 years.

(iii) The immune system, whose efficiency is degraded by radiation of the kind used in mobile telephony, is again less robust in a child, making it less able to ‘cope’ with any adverse health effect that might be provoked by chronic exposure to such radiation.

Similarly, the elderly are vulnerable for at least two reasons:

(i) Their immune systems are generally less robust.

(ii) They are often on prescribed medications, certain of which could cause them to have an increased sensitivity to microwave radiation [70].

The present situation is summarised in the Figure.
 
 

14. Taken individually, the evidence from each of the four sectors of this Figure might well be considered less than compelling, but when considered together, a rather interconsistent and coherent picture emerges, from which it is clear that the issue of non-thermal effects and their potentiality to induce adverse health reactions of the kind reported, often admittedly anecdotally – can no longer be responsibly dismissed as an epiphenomenon, but is indeed a reality that cannot be reasonably denied. It should be stressed that the anecdotal nature of many of the reports of health problems does not constitute grounds for dismissing them out of hand, as is so often advocated. For given the paucity, to date, of systematic epidemiological studies pertaining to this relatively recently introduced technology, such reports are an indispensable source of information – a point acknowledged (in connection with mobile phone handsets) in the Report of the Commons’ Select Committee [71], published last year…..‘Anecdotal evidence can usefully serve to target further research. We agree with the Royal Society of Canada that the evidence of neurological problems reportedly caused by mobile phones, including symptoms such as headache, nausea, tiredness, sleep problems and memory loss is unclear, but there is sufficient anecdotal evidence and uncertainty to justify further research’.
 
 

15. In passing it may be noted that the hypersensitivity of the human organism to ultra-weak microwave radiation at specific frequencies is additionally highlighted by the established therapeutic efficacy of such radiation when applied under clinically controlled conditions, as is currently done in Russia and the Ukraine, as a form of electromagnetic pharmacology/acupuncture [72, 73]. The existence of such positive (therapeutic) effects makes it difficult to uphold the claim that such fields cannot have the opposite (i.e. a bio-negative) effect when applied indiscriminately – in much the same way as the therapeutically beneficial effect of drugs does not preclude the possibility of allergic reactions, or drug abuse!
 
 

16. It is imperative that the evident ability of the kind of radiation used in GSM mobile telephony to affect the human organism in various non-thermal ways, be now recognised by the Regulatory Bodies, in order that that serious and urgent attention can be given to how the public can be better protected against any associated adverse health effects that might be thereby provoked, so that the undeniable benefits of modern telecommunication technology can be enjoyed with a higher degree of safety than is currently possible. Before this can be done, however, much more research into these subtle, non-thermal effects is required – specifically:

A. Further studies at the level of the primary interaction of ultra-low intensity microwaves (including pulsed ones) with living organisms - along the lines already persued in the laboratory, using lower forms of life for experimentation [18-30, 39-48] - aimed at obtaining a much better understanding of the ability of such radiation (of sub-thermal intensity) to influence, non-thermally, biological processes both at a cellular and sub-cellular level, addressing, for example, the magnitude of the (sub-thermal) threshold intensity and duration of irradiation necessary to achieve the ‘switch-on’ of various processes, and the dependence of these processes on the frequency of the radiation. In addition, there is still much to be learnt about the non-thermal influence of different carrier frequencies, all modulated to the same ELF.

B. Much needed physiological studies, to establish the nature and extent of any adverse effects on human health provoked by the primary non-thermal influence of ultra-low intensity radiation on the living organism, including possible synergistic effects between microwave radiation and certain prescribed psychoactive drugs [70], and certain tumour promoters, such as Phorbol Ester [74].
 
 

17. Meanwhile, several courses of action can be identified that would go some way to ameliorating the (unnecessarily) hazardous situation currently obtaining both in the case of Base-stations - in the vicinity of which there are people who are essentially continuously (and involuntarily) subjected to whole body exposure under far field conditions - and in the case of users of mobile phone handsets, who voluntarily expose themselves - in a rather localised way under near field conditions (in which the energy deposition is largely via the magnetic component) - to much higher emissions, but for (relatively) shorter periods of time.
 
 

18. Base-stations:

(i) Ensure that the field strengths to which the public is so indiscriminately and involuntarily exposed are kept well below the mW/cm2 non-thermal threshold values referred to above (which are 1000 times lower than thermal levels) – preferably, as low as nanowatts/cm2.

This will, of course, also lower the energy in each pulse, and can be achieved either by locating the antennae on much higher masts, or by introducing an exclusion zone, such as the one of 500 metres recommended (but not legally enforceable) by the Association of Local Governments of New South Wales (NSW), Australia; clearly, mast height can be traded against the extent of any exclusion zone.

It may be noted, in connection with NSW, that the safety limits there recommended (but again not legally enforceable) are the most stringent in the world - being of the order of nanowatts/cm2. By comparison, the NRPB value of 3300m W/cm2 (at 900MHz) is one million times higher! Furthermore, the NRPB value is more than 7 times higher than that (450m W/cm2) of ICNIRP [1], who advise the WHO, whilst Italy has recently adopted a value of 10mW/cm2.
 
 

(ii) Prevent localised areas of unnecessarily high fields by prohibiting the future erection of clusters of masts in the same vicinity, and requiring that existing clusters be replaced by a single tall mast serving the various companies. Furthermore, the antennae distribution on the mast should be such that the highest possible emission in any direction (taking into account the maximum call traffic) does not, in publicly accessible areas, exceed the above recommended value, of the order of nanowatts/cm2.
 
 

(iii) In considering Planning Applications, attention should be given to the proposed site of a mast in relation to the local topography, so as to ensure that in hilly terrain, for example, there are no homes, schools, hospitals or any other public buildings that are occupied for any appreciable period of time on a level with the emitting antennae. Of particular concern in this connection, is the large number of schools nation-wide that have a Base-station mast either on, or overlooking their property – the latter being potentially the more dangerous, depending on the locations. Urgent efforts should be made to have these masts decommissioned at the earliest opportunity, and the industry forbidden to target schools in the future. The same applies to hospitals - particularly those with maternity and/or psychiatric wings - residences for the elderly, and any other places that are occupied long-term by the most vulnerable members of society.

In connection with Planning, it should be noted that it has recently been found in Law (Court of Appeal in Newport vs Secretary of State for Wales, 1998, JPL377, and West Midlands Probation Committee vs Secretary of State for the Environment, 1998, JPL388) – although not in connection with mobile phone Base-stations – that ……

Public fear and concern is a material planning consideration, even if that fear is irrational, and not based upon evidence’.

This must surely hold, a fortiori, when, as in the present case, (a) there is some supporting evidence – particularly given that this evidence is deemed inconclusive, (b) further research is currently being sponsored by the EU and the WHO, and (c) it is impossible to prove that there is no health risk. Nothing frightens people more than uncertain danger – even if it were eventually shown that no such danger actually exists. Indeed, the associated stress and anxiety sustained in the meanwhile (particularly if protracted) can, of themselves, result in a plethora of health problems; even if such problems do not materialise, the quality of life will still have been compromised – there is more to good health than simply an absence of disease!

Prudent Avoidance (or the Precautionary Principle) is currently the only acceptable approach, and one for which Regulatory Bodies could never be criticised, or find themselves held liable for any adverse health effects that may manifest themselves in the future; it should be remembered that many such effects could well have a long latency period.

Of more recent concern, is introduction of so-called ‘street furniture’, lamp-post look-a-like masts as a second generation technology, since they are no longer confined to accommodating only microcell installations (as was intended originally), there already being at least two cases, to my knowledge, where Orange are currently using them to support conventional antennae, emitting 500W (EIRP) in the main beams; for these, the antennae are on a level with first floor bedrooms, at a distance of only a front garden, or less, away!

To draw analogies with TV and FM transmitters in an attempt to allay fears in connection with the emissions from mobile phone masts is misguided on at least two accounts: (i) the nature of the emissions are quite different, not only with respect to (carrier) frequencies, and to digital/analogue differences, but also with respect to beam morphology, (ii) there are problems (incidence of leukaemias, in particular) connected with some such transmitters [75-76].
 
 

(iv) Remove from the digital signal any low frequency (amplitude) modulations that fall in the range of the human brainwaves. Of particular relevance in this connection is the TETRA system recently introduced into the London Underground. For here the fundamental pulse repetition frequency is 17Hz, which lies in the range of beta brainwaves, and which is close to that at which a flashing visible light can induce seizures in photosensitive epileptics. This situation is thus potentially far more serious than that which obtains in the case of the GSM system, where it is only the low frequency 8.34Hzpunctuation’ of the fundamental 217Hz pulse repetition frequency that falls in the range of the (alpha) brain-waves.
 
 

19. Mobile phone handsets:

Here, consideration should be given to possible adverse health effects induced not only by the emission of pulsed microwave radiation, but also to the highly penetrating ELF magnetic field associated with the current surges that power these pulses, against which certain commercially available devices, aimed at reducing the microwave output, most likely afford little protection; indeed there are recent indications [77] from animal studies that the use of such devices actually exacerbates the adverse health impact, as is evidenced by an increase in the mortality of the chick embryos used in the experiments reported in Ref. 39.

The following specific recommendations should be given serious consideration:

(i) Avoid keeping the handset (when switched-on) adjacent to the body – in particular, in the vicinity of the heart or the waist. This is motivated by the accepted vulnerability of heart pace-makers to interference from mobile phone emissions [10], and by reports [78] of at least three sudden deaths due to colon cancer amongst members of a secret surveillance unit of the former Royal Ulster Constabulary, all of whom had worn radio or microwave transmitters in the small of their backs for extended periods of time.

(ii) Avoid protracted use – keep the duration of calls to an absolute minimum.

(iii) Issue health warnings with the devices, frankly admitting the possibility of adverse health effects in certain people, particularly those with compromised immune and thermo-regulatory systems, those with a history of epilepsy, and those taking prescribed psychoactive drugs. Children give rise to particular concern for the reasons mentioned in Paragraph 13.

For these reasons, mobile phones should not be made available to pre-adolescent children, and the irresponsible targeting of this particularly vulnerable age group by the Industry should be discontinued forthwith.
 
 

20. It must be concluded from the above analysis that there is every indication that not only certain people, but also some animals, are vulnerable to being adversely affected by pulsed microwave radiation of the intensity employed in GSM mobile telephony - a vulnerability that is indeed consistent with the predictions of modern biophysics for living organisms, and thus not unexpected.

The occurrence of adverse health effects in the case of animals is particularly significant, since it indicates that the effects are real, and not psychosomatic - as is so often maintained by those who claim that radiation of the intensity in question is harmless.

Most significant of all, however, is the fact that the kind of adverse health effects reported are largely consistent with the non-thermal influence this kind of radiation has on the neurological, endocrinological and immunological functioning of a wide variety of living organisms – including humans. This is known, not only from experiences with similar radiation from other sources (some of which have been known about for almost 30 years), but also from laboratory experiments on both humans and animals that have been conducted since the advent of mobile telephony. The results of these experiments have been published in the international, peer-reviewed scientific literature, and are accepted by many of the world’s leading researchers in field, including the 16 signatories of the 1998 ‘Vienna Resolution’ [79] on possible biological and health effects of radio frequency electromagnetic fields.

The fact that the microwave emissions from a mast conform by many orders of magnitude to the current safety guidelines is no guarantee of immunity from adverse health reactions that can be provoked by aspects of the radiation that are not addressed by these guidelines. The principal unaddressed aspect concerns the possibility of information (as opposed to energy) transfer from the microwaves used in mobile telephony to the alive human organism. This possibility arises because microwaves are, after all, waves, and as such have properties other than simply intensity. Firstly, they have a very sharply defined frequency to which living, and only living, organisms are particularly sensitive in a highly non-linear, unpredictable way; secondly, the pulsed nature of the radiation contains patterns that the brain can recognise and respond to. To appeal (as do the NRPB and ICNIRP) to this lack of guaranteed predictability - and hence reproducibility - to deny (in an attempt to uphold the adequacy of the current, purely thermally based guidelines, which regulate only the amount of energy absorbed by the organism) either the reality of the existence of non-thermal effects, or their potential to provoke adverse health effects, thus betrays a fundamental lack of awareness of the (intrinsically non-linear) nature of the problem. Accordingly, it is not surprising that there has been little progress from these quarters, with their adherence to the traditional (linear) concept of causality, despite the following (more encouraging and enlightened) statement [80] made some time ago by the Deputy Director of the NRPB:

‘Until recently, we believed that any harmful effects from microwaves were due to their heating effect, which would be negligible at the low powers used by mobile phones. Now there might be another effect at work, and we are much less certain.’

This is particularly relevant to the emission from Base-stations, since the (far field) intensity (or power density) - which the existing guidelines do regulate - is here far too low to cause any body heating. Nevertheless, as just noted, radiation of such an intensity is known - both from anecdotal reports from people living in the vicinity of Base-stations, and from epidemiological studies in the environs of installations employing radiation of a similar intensity (but of somewhat lower frequencies) to that found near Base-stations – to provoke adverse health effects, of a kind that are consistent with the non-thermal sensitivity highlighted above.

That microwave radiation can have effects other than heating is well recognised and accepted in connection with the interference this radiation can have on electronic devices - i.e. in the context of considerations of so-called Electromagnetic Compatibility. To maintain that the functioning of the human organism should somehow be immune from similar interference – as is effectively done by the Statutory Advisory Bodies that set safety guidelines - displays an appalling ignorance, not only of the fundamental role electromagnetic fields play in the organisation and control of biological processes in living organisms at a variety of levels, but also of the history of the subject!

It should be noted that the apparent absence in the short term (i.e. to date) of life threatening adverse effects of exposure to GSM Base-station radiation is no guarantee of immunity against long-term, chronic exposure. For exposure to this kind of radiation is still in its ‘early days’, in comparison to the very long latency period of the kinds of carcinomas that could be promoted in certain people.

In the meanwhile, it can hardly be disputed that to enjoy an acceptable quality of life requires more than simply an absence of terminal disease. For even adverse health effects of a non-life threatening kind can certainly have a debilitating effect that undoubtedly undermines the general well-being of those affected, and which in the case of some pre-adolescent children, in particular, could well undermine their neurological and academic development.
 
 


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