Research:
 Science and the Blue World

 Back


Posted:
18 October 1999

(Note:  Recently Dr. George Carlo wrote his -- already famous -- letter to the CEO of AT&T in which he referred to some of the causes for concern about the health effects of cell phones.  Nearly two years ago, guru wrote the following for posting on Richard Woodley's Bridlewood web-site.....  It is being repeated here, without editing or change, because of its relevance to the EMF science aspects, and some of the thoughts expressed in the Carlo letter......)


San Antonio, Jan-98, and "Blue World" revisited.

By Roy Beavers (EMFguru)
 

This report is being prepared immediately following my return from the San Antonio (Jan 12-14, 1998) meeting of the EMF RAPID review process, which is being managed and conducted by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). So far, they are doing a good job of conducting an open and unbiased review process which is not "tilted" to protect industry interests at the expense of the public. But, "The proof," as they say, "is in the pudding." The distortions of truth (which have occurred so frequently in the past in this EMF saga) RARELY occur at the working level. The dishonesty begins to appear when the work of the (by and large) dedicated, objective and conscientious "working" scientists is passed up "the chain of command" to their bosses higher in the bureaucracy. It is there that political and economic (read "profits") considerations begin to distort the true science which began at the bottom (not always, but usually!!!).

We saw that distortion process in the case of EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) during the Bush Administration in 1992. We saw it again in the way the NCRP (National Council for Radiation Protection) warning draft report was _buried_ early in the Clinton Administration. And we saw it shamefully and without subtlety when the NAS (National Academy of Science) issued its _extremely superficial_ report in 1995..... So, I ask you to understand my cynicism and that expressed by Shirley Linde in her recent statement which was forwarded earlier this week on these pages...... The record is not good ... and it is the publics health that is being sacrificed.

Anyway, my present belief is that the people I see at these meetings (I attend ALL of them.) WANT to do their "dead-level" best to honorably complete this task in keeping with the highest possible science traditions and standards. If they fail in that ... I WILL TELL YOU....... THE PUBLIC HAS A RIGHT TO KNOW.................

Where We Are (After San Antonio)

I have long since learned that all who have an EMF problem of some sort are convinced that "their" problem is the most serious and the most threatening to humanity. If they live in a neighborhood or community that is about to be deluged with cellular telephone antennas, they believe the cell-phone is the worst of all EMF contingencies. If they have a friend or relative (or particularly "they" themselves) carrying the burden of breast cancer, then of course that is the worst hazard. (As you will see below, we may soon be including the male gender in this tragic "reproductive hormone" picture -- prostate cancer is also now suspect.) Much the same can be said of brain cancer or Alzheimer's or ALS or Parkinson's, the brain neuron conditions which may be showing the strongest EMF associations of all.

If the EMF victim lives near power "transmission" or even "distribution" lines, then it is the power company that becomes the target of condemnation, as childhood leukemia is consistently showing-up there more frequently than it should. The O.R. (odds ratio) for childhood leukemia is also consistently low, but I believe there is an explanation for that which is NOT reassuring. (More will be said below on the low O.R. issue.)

In fact, it now seems quite possible that ALL of the above adverse health conditions are possible as a result of EMF exposure -- and more! In the end, it may not be easy to say which is the most adverse EMF/health situation because it appears more and more likely that: (a) EMF exposure from whatever source can be cell damaging (thus health threatening), if sufficient in strength and duration ... probably through the process of promoting or allowing the buildup of free radicals which damage human cells, and (b) it does not appear that the frequency (wave-length, ELF or RF, etc.) of the exposure is "defining" -- though, until we know more, it is perhaps alright to say: some frequencies "may" have a greater propensity for the induction of cell and tissue damage than others.

Most important of all, the exposure "strength" required to cause the suspect illnesses cited above is now clearly conceded to be in the ranges of those exposure conditions which are -- at least in certain situations -- occurring in our home and work environment. The picture that is emerging is one of potentially _broad overall health impact_ -- not just childhood leukemia or breast cancer or brain cancer. It is a picture of EXPOSURE and EFFECT that is so broad -- and so "buried" within the historical process of worldwide electrification that has occurred over the past 100 years -- that it could easily have been missed for many more years had not a few prescient observers (like Robert Becker or Nancy Wertheimer) spoken out forcefully ... and in spite of the condemnation that was heaped upon them by an "establishment" medical and science community which "did not see the forest for the trees."

EMF researchers, who have been reporting the results of their research efforts to their colleagues at the recent NIEHS-sponsored symposia (at Durham in March of 1997 and most recently at San Antonio in January of 1998), are also saying that EMF induced biological damage is (1) probably cumulative, and (2) is subject to the natural cell "healing" processes which can work to overcome much of the free radical damage.

The latter "healing process" is thought to at least partially explain why some people appear to be less vulnerable, thus less readily affected, while others (perhaps with "weaker" immune systems) are more susceptible. But of course this natural healing process really is not a result of the EMF scenario, per se, it is a normal process that occurs to a greater or lesser extent in all illnesses. Also, the role played by "genetic disposition" is likely to be at work in the EMF scenario, though there has been very little research in that direction so far.

So, let us begin by clearing our heads of the notion that EMF causes "one" definitive problem or adverse health condition. It can cause many....... And, perhaps more importantly ... it appears to be a number of different "kinds" of biological interactions (at different stages and "locales" in the biological cascade of human health), perhaps working separately in some instances, but more likely working together. Possibly it is not "causative" in any case, though that is certainly not yet known.

Even if it is only "an illness promoter" or "damaging" to certain vital systems like the immune or hormone systems, as now seems likely, its overall potential health impact is simply enormous...... Beyond estimation ... given the many uncertainties which now surround the subject. And, given the many "hundreds" of millions of people who are now being exposed to rapidly increasing amounts of EMF.

But -- as we saw both at Durham and at San Antonio -- it is there! And those who continue to deny it in the face of really overwhelming evidence that has now been uncovered by perhaps some 100 or so researchers worldwide ... may want to examine their own motives with an eye to the extent to which they may be placing their own interest (or their company's interest) above that of mankind.

The "Blue World" Key

The amount of biological activity is the key. Without doubt, the amount of biological activity that is being induced within the human race by EMF exposure of all kinds and frequencies ... has been multiplied on the order of a few 'thousand-fold' to a few 'million-fold' since the introduction of electricity into our lives over a century ago. In the beginning, we simply did not "see" the results in terms of health consequences. Whereas "science" once considered such "non-ionizing" radiation to be biologically benign (at least at levels of exposure than being experienced by the human population), it is now virtually certain that not ALL of it is benign! It is far more active than was previously imagined!

This brings us again to the "Blue World" scenario I described in my last message before going to San Antonio. Richard Woodley of the Bridlewood web-site has kindly placed that message on his web pages.

I will "revisit" that guest editorial below.....

Here, the important thing to note is that our "blue world" is not only rapidly getting "bluer" as a result of more and more of this EMF radiation exposure worldwide ... it is also building a background "health condition" in the human population (e.g., depressed immunity and disrupted hormone systems) which make it more and more difficult to detect the effect!!! This is an important point which requires careful attention and explanation to ensure that everyone understands it......

The MYTH of Low Risk Factors

The principal method science has to track the existence and causes (or increases within the human population) of such health conditions as cancer, leukemia, etc., is that branch of science known as 'epidemiology.' In its simplest form, epidemiology compares "groups" of the population which have been exposed (to a suspected health-damaging cause or "risk") to other groups that have _not_ been exposed (called "the control group"). The result of this comparison provides the "O.R." the observed risk factor or "odds ratio.".

An O.R. of 1.0 means that the groups which were compared resulted in "no observable difference." The incidence of the illness, in other words, was 1 to 1. Neither group showed any higher propensity to contract the disease. If, on the other hand, the 'exposed' group showed 50% more incidence of the illness than the 'unexposed' control group, then the O.R. factor would be described as "1.5," meaning that the exposed group was 50% more likely to contract the illness; and therefore it could be inferred that the "risk" exposure being compared was a causative or contributing factor to the illness in some way. An O.R. of 1.5, however, is not considered to be a very "strong" association. If an O.R. of 2.0 or 3.0 were found in the comparison then it could be inferred that the "strength" of that causative or contributing risk was stronger (than in the 1.5 case).

From the above "basic" explanation, it should be obvious that the epidemiologist conducting the study needs at least two conditions if he/she is going to produce a valid study:

The composition of the two groups being compared should be as nearly similar as possible. Ideally, in fact, the researcher wants the two groups to be out of the same population, the same socio-economic population, the same racial background (because of possible genetic confounders) and/or the same neighborhood population. In short, the goal is to "match" the two groups as perfectly as possible in every respect except one!!!

The researcher does NOT want his two groups to have been exposed to the same risk (or the same 'amount' of risk) that is being measured in the comparison. When comparing two groups in the case of tobacco exposure, for example, the researcher wants his control group to be a group of _non-smokers_ (or as much so as he can find) which he will then compare to a group of smokers to determine the O.R. of whatever health condition is being studied (e.g., lung cancer).

If this contrast between "exposed" and "non-exposed" cannot be based upon two groups that have genuinely different levels of exposure (though otherwise similar and of the same "population"), the O.R. obviously will tend to "level out" in the direction of 1 to 1..... No contrast (or very little contrast) will be observable!!!!

Now, do you see the problem that is being presented to the epidemiologists when they are studying exposure to EMF? EMF is so widespread ("ubiquitous" is the word currently being used) in our modern industrial electrified western societies that it is becoming more and more difficult to find control groups which have not been exposed! Or have been minimally exposed!

The result is a tendency for the EMF study comparisons to "level out" at or near the 1 to 1 ratio. Clearly, there exists in such studies a built-in "bias" _against_ obtaining results that would show the true adverse health effect of the EMF exposure..... That effect is being lost in the "leveling out" that occurs when 'exposed' groups are in fact being compared to so-called "non-exposed" groups ... but which, in fact, _have_ been exposed (perhaps substantially), though we really cannot tell how much???

That is what is being found in the EMF epidemiology studies: A series of study results that 'bias' the outcome in the direction of low odds-ratios (on the order of 1.5 to 2.5) -- even though the "real world" of 'mother nature' may be causing real damage that would justify much higher O.R. results. (On the order of 2.5 to 5.0 perhaps.)

How many times have you heard that "utility spokesman" say: Oh, these "risk factors" (O.R.s) are so low that they are showing that the problem "caused by the power lines" (or TV antennas, etc.), "is just not very great." That statement is a myth..... It is certainly not "scientific."

The _scientific_ truth is that this EMF health threat is substantially greater than "second hand smoke" (O.R. 1.2 to 1.5), for example, though that is the kind of comparison that is often made by industry spokesmen or their "friends" in the scientific community.....

Still, look at what the government has been willing to do about second hand smoke!! Yet many, many more people are being affected by EMF exposure than second hand smoke! The EMF RAPID report, when it is finally prepared upon the completion of these symposia meetings ... should lay to rest this "low risk factor" myth once and for all......

At San Antonio, I asked a group of about ten epidemiologists specifically about this aspect. I got no answer. No denial. No argument. Every scientist who is working on this issue -- certainly every epidemiologist -- knows that this ugly reality is not being explained to the public. Why? Because it literally DESTROYS the argument that EMF is a minor problem!!!!

Guru says: EMF is no minor problem.... It is a major problem..... And it is not getting any better. It is getting worse, fast ... as that "frenzy" of electrical/electronic technological advances and commercial sales to the public (not to mention governmental and military activity) -- which was first cited in "Blue World" -- charges onward under the watchful eye of an indifferent government that is consciously determined to be oblivious to the long term health consequences for ALL of mankind.......

Where and How the EMF is Acting, Biologically

Present research findings are leading the scientific community to a concentration on the hormone systems as the locus of most impact, particularly melatonin (but also perhaps estrogen and the prostate and seratonin). These systems, as the body s internal "communication" or "control" systems, if even "slightly" diminished or disrupted, can have enormous indirect consequences on health. (At San Antonio, Dr. Robert Liburdy, the melatonin/tamoxifin researcher, speculated that he thought he was seeing "not only reduced melatonin production ... but also reduced melatonin _performance_" under EMF exposure as low as 12 mG.) Hormone performance is considered to be a major contributor to a healthy immune system. (More on this in the "Blue World"-- Part Two -- below.)

Recently, DNA damage has also been identified as a potential problem area as a result of both RF and ELF exposure. DNA damage, of course, can have direct consequences in cancer.

I think it is also noteworthy that (what I perceive as) a growing acceptance of a "dose-response" relationship between the "amount" of EMF exposure and 'a more observable resultant consequence' is beginning to be accepted in the community. Perhaps the best and most recent example of this is the work done at the Karolinska Institute (by Maria Feychting) in Sweden, which found an indication of a dose-response effect while comparing the records of those who had significant EMF exposure BOTH at work and at home (living near power lines) as contrasted with those who had the home exposure but not the work exposure. Those who had both exposures were found to be at significantly more risk. [Also, see EMF Health Report, vol 5, number 6, Nov-Dec 1997, for a discussion of this.]

The picture I have described above is the picture that is emerging at the EMF review symposia which I have been attending. It is not reassuring: in terms of purely its public health impact, in terms of public-health information that is NOT being conveyed to the public, in terms of public policy that is sorely needed -- and soon -- but is not even in a state of public awareness that would allow such consideration, and finally in terms of "how" our system of science/government/private enterprise does NOT work well to come to grips with such problems. Our system makes it easy to lie, procrastinate, and sweep such problems "under the carpet" rather than deal with them on a "public interest" basis.

PART TWO, "BLUE WORLD" Revisited and updated

I would like to conclude this discourse by revisiting my "BLUE WORLD" essay, which was written shortly before I departed for San Antonio. I will offer a few modifications and/or additions based upon what I learned at the San Antonio meeting. [Comments in brackets, thus.]

A Blue World

Guest Editorial by Roy L. Beavers

I have been closely monitoring this issue now for at least six years and actually began to get interested a couple years before that (http://www.feb.se/EMF-L/EMF-L.html). I routinely attend many of the national meetings at which the science researchers report the results of their work -- on average about twice per year. I will next attend an important meeting in San Antonio in January, sponsored by the National Institute of Environmental Health Science (NIEHS).

I am now convinced that the most important basic judgment: that biological interaction between EMFs (at exposure levels occurring in our environment) and the human body (cells and tissue, glands, brain neurons, etc.) is occurring..... is true!

....And that it has a number of different manifestations, most of which we now mainly "suspect" rather than "can prove" (the "tip of an iceberg" analogy)..... (Much more research is needed.)

[No change. The San Antonio meeting reinforced this conclusion.]

But at least two biological "mechanisms" are now rather well proved;

1) the melatonin case which likely leads to some female breast cancers and perhaps is a factor in childhood leukemia as well. [Indeed, it is thought that the entire immune system can be affected by the melatonin disruption which apparently results from EMF interaction at the pineal gland.]

[The over-riding impression I gained of this aspect at San Antonio is that this research is now moving ahead much faster than I realized. Much of this work had been reported at the Durham meeting, more has been done since. The results continue to confirm that biological activity is occurring, and, as quoted above, (Dr. Liburdy) suggest more is being learned. It was quite a surprise to hear the group jump right into a discussion of the possible prostate cancer connection as well as breast cancer. The issue is, of course, does the melatonin effect also suggest an effect on estrogen (which might explain the higher incidence of breast cancer that has been found -- weakly --in some EMF epidemiology studies)? As the discussion at the meeting suggested: that melatonin-estrogen effect could be direct or indirect -- or -- the estrogen could be directly impacted by the EMF without recourse to the melatonin effect? Finally, of course, the role of EMF impact upon the immune system could be crucial as well. Once such scenarios began to get some attention by the research community, then other intriguing possibilities concerning the effects of EMF on hormones naturally arise: testosterone, prostate, etc.]

[In my view, the IMPORTANCE of such discussions is for all of us to recognize how much MORE research is being indicated as "needed" and "worthwhile" on the basis of what we already know!!!!]

2) brain tumors (sometimes cancer), though we are not as confident about what is the "mechanism" causing the illness, we do see that it is showing strong and consistent epidemiological evidence in certain work environments.....

[I was not in the right group discussion to hear more on this aspect.]

3) The Alzheimer's epidemiological evidence is also pretty consistent.

[The Alzheimer's epidemiology may not be as strong as I had thought, but it is still plenty strong enough to warrant much more investigation. Like most of the EMF epidemiology, the results are "tilted" toward lower O.R. factors by the problem that we really don't know whether we are getting "unexposed" control groups. The "community" seems to feel that the Alzheimer's connection is a serious possibility.]

As I say there is good reason to suspect much more, but the research has not been done.....

[Still true....]

The "vested interests" (telecommunications and electrical industry) have about given up on their denial that these biological interactions are occurring. "But," they argue, "that doesn't prove that adverse health consequences are the result."

To argue that these (now many, many documented) interactions CAN NOT lead to health problems of the suspected nature (leukemia, cancer, Alzheimer's, nervous system disorders, etc.) really requires that they argue against mathematical probabilities.... ALL of this biological activity, they must argue, is harmless???.... And, they must argue that it is harmless ... IN SPITE OF the epidemiological evidence which shows, in effect, the end result damage in the form of cancer, etc.

There are not many of the "serious and knowledgeable scientists" -- looking at this research -- who "buy" that argument anymore....

[Still true......]

BUT ... the government's vested interest in this matter is almost as great as the industries!!!! Between them, they have so far succeeded in keeping much of this info from the public. (GET ELLEN SUGARMAN'S BOOK AND READ IT!!!!) What info HAS gotten to the public has been successfully obfuscated by claims like, "but this hasn't been 'proved' yet," etc. ...or...."There is much disagreement within the scientific community, etc." By implication, the public should ignore the "weight of the evidence" until there is "overwhelming" agreement or "consensus." ..... With industry able to "hire" and "influence" the scientific judgments ... and with industry's hold on the communications media ... the kind of "consensus" THEY say we should wait for ... will never occur!!! IT IS, INDEED, VERY MUCH LIKE THE TOBACCO CASE, twenty or thirty years ago!!!!]

Guru says: the issue is certainly NOT ... what we now can say has been "proved." The issue is: what is the WEIGHT of the evidence telling us?????

[The "weight of the evidence" is clearly the best way to look at this issue, at this time. I even heard (at San Antonio) some of the "community" using that expression. As one "old hand" said: most scientific questions initially "have" to be resolved on a "weight of the evidence" basis. There is very little in science, today, that has been "conclusively proved" -- in the manner "assumed" by the NAS (National Academy of Science) EMF study.]

The weight of the evidence is telling us that we have a really BIG problem ... and that it is getting bigger ... faster ... as we actually are "saturating" our environment in a "technological/sales frenzy" -- of cell phones (and their 140,000 retransmission antennas), space-based satellites, power lines, TV transmitters, not to mention all the electronics now in our homes and businesses, etc. [And P.S., there are some new military projects which dwarf past exposure levels.... The military of all nations has ALWAYS been a major source of EMF pollution.]

This frenzied growth in EMF exposure, which has no comparable historic parallel in terms of worldwide pollution, is giving us an "electronic smog" at more and more frequencies of the EMR spectrum ... and at higher and higher levels of transmission energy...... If this "stuff" would just emit a light blue "glow," we would all see that we are now living in a deep blue world!!!! And it is rapidly getting bluer.... And, contrary to about one-hundred years of scientific "assumptions," it IS biologically active!!!! And at least SOME of that biological activity is harmful to our health......

Industry (and the government???) want us to wait until we have determined what are the parameters of "health-affecting" and "non-health-affecting" exposure? They want us to wait until we can show "how" the damage is being done?? Worst of all, they want us to show that the human "cost" of NOT dealing with this problem is "worth" the economic "cost" that will be incurred in dealing with it??? (That's the old, "if you install safety measures in the mine you will drive up the cost of coal"... argument.) In short, they want us to wait until virtually all the details have been "filled in" before we try to do anything about this (now virtually certain) health menace......

In 1985, Dr. Robert O Becker, M.D., published his (now) classic study:
"THE BODY ELECTRIC, Electromagnetism and the Foundation of Life......"
ISBN --0-688-06971-1.

On page 275 of the most recent edition, you will find:

"The human species has changed its electromagnetic background more than any other aspect of the environment. For example, the density of radio waves around us is now 100 million or 200 million times the natural level reaching us from the sun. Nor is there any end in sight. When superconducting cables are introduced, they'll increase the field strength around power lines by a factor of ten or twenty....." [Written in 1985. We now have the "superconductors." -- guru].......//skip//...... "A few years ago most investigators believed that each wavelength ["frequency"] interacted mainly with objects comparable to it in size. This was a comforting notion that theoretically limited each frequency to one type of effect and predicted that really troublesome problems for humans would come from only one portion of the spectrum -- the FM band. Now, however, we know there are primary effects on all life forms at ELF frequencies, and in other parts of the spectrum there can be consequences for specific systems at 'any' level, from the subatomic to the entire biosphere as a unit......."

.......//skip//........

".......There's often no direct relationship between dose and effect, however; a low power density sometimes does things that a higher one does not....."

.....//skip//....

".... "In a sense, the entire population of the world is willy-nilly the subject of a giant experiment....."

Dr. Becker was (is) an M.D. who got "lost" and became a scientist, in the truest sense of the word. He pursued the truth even when it led to major confrontation with the "establishment" (medical, scientific or political). He was eventually "pushed out" of the research community. I believe he is now living in retirement in New York?????

When the final chapter of the EMF saga is written, Robert Becker's contribution will loom as large as any. I have previously stated that I see this subject as the most important science event since E = mc(squared). It is that because of the really 'huge' window of knowledge (and, hopefully, understanding) it opens into the vistas both of physics and biology -- and the 'relationship' of the two. Before Robert Becker, only the Russians (in "modern" times) had peered thru that window.

If you get hold of his book be sure you read about the 'Soviet' activities in EMF at least two decades before U.S. science even acknowledged its existence. As he tells you, they used that knowledge to direct a campaign of EMF signals against the employees of the U.S Embassy in Moscow. Two Ambassadors died of cancer, perhaps as a consequence of this Soviet EMF activity. More to the point, adverse health effects were also documented with regard to other employees as well. The health-effects data was "collected" (not very thoroughly) by the U.S. government, but much of that data has mysteriously disappeared........

It is my view that he should be seriously considered for the Nobel Prize for his pioneering work in the EMF field, though that was admittedly a "sideline" in his ground breaking, controversial career. The EMF saga is going to be so big and so important ... that it will produce more than one Nobel winner, I am sure......

Cheerio...

January 29, 1998
Roy Beavers (EMFguru)
rbeavers@llion.org


 Back to Top

Back