The Health Hazards of Electro-Magnetic Fields (EMF)

By Samuel Milham, Washington State Department of Health

Historical Evidence That Electrification Caused The 20th Century Epidemic of "Diseases of Civilization"

The slow spread of residential electrification in the US in the first half of the 20th century from urban to rural areas resulted by 1940 in two large populations; urban populations, with nearly complete electrification and rural populations exposed to varying levels of electrification depending on the progress of electrification in their state. It took until 1956 for US farms to reach urban and rural non-farm electrification levels. Both populations were covered by the US vital registration system. US vital statistics tabulations and census records for 1920-1960, and historical US vital statistics documents were examined. Residential electrification data was available in the US census of population for 1930, 1940 and 1950. Crude urban and rural death rates were calculated, and death rates by state were correlated with electrification rates by state for urban and rural areas for 1940 white resident deaths. Urban death rates were much higher than rural rates for cardiovascular diseases, malignant diseases, diabetes and suicide in 1940. Rural death rates were significantly correlated with level of residential electric service by state for most causes examined. I hypothesize that the 20th century epidemic of the so called diseases of civilization including cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes and suicide was caused by electrification not by lifestyle. A large proportion of these diseases may therefore be preventable. PMID:19748187

Most cancer in firefighters is due to radio-frequency radiation exposure not inhaled carcinogens.

Recent reviews and reports of cancer incidence and mortality in firefighters conclude that they are at an increased risk of a number of cancers. These include leukemia, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, male breast cancer, malignant melanoma, and cancers of the brain, stomach, colon, rectum, prostate, urinary bladder, testes, and thyroid. Firefighters are exposed to a long list of recognized or probable carcinogens in combustion products and the presumed route of exposure to these carcinogens is by inhalation. Curiously, respiratory system cancers and diseases are usually not increased in firefighters as they are in workers exposed to known inhaled carcinogens. The list of cancers with increased risk in firefighters strongly overlaps the list of cancers at increased risk in workers exposed to electromagnetic fields (EMF) and radiofrequency radiation (RFR). Firefighters have increased exposure to RFR in the course of their work, from the mobile two-way radio communications devices which they routinely use while fighting fires, and at times from firehouse and fire vehicle radio transmitters. I suggest that some of the increased cancer risk in firefighters is caused by RFR exposure, and is therefore preventable. The precautionary principle should be applied to reduce the risk of cancer in firefighters, and workman's compensation rules will necessarily need to be modified.

Increased mortality in amateur radio operators due to lymphatic and hematopoietic malignancies

To search for potentially carcinogenic effects of electromagnetic field exposures, the author conducted a population-based study of mortality in US amateur radio operators. Ascertainment of Washington State and California amateur radio operators (67,829 persons) was done through the 1984 US Federal Communications Commission Amateur Radio Station and/or Operator License file. A total of 2,485 deaths were located for the period from January 1, 1979 through December 31, 1984, in a population of amateur radio operators which accumulated 232,499 person-years at risk. The all-cause standardized mortality ratio (SMR) was 71, but a statistically significant increased mortality was seen for cancers of the other lymphatic tissues (SMR = 162), a rubric which includes multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin's lymphomas. The all-leukemia standardized mortality ratio was slightly, but nonsignificantly, elevated (SMR = 124). However, mortality due to acute myeloid leukemia was significantly elevated (SMR = 176). PMID:3422125

Historical evidence that residential electrification caused the emergence of the childhood leukemia peak

A peak in childhood leukemia, ages two through four, emerged de novo in the 1920s in the United Kingdom and slightly later in the United States (US). Electrification in US farm and rural areas lagged behind urban areas until 1956. In recent years, childhood leukemia has been associated with residential electromagnetic fields. During 1928-1932, in states with above 75% of residences served by electricity, leukemia mortality increased with age for single years 0-4, while states with electrification levels below 75% showed a decreasing trend with age (P= 0.009). During 1949-1951, all states showed a peak in leukemia mortality at ages 2-4. At ages 0-1, leukemia mortality was not related to electrification levels. At ages 2-4, there was a 24% (95% confidence interval (CI), 8%-41%) increase in leukemia mortality for a 10% increase in percent of homes served by electricity. The childhood leukemia peak of common acute lymphoblastic leukemia may be attributable to electrification. PMID:11359349

A cluster of male breast cancer in office workers

Three cases of male breast cancer were diagnosed among a small group of men who worked in a basement office of a multi-story office building. This office was adjacent to an electrical switchgear room which generated high magnetic fields in their work space. The risk of male breast cancer in this group was increased about 100-fold (observe three cases, expect 0.03 cases; P < 0.00001). Since 1991, 15 epidemiologic studies have associated male breast cancer with exposure to electromagnetic field. PMID:15202128

Magnetic fields from steel-belted radial tires: Implications for epidemiologic studies.

Magnetic fields emanate from radial tires due to the presence of reinforcing belts which are made of magnetized steel wire. When these tires spin, they generate alternating magnetic fields of extremely low frequency (ELF), usually below 20 Hz. The fundamental frequency of these fields is determined by tire rotation rate and has a sinusoidal waveform with a high harmonic content. The static field of radial tires can exceed 500 microT at the tread, and the tire-generated alternating fields can exceed 2.0 microT at seat level in the passenger compartment of vehicles. Degaussing the tires reduces both the static and alternating fields to low levels, but the fields increase gradually over time after degaussing. The tire-generated fields are below the frequencies detected by most of the magnetic field meters used in previous studies of power frequency magnetic field health effects. If these fields are biologically active, failure to detect them could compromise exposure assessments associated with epidemiologic studies. PMID:10495309

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease) is caused by electric currents applied to or induced in the body: it is an iatrogenic disease of athletes caused by use of electrotherapy devices.

Trans-cutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, commonly referred to as TENS, is application of electrical current through the skin for pain control. The unit is usually connected to the skin using two or more electrodes. Most battery-operated TENS units are able to modulate frequency, intensity and pulse width of the applied current. Electrical diathermy devices use short wave radio frequency radiation and microwaves for deep tissue heating. All these devices generate electric currents in tissue. A least a dozen US and Canadian professional football players have or have died of ALS. PMID:20189317

A new electromagnetic exposure metric: high frequency voltage transients associated with increased cancer incidence in teachers in a California school.

BACKGROUND: In 2003 the teachers at La Quinta, California middle school complained that they had more cancers than would be expected. A consultant for the school district denied that there was a problem.

OBJECTIVES: To investigate the cancer incidence in the teachers, and its cause.

METHOD: We conducted a retrospective study of cancer incidence in the teachers' cohort in relationship to the school's electrical environment.

RESULTS: Sixteen school teachers in a cohort of 137 teachers hired in 1988 through 2005 were diagnosed with 18 cancers. The observed to expected (O/E) risk ratio for all cancers was 2.78 (P = 0.000098), while the O/E risk ratio for malignant melanoma was 9.8 (P = 0.0008). Thyroid cancer had a risk ratio of 13.3 (P = 0.0098), and uterine cancer had a risk ratio of 9.2 (P = 0.019). Sixty Hertz magnetic fields showed no association with cancer incidence. A new exposure metric, high frequency voltage transients, did show a positive correlation to cancer incidence. A cohort cancer incidence analysis of the teacher population showed a positive trend (P = 7.1 x 10(-10)) of increasing cancer risk with increasing cumulative exposure to high frequency voltage transients on the classroom's electrical wiring measured with a Graham/Stetzer (G/S) meter. The attributable risk of cancer associated with this exposure was 64%. A single year of employment at this school increased a teacher's cancer risk by 21%.

CONCLUSION: The cancer incidence in the teachers at this school is unusually high and is strongly associated with high frequency voltage transients, which may be a universal carcinogen, similar to ionizing radiation. PMID:18512243

Cell Phone Radiation Breaks DNA Strands

Published in the July, 2010 Journal of Expermental Oncology, reproducible biological effects of low-intensive microwaves include, reactive oxygen species overproduction, heat shock proteins expression, DNA double helix damage, and cell death.

Epidemiological data reveals a significant increase in risk of development oftumors in chronic users, after 10 years of mobile phone use. It was detected a significant increase inbrain tumors (glioma, acoustic neuroma, meningioma), parotid gland tumor, seminoma in long-term users of mobile cell phones. Source: Risks of carcinogenesis from electromagnetic radiation of mobile telephony devices. PMID:20693976

Europe Issues Alert Over Harmful Cell Phone Radiation

Extremely low frequencies, power lines and high frequency waves used in radar, telecommunications, and mobile telephony, appear to have potentially harmful, non-thermal, biological effects on plants, insects, animals, and human cells when exposed to radiation levels that are below the official threshold values.

Radioactive ionizing radiation is recognised as a cause of brain cancer, however cases due to radioactivity rarely become apparent before 10 or 20 years of exposure.

Protection of Children

The Councel of Europe is recommending:

Ban on all mobile cell phones, DECT phones, WiFi, WLAN systems from classrooms and schools, as advocated by some regional authorities, medical associations and civil society organisations.

  • Develop education, environment and health targeted information aimed at teachers, parents and children to alert them to the specific risks of early, ill-considered, and prolonged use of cell phones and other devices emitting microwaves.
  • According to epidemiological and clinical studies, symptoms appearing after relay antennas were installed, and emittedbeams were intensified by raising the number, or the power of the antennas were:


    Sources: The potential dangers of electromagnetic fields and their effect on the environment reports on cell phone radiation legislation.

    Memory Resources

    A review of nutrients and botanicals in the integrative management of cognitive dysfunction. PMID:10383479