Cell Phones: The Largest Biological Experiment Ever
2002, Gro Harlem Brundtland, then head of the World Health
Organization, told a Norwegian journalist that cell phones were banned
from her office in Geneva because she personally becomes ill if a cell
phone is brought within about four meters (13 feet) of her. Mrs.
Brundtland is a medical doctor and former Prime Minister of Norway. This sensational news, published March 9, 2002 in Dagbladet, was ignored by every other newspaper in the world.
The following week Michael Repacholi, her subordinate in charge of the
International EMF (electromagnetic field) Project, responded with a
public statement belittling his boss’s concerns. Five months later, for
reasons that many suspect were related to these circumstances, Mrs.
Brundtland announced she would step down from her leadership post at
the WHO after just one term.
Nothing could better illustrate our
collective schizophrenia when it comes to thinking about
electromagnetic radiation. We respond to those who are worried about
its dangers - hence the International EMF Project - but we ignore and
marginalize those, like Mrs. Brundtland, who have already succumbed to
a consultant on the health effects of wireless technology, I receive
calls that can be broadly divided into two main groups: those from
people who are merely worried, whom I will call A, and those from
people who are already sick, whom I will call B. I sometimes wish I
could arrange a large conference call and have the two groups talk to
each other - there needs to be more mutual understanding so that we are
all trying to solve the same problems. Caller A, worried, commonly asks
what kind of shield to buy for his cell phone or what kind of headset
to wear with it. Sometimes he wants to know what is a safe distance to
live from a cell tower. Caller B, sick, wants to know what kind of
shielding to put on her house, what kind of medical treatment to get,
or, increasingly often, what part of the country she could move to to
escape the radiation to save her life. The following is designed as a
sort of a primer: first, to help everybody get more or less on the same
page, and second, to clear up some of the confusions so that we can
make rational decisions toward a healthier world.
most basic fact about cell phones and cell towers is that they emit
microwave radiation; so do Wi-Fi (wireless Internet) antennas, wireless
computers, cordless (portable) phones and their base units, and all
other wireless devices. If it’s a communication device and it’s not
attached to the wall by a wire, it’s emitting radiation. Most Wi-Fi
systems and some cordless phones operate at the exact same frequency as
a microwave oven, while other devices use a different frequency. Wi-Fi
is always on and always radiating. The base units of most cordless
phones are always radiating, even when no one is using the phone. A
cell phone that is on but not in use is also radiating. And, needless
to say, cell towers are always radiating.
is this a problem, you might ask? Scientists usually divide the
electromagnetic spectrum into “ionizing” and “non-ionizing.” Ionizing
radiation, which includes x-rays and atomic radiation, causes cancer.
Non-ionizing radiation, which includes microwave radiation, is supposed
to be safe. This distinction always reminded me of the propaganda in
George Orwell’s Animal Farm: “Four legs good, two legs bad.”
“Non-ionizing good, ionizing bad” is as little to be trusted.
astronomer once quipped that if Neil Armstrong had taken a cell phone
to the Moon in 1969, it would have appeared to be the third most
powerful source of microwave radiation in the universe, next only to
the Sun and the Milky Way. He was right. Life evolved with negligible
levels of microwave radiation. An increasing number of scientists
speculate that our own cells, in fact, use the microwave spectrum to
communicate with one another, like children whispering in the dark, and
that cell phones, like jackhammers, interfere with their signaling. In
any case, it is a fact that we are all being bombarded, day in and day
out, whether we use a cell phone or not, by an amount of microwave
radiation that is some ten million times as strong as the average
natural background. And it is also a fact that most of this radiation
is due to technology that has been developed since the 1970s.
far as cell phones themselves are concerned, if you put one up to your
head you are damaging your brain in a number of different ways. First,
think of a microwave oven. A cell phone, like a microwave oven and
unlike a hot shower, heats you from the inside out, not from the
outside in. And there are no sensory nerve endings in the brain to warn
you of a rise in temperature because we did not evolve with microwave
radiation, and this never happens in nature. Worse, the structure of
the head and brain is so complex and non-uniform that “hot spots” are
produced, where heating can be tens or hundreds of times what it is
nearby. Hot spots can occur both close to the surface of the skull and
deep within the brain, and also on a molecular level.
phones are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission, and you
can find, in the packaging of most new phones, a number called the
Specific Absorption Rate, or SAR, which is supposed to indicate the
rate at which energy is absorbed by the brain from that particular
model. One problem, however, is the arbitrary assumption, upon which
the FCC’s regulations are based, that the brain can safely dissipate
added heat at a rate of up to 1 degree C per hour. Compounding this is
the scandalous procedure used to demonstrate compliance with these
limits and give each cell phone its SAR rating. The standard way to
measure SAR is on a “phantom” consisting, incredibly, of a homogenous
fluid encased in Plexiglas in the shape of a head. Presto, no hot
spots! But in reality, people who use cell phones for hours per day are
chronically heating places in their brain. The FCC’s safety standard,
by the way, was developed by electrical engineers, not doctors.
The Blood-Brain Barrier
second effect that I want to focus on, which has been proven in the
laboratory, should by itself have been enough to shut down this
industry and should be enough to scare away anyone from ever using a
cell phone again. I call it the “smoking gun” of cell phone
experiments. Like most biological effects of microwave radiation, this
has nothing to do with heating.
The brain is protected by tight
junctions between adjacent cells of capillary walls, the so-called
blood-brain barrier, which, like a border patrol, lets nutrients pass
through from the blood to the brain, but keeps toxic substances out.
Since 1988, researchers in the laboratory of a Swedish neurosurgeon,
Leif Salford, have been running variations on this simple experiment:
they expose young laboratory rats to either a cell phone or other
source of microwave radiation, and later they sacrifice the animals and
look for albumin in their brain tissue. Albumin is a protein that is a
normal component of blood but that does not normally cross the
blood-brain barrier. The presence of albumin in brain tissue is always
a sign that blood vessels have been damaged and that the brain has lost
some of its protection.
is what these researchers have found, consistently for 18 years:
Microwave radiation, at doses equal to a cell phone’s emissions, causes
albumin to be found in brain tissue. A one-time exposure to an ordinary
cell phone for just two minutes causes albumin to leak into the brain.
In one set of experiments, reducing the exposure level by a factor of
1,000 actually increased the damage to the blood-brain barrier, showing
that this is not a dose-response effect and that reducing the power
will not make wireless technology safer. And finally, in research
published in June 2003, a single two-hour exposure to a cell phone,
just once during its lifetime, permanently damaged the blood-brain
barrier and, on autopsy 50 days later, was found to have damaged or
destroyed up to 2 percent of an animal’s brain cells, including cells
in areas of the brain concerned with learning, memory and movement.1
Reducing the exposure level by a factor of 10 or 100, thereby
duplicating the effect of wearing a headset, moving a cell phone
further from your body, or standing next to somebody else’s phone, did
not appreciably change the results! Even at the lowest exposure, half
the animals had a moderate to high number of damaged neurons.
implications for us? Two minutes on a cell phone disrupts the
blood-brain barrier, two hours on a cell phone causes permanent brain
damage, and secondhand radiation may be almost as bad. The blood-brain
barrier is the same in a rat and a human being.
results caused enough of a commotion in Europe that in November 2003 a
conference was held, sponsored by the European Union, titled “The
Blood-Brain Barrier - Can It Be Influenced by RF [radio
frequency]-Field Interactions?” as if to reassure the public: “See, we
are doing something about this.” But, predictably, nothing was done
about it, as nothing has been done about it for 30 years.
Allan Frey, during the 1970s, was the first of many to demonstrate that
low-level microwave radiation damages the blood-brain barrier.2 Similar
mechanisms protect the eye (the blood-vitreous barrier) and the fetus
(the placental barrier), and the work of Frey and others indicates that
microwave radiation damages those barriers also.3 The implication: No pregnant woman should ever be using a
Dr. Salford is quite outspoken about his work. He has called the use of handheld cell
phones “the largest human biological experiment ever.” And he has
publicly warned that a whole generation of cell-phone-using teenagers
may suffer from mental deficits or Alzheimer’s disease by the time they
reach middle age.
phone users are not the only ones being injured, nor should we be
worried only about the brain. The following brief summary is distilled
from a vast scientific literature on the effects of radio waves (a
larger spectrum which includes microwaves), together with the
experiences of scientists and doctors all over the world with whom I am
Organs that have been shown to be especially
susceptible to radio waves include the lungs, nervous system, heart,
eyes, testes and thyroid gland. Diseases that have increased remarkably
in the last couple of decades, and that there is good reason to connect
with the massive increase in radiation in our environment, include
asthma, sleep disorders, anxiety disorders, attention deficit disorder,
autism, multiple sclerosis, ALS, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy,
fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, cataracts, hypothyroidism,
diabetes, malignant melanoma, testicular cancer, and heart attacks and
strokes in young people. Radiation from microwave towers has also been
associated with forest die-off, reproductive failure and population
decline in many species of birds, and ill health and birth deformities
in farm animals. The literature showing biological effects of microwave
radiation is truly enormous, running to tens of thousands of documents,
and I am amazed that industry spokespersons are getting away with
saying that wireless technology has been proved safe or - just as
ridiculous - that there is no evidence of harm.
have omitted one disease from the above list: the illness that Caller B
has, and that I have. A short history is in order here. In the 1950s
and 1960s workers who built, tested and repaired radar equipment came
down with this disease in large numbers. So did operators of industrial
microwave heaters and sealers. The Soviets named it, appropriately,
radio wave sickness, and studied it extensively. In the West its
existence was denied totally, but workers came down with it anyway.
Witness congressional hearings held in 1981, chaired by then
Representative Al Gore, on the health effects of radio-frequency
heaters and sealers, another episode in “See, we are doing something
about this,” while nothing is done.
with the mass proliferation of radio towers and personal transmitters,
the disease has spread like a plague into the general population.
Estimates of its prevalence range up to one-third of the population,
but it is rarely recognized for what it is until it has so disabled a
person that he or she can no longer participate in society. You may
recognize some of its common symptoms: insomnia, dizziness, nausea,
headaches, fatigue, memory loss, inability to concentrate, depression,
chest discomfort, ringing in the ears. Patients may also develop
medical problems such as chronic respiratory infections, heart
arrhythmias, sudden fluctuations in blood pressure, uncontrolled blood
sugar, dehydration, and even seizures and internal bleeding.
makes this disease so difficult to accept, and even more difficult to
cope with, is that no treatment is likely to succeed unless one can
also avoid exposure to its cause - and its cause is now everywhere. A
1998 survey by the California Department of Health Services indicated
that at that time 120,000 Californians - and by implication 1 million
Americans - were unable to work due to electromagnetic pollution.4 The
ranks of these so-called electrically sensitive are swelling in almost
every country in the world, marginalized, stigmatized and ignored. With
the level of radiation everywhere today, they almost never recover and
sometimes take their own lives.
are acting as a warning for all of us,” says Dr. Olle Johansson of
people with this illness. “It could be a major mistake to subject the
entire world’s population to whole-body irradiation, 24 hours a day.” A
neuroscientist at the famous Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Dr.
Johansson heads a research team that is documenting a significant and
permanent worsening of the public health that began precisely when the
second-generation, 1800 MHz cell phones were introduced into Sweden in
late l997.5,6 After a decade-long decline, the number of Swedish
workers on sick leave began to rise in late 1997 and more than doubled
during the next five years. During the same period of time, sales of
antidepressant drugs also doubled. The number of traffic accidents,
after declining for years, began to climb again in 1997. The number of
deaths from Alzheimer’s disease, after declining for several years,
rose sharply in 1999 and had nearly doubled by 2001. This two-year
delay is understandable when one considers that Alzheimer’s disease
requires some time to develop.
cell phones and cell towers are really deadly, have the radio and TV
towers that we have been living with for a century been safe? In 2002
Örjan Hallberg and Olle Johansson coauthored a paper titled “Cancer
Trends During the 20th Century,” which examined one aspect of that
question.7 They found, in the United States, Sweden and dozens of other
countries, that mortality rates for skin melanoma and for bladder,
prostate, colon, breast and lung cancers closely paralleled the degree
of public exposure to radio waves during the past hundred years. When
radio broadcasting increased in a given location, so did those forms of
cancer; when it decreased, so did those forms of cancer. And, a
sensational finding: country by country - and county by county in
Sweden - they found, statistically, that exposure to radio waves
appears to be as big a factor in causing lung cancer as cigarette
brings me to address a widespread misconception. The biggest difference
between the cell towers of today and the radio towers of the past is
not their safety, but their numbers. The number of ordinary radio
stations in the United States today is still less than 14,000. But cell
towers and Wi-Fi towers number in the hundreds of thousands, and cell
phones, wireless computers, cordless telephones and two-way radios
number in the hundreds of millions. Radar facilities and emergency
communication networks are also proliferating out of control. Since
1978, when the Environmental Protection Agency last surveyed the radio
frequency environment in the United States, the average urban dweller’s
exposure to radio waves has increased 1,000-fold, most of this increase
occurring in just the last nine years.8 In the same period of time,
radio pollution has spread from the cities to rest like a ubiquitous
fog over the entire planet.
vast human consequences of all this are being ignored. Since the late
1990s a whole new class of environmental refugees has been created
right here in the United States. We have more and more people, sick,
dying, seeking relief from our suffering, leaving our homes and our
livelihoods, living in cars, trailers and tents in remote places.
Unlike victims of hurricanes and earthquakes, we are not the subject of
any relief efforts. No one is donating money to help us, to buy us a
protected refuge; no one is volunteering to forego their cell phones,
their wireless computers and their cordless phones so that we can once
more be their neighbors and live among them.
The worried and the
sick have not yet opened their hearts to each other, but they are
asking questions. To answer caller A: No shield or headset will protect
you from your cell or portable phone. There is no safe distance from a
cell tower. If your cell phone or your wireless computer works where
you live, you are being irradiated 24 hours a day.
caller B: To effectively shield a house is difficult and rarely
successful. There are only a few doctors in the United States
attempting to treat radio wave sickness, and their success rate is poor
- because there are few places left on Earth where one can go to escape
this radiation and recover.
Yes, radiation comes down from
satellites, too; they are part of the problem, not the solution. There
is simply no way to make wireless technology safe.
has become both socially and economically dependent, in just one short
decade, upon a technology that is doing tremendous damage to the fabric
of our world. The more entrenched we let ourselves become in it, the
more difficult it will become to change our course. The time to
extricate ourselves, both individually and collectively - difficult
though it is already is - is now.
by Arthur Firstenberg
(original in Eldorado Sun)
http://www.newmedia explorer. org/sepp/ 2006/04/20/ mobile_and_ wireless_ largest_biologic al_experiment. htm
Leif G. Salford et al., “Nerve Cell Damage in Mammalian Brain After
Exposure to Microwaves from GSM Mobile Phones,” Environmental Health
Perspectives 111, no. 7 (2003): 881-883.
2. Allan H. Frey,
Sondra R. Feld and Barbara Frey, “Neural Function and Behavior,” Annals
of the New York Academy of Sciences 247 (1975): 433-439.
3. Allan H. Frey, “Evolution and Results
Biological Research with Low-Intensity Nonionizing Radiation,” in
Modern Bioelectricity, ed. Andrew A. Marino (New York: Dekker, 1988),
785-837, at 809-810.
4. California EMF Program, The Risk
Evaluation: An Evaluation of the Possible Risks From Electric and
Magnetic Fields (EMFs) From Power Lines, Internal Wiring, Electrical
Occupations and Appliances (2002), app. 3.
Örjan Hallberg and Olle Johansson, “1997 - A Curious Year in Sweden,”
European Journal of Cancer Prevention 13, no. 6 (2004): 535-538.
Örjan Hallberg and Olle Johansson, “Does GSM 1800 MHz Affect the Public
Health in Sweden?” in Proceedings of the 3rd International Workshop
“Biological Effects of EMFs,” Kos, Greece, October 4-8, 2004, 361-364.
7. Örjan Hallberg and Olle Johansson, “Cancer Trends During the 20th Century,”
Journal of Australian College of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine 21, no. 1 (2002): 3-8.