Whoopee! I finally got some feedback that people actually read some of the stuff I write. I received several great comments about a previous post titled: Electromagnetic Fields Don’t Exist. I’m not sure they liked what I had to say, but most were nice about it. I apparently excited some nerves. That happens when they’re exposed to electromagnetic radiation.
I’m using this post to respond to those comments and I think everyone will learn from it. First, let me start out by saying that this is a blog, not an IEEE-peer reviewed technical debate, so I normally limit the number of words in a post. Otherwise, I end up with something like this one (1200 words). The post about RF causing asthma in kids was intended to get reader attention, but it was not intended to be alarmist. I wanted to flag the asthma issue and get people thinking about it. I can’t help it if that’s not the way they think or what they want to believe.
Everybody’s different. Just because I choose to err on the side of caution and exercise RF prudent avoidance doesn’t mean that the rest of the people have to. People don’t need to worry about me attempting to get some law passed that prevents them from carrying and using their hand-held transceiver or cellphone, or prevents them from smoking, or from drinking the large cups of sugar-laden soft drinks. I believe in personal responsibility … and as far as I’m concerned, everyone is on their own.
I tend to apply Socrates Test of Three to the things that I write, i.e. Truth, Goodness, and Usefulness. I don’t know why I was accused of being an alarmist or a fear monger. The commenters could have simply said he’s got to be kidding, do a search, and find this stuff is true all on their own . . . and they should have! The research is out there. Just keep in mind that sometimes opinions and theories get presented as fact. Even though I do my best not to lead my readers astray, it is still a good practice to verify statements that seem contrary to what has been learned. It could be that things have changed since the learning process occurred.
If I wanted to be an alarmist, I could have cited a number of alarming studies such as “Long-Term Exposure to Microwave Radiation Provokes Cancer Growth: Evidences from Radars and Mobile Communication Systems.” A lot of scary new RADHAZ information is now coming out from the National Institutes of Health.
The asthma study was published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. Here’s a link to the study, along with two other articles about it.
Maternal Exposure to Magnetic Fields During Pregnancy in Relation to the Risk of Asthma in Offspring (Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine)
Can Exposure to Electromagnetic Fields Cause Asthma? (All Children’s Hospital, St. Petersburg, Fla.)
Electromagnetic Fields Linked to Asthma in Kids (WebMD)
The fact that some cells can have an athermal response to electrical current has been known since about 1771, when Galvani discovered that a frog’s legs would jerk under the influence of static electricity. It wasn’t until about the end of WWII that the RF community started researching the effects of electromagnetic energy and since then, there have been lots of significant information that associates electromagnetic energy with health problems, many of which are caused by very low level RF sources. Recently, i.e. within the last ten years or so, there have been a large number of papers that indicate that EM energy can damage cells in a manner similar to ionizing radiation, but at levels well below the present government safety standard. See the post titled: I Can’t Believe I Just Cooked My Pinna.
In spite of the big gaps in our knowledge base, we now know that some cells such as neurons and muscles are more sensitive than some of the others; we know that cell communication is to-some-extent non-linear, which makes them able to detect various forms of modulation; and we also know that some cells experience retarded growth and some, more rapid growth (especially plant cells), when exposed to electromagnetic energy. The effects such as altering circadian rhythms, hearing microwave pulses, seeing light flashes from optic nerve stimulation, cataracts, and sterility may or may not be athermal, but they are a function of the amplitude, waveform, modulation and frequency, so the effects are more than just energy density.
I have personally witnessed migrating flocks of geese being scattered during flight when the AN/FSS-7 microwave radar system I was evaluating illuminated a flock during scanning. After the beam passed, the geese would regroup, only to scatter again when the antenna returned to their bearing position. I believe that their time of exposure was so brief that it was not a thermal effect.
Here are several other observations about electromagnetic energy that pertain to the comments. A lot can be learned by researching these.
I use one heaping teaspoon of Coffee-Mate to achieve the creamy color and taste I like in my coffee, and if I reheat it in the pot, the color, taste and amount of Coffee-Mate doesn’t change. But, if I reheat it using the microwave, the taste is different, it takes more Coffee-Mate to flavor it, and I am not able to achieve the same color. This is an easy enough experiment. Try it at home.
Light from the sun is electromagnetic energy. In a manner similar to the relationship between the electric and magnetic fields from a dipole, there is an inverse relationship between wavelength and photon energy. UV light which is primarily responsible for sunburn is a high energy electromagnetic wave with some really interesting particle-like properties based on its extremely short wavelength. The UV wavelengths are roughly the same as the dimensions of atoms and molecules.
Instead of experiencing whole body displacement current, which happens at the lower frequencies where the body acts as an antenna, the UV interaction with the skin is more like being immersed in a steady stream of energy particles. Each molecule acts like an independent antenna and so the coupling effect is entirely different than if the whole body acts like a single dipole. The distinction is somewhat analogous to the difference between AC and DC.
Readers that are into signal analysis will appreciate the fact that biologists at Tufts University have discovered that potential cancer cells have a unique bioelectric signature, and they have shown that by changing the bioelectric code and hyperpolarizing tumor cells they can suppress abnormal cell growth. Since Murphy is the evil one in the EMC community, I would suspect that an inverse could happen at any time and cause abnormal cell growth.
Regarding blood warming problems associated with microwaves see: Rapid In-Line Blood Warming Using Microwave Energy: Preliminary Studies from the Department of Surgery, New England Medical Center, Boston, MA.
Also, check out this Penn State University Department of Electrical Engineering paper discussing microwave DNA covalent bond breakage without invoking the energy levels of ionizing radiation on exhibit.
Ah, those electromagnetic fields … we can’t live with them and we can’t live without them. But, I can guarantee that most of us would not live 120 years without them because we need the energy from the sun to warm the planet, create greenhouse gases and support the growth of plant life.
Thanks for the comments! Don’t get caught up in wishful thinking!
"…they have shown that by changing the bioelectric code and hyperpolarizing tumor cells…"
Uhh, what? Hyperpolarizing? Any explanation as to what this means? The same with bioelectric code?
Sounds like a collection of National Enquirer pseudoscientific made-up buzzwords to me.
I have often wondered what the effects are on the human body, for exposure to the near-field output of an antenna. Years ago a company designed a position/location system using a 'poorly designed' antenna, that deliberately kept the E & H fields spacially separated for as long a distance as possible, in order to measure how far the receiver was from the antenna. In the distance limit, the EM wave has fully balanced/phased electric and magnetic components. I can't help but wonder what happens on exposure for those individuals that are routinely in the near-field zone.
Having read the noted articles I am unimpressed. The asthma study had a small sample size and even the authors stated that their results would have to be validated by further studies. In the past many individual studies have raised the alarm about the dangers of EM fields only to be debunked in larger studies. I recall the panic that cell phones caused brain cancer only to be debunked on further investigation. The authors of the asthma study say that the women were subjected to high level magnetic fields. I could not find what those levels were but they stated that a milligauss field would cause a significant increase in asthma rates, since the earth's field is 500 times higher it is hard to believe that increasing the frequency from 0 to 40 to 800 Hz would have such a drastic effect. MRI machines produce fields that are ten million times greater than one milliguass. If magnetic fields are so dangerous people should be dropping like flies when they enter an MRI machine. Perhaps EM fields are really good for us. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) produces 10 to 100 gauss pulsed magnetic fields deep inside the brain and is used to treat depression. Maybe if we all are exposed to much higher EM fields we all will live to 120.