Tuesday, June 24, 2008

EMF Hazards

EMF is, technically speaking, an acronym for Electro-Magnetic Field(s). A reference to "EMF Hazards" presupposes that electromagnetic fields from sources ranging from high power lines and/or microwave ovens to bedside lamps and/or electrically heated water beds, may constitute a health hazard. Mainstream science denies there is any problem here -- despite the accepted evidence that during the Cold War the Russians were directing intense Microwaves toward the United States Embassy in Moscow, and thereby causing considerable distress on the part of the employees and officials in the building.
There is also considerable evidence in numerous scientific studies that support the claim that EMF from high power electrical transmission lines do in fact cause health effects on humans ranging from feelings of anxiety and headaches to greatly increased incidences of leukemia in and about transmission line towers and overhead lines. The fact mainstream science fails to accept such "proof" is likely due almost entirely to Corporate Politics and the very understandable reluctance on the part of the electrical power generating industry to admit responsibility for decades of inflicting pain, suffering and death on unsuspecting victims. Such an admission would result in law suits which would make the story (and movie) of Erin Brockevich pale in comparison.
Roy Beavers, , a self-styled "EMF guru", has provided an extensive report on what he entitles, The Fundamental Dangers of EMF. Written in 1998, the report followed a January meeting of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), whose agenda was a discussion of the EMF rapid review process. According to Mr. Beavers, "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 a working level. The dishonesties begin to appear when the work of 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!!!)."
The EMF problem includes everything from cellular telephone antennas to transmission and/or distribution electrical power lines, all of which cause health problems including: breast cancer, childhood leukemia, "reproductive hormone" (prostate cancer), Alzheimer’s and/or Parkinson’s disease (the latter which may have the strongest EMF associations).
Beavers writes that, "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 all right 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. 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."
It seems clear that EMF causes many kinds of adverse health conditions. Furthermore, it can cause problems via many different avenues of biological interactions. Even if the damage is limited to impacting the immune or hormone systems, the overall potential health impact is enormous -- particularly in light of the potentially hundreds of millions of people who are being exposed to rapidly increasing amounts of EMF.
"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 then 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!"
Two major challenges to proving the existence of EMF Hazards involve the determination of risk factors, i.e. how likely is it that the power lines, etceteras are caused a statistically significant variation in the health of individuals bathed by the flood of EMF energy, and two, precisely where and how is the EMF acting from a biological point of view in order to cause the health problems.
Roy Beavers does a good job of discussing both of these challenges, and his material is included herein as received in 1998. For more update information, visit his website, or contact him directly at .
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, i.e., 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 this 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:
(1) 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!!!
(2) 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 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, a group of about ten epidemiologists was asked specifically about this aspect. 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 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) 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 estrogen, the prostate and seratonin). These internal communication or control systems of the body, if even slightly diminished or disrupted, can have enormous albeit 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.
Recently, DNA damage has also been identified as a potential problem area as a result of both RF and ELF exposure. DNA damage 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 described above is not reassuring -- particularly in terms of its public health impact, the public-health information that is not being conveyed to the public, the 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.

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