Electromagnetic Radiation: A Sanitary Risk
Toxicity is understood as the capacity of an agent to produce harmful effects on a living being when coming in contact with it. A toxin is any artificial or natural agent having toxicity. No substance can be considered non-toxic, since any substance or agent is capable of producing a toxic effect if a sufficient dose is administered. This is well depicted in Paracelsus’s renowned statement: “The dose makes the poison”.
Electromagnetic Fields as Toxins
All-frequency electromagnetic fields (EMF) constitute one of the most common and fastest-growing environmental influences causing increasing anxiety and speculation. Nowadays, all human settlements around the world are exposed to EMF to a higher or lower degree according to WHO, and as technology advances, the exposure level will continue to grow. This is why even a minor effect caused by the exposure to EMF could produce a great impact upon public health. It has been argued that the exposure to the magnetic field of the power grid frequencies (50/60 Hz), that is to say, ultra low frequency (ULF), could cause an increase in the infant cancer rates, as well as other harmful effects on health. These indicators mainly come from epidemiological studies in residential areas. Such studies point to the existence of an association between children’s exposure to these magnetic fields and the increase in leukemia risk.
Radio frequency fields (RF field) are very advantageously used in numerous applications in everyday life, such as radio and television broadcast and telecommunications; for instance, in mobile telephony and Wi-Fi. With the rapid increase in the usage of mobile phones by people of all ages, special attention has been given to problems associated with the exposure of our heads to the fields around the cell phone antennas. Besides, there is a persistent concern over the specific effects that pulsed radiofrequency and amplitude modulation fields may cause on our health.
As societies develop, owing to the increase in the use of certain technologies, a growing exposure to static electric and magnetic fields is taking place, particularly in industry, transportation, power transmission, etc. It has never been appropriately tested the possible effects of the static fields on our health; something required to do due to the rapid expansion of the systems using these fields for their functioning. In the last decades numerous scientific articles have been published concerning the biological effects of the high and low frequency electromagnetic fields. Thousands of scientific researches are available which clearly evidence that the national and international guidelines on the thermic effects over the human body—when radiation increases the body temperature—are totally inaccurate or impractical to protect public health.
As it is known, the present standards consider that the biological effect of the radiation is determined by the potency of the radiation absorbed by the body. To measure the thermic effects of radiation, a basic magnitude known as SAR (Specific Absorption Rate) is used. However, SAR only considers the quantity of transmitted energy plainly as thermic energy without taking into account other inherent aspects of radiation. According to lab experiments and epidemiological studies conducted, many of the electromagnetic field levels present in the environment or inside buildings are higher than what can be considered as safe for the health. The main effect of the high and low frequency electromagnetic fields, such as those emitted by mobile telephony and power grids, is not the warming up of the body tissues (thermic effect)—even though this can be produced under certain circumstances—but the non-thermic one produced by very low frequency fields, as those usually present in our environment.
The electromagnetic fields in the environment
It seems reasonable to think that if the electromagnetic radiations affect humans negatively, they must also affect animals and plants. In general, the biological reactions caused by pulsed microwaves are detected in experimental series after a few minutes with radiation intensities well under the exposure limits considered safe by the governments. Several international scientists as well as the German Medical Association have made a warning that the rates recommended on the report issued by the Salzburg Resolution on Mobile Telecommunication of the year 2000 must not be exceeded.
Due to these recommendations and the results of research, taking action is imperative. Even without being against technology, we should critically analyse each technological innovation. Concerning biological risks, careful action and minimising the noxious effects are required; effects which likewise comprehend the plant kingdom. Initially it was only thought that the cause for the death of forests was the electromagnetic waves of radars, TV stations, mobile telephony, and radio link control. Proofs are presently mounting in this respect, but for the official science, the acid rain in the only admitted cause. In those forests preserving their health, the concentration of atmospheric pollution is quite always the same as in the affected ones. Frequently trees and forests are found not to die even though they grow in a contaminated area.
In an experiment, professor Günter Käs irradiated fir samplings with FM signals. The irradiated firs grew more slowly than the unirradiated ones. The scientist theorized that this phenomenon was due to the fact that the spikes and leaves act like tiny and sensitive receptive antennae reacting, even, to the feeblest high-frequency radiation. But not only the plant kingdom is subject to the influence of the huge wireless technological display of our “modern society”. The artificial electromagnetic fields also affect cetaceans which use the Earth’s magnetic fields to orient themselves. It is the radars’ radio frequency of submarines and other vessels which can interfere with the orientation system of these animals which finally may end stranded on the shores from not knowing where they actually are.
The unexplainable massive deaths of certain bird species, such as the sparrow, hint at the electromagnetic pollution as being probably responsible—be it by itself or as combined with other factors—for the decrease of various species in some European cities during the last years.
The mysterious fall in the number of bees all around the world has not escaped the interest of the scientific community. In numerous researches, the impact of the electromagnetic radiations is pointed to as its cause. Such is the case with Ferdinand Ruzicka, researcher of the University of Doz (Austria) and an amateur beekeeper who explains how the problem with his bees started with the installation of several telephony antennas in the nearness of his hives.
Ruzicka noticed stress symptoms as well as the collapse of his bee colonies when the antennas began to transmit. Other beekeepers also noticed the same. At first, a great unrest and a heightened swarm instinct took over. On the other hand, various observers have demonstrated the restlessness and aggressive behaviour shown by bees when in the presence of the electromagnetic radiations coming from the high-voltage power grids.
In large cities, we live so detached from nature, surrounded by buildings and cars, and disconnected from the natural environment that we have forgotten that our existence depends on the relation we have with it. A toxic or a placebo, the irresponsible technological expansion of our civilization derives in the massive proliferation of electromagnetic radiations that we cannot see or hear, yet we can feel. And not only us the human beings, millions of plant and animal species depend on our common sense and, in silence, beg us for an urgent, suitable action.
José Manuel López-Menchero González
“School Without Wi-Fi” (“Escuela Sin Wifi”) Campaign Coordinator