Radiation Health Effects

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You are invited to review the below article regarding electromagnetic radiation health effects and dangers. Additional updates, posts and Q&A can be found in the Forum section of this site.

 

 

Electromagneric Radiation ealth Effects

 

Mobile phone use has increased with extraordinary rapidity, and is now nearly universal in some countries, with over three billion subscribers worldwide. The rise in use has generated concerns about safety, particularly potential cancer risk.

There are many published reports in the scientific literature concerning possible biological effects resulting from animal or human exposure to RF energy.

  

 

Overview

 

Definition

A biological effect occurs when a change can be measured in a biological system after the introduction of some type of stimuli. A biological effect becomes a safety hazard when it "causes detectable impairment of the health of the individual or of his or her offspring" [2].

 

RF Thermal effects

Biological effects that result from heating of tissue by RF energy are often referred to as "thermal" effects. It has been known for many years that exposure to high levels of RF radiation can be harmful due to the ability of RF energy to heat biological tissue rapidly.

This is the principle by which microwave ovens cook food, and exposure to very high RF power densities, i.e., on the order of 100 mW/cm2 or more, can clearly result in heating of biological tissue and an increase in body temperature.  Tissue damage in humans could occur during exposure to high RF levels because of the body’s inability to cope with or dissipate the excessive heat that could be generated.  Under certain conditions, exposure to RF energy at power density levels of 1-10 mW/cm2 and above can result in measurable heating of biological tissue (but not necessarily tissue damage).  The extent of this heating would depend on several factors including radiation frequency; size, shape, and orientation of the exposed object; duration of exposure; environmental conditions; and efficiency of heat dissipation.

Two areas of the body, the eyes and the testes, are known to be particularly vulnerable to heating by RF energy because of the relative lack of available blood flow to dissipate the excessive heat load (blood circulation is one of the body’s major mechanisms for coping with excessive heat).  Laboratory experiments have shown that short-term exposure (e.g., 30 minutes to one hour) to very high levels of RF radiation (100-200 mW/cm2) can cause cataracts in rabbits.  Temporary sterility, caused by such effects as changes in sperm count and in sperm motility, is possible after exposure of the testes to high- level RF radiation (or to other forms of energy that produce comparable increases in temperature).

 

RF “non-thermal” effects

Certain biological effects reported after exposure of animals ("in vivo") and animal tissue ("in vitro") to relatively low levels of RF radiation.  These reported effects have included certain changes in the immune system, neurological effects, behavioral effects, evidence for a link between microwave exposure and the action of certain drugs and compounds, a "calcium efflux" effect in brain tissue (exposed under very specific conditions), and effects on DNA.

Also some studies on mobile phone use and the risks of certain brain tumors, for at least 10 years since first exposure, found a more than twofold risk increase having glioma.

 

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Facts

 
  • Nearly all of the mobile phone emitted energy (97-99%) is absorbed in the brain hemisphere on the side where the phone is used, mainly (50-60%) in the temporal lobe.
  • Most types of cancer occur many years, or even decades, after initial exposure to known carcinogens. In some cases detectable elevations in risk occur 10-14 years after first exposure (Walker 1984).
  • For slow-growing tumors such as meningioma and acoustic neuroma, as well as for glioma among long-term users, the absence of association reported thus far is less conclusive because the observation period has been too short (less than 10 years).
  • Some glioma (tumor of the brain) studies show appreciably elevated risks among mobile phone users – twofold and threefold risk increase [4-17].
  • Exposure to high levels of RF radiation can be harmful due to the ability of RF energy to heat biological tissue rapidly.
  • Two areas of the body, the eyes and the testes, are known to be particularly vulnerable to heating by RF energy because of the relative lack of available blood flow to dissipate the excessive heat load.
  • Laboratory experiments have shown that short-term exposure (e.g., 30 minutes to one hour) to very high levels of RF radiation (100-200 mW/cm2) can cause cataracts in rabbits.
  • Temporary sterility, caused by heating effects as changes in sperm count and in sperm motility, is possible after exposure of the testes to high- level RF radiation.
  • Certain biological effects reported after exposure of animals ("in vivo") and animal tissue ("in vitro") to relatively low levels of RF radiation including: certain changes in the immune system, neurological effects, behavioral effects, evidence for a link between microwave exposure and the action of certain drugs and compounds, a "calcium efflux" effect in brain tissue (exposed under very specific conditions), and effects on DNA.

 

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In the news

 

“Long-term use of mobile phones ‘may be linked to cancer’

…A preliminary breakdown of the results found a “significantly increase risk” of some brain tumors “related to the use of mobile phones for a period of 10 years or more” in some studies.
(Content taken from The Daily Telegraph, by M. Beckford  and R. Winnet, 24 Oct 2009)

Link

 

  

“Mobile phone use raises children’s risk of brain cancer fivefold

Alarming new research from Sweden of the effects of radiation raises fears that today’s youngsters face an epidemic of the disease in later life.
(Content taken from The Independent, by G. Lean, 21 Sep 2008)

Link

 

 

“Warning: Using a mobile phone while pregnant can seriously damage your baby

Study of 13,000 children exposes link between use of handsets and later behavioral problems
Women who use mobile phones when pregnant are more likely to give birth to children with behavioral problems, according to authoritative research.

(Content taken from The Independent, by G. Lean, 18 May 2008)

 Link

 

 

“'Cancer link' to heavy mobile use

Heavy mobile phone use may be linked to an increased risk of cancer of the salivary gland, a study suggests…Those who had used the phone against one side of the head for several hours a day were 50% more likely to have developed a salivary gland tumor.

(Content taken from BBC NEWS, 18 February 2008)

 Link

 

 

“Mobiles linked to disturbed sleep

Using a mobile phone before going to bed could stop you getting a decent night's sleep, research suggests. The study, funded by mobile phone companies, suggests radiation from the handset can cause insomnia, headaches and confusion. It may also cut our amount of deep sleep - interfering with the body's ability to refresh itself.

(Content taken from BBC NEWS, 21 January 2008)

 Link

 

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Scientific Publications and Studies

 

Results for studies on mobile phone use and the risks of certain brain tumors including [1]

  • Results of studies on mobile phone use and risk of glioma
  • Results of studies on mobile phone use and risk of meningioma
  • Results of studies on mobile phone use and risk of acoustic neuroma
  • Results of studies on mobile phone use and risk of meningioma
  • Results of studies on mobile phone use and risk of salivary gland tumors

Note: In the above studies results OR indicates odds ratio which is defined as the ratio of the odds of an event occurring in one group to the odds of it occurring in another group, or to a sample-based estimate of that ratio. These groups might be men and women, an experimental group and a control group, or any other dichotomous classification. If the probabilities of the event in each of the groups are p (first group) and q (second group), then the odds ratio is:

odds_ratio_equation

 

To put things more simple if OR > 1 there is linkage/increase-risk, for example if OR=2 than the risk is twofold, if OR=3 the risk is fivefold, etc.

 

A comprehensive review of the scientific evidence on dosimetry, biological effects, epidemiological observations, and health consequences concerning exposure to high frequency electromagnetic fields (100 kHz to 300 GHz), can be found in recent publication of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection organization (ICNIRP): Exposure to high frequency electromagnetic fields, biological effects and health consequences (100 kHz-300 GHz).
The publication addresses the current (as of 2009) scientific evidence concerning exposure to high frequency electromagnetic fields (EMF) and the resulting consequences for health.

Link | Download

 
 

References

 

[1]    International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), " Exposure to high frequency electromagnetic fields, biological effects and health consequences (100 kHz-300 GHz)”, EPIDEMIOLOGIC EVIDENCE ON MOBILE PHONES AND TUMOR RISK: A REVIEW.ICNIRP 16/2009.

[2]    International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), "Guidelines for Limiting Exposure to Time-varying Electric, Magnetic, and Electromagnetic Fields (Up to 300 GHz)," Health Physics 74: 494-520 (1998).

[3]    Federal Communication Commission (FCC), Office of Engineering and Technology, “Questions and Answers about Biological Effects and Potential Hazards of Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields”. OET BULLETIN 56, Fourth Edition, August 1999. 

[4]    Hardell L, Nasman A, Pahlson A, Hallquist A, Hansson Mild K. Use of cellular telephones and the risk for brain tumours: A case-control study. Int J Oncol 15(1):113-6; 1999. 

[5]    Hardell L, Mild KH, Pahlson A, Hallquist A. Ionizing radiation, cellular telephones and the risk for brain tumours. Eur J Cancer Prev 10(6):523-9; 2001. 

[6]    Hardell L, Hallquist A, Mild KH, Carlberg M, Pahlson A, Lilja A. Cellular and cordless telephones and the risk for brain tumours. Eur J Cancer Prev 11(4):377-86; 2002a.

[7]    Hardell L, Mild KH, Carlberg M. Case-control study on the use of cellular and cordless phones and the risk for malignant brain tumours. Int J Radiat Biol 78(10):931-6; 2002b. 

[8]    Hardell L, Hallquist A, Hansson Mild K, Carlberg M, Gertzen H, Schildt EB, Dahlqvist A. No association between the use of cellular or cordless telephones and salivary gland tumours. Occup Environ Med 61(8):675-9; 2004. 

[9]    Hardell L, Carlberg M, Hansson Mild K. Case-control study on cellular and cordless telephones and the risk for acoustic  neuroma  or  meningioma  in  patients  diagnosed  2000-2003.  Neuroepidemiology  25(3):120-8; 2005a. 

[10]Hardell L, Eriksson M, Carlberg M, Sundstrom C, Mild KH. Use of cellular or cordless telephones and the risk for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 78(8):625-32; 2005b. 

[11] Hardell L, Carlberg M, Mild KH. Case-control study of the association between the use of cellular and  cordless telephones and malignant brain tumors diagnosed during 2000-2003. Environ Res 100(2):232-41; 2006a.
[12] Hardell L, Carlberg M, Hansson Mild K. Pooled analysis of two case-control studies on use of cellular and cordless telephones and the risk for malignant brain tumours diagnosed in 1997-2003. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 79(8):630-9; 2006b. 

[13] Hardell L, Carlberg M, Hansson Mild K. Pooled analysis of two case-control studies on the use of cellular  and cordless  telephones  and  the  risk  of  benign  brain  tumours  diagnosed  during  1997-2003.  Int  J  Oncol 28(2):509-18; 2006c. 

[14]Hardell  L, Carlberg  M, Ohlson  CG,  Westberg  H, Eriksson  M, Hansson  Mild K. Use  of cellular  and  cordless telephones and risk of testicular cancer. Int J Androl 30(2):115-22; 2007. 

[15]Schuz J, Bohler E, Berg G, Schlehofer B, Hettinger I, Schlaefer K, Wahrendorf J, Kunna-Grass K, Blettner  M. Cellular  phones,  cordless  phones,  and  the  risks  of  glioma  and  meningioma (Interphone  study  group, Germany). Am J Epidemiol 163(6):512-520; 2006a.

[16]Schuz J, Jacobsen R, Olsen JH, Boice JD, Jr., McLaughlin JK, Johansen C. Cellular telephone use and cancer risk: update of a nationwide Danish cohort. J Natl Cancer Inst 98(23):1707-1713; 2006b. 

[17]Schuz J, Bohler E, Schlehofer B, Berg G, Schlaefer K, Hettinger I, Kunna-Grass K, Wahrendorf J, Blettner  M. Radiofrequency electromagnetic fields emitted from base stations of DECT cordless phones and the risk of glioma and meningioma (Interphone Study Group, Germany). Radiat Res 166(1 Pt 1):116-9; 2006c.

 

 

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