The BioInitiative Working Group, an international team of scientists and public health policy wonks, has released a report stating that daily exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF) is likely to be detrimental to health. The experts call into question the safety of existing public limits on EMFs from cell phones, power lines and other sources.
The debate over this issue has raged for years, with some studies finding correlation to the fields and some cancers, especially leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma, while others could find no link. Just weeks ago, a Tasmanian study reported that those who lived close to high-voltage power lines during childhood are up to five times more likely to develop cancer. For every year lived within 50 meters of a power line, risk of cancer was found to increase by seven percent.
Now, the BioInitiative Working Group announces that a summary estimate of all relevant studies shows an overall 20% increased risk of brain tumors with ten years of EMF use. But the risk increases to 200% for tumors on the same side of the brain as mainly used during cell phone calls. "Recent studies that do not report increased risk of brain tumors and acoustic neuromas have not looked at heavy users, use over ten years or longer, and do not look at the part of the brain which would reasonably have exposure to produce a tumor," says working group member and brain tumor specialist Dr. Lennart Hardell, MD, PhD, a professor at University Hospital in Orebro, Sweden.
The report's co-editor, Dr. David Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University of Albany, says, "This report stands as a wake-up call that long-term exposure to some kinds of EMF may cause serious health effects. Good public health planning is needed now to prevent cancers and neurological diseases linked to exposure to power lines and other sources of EMF. We need to educate people and our decision-makers that 'business as usual' is unacceptable."
Citing evidence that EMFs can cause DNA damage, disruption of normal cellular communication and metabolism, impairment of immune function, cardiac effects and changes in brainwave activity and sleep patterns, the experts accuse current U.S. and international safety standards of being too low. They call for a more biologically based assessment of acceptable fields.
In the meantime, what can concerned people do? It may be prudent to play it safe and try to limit EMFs on your own. Limit time on cell phones, and get a hands free device, which reduces the amount of radiation near the head. Don't stand next to working microwave ovens and don''t sleep surrounded by plugged-in electronics. Check out the report here.
Enter your city or zip code to get your local temperature and air quality and find local green food and recycling resources near you.