Heart palpitations and arrhythmias, difficulty sleeping or concentrating, anxiety, depression, tinnitus, vertigo, dizziness, indigestion, skin tingling or burning, and chronic pain: Just some of the relatively common complaints for RF-EMF overload. How do we confirm or rule-out exposure in our patients? READ ON.
First of all, there’s no avoiding EMFs.
Exposure sources to radio frequency and electromagnetic frequency (commonly abbreviated as RF-EMF) include: Cordless phones (DECT), mobile phone base stations, mobile phones themselves (GSM, GPRS, UMTS, LTE), fitbits and other wearables, smartphones, smartwatches, data cards for laptop and notebook computers, wireless LAN (Wi-Fi), Bluetooth, and wireless and powerline communication-based smart meters, as well as cell towers.
Since 2011, WHO/IARC classification of electromagnetic wireless radiation as a possible human carcinogen, physical effects from exposure to EMR have been well documented in over 25,000 scientific studies in the peer reviewed literature. These effects include: DNA damage, a growing list of cancers (glioma, meningioma, acoustic neuroma, parotid tumors, leukemia), cell phone contact-related breast cancer, neurological and psychiatric disorders including ADD/ADHD, autistic behavior, immune dysfunction and allergies, impacts on reproduction, infertility in both sexes, fetal brain development, thyroid conditions, joint and muscle pain, and digestive disorders.
Current exposure to human-generated electromagnetic fields have increased by 1,000,000,000,000-fold (that’s quintillion) over background levels at end of World War II. There is rapid movement in many developed countries to place small cell transmitting devices (5G) operating at higher frequencies (24e70 GHz) approximately every 300 meters along sidewalks in residential neighborhoods. This technology has already been installed and is in use in many metropolitan areas in the U.S. (see https://www.lifewire.com/5g-availability-us-4155914)
The difference between previous signal frequencies (1G, 2G, 3G, 4G) is that these signals used a one to five gigahertz frequency and 5G uses between 24 to 90 gigahertz frequency. According to Joel Moskowitz, PhD, professor at the Center for Family and Community Health,
School of Public Health at University of California, Berkeley, the increase in mini-cell towers across towns and cities is only part of the concern. Dr. Moskowitz says the lower frequency millimeter waves used in 5G could cause major skin, eye, and nervous system damage. (https://www.saferemr.com)
In September 2018 more than 200 scientists and doctors from 35 countries signed a declaration demanding a moratorium on the planned increase of cell antennas for 5G deployment in the European Union. Thus far, select countries and municipalities have stepped up and responded, including Rome, the Netherlands and Brussels.
What are the symptoms of EMF exposure?
In a questionnaire survey of Swedish participants in 2001 who reported specific EMF exposure-related problems- 58% suffered from sleep problems or disorders, 41% from headaches, 19% from anxiety, 18% from fatigue, and 16% had difficulty concentrating. The respondents attributed their symptoms to mobile phone base stations (74%), mobile phones (36%), cordless phones (29%), and high-voltage power lines (27%).
Is There Evidence for EMF Hypersensitivity?
The World Health Organization acknowledges electrohypersensitivity as an adverse health condition and characterizes it as “a syndrome of fatigue, chronic pain and impaired cognitive function.”
In the published peer-reviewed medical literature electrohypersensitivity is characterized by the progressive occurrence of neurologic symptoms including headache, tinnitus, reduced tolerance and increased sensitivity to normal sounds, numbness and tingling, fibromyalgia, autonomic nervous system dysfunction and reduced cognitive functions resulting in chronic insomnia, fatigue, emotional lability and depression.
In a Finnish study of those self-described as suffering from electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS), the most common symptoms were: feeling “stressed” (60%), sleep disorders (59%) and fatigue (57%). The sources that were most often reported to have triggered EHS were: personal computers (51%) and mobile phones (47%). For 76% of the participants the reduction or avoidance of electromagnetic fields (EMF) helped in their full or partial recovery.
David Carpenter MD, a U.S. physician who has published multiple articles on the effects of EMF exposure reported a group of healthy people that developed electrohypersensitivity after a brief, high-intensity microwave radiation exposure. Typical symptoms included chronic headaches, irritability, emotional lability, decreased libido, and memory problems which in some patients lasted for years.
Can EMF Exposure Cause Mast Cell Production?
In studies of facial skin samples of electrohypersensitive persons, there was a significant increase in mast cells in the upper dermis of the skin when they were exposed to EMF-RF from cathode ray tubes and in later studies with normal healthy volunteers in front of CRT monitors, including ordinary household television sets. (5)
Can EMF hypersensitivity be diagnosed through testing?
In France, Dr. Dominique Belpomme has published studies with EMF sensitive and multiple chemical sensitivity patients identifying characteristic lab markers in both. He reported that inflammation appears to be a key process in both those with electrohypersensitivity and multiple chemical sensitivity with histamine release is a major mediator of inflammation. He identified elevated blood histamine levels and nitrotyrosine (a marker of peroxynitrite and a damaged blood-brain barrier) in both groups. Circulating autoantibodies against O-myelin were detected in 23% of his study group, indicating EHS and MCS may be associated with an autoimmune response. He reported that the best diagnostic marker appeared to be a decreased 6-hydroxymelatonin sulfate/ creatinine ratio in urine for both patients with MCS and electrosensitivity.
What Resources Are Available to Reduce EMF Exposure?
The Environmental Health Trust (ehtrust.org) and Wireless Education (wirelesseducation.org) are both excellent science-based non-profit organizations that provide simple guidelines for reducing EMF exposure.
Is There Any Evidence to Indicate a Treatment Approach for EMF Sensitivity?
[DrKF—A thorough discussion of this essential area is beyond the scope of this blog; stay tuned for a follow-up piece in the coming months. But here are a couple of thoughts from Lyn.]
There is increasing evidence that EMF exposure has a major impact on the oxidative and nitrosative regulation capacity in affected individuals. This concept also may explain why the level of susceptibility to EMF can change and why the range of symptoms reported in the context of EMF exposures is so large. Based on published papers by the EU environmental medical associations “a treatment approach that minimizes the adverse effects of peroxynitrite – as has been increasingly used in the treatment of multisystem illnesses – works best”.
Evidence for antioxidants:
- Human trials have shown metabolic pro-oxidant/pro-inflammatory alterations in EMF sensitivity:
- decreased erythrocyte glutathione S-transferase (GST) activity,
- decreased reduced glutathione (GSH) levels,
- increased erythrocyte glutathione peroxidase (GPX) activity,
- an increased ratio of oxidized- CoQ10/total-CoQ10 in plasma,
- 10-fold increased risk associated with EMF sensitivity for the detoxifying enzymes glutathione S transferase haplotype (null) GSTT1 (null) GSTM1 variants.
- Tocopherols, carotenoids at low concentration levels, vitamin C, NAC, curcumin. resveratrol, and flavonoids have shown to interrupt this inflammatory cascade at various points.
- Belpomme D, Campagnac C, Irigaray P. Reliable disease biomarkers characterizing and identifying electrohypersensitivity and multiple chemical sensitivity as two etiopathogenic aspects of a unique pathological disorder. Reviews on Environmental Health, 2015;30(4):251-271.
- Belpomme D, Hardell L, Belyaev I, Burgio E, Carpenter D. Thermal and non-thermal health effects of low intensity non-ionizing radiation: An international perspective. Environmental Pollution 2018;242:643e658.
- Belyaev I, Dean A, Eger H, et al. EUROPAEM EMF Guideline 2016 for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of EMF-related health problems and illnesses. Rev Environ Health 2016;31(3):363-97.
- Hedendahl L, Carlberg M, Hardell L. Electromagnetic hypersensitivity – an increasing challenge to the medical profession. Rev Environ Health 2015;30(4):209-15.
- Johansson O, Gangi S, Liang Y, Yoshimura K, Jing C, et al. Cutaneous mast cells are altered in normal healthy volunteers sitting in front of ordinary TVs/PCs – results from open- eld provocation experiments. J Cutan Pathol 2001;28(10):513–9.
- Soderqvist R, Carlberg M, Hardell L. Biomarkers in volunteers exposed to mobile phone radiation. Toxicology Letters 2015;235:140-146.
- West JG, Kapoor NS, Liao SY, et al. Multifocal breast cancer in young women with prolonged contact between their breasts and their cellular phones. Case Rep Med. 2013;2013:354682.