FMBR Editorial: March, 2016
Toward an Understanding of the Biological Effects of Microwave EMF
Jerry Gin, Ph.D.
As I discussed in Part 1, the current health standards for the biological effects of microwave electromagnetic fields (EMF) are based upon the heating effects of the radiation rather than the biological effects. Recent research has yielded a substantial body of data on changes in intracellular calcium in our bodies due to microwave EMF. This research data indicates why serious health problems can occur at levels much lower than the current world standards predict as safe. The Russian microwave EMF standards are more stringent than the US standards and are primarily based upon immunological changes in animals. The recent intercellular calcium research provides a much stronger basis for creating a new and more scientific safety standard for our cell phones, cell towers, baby monitors, Smart Meters, computers, tablets, radar, microwave ovens, etc. The following will describe the details behind this conclusion.
We all know that calcium is important to the health of the body because of its role in maintaining bones and teeth. The concentration of calcium in the blood must be maintained within fairly tight limits for health (8.8 to 10.4 mg/100 ml). Within cells calcium concentrations are tightly regulated and are generally about 10,000 times lower inside the cell than outside the cell. Calcium concentration is regulated by channels which are embedded in the membranes of cells; opening and closing of the channels are voltage dependent so they are called voltage-gated calcium channels (VGCCs). The pharmaceutical industry knows the importance of blocking these channels to reduce calcium influx into cells and have developed whole categories of drugs to block these channels (called calcium channel blockers). Some uses of these drugs are to decrease blood pressure in patients with hypertension, to alter heart rate, to prevent cerebral vasospasm, to reduce chest pain caused by angina pectoris, and to influence the biosynthesis of aldosterone which affects hypertension.
What is not generally understood is that if too much calcium enters a cell, a host of negative consequences can occur. For the past 12 years, my partners and I at Livionex, Inc. have been conducting research on what happens to cells when they are injured. Injury causes an influx of calcium into the cell, which triggers enzymatic reactions that either cause cell death (apoptosis) or the generation of inflammatory cytokines which produce inflammation. The inflammation causes pain and tissue damage.
Dr. Martin Pall, biochemist at Washington State University, and other scientists have shown that low level microwave EMF exposure can result in VGCC activation and elevated intracellular calcium. 2 4 5 In a recent review 2 5 and in two dozen studies, calcium channel blockers, which block voltage-gated calcium channels, also block the increased influx of calcium caused by EMFs. This suggests that activation of these channels is primarily responsible for the results noted in studies on the effects of EMFs. VGCCs normally open calcium channels for short periods, in the millisecond range; EMF activation can result in much longer open periods, resulting in significantly higher intracellular calcium influx.
The intracellular calcium activates a nitric oxide synthase enzyme that produces nitric oxide. At low physiological levels, nitric oxide leads to activation of enzymes that produce a therapeutic effect. However, nitric oxide, especially at higher sustained levels, leads to formation of peroxynitrite and results in oxidative stress (free radical formation).4
- Oxidative stress results in DNA breaks - contributes to cancer cell formation.
- Activation of matrix metalloproteases degrades the tight cell/cell junctures
and breakdown in the blood-brain barrier.
- DNA breaks of gamete precursor cells can result in a decrease in fertility and sperm count
as well as adverse effects on sperm morphology and function.
- Activation of kinases lead to apoptosis (cell death).
- Depressed melatonin levels leading to sleep disruption.
VGCCs are present in nearly every biological system in the human body; for example, in the immune, endocrine, nervous, and circulatory systems. EMFs can thus result in increases of allergies and inflammation, affect hormone regulation, brain function and heart rhythms.
Given that the scientific literature shows substantial biological effects of microwave EMFs, it seems clear to me that current national and international safety standards do not adequately address biological hazards. The current standards are based on the false assumption that the main effect of microwave EMFs is an increase in heat, and thus the standard of safety rests upon the measurement of the temperature increase of a liquid. Scientists observe biological effects at as low as 20 microwatts/kg. Is it then really safe to irradiate humans in the 2 watts/kg range (i.e., with 100,000 times stronger radiation)? The US standard for cell phones is 1.6 watts/kg. This standard fails to account for the non-thermal biological effect described in the substantial body of scientific papers, including the opening of VGCCs by EMFs and the resulting myriad of diseases it can cause.
The recommendations by Dr. Pall 2 and others include the implementation of new, biologically based, safety standards 6 and the lowering of exposures to EMFs by factors of 100 to 1000-fold. Biological standards recommended by Dr. Pall include measurement of nitrous oxide levels in cell culture sensitive to EMFs; biological tests such as cardiac, hormone, and neurological changes in animals in response to EMF; and whole animal studies looking at nitrous oxide levels in blood.
Dr. Pall's recommendations for lowering exposures by 100 to 1000-fold are as follows:
better shielding of computers and tablets, especially their bottoms; improved design of WiFi antennas -- exposure levels are 1000 to 10,000 times higher than needed; hard wiring of computers in schools; better shielding of cell phones and more use of headsets; lower signal strength of cordless phones (no need broadcast to 200 ft when 20 ft will do); removal of Smart Meters (short high intensity pulses are very damaging; VGCC activation continues long after pulse has ceased); finer grounded wire mesh over windows of microwave ovens can lessen exposure 100 fold. (Note: test your microwave oven shielding -- place your cell phone in microwave oven and see if signal can go through shielding; at home, I have 2 microwave ovens, in one, shielding was adequate and in the other, inadequate -- the phone rang.)