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Update: 17 February 2018

EMFs and Human Health

Authors: Amy L. Dean, DO, William J. Rea, MD, Cyril W. Smith, PhD, Alvis L. Barrier, MD

The American Academy of Environmental Medicine is an international association of physicians and other professionals interested in the clinical aspects of humans and their environment. The AAEM provides research and education in the recognition, treatment and prevention of illnesses induced by exposures to biological and chemical agents encountered in air, food and water.

For over 50 years, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) has been studying and treating the effects of the environment on human health. In the last 20 years, our physicians began seeing patients who reported that electric power lines, televisions and other electrical devices caused a wide variety of symptoms. By the mid 1990's, it became clear that patients were adversely affected by electromagnetic fields and becoming more electrically sensitive.


  1. Recent Increase in EMF Related Illnesses - EMF Effects on Human Health
  2. Interaction between Electromagnetic Fields and Living Matter
  3. Measuring EMF Exposure
  4. Managing EMF Stress with hTMA
  5. Resources

Recent Increase in EMF Related Illnesses - EMF Effects on Human Health

In the last five years with the advent of wireless devices, there has been a massive increase in radiofrequency (RF) exposure from wireless devices as well as reports of hypersensitivity and diseases related to electromagnetic field and RF exposure. Multiple studies correlate RF exposure with diseases such as cancer, neurological disease, reproductive disorders, immune dysfunction, and electromagnetic hypersensitivity.

em spectrum

The electromagnetic wave spectrum is divided into ionizing radiation such as ultraviolet and X-rays and non-ionizing radiation such as radiofrequency (RF), which includes WiFi, cell phones, and Smart Meter wireless communication. It has long been recognized that ionizing radiation can have a negative impact on health. However, the effects of non-ionizing radiation on human health recently have been seen. Discussions and research of non-ionizing radiation effects centers around thermal and non-thermal effects. According to the FCC and other regulatory agencies, only thermal effects are relevant regarding health implications and consequently, exposure limits are based on thermal effects only.1

While it was practical to regulate thermal bioeffects, it was also stated that non-thermal effects are not well understood and no conclusive scientific evidence points to non-thermal based negative health effects.1 Further arguments are made with respect to RF exposure from WiFi, cell towers and smart meters that due to distance, exposure to these wavelengths are negligible.2 However, many in vitro, in vivo and epidemiological studies demonstrate that significant harmful biological effects occur from non-thermal RF exposure and satisfy Hill's criteria of causality.3 Genetic damage, reproductive defects, cancer, neurological degeneration and nervous system dysfunction, immune system dysfunction, cognitive effects, protein and peptide damage, kidney damage, and developmental effects have all been reported in the peer-reviewed scientific literature.

Genotoxic Effects from RF Exposure

Genotoxic effects from RF exposure, including studies of non-thermal levels of exposure, consistently and specifically show chromosomal instability, altered gene expression, gene mutations, DNA fragmentation and DNA structural breaks.4 - 11 A statistically significant dose response effect was demonstrated by Maschevich et al. , who reported a linear increase in aneuploidy as a function of the Specific Absorption Rate(SAR) of RF exposure.11 Genotoxic effects are documented to occur in neurons, blood lymphocytes, sperm, red blood cells, epithelial cells, hematopoietic tissue, lung cells and bone marrow. Adverse developmental effects due to non-thermal RF exposure have been shown with decreased litter size in mice from RF exposure well below safety standards.12 The World Health Organization has classified RF emissions as a group 2 B carcinogen.13 Cellular telephone use in rural areas was also shown to be associated with an increased risk for malignant brain tumors.14

RF Exposure Causes Neurological Damage

The fact that RF exposure causes neurological damage has been documented repeatedly. Increased blood-brain barrier permeability and oxidative damage, which are associated with brain cancer and neurodegenerative diseases, have been found.4 7 15-17 Nittby et al. demonstrated a statistically significant dose-response effect between non-thermal RF exposure and occurrence of albumin leak across the blood-brain barrier.15 Changes associated with degenerative neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) have been reported.4 10 Other neurological and cognitive disorders such as headaches, dizziness, tremors, decreased memory and attention, autonomic nervous system dysfunction, decreased reaction times, sleep disturbances and visual disruption have been reported to be statistically significant in multiple epidemiological studies with RF exposure occurring non-locally.18-21

Nephrotoxic Effects from RF Exposure

Nephrotoxic effects from RF exposure also have been reported. A dose response effect was observed by Ingole and Ghosh in which RF exposure resulted in mild to extensive degenerative changes in chick embryo kidneys based on duration of RF exposure.24 RF emissions have also been shown to cause isomeric changes in amino acids that can result in nephrotoxicity as well as hepatotoxicity.25

Electromagnetic Field (EMF) Hypersensitivity

Electromagnetic field (EMF) hypersensitivity has been documented in controlled and double blind studies with exposure to various EMF frequencies. Rea et al. demonstrated that under double blind placebo controlled conditions, 100% of subjects showed reproducible reactions to that frequency to which they were most sensitive.22 Pulsed electromagnetic frequencies were shown to consistently provoke neurological symptoms in a blinded subject while exposure to continuous frequencies did not.23

Current Safety Standards are Based on Obsolete, Incomplete Analysis

Although these studies clearly show causality and disprove the claim that health effects from RF exposure are uncertain, there is another mechanism that proves electromagnetic frequencies, including radiofrequencies, can negatively impact human health.

Government agencies and industry set safety standards based on the narrow scope of Newtonian or "classical" physics, reasoning that the effects of atoms and molecules are confined in space and time. This model supports the theory that a mechanical force acts on a physical object and thus, long-range exposure to EMF and RF cannot have an impact on health if no significant heating occurs. However, this is an incomplete model.

A quantum physics model is necessary to fully understand and appreciate how and why EMF and RF fields are harmful to humans.2627 In quantum physics and quantum field theory, matter can behave as a particle or as a wave with wave-like properties. Matter and electromagnetic fields encompass quantum fields that fluctuate in space and time. These interactions can have long-range effects which cannot be shielded, are non-linear and by their quantum nature have uncertainty. Living systems, including the human body, interact with the magnetic vector potential component of an electromagnetic field such as the field near a toroidal coil.26 28 29 The magnetic vector potential is the coupling pathway between biological systems and electromagnetic fields.26 27 Once a patient's specific threshold of intensity has been exceeded, it is the frequency which triggers the patient's reactions.

Quantum Electrodynamic Effects

Long range EMF or RF forces can act over large distances setting a biological system oscillating in phase with the frequency of the electromagnetic field so it adapts with consequences to other body systems. This also may produce an electromagnetic frequency imprint into the living system that can be long lasting.26 27 30 Research using objective instrumentation has shown that even passive resonant circuits can imprint a frequency into water and biological systems.31 These quantum electrodynamic effects do exist and may explain the adverse health effects seen with EMF and RF exposure. These EMF and RF quantum field effects have not been adequately studied and are not fully understood regarding human health.

Eliminate, Avoid, Mitigate EMF Exposure

Because of the well documented studies showing adverse effects on health and the not fully understood quantum field effect, AAEM calls for exercising precaution with regard to EMF, RF and general frequency exposure. In an era when all society relies on the benefits of electronics, we must find ideas and technologies that do not disturb bodily function. It is clear that the human body uses electricity from the chemical bond to the nerve impulse and obviously this orderly sequence can be disturbed by an individual-specific electromagnetic frequency environment. Neighbors and whole communities are already exercising precaution, demanding abstention from wireless in their homes and businesses.

Recommendations - American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM)

  1. An immediate caution on Smart Meter installation due to potentially harmful RF exposure.
  2. Accommodation for health considerations regarding EMF and RF exposure, including exposure to wireless Smart Meter technology.
  3. Independent studies to further understand the health effects from EMF and RF exposure.
  4. Recognition that electromagnetic hypersensitivity is a growing problem worldwide.
  5. Understanding and control of this electrical environmental bombardment for the protection of society.
  6. Consideration and independent research regarding the quantum effects of EMF and RF on human health.
  7. Use of safer technology, including for Smart Meters, such as hard-wiring, fiber optics or other non-harmful methods of data transmission.

Article source: http://aaemonline.org/ American Academy of Environmental Medicine

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Electromagnetic Fields and Living Matter

Synopsis: Current safety guidelines and test methods are inadequate.

Current guidelines on EMF safety from IEEE and ICNIRP (endorsed by the EU) are only based on short term EMF exposures that are highenough to cause thermal effects. These are inadequate to provide protection to the public against long term effects from lower levels of exposure. Neither do they account for the pulse-like exposures modulated at low frequencies that are common from the modern 2G and 3G appliances.

The biological evidence concerning the non thermal effects of EMF (indications of head cancer, permeability of the brain/blood barrier); expression of shock proteins; genotoxic damage, neurological, and possibly reproductive effects), though still limited and controversial, is sufficient, on a precautionary basis, to justify biologically based and lower safety limits for the public. Such evidence also justifies more realistic test methods for RF absorption from RF.

Recommendations for such lower limits have been proposed by the Bio Intiative group; the Selatun Scientific Pane, and others. These have been adopted in some cities and regions of Europe. Whilst the state of the science does not predict obvious choices of particular lower limits it does allow the choice of pragmatically based and more biologically relevant limits which would provide better protectionof health.

Current safety standards rely primarily on biological responses to intensities within arbitrarily defined (engineering-based) frequency bands, not biologically based frequency bands, and are based solely on ionenergy deposition determinations. Current standards have ignored modulation as a factor in human health impacts and thus are inadequate in the protection of the public in terms of chronic exposure to some forms of ELF modulated RF signals …particularly new technologies that are pulse modulated and heavily used in cellular telephony. Carl F. Blackman - Research Biologist, US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), RTP, NC, USA · Integrated Systems Toxicology Division
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Measuring EMF Exposure

trifield meter
The Trifield 100XE Meter is simple to use and understand, (even for non-professionals). It offers portability, multi-axis sensoring ability and a graphic display that provides metric data as well as a visual low to high indicator for quick interpretation.

Evaluating the electromagnetic fields (EMFs) in your environment is a necessary first step to help you decide what steps to take to protect yourself and your family.

Many building biologists are well trained in EMF identification and knowledgeable about effective mitigation techniques. If you cannot find a building biologist in your area, an option is to purchase an EMF meter and take measurements yourself. You may be able to work remotely with a bio-building professional by providing the readings to them. In any event, with the increasing electromagnetic exposures in our environment, it is a good idea to have an EMF/EMR meter in every healthy home tool box.

Choosing an EMF Meter

The frequency (Hz) range of the electromagnetic spectrum is vast. A single meter cannot test for everything within the EMF spectrum. That's okay, because we are interested in measuring only those EMFs which can negatively impact health (as understood by current science). This includes AC magnetic and electric fields, radio frequency (RF) and microwave transmissions.

There are many EMF measurement products to choose from, ranging greatly in their capabilities and price. The Trifield 100XE is an affordable meter that measures magnetic and electric frequencies, and provides radio/microwave detection. With it, you can detect and accurately measure EMF "hot spots" in your home or work environment.

RF/Microwave Detection

trifield meter

The MicroAlert monitor will alert you to the presence of radio frequency (RF) and microwave radiation. It will respond to as little as 0.1 µW/cm2 in highest sensitivity mode. When MicroAlert is moved closer to the source of RF radiation, the audible alarm will become more frequent. The alarm sound will become a solid tone when exposure is high.

If you are concerned about radiation from a nearby transmission tower, a meter with higher radio/microwave sensitivity is recommended. The MicroAlert radio/microwave alarm is better suited for this purpose. The MicroAlert is an affordable, very small monitor that you can carry similar to a pager. At the highest sensitivity setting, it will detect a typical cellular phone tower within 300 feet line-of-site, a typical analog cell phone 40 feet away, a digital phone 20 feet away, and a microwave oven (in use) 10-50 feet away.

The MicroAlert is an excellent alarm device for people who have pacemakers, people who are sensitive to RF radiation from TV or cell phone broadcasts, and anyone who lives or works in the presence of microwave or RF hazards such as electricians, medical staff, police officers, military and communications industry personnel. The MicroAlert also can detect audio and video transmission from concealed surveillance equipment, and the unauthorized use of cell phones.

The MicroAlert responds to frequencies in the range of 500 kHz to 3 GHz, although response is not flat over this range. What this means is that at any given setting, the threshold will vary with frequency. In other words, this is not a high precision meter. The audible alarm is designed for alerting the user to radiation from RF/microwave frequencies, and should be used to guide precautionary action.

Managing EMF Stress with hTMA

When asked directly, many people say that do not feel stressed. They are mentally unaware that their biology is under duress from EMF exposures, however, when scientifically assessed, their physiology tells quite a different story. Scientifically and medically it is well understood that the biologically harmful effects of electromagnetic radiation include cellular and DNA damage. In addition, the assult on sensitive brain chemistry and neurological processes can result in dysfunction of cognitive capibilities and emotional health. hTMA mineral balancing has multiple benefits with reguard to EMF pathologies. It is a safe, gentle form of chelation therapy which uses preferred minerals to support cellular detoxification processes. Also, hTMA data is used to guide supportive nutritional recommendations based on your individual biochemical profile. hTMA Mineral balancing optimizes biochemistry to maximize cellular energy production and human performance (stress response-ability).

In addition, hTMA data can identify toxic exposure effects on biochemistry and monitor an individual's detoxification progress. Balanced biochemistry means having the optimal mineral levels and ratios necessary to support each cell's specialized function, including communication, nourishment and waste (toxin) removal. Decades of hTMA research has led to significant advancements in the understanding of mineral interrelationships and their biological effects. With hTMA mineral balancing you can provide the minerals and nutrition your body needs to protect yourself from the assorted harmful effects of an increasingly toxic environment.

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  2. Electric Power Research Institute. (Internet). (2011). Radio-Frequency Exposure Levels from Smart Meters: A Case Study of One Model. Available from: https://www.nvenergy.com/
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