Can electromagnetic (EMF) pollution represent any harm to the human body? These three research studies may indicate ill effects of EMF pollution on the brain and body. The first studied cell phones’ impact on brain chemistry; the second looked at the impact on the brain of radiation from wireless devices; and the third revealed that the brain may be very sensitive to even very weak electromagnetic fields.
A study published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) showed that during a 50-minute cell phone call, the area of the brain near the antenna had increased brain glucose metabolism. Glucose metabolism is an indicator of brain activity. The problem is that if cell phone radiation effects the levels of glucose in the brain, it might also be changing neurotransmitters and neurochemical activities. The researchers, including the Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health, have preliminary indications of long-term effects. More research is needed to understand the impact of this finding on human health. (Source: “Effects of Cell Phone Radiofrequency Signal Exposure on Brain Glucose Metabolism” by Nora D. Volkow et al. JAMA. 2011;305(8):828-829)
Animal studies in Greece found that brain proteins were changed after being exposed to microwave radiation. The type of radiation studied is called RF electromagnetic fields, and is similar to the type of microwave radiation that comes from wireless computer equipment, WiFi networks, cellular telephones, and portable phones (wireless phones used at relatively short range).
At exposure levels below the ICNIRP (International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection) safety guidelines, the parts of the brains used for learning and memory were altered by microwave radiation. These brain parts included the cerebellum, hippocampus, and frontal lobe. During eight months of the study, 143 brain proteins were changed. The research may indicate a relationship between the use of wireless electronics and electrosensitivity symptoms. The symptoms of electrosensitivity can include sleep disorders, headaches, dizziness, tumors, Alzheimer’s and metabolic effects. (Source: “Brain proteome response following whole body exposure of mice to mobile phone or wireless DECT base radiation” in Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine, Early Online: 1–25, 2012.)
A top journal, Nature Neuroscience, published a paper by neurobiologists at Caltech showing that very weak varying electric fields in brain tissue have a significant effect on the behavior of neurons. This research may change how scientists think about the brain, because, research Koch said, “So far, neural communication has been thought to occur almost entirely via traffic involving synapses, the junctions where one neuron connects to the next one. Our work suggests an additional means of neural communication through the extracellular space independent of synapses.” The researchers were surprised to discover that even very weak extracellular fields can change neural activity. This research suggests that our understanding of the subtle functioning of the brain is limited, and perhaps that the small electromagnetic fields that are dismissed as irrelevant may be found to have a significant impact on brain functioning. (Source: “Ephaptic coupling of cortical neurons” by Anastassiou CA et al. Nat Neurosci. 2011 Feb;14(2):217-23. Epub 2011 Jan 16.)
While more research is clearly needed, it is obvious that our knowledge of the effects of electronic devices on the body is limited. The head is a particularly “hot spot” because it houses the brain that controls all body functioning. Wireless electronic devices are convenient, but may come at a price. Learn more about electromagnetic (EMF) pollution.