How the body reacts to man-made electromagnetic radiation, research and governmental response

[ This quote is from a letter Professor Olle Johansson wrote to Omega News, and can be read in entirety at http://omega.twoday.net /stories/1137186/ — Shivani]

“My working hypothesis ….is that electrohypersensitivity is a kind of irradiation damage, since the observed cellular changes are very much the same as the ones you would find in tissue subjected to UV-light or ionizing radiation ….

One very fierce criticism from certain ‘opponents’ has been that such mast cell alterations in persons with electrohypersensitivity (or in normal healthy volunteers!) can not be due to the action of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) and/or airborn chemicals, but must be due to psychological or psychiatric personality disturbances, cognitive malfunction, or likewise. The purpose and objective of the present study was – therefore – to determine whether rat mast cells in skin and thyroid gland, as well as cutaneous nerve fibers and eosinophils, are sensitive to the influence of power-frequent EMFs.

In summary, it turned out that the numerical and volume densities of intact type A mast cells in the thyroid of the exposed group of rats were significantly higher as compared to the control (p<0.05 for both). [N.B. The obtained animal results can not be understood by psychological or psychiatric theories, but are claimed to be due only to the EMF exposure.” Olle Johansson, Assoc. Professor, The Experimental Dermatology Unit, Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institute, 171 77 Stockholm

[Professor Johansson also explains that mast cells produce the chemicals that cause itchiness, asthma, and allergy symptoms, as well as cardiac effects. He says that in Sweden ES people have been psychologically tested and found to be normal, and that rats and cells don’t get psychosomatic symptoms. He found that one extremely sensitive woman actually lacked a particular protective layer of skin. Without that biopsy, how many doctors around the world would have assumed she had psychological problems? —Shivani]

” From the results of recent studies, it is clear that electromagnetic fields affect the mast cell, and also the dendritic cell, population and may degranulate these cells. The release of inflammatory substances, such as histamine, from mast cells in the skin results in a local erythema, edema and sensation of itch and pain, and the release of somatostatin from the dendritic cells may give rise to subjective sensations of on-going inflammation and sensitivity to ordinary light. These are, as mentioned, the common symptoms reported from patients suffering from electrosensitivity/screen dermatitis. Mast cells are also present in the heart tissue and their localization is of particular relevance to their function. Data from studies made on interactions of electromagnetic fields with the cardiac function have demonstrated that highly interesting changes are present in the heart after exposure to electromagnetic fields.. One could speculate that the cardiac mast cells are responsible for these changes due to degranulation after exposure to electromagnetic fields.” (Prof.Olle Johansson, from personal correspondence, 12/05).

Excerpted from an article by Tyler Hamilton in the Toronto Star, 11/11/05

“Prof. Johansson finds that people are becoming sensitive to lower and lower Specific Absorption Rates as the years pass. He explains that the wavelength of the presently-used communications frequencies resonates very well with the length of our bodies, and suggests we would be wise to switch to much longer wavelengths. Presently, he finds Swedes reacting to SARs 100,000 times lower than what is allowed in Sweden. (KPFA radio interview 11/29/05)

The issue of electrical sensitivity first gained a profile in 2002 when Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, then director-general of the World Health Organization, confirmed in a media report that she banned cellphones from her office because they gave her headaches.

Brundtland, a medical doctor and former prime minister of Norway, told the Star during a visit to Toronto ….that the condition needs to be taken more seriously by health authorities, and that little is known because research to date has focused largely on the potential links between electromagnetic frequencies and more severe illnesses, particularly cancers.

Dr. Magda Havas, a professor of the environmental and resource studies program at Trent University in Peterborough , is one of the few trying to track the condition in Canada .

Havas estimates as much as 35 per cent of the population may be suffering from moderate ES, with the severe form Bandera experiences affecting 2 per cent. She speculates that ES may have an association with diseases such as multiple sclerosis and diabetes. [See Resources]

‘MS and diabetes are both on the increase and I wonder how much of this is due to dirty electricity and our inundation with radio frequency radiation,’ says Havas, who has experimented with filters that help block what she calls ‘electropollution.’

‘I have videos of MS patients who walked with a cane and can now walk unassisted after a few days or weeks with the filters.’

Sweden acknowledged ES as a physical impairment in 2000. Official statistics from the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare: 220,000 in the year 2001, but extrapolated to today to be up to 300,000. This is 3% of the Swedish population which today is 9,000,000 people. With an estimated 300,000 sufferers. Swedish employees can request special computer monitors and lighting fixtures that dramatically cut down frequency emissions. Residents of some municipalities can get their home ‘sanitized’ from electromagnetic frequencies. If these alterations turn out not to be optimal they can rent small cottages in the countryside owned by the Stockholm municipality, which also intends to build a village with houses that are specially designed for persons who are electrohypersensitive.”

Austrian scientists Dr. Gerd Oberfeld sent out a press release 1 May 2005 with this report: ‘A study in Austria examined radiation from a mobile phone mast at a distance of 80 metres; EEG tests of 12 electro-sensitive people proved significant changes in the electrical currents of the brains. Volunteers for the test reported symptoms like buzzing in the head, palpitations of the heart, un-wellness, light headedness, anxiety, breathlessness, respiratory problems, nervousness, agitation, headache, tinnitus, heat sensation and depression.’

The Sunday Times -Britain, September 11,2005

“A GOVERNMENT agency has acknowledged for the first time that people can suffer nausea, headaches and muscle pains when exposed to electromagnetic fields from mobile phones, electricity pylons and computer screens.

The Health Protection Agency has now reviewed all scientific literature on electrosensitivity and concluded that it is a real syndrome. The condition known as electrosensitivity, a heightened reaction to electrical energy, will be recognised as a physical impairment.”

Comment from Powerwatch

“On the 28th October, the HPA published another report on the burden of disease in the UK, that included: ‘A small percentage of the population may express an increased sensitivity to a range of electric and magnetic fields with symptoms including: skin sensitivity, dizziness, headache and fatigue. This has not been quantified but the symptoms and increased levels of stress and anxiety will contribute to health costs ‘ . This is a tacit acknowledgement of the problem of EHS, and its possible implications for an overburdened health service. So, what is being done to investigate it?

….when Mike Repacholi (of WHO’s EMF project) was recently reported in New Scientist (10th September 2005, page 14) as saying that ‘the worst effects of the Chernobyl nuclear accident are mental health problems brought on by too much worry’, we do have to wonder what is going on in the minds of the people in charge of investigating these matters.

Perhaps a clue could be a sentence, discussing potential future research, from an HPA representative in a paper delivered at the Electrical Hypersensitivity Workshop in Prague, 2004: ‘An acceptance that EMF has a causal role in ES would have widespread implications for future policy on prevention and management.’ Maybe the HPA know that the report is going to show EHS to be a real, debilitating health condition that is affecting a significant proportion of the country’s population? They are fully aware of the likelihood that the public will want someone to be held accountable, not only for the causation of the problem, but for providing the solution. Is it this accountability that they are trying to avoid? Of course , if the government’s Health Protection Agency are unwilling to be accountable for the protection of the UK population’s health from the effects of EMFs, who will? Surely that is what the HPA is for?”

[The California Dept. of Health Services did a survey in 1998 indicating that 120,000 California residents were so disabled by electromagnetic pollution that they were unable to work. By implication, this extrapolates to 1 million Americans. For instance, if half of Milwaukee ‘s population are adults, that is 12,000 people. — Shivani]

“The Access Board is our federal agency responsible for overseeing compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. In 2003 the Board contracted with the National Inst. Of Building Sciences to develop recommendations about indoor environmental quality. These recommendations, published in July of 2005, address for the first time the needs of persons disabled by electromagnetic radiation: ‘For people who are EM sensitive, the presence of cell phones and towers, portable telephones, computers, fluorescent lighting, unshielded transformers and wiring, battery re-chargers, wireless devises, security and scanning equipment, microwave ovens, electric ranges and numerous other appliances can make a building inaccessible.’

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) notes that scientific studies have raised questions about the possible health effects of EMF’s. NIOSH recommends the following measures [Not here quoted. – Shivani] for those wanting to reduce EMF exposure – informing workers and employers about possible hazards of magnetic fields, increasing workers’ distance from EMF sources, using low-EMF designs wherever possible (e.g., for layout of office power supplies), and reducing EMF exposure times .

The Committee acknowledges that while the scientific evidence may be inconclusive about whether ambient electromagnetic fields pose a substantial health risk to the general population, the presence of EMF is an access barrier for people who are electromagnetically sensitive. Therefore, the Committee recommends that measures be taken to reduce EMF whenever possible in order to increase access for these individuals as well as taking a precautionary approach to protecting the health of all.” (National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) IEQ Final Report 7/14/05).

11/03/05 letter to editor of the Toronto Star, from Dr. Magda Havas

New ‘smart meters’ will provide information about how much energy each home and business uses on an hourly basis. This information will be transmitted 24 hours a day through a combination of phone lines, power lines, and wireless radio frequency transmission just so we can monitor when we use electricity. Proposed frequencies range from 200 MHz (million cycles per second) to 1.4 GHz (billion cycles per second). These radio waves are then added to the pool of existing radio frequencies that are generated by cell phone antennas and broadcast antennas.

….Epidemiological studies from Israel, Germany, Netherlands and Spain document a greater risk of cancers and symptoms now classified as electrosensitivity (ES) for people who live 400 meters of cell phone antennas. The frequencies for cell phone antennas range from about 800 MHz to 2 GHz and overlap with those proposed for smart meters.

….No one wants to be put at a greater risk of developing cancer and people with ES certainly don’t want to be exposed to more radiation.

With smart meters we are going to be exposed to more radio frequency radiation to save money in the form of energy. How much will it cost for additional health care, hospital stays and time off work? Will the money we save be worth the price we pay? I don’t think so.”

[An electrohypersensitive woman from Milwaukee called in to Ben Merens’s radio program when I was on, to describe how she was sent reeling the moment she opened her front door, when coming home for the first time after a “smart meter” had been installed without her knowledge. She has pleaded with the utility company to remove it, to no avail. She has since called me to describe her progressive disability.

As pointed out by Dr. Havas, Professor Johansson, and others, electrical sensitization is similar to chemical sensitization in that it can be caused by over-exposure and appears to be more or less permanent. Even a small exposure can result in severe symptoms whenever a sensitized person is re-exposed to the stressor agent. The industries responsible for overexposing large populations to electromagnetic frequencies that interfere with the internal communications of living organisms may soon discover they have created generations of people who cannot bear the proximity of their products. Dr. Havas and Professor Johansson suggest that the wireless industry would be wise to begin the move to longer, hopefully less biologically active, wave-lengths as soon as possible. —Shivani ]

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