In the beginning

Dr Olle Johansson, a neuroscientist at the world-renowned Karolinska Institute in Sweden, became interested in wireless communications and electromagnetic fields (EMF) as far back as the 1970s. His research led him to question whether they could be hazardous to your health or not. He was the first to introduce the clinical term "screen dermatitis" to explain illnesses, cutaneous complaints and neurological problems experienced by office workers, in the main women initially, after being subjected to long spells in front of computer monitors. From the moment the problem was bought to his attention by a union activist, he continued to study individuals complaining of the above symptoms and more, such as, chest pains, memory loss, fatigue, insomnia, dizziness, nausea and headaches. As the list of symptoms increased, the more general term “electromagnetic hypersensitivity” came into use and is now a fully recognised disability in Sweden.

Given that Dr Johansson is one of the world’s leading experts in electro-hypersensitivity, his warning shouldn’t be taken lightly that, “The world may be moving inexorably toward one of those tragic moments that will lead historians to ask: Why did they not act in time?”

Keep your baby safe

In Johansson’s latest article he talks about a call made on the 3rd July 2014 to pregnant women to limit their exposure to wireless radiation. The Babysafe Project brings together “physicians, scientists and educators to help inform women about the risk that wireless radiation poses to pregnancy and to urge expectant mothers to limit their exposures.”  This eminent collaboration of professionals are strongly recommending the public to inform themselves of the dangers of electromagnetic radiation (EMR) and take some steps to protect themselves and their unborn babies. This is not new advice though; Dr Johansson and his colleagues already sounded the alarm back in 2009 following extensive discussions on existing scientific evidence and the health implications of exposure to electromagnetic frequencies (EMF).

The evidence is all there

Please read Dr Johansson’s article if this issue is relevant to you or any loved ones. It’s eye opening in a scary sort of a way, and for many it will sound an all-important wake-up call. For those who prefer audio, there's also Dr Johanssen's interview on Irish radio station, Open Your Mind (Dr Johansson is on from 17 minutes onwards).

For the really time-challenged, following are some of the effects that have been linked to EMF exposure listed with their corresponding research:

  • Neurological problems and behavioral disorders similar to ADHD/ADD in children whose mother had high exposure while pregnant
  • Confusion in bees and therefore contribution to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) as bees simply choose to move away and never return
  • Behavioural disorders in ants moving themselves and their eggs away from the radiation source, and increasing scanning of their local environment
  • Stress-related chemical damage sequence in tomato plant cells within minutes of relatively weak exposure
  • 1800 or so new studies report abnormal gene transcription, effects on brain and cranial bone development in the offspring of animals that are exposed to cell phone radiation during pregnancy, DNA damage, loss of DNA repair capacity in human stem cells, neurotoxicity in humans and animals, carcinogenicity in humans, and more

Much of the evidence comes from animals or plants that cannot be influenced by personal paranoia, the media, family, or friends. The tomato, we'll all agree, is unlikely to have consciousness in the way we know it, and is perhaps less able than a human to be “swayed by emotions or expectations”. Even the WHO classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as a possible carcinogen in 2011 based on the prior classification by the International Agency for Research of Cancer (IARC).

Public pressure to create change

Dr Johansson makes the point that the items associated with EMF are not life essentials in the way that food and clean water are. But for many, modern life has made these non-essential gadgets essential, these devices having become important aids in a time-pressured world.  They not only make life much easier and in some ways safer (i.e. a mobile phone when you’re out alone and lost, or in danger), but more and more of the vital services we have come to rely on are now built around mobile technology.

Despite the fact humanity has got this far without EMR-producing technology, this generation has become dependent on it. Now sufficient public pressure is required to ensure that current and future research is directed towards modifying the technology in such a way as to make it safe to use. The 'precautionary principle' was developed for a very good reason, but appears to be being ignored yet again, given that current EMR safety limits do not meet the requirements for protection of the population. The real call to action for companies to make a shift towards safer technology can only come from public pressure.

Get up to speed

The take home message has to be; fully inform yourself and take whatever action possible to minimise your exposure and those most vulnerable to it.  Don't assume the technology is safe, beacuse it isn't. Even a device with as much mass appeal as an iPhone carries the recommendation: "Carry iPhone at least 10mm away from your body to ensure exposure levels remain at or below as-tested levels". The warning (go to Settings/About/General/Legal/RF Exposure) also states "To reduce exposure to RF [radio-frequency] energy, use a hands-free option, such as the built-in speakerphone, the supplied headphones, or other similar accessories." Don't say they didn't tell you!

As Dr Johansson points out, “It’s unlikely that all cautionary scientists are wrong.” Until it can be proved without a doubt, that the high levels of EMR exposure that most are subjected to currently, is doing no harm, it’s best to look at methods and techniques to reduce your individual exposure as much as you can. Please also support the organisations that are working tirelessly on our behalf to raise the alarm and create policy change.

 

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ANH-Europe Electro Magnetic Radiation campaign page