Friday, November 26, 2021

The "Havana syndrome": A special case of electrohypersensitivity?

Nov 9, 2021 (Updated Nov 26, 2021)

"Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday detailed new efforts to investigate "Havana syndrome," the mysterious health affliction affecting dozens of U.S. personnel first identified in Cuba and now including several countries."

"Symptoms include headaches, dizziness, cognitive difficulties, tinnitus, vertigo and trouble with seeing, hearing or balancing. Many officials have suffered symptoms years after reporting an incident, while some have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries."

"In an effort to learn more, Blinken confirmed Friday that the State Department has deployed new technology to U.S. missions around the world to help understand the cause.

'The details I can provide on this are limited as well, but I can say that new technology is helping us more quickly and thoroughly evaluate a variety of potential causes of these incidents, and we've distributed across posts so that we can respond rapidly to new reports,' he said."  

(Conor Finnegan and Matt Seyler, "Blinken details new efforts to investigate 'Havana syndrome," ABC News, Nov 5, 2021)

In my opinion, the "Havana syndrome" is likely caused by exposure to microwave or radio frequency radiation (RFR) resulting in the onset of electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) in exposed individuals who have greater sensitivity to RFR. Moreover, as I explained to the Daily Mail in December 2017 the symptoms may be caused by exposure to low-moderate intensity microwave radiation used for surveillance:

"The finding that the attacks led to perceptible changes in their brains is also one of several factors fueling growing skepticism that some kind of sonic weapon was involved. 

'This makes me think the victims may have developed electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) from exposure to electromagnetic fields in the embassy,' Joel Moskowitz, a community health professor at the University of California, Berkeley, told Daily Mail Online. 

'This happened during the Cold War to personnel stationed in the US embassy in Moscow when the Soviets were bombarding the embassy with microwaves to monitor oral communications in the ambassador's office.'"


If my hypothesis is correct that a surveillance device is the source of exposure for the "Havana syndrome" rather than a weapon, and if only a minority of exposed individuals are susceptible to developing serious symptoms associated with EHS, then the extent of surveillance could be widespread, placing our nation's secrets at risk.

William Broad of the New York Times interviewed me for a story on the "Havana syndrome" in September 2018. He dismissed my hypothesis that the effects observed in Havana were due to EHS and that the source of the exposure may have been microwave-based surveillance technology rather than weaponry.  In his article, he did not cite me or Dr. Beatrice Golomb, a colleague from UC San Diego whom he also interviewed who had published a paper on the Havana syndrome in which she hypothesized that it was caused by pulsed microwave radiation (see abstract below).

In October 2019, following up on a referral from Allan Frey (who pioneered the research on microwave hearing and blood-brain-barrier penetration), Dr. Thaddeus Thomas from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) contacted me to learn about the science regarding health effects from RFR exposure. He informed me that the ARL was heading a joint military task force to determine whether an adversary had developed new weapon technology based on RFR. I shared with him the research on EHS. I cautioned him not to assume that the "attack" was a weapon as it could have been from microwave-based surveillance technology because health effects have been observed in many individuals who experienced relatively low levels of RFR exposure. Moreover, Russian surveillance was a prime explanation for similar incidents that occurred at the U.S. embassy in Moscow during the Cold War (aka "Moscow signal").

BTW, the smallest microwave weapon I am aware of, the Silent Guardian active denial system, requires a 10,000 pound containerized system to generate a 30-kilowatt beam. The primary symptom is a burning sensation in the skin, not strange sounds.

In October 2021, pursuing the military weapon angle, Dr. Thomas and his colleagues published the following paper in the AAAS journal Science Advances. This joint U.S. Army/Air Force study found pulsed microwaves compliant with current safety standards could potentially cause traumatic brain injury.

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Computational modeling investigation of pulsed high peak power microwaves and the potential for traumatic brain injury

Amy M Dagro, Justin W Wilkerson, Thaddeus P Thomas, Benjamin T Kalinosky, Jason A Payne. Computational modeling investigation of pulsed high peak power microwaves and the potential for traumatic brain injury. Sci Adv. 2021 Oct 29;7(44):eabd8405. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.abd8405.

Amy Dagro and Thaddeus Thomas are with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD; Benjamin Kalinosky is with General Dynamics Information Technology, JBSA Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, TX; and Jason Payne is with U.S, Air Force Research Laboratory, 711th Human Performance Wing, Airman Systems Directorate, Bioeffects Division, Radio Frequency Bioeffects Branch, JBSA Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, TX; Justin Wilkerson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX.

Abstract

When considering safety standards for human exposure to radiofrequency (RF) and microwave energy, the dominant concerns pertain to a thermal effect. However, in the case of high-power pulsed RF/microwave energy, a rapid thermal expansion can lead to stress waves within the body. In this study, a computational model is used to estimate the temperature profile in the human brain resulting from exposure to various RF/microwave incident field parameters. The temperatures are subsequently used to simulate the resulting mechanical response of the brain. Our simulations show that, for certain extremely high-power microwave exposures (permissible by current safety standards), very high stresses may occur within the brain that may have implications for neuropathological effects. Although the required power densities are orders of magnitude larger than most real-world exposure conditions, they can be achieved with devices meant to emit high-power electromagnetic pulses in military and research applications.

Excerpts

"The bulk of scientific literature uses continuous waves and moderate field strengths (typical of real-life scenarios), with less emphasis on pulsed fields of very high peak strength that may occur with ultrawideband pulse generators or EM pulse simulators (4). It is worth investigating whether extremely high peak power sources applied with a slow repetition frequency, or low duty cycle, can induce injurious effects without thermal buildup greater than a few degrees Celsius."

"With the exception of low intracranial absorption at 1400 MHz, the highest ratio of peak average intracranial SAR* to peak average skin SAR* occurs between 1 to 1.8 GHz."

"The MAE, also referred to as “microwave hearing” or the “Frey effect” due to its discovery by Allan Frey in 1961 (7, 8), was initially observed when subjects standing up to hundreds of feet away from a radar transponder could hear an audible tonal noise (e.g., chirping, buzzing, or clicking). The scientific underpinnings of the MAE were controversial for the first several years (9–11). After more than a decade of investigations, it became generally accepted that the perceived sound is due to the cochlea detecting stress waves that result from a rapid temperature rise in tissues within the head due to pulsed RF/microwave exposure (11, 12)."

"Typically, relatively low-average powers and small temperature changes (10−6°C) are required to elicit the MAE (12). Although adverse health effects from the MAE have not been previously established, one study on rodents suggests that very high–peak power pulsed microwaves can result in cognitive deficits (13)."

"This study uses a two-simulation approach to investigate whether an HPM source could theoretically induce adverse mechanical responses within the brain."

"This study has shown that, by applying a small temperature increase (<0.0005°C) in a very short amount of time (less than several microseconds), potentially injurious stress waves are created."

"For frequencies between 400 MHz to 2 GHz, the IEEE C95.1 RF exposure guidelines limit the exposure reference limit (ERL) to fmhz/200 (W/m2) over an averaging time of 30 min. For 1-GHz exposures, the IEEE C95.1 ERL of 5 W/m2 over 30 min would equate to an average energy density of 9000 J/m2. Our computational model shows that, for sufficiently high incident power densities, a single pulse could potentially result in biologically meaningful pressures. For example, large pressures may occur following 1-GHz frequency, a pulse duration of 5 μs, and incident power densities of at least 1.5 × 107 W/m2. The energy density associated with such a pulse would be equal to PIN×τd or 75 J/m2 (significantly less than the ERL standard)."

"Note that the proposed HPM power densities in this study are extremely large and several orders of magnitude larger than power densities typically experienced by the public. As an illustrative example, at around 200 feet from a cell phone base station, a person will be exposed to a power density of only 0.001 mW/cm2 or less (36). This study establishes a testable hypothesis between potential neurocognitive effects and the thermoelastic mechanism from HPM systems. To date, however, adverse effects from HPM systems have not been established in the scientific literature."


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New Report Assesses Illnesses Among U.S. Government Personnel and Their Families at Overseas Embassies

News Release, National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, December 5, 2020

WASHINGTON — Government personnel and their families at the U.S. embassy in Havana, Cuba, in late 2016, and later at the U.S. consulate in Guangzhou, China, began suffering from a range of unusual — and in some cases suddenly occurring — symptoms such as a perceived loud noise, ear pain, intense head pressure or vibration, dizziness, visual problems, and cognitive difficulties, and many still continue to experience these or other health problems.  As part of its effort to ascertain potential causes of the illnesses, inform government employees more effectively about health risks at posts abroad, and determine best medical practices for screening, prevention, and treatment for both short- and long-term health problems, the U.S. Department of State asked the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to provide advice.  After undergoing a security review, the National Academies’ report is now available.

In examining plausible causes of these illnesses, the committee that conducted the study and wrote the report considered the possibilities of directed, pulsed radio frequency energy, chemical exposures, infectious diseases such as Zika, and psychological issues.  An Assessment of Illness in U.S. Government Employees and Their Families at Overseas Embassies says that among the mechanisms the committee considered, directed, pulsed radio frequency energy appears to be the most plausible mechanism in explaining these cases, especially in individuals with the distinct early symptoms.  Persistent postural-perceptual dizziness (PPPD) — a functional (not psychiatric) vestibular disorder that may be triggered by vestibular, neurologic, or other medical and psychological conditions — is a secondary reinforcing mechanism, as well as the possible additive effects of psychological conditions.

The committee could not rule out other possible mechanisms and found it is likely that a multiplicity of factors explains some cases and the differences between others.  In particular, it could not be certain that the individuals with only the chronic set of signs and symptoms suffered from the same causes and mechanisms as those who reported the initial, sudden onset set of signs and symptoms.  The committee noted that it faced several challenges in its assessment, related to the extreme variability in the clinical cases as well as lack of access to specific health or personal information on the affected individuals.

“The committee found these cases quite concerning, in part because of the plausible role of directed, pulsed radiofrequency energy as a mechanism, but also because of the significant suffering and debility that has occurred in some of these individuals,” said committee chair David Relman, Thomas C. and Joan M. Merigan Professor in Medicine, professor of microbiology and immunology, and senior fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University.  “We as a nation need to address these specific cases as well as the possibility of future cases with a concerted, coordinated, and comprehensive approach.”

The report includes a number of recommendations for rehabilitation and actions the State Department should take to enhance responses to future threats to the well-being of its personnel and their families.

The study — undertaken by the Standing Committee to Advise the U.S. Department of State on Unexplained Health Effects on U.S. Government Employees and Their Families at Overseas Embassies — was sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.  The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, technology, and medicine. They operate under an 1863 congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences, signed by President Lincoln.

Consensus Study Report: An Assessment of Illness in U.S. Government Employees and Their Families at Overseas Embassies


In late 2016, U.S. Embassy personnel in Havana, Cuba, began to report the development of an unusual set of symptoms and clinical signs. For some of these patients, their case began with the sudden onset of a loud noise, perceived to have directional features, and accompanied by pain in one or both ears or across a broad region of the head, and in some cases, a sensation of head pressure or vibration, dizziness, followed in some cases by tinnitus, visual problems, vertigo, and cognitive difficulties. Other personnel attached to the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, China, reported similar symptoms and signs to varying degrees, beginning in the following year. As of June 2020, many of these personnel continue to suffer from these and/or other health problems. Multiple hypotheses and mechanisms have been proposed to explain these clinical cases, but evidence has been lacking, no hypothesis has been proven, and the circumstances remain unclear.


The Department of State asked the National Academies to review the cases, their clinical features and management, epidemiologic investigations, and scientific evidence in support of possible causes, and advise on approaches for the investigation of potential future cases. In An Assessment of Illness in U.S. Government Employees and Their Families at Overseas Embassies, the committee identifies distinctive clinical features, considers possible causes, evaluates plausible mechanisms and rehabilitation efforts, and offers recommendations for future planning and responses.


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Diplomats' Mystery Illness and Pulsed Radiofrequency/ Microwave Radiation

Beatrice Alexandra Golomb. Diplomats' Mystery Illness and Pulsed Radiofrequency/ Microwave Radiation. Neural Computation. November 2018. 30(11):2882-2985. doi: 10.1162/neco_a_01133.

UC San Diego School of Medicine, La Jolla, CA.

Abstract

Importance: 

A mystery illness striking U.S. and Canadian diplomats to Cuba (and now China) “has confounded the FBI, the State Department and US intelligence agencies” (Lederman, Weissenstein, & Lee, 2017). Sonic explanations for the so-called health attacks have long dominated media reports, propelled by peculiar sounds heard and auditory symptoms experienced. Sonic mediation was justly rejected by experts. We assessed whether pulsed radiofrequency/microwave radiation (RF/MW) exposure can accommodate reported facts in diplomats, including unusual ones.

Observations: 

(1) Noises: Many diplomats heard chirping, ringing or grinding noises at night during episodes reportedly triggering health problems. Some reported that noises were localized with laser-like precision or said the sounds seemed to follow them (within the territory in which they were perceived). Pulsed RF/MW engenders just these apparent “sounds” via the Frey effect. Perceived “sounds” differ by head dimensions and pulse characteristics and can be perceived as located behind in or above the head. Ability to hear the “sounds” depends on high-frequency hearing and low ambient noise. 

(2) Signs/symptoms: Hearing loss and tinnitus are prominent in affected diplomats and in RF/MW-affected individuals. Each of the protean symptoms that diplomats report also affect persons reporting symptoms from RF/MW: sleep problems, headaches, and cognitive problems dominate in both groups. Sensations of pressure or vibration figure in each. Both encompass vision, balance, and speech problems and nosebleeds. Brain injury and brain swelling are reported in both. 

(3) Mechanisms: Oxidative stress provides a documented mechanism of RF/MW injury compatible with reported signs and symptoms; sequelae of endothelial dysfunction (yielding blood flow compromise), membrane damage, blood-brain barrier disruption, mitochondrial injury, apoptosis, and autoimmune triggering afford downstream mechanisms, of varying persistence, that merit investigation. 

(4) Of note, microwaving of the U.S. embassy in Moscow is historically documented.

Conclusions and relevance:  

Reported facts appear consistent with pulsed RF/MW as the source of injury in affected diplomats. Nondiplomats citing symptoms from RF/MW, often with an inciting pulsed-RF/MW exposure, report compatible health conditions. Under the RF/MW hypothesis, lessons learned for diplomats and for RF/MW-affected civilians may each aid the other.


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The "Moscow signal" epidemiological study, 40 years on

Martínez JA. The "Moscow signal" epidemiological study, 40 years on. Rev Environ Health. 2019 Mar 26;34(1):13-24. doi: 10.1515/reveh-2018-0061.

Abstract

Between 1953 and 1979, the USSR irradiated the United States embassy in Moscow with microwaves. This episode, a classic Cold War affair, has acquired enormous importance in the discussions on the effect of non-ionizing radiation on people's health. In 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as being a possible human carcinogen (Group 2B), but the results of recent laboratory and epidemiological studies have led some researchers to conclude that radiofrequency electromagnetic fields should be reclassified as a human carcinogen instead of merely a possible human carcinogen. In 1978, the "Moscow signal" case was officially closed after the publication of the epidemiological study of (Lilienfeld AM, Tonascia J, Tonascia S, Libauer CA, Cauthen GM. Foreign Service health status study. Evaluation of health status of foreign service and other employees from selected Eastern European posts. Report on Foreign Service Health Status Study, U.S. Department of State 6025-619073, 1978.), showing no apparent evidence of increased mortality rates and limited evidence regarding general health status. However, several loose ends still remain with respect to this epidemiological study, as well as the affair as a whole. In this paper, we summarize the available evidence concerning this case, paying special attention to the epidemiological study of Lilienfeld et al. After reviewing the available literature (including declassified documents), and after some additional statistical analyses, we provide new insights which do not complete the puzzle, but which may help to better understand it.


Excerpts

The Soviet objective

To activate listening devices on the walls? This may well have been, as we have just indicated, one of the explanations given by the Americans, but serious doubts had, by this time, been cast on American institutional credibility. After all, the State Department had, for more than 15 years, hidden from its own employees the fact that that they were being irradiated, had lied to them about the purpose of the blood tests, and had categorically denied that some of the results were of concern to their health. For example, the State Department had reported that Ambassador Walter Stoessel was in good health and that blood tests showing high levels of white blood cells were unrelated to leukemia (13). Nevertheless, Stoessel died of leukemia on December 9, 1986, aged 66 (27).

The mind control hypothesis was also considered by the American government (28). The Americans themselves had been experimenting on mind control as part of the MK ULTRA project, and suspected that the Soviets might be doing the same.

The former CIA agent Victor Marchetti claimed that the microwave bombardment had nothing to do with a threat to health, but with a strategy of confusion in order to waste the time of the American government while it studied and analyzed what it believed might be taking place (13). Whether this is true or not, the reality is that the American government had indeed devoted huge resources and efforts to analyzing what had happened, especially with the epidemiological study of Lilienfeld et al. (1).

The Soviets, on the other hand, finally admitted at the beginning of 1976 to the use of microwaves, after denying it for 15 years. The official version until then had been that the radiation detected by the Americans at the embassy was caused by the industrial activity of a large city such as Moscow. When they finally came clean, they indicated that the purpose of the bombardment had not been to damage the health of the American personnel, but to interfere in the communications of the embassy (11).

In the end, both official versions concurred, which, given the history of lies and deceit by the two sides involved, may be equally suspect....


Four decades on, the “Moscow signal” case has transmuted into “the Thing” or “the Havana syndrome” (45). From December, 2016, to August, 2017, some State Department personnel and other CIA employees began to suffer a series of neurological symptoms, including headaches, dizziness and sleep abnormalities, while working at the Cuban embassy, or staying at other places in Havana, such as the Capri and Nacional hotels.

Because of the political nature of this affair, many details remain undisclosed, such as the names of the CIA employees affected, who exactly was responsible for the attack (the Cuban government continues to deny all knowledge), or the specific “weapon” employed (some scientists suspect a microwave attack). However, the preliminary results of the study of Swanson et al. (7) on 21 individuals identified by the US Department of State as having possibly been exposed, showed persistent cognitive, vestibular, and oculomotor dysfunction, as well as sleep impairment and headaches, along with reports of directional audible and/or sensory phenomena of unclear origin. As Swanson et al. (7) concluded, these individuals appeared to have sustained injury to widespread brain networks without an associated history of head trauma.

Therefore, there exist clear similitudes with the Moscow embassy case; a (hypothesized) directional weapon that produces several identifiable neurocognitive symptoms and that leaves no detectable traces, contextualized in a framework of secrecy and political tension. The main difference is that, in the Cuban case, there is still no confirmation of the use of microwaves....


Power densities measured at the Moscow embassy were higher than the average levels typically found nowadays in homes, schools and urban areas, and were of the same order of magnitude as the more extreme case of living just a few meters from a base station (see (19)) This means that exposure at the embassy could have been high in terms of today’s typical levels of exposure. Nevertheless, the exposure was several orders of magnitude lower than those suggested by the ICNRIP guidelines, adopted by many countries as legal limits. As Hardell et al. (19) indicated, the BioInitiative Report (49) with updated references defined the scientific benchmark for possible health risks as 0.000003–0.000006 mW/cm2. Consequently, the exposure at the Moscow embassy was from 3 to 4 orders of magnitude higher than this safety benchmark, but 3 orders of magnitude lower than the legal limits of many countries.


WHO Radiofrequency EMF Health Risk Assessment Monograph (EHC series)

Sep 1, 2021 (Updated Nov 26, 2021)

The World Health Organization (WHO) is undertaking a health risk assessment of radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic fields (EMF) which will be published as a monograph in the Environmental Health Criteria (EHC) series. This monograph will update the 1993 monograph on radiofrequency fields (EHC #197).

According to Microwave News, WHO originally began work on this monograph in 2012 and released 11 chapters of a draft report in 2014 for public comment. Comments on the draft report from other scientists were highly critical. "After that the process stalled, and the RF EHC was stuck in limbo." In October 2019, WHO issued a call for ten systematic reviews of the RF effects research (see list below). This call had a short timeline to apply. "The lack of advance notice and the fast deadline have led some to question whether the WHO engineered the schedule to help ICNIRP stay in control." In 2020, WHO reissued the call for three of these reviews (SR2, SR4, SR10).

Although WHO refused to state publicly whom they selected to conduct these reviews, some of their identities became known when papers describing research protocols for seven (SR1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9) of the forthcoming ten reviews were recently published. See abstracts below.

All of the research protocols will be published online for a special issue of Environment International (see https://www.sciencedirect.com/journal/environment-international/special-issue/109J1SL7CXT).

To conduct the research reviews, the scientists will use a "tailored version" of the National Toxicology Program's OHAT risk of bias rating tool "for evaluating individual study risk of bias or internal validity – the assessment of whether the design and conduct of a study compromised the credibility of the link between exposure and outcome" (1-3). This tool has been recommended for assessing risk of bias in human environmental epidemiology studies (Eick et al., 2021; see abstract below). 

For the EHC monograph, "Confidence in evidence will be assessed in line with the GRADE approach."

A tool is only as good as the persons using it. Will the scientists that the WHO chose to conduct these reviews apply these tools in an unbiased manner? Or will they employ them to manufacture doubt about the validity of the thousands of peer-reviewed studies that assessed biologic and health effects from exposure to radio frequency fields?

Lagorio et al. (2021) while describing their research protocols forecast the conclusion of their review paper: "As systematic reviews cannot remedy limitations of the original studies, those (and our) syntheses are unlikely to produce conclusive evidence." So this review will likely call for more definitive research.

We should not forget there has never been a perfect study--every study has either limited internal or construct validity and/or limited generalizability (external validity).

According to the National Research Council (2007):
"The extent to which particular scientific results constitute progress in knowledge or contribute to societal well-being is often contested. This is especially the case when scientific findings are uncertain or controversial and when they can be interpreted to support controversial policy choices....Assessing science, no matter how rigorous the methods that may be used, is ultimately a matter of interpretation. The possibility of competing interpretations of evidence is ever-present when using science indicators or applying any other analytic method for measuring the progress and impact of science." (4)

(1) National Toxicology Program. Handbook for Conducting Systematic Reviews for Health Effects Evaluations. https://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/whatwestudy/assessments/noncancer/handbook/index.html

(2) National Toxicology Program. Handbook for Conducting a Literature-Based Health Assessment Using OHAT Approach for Systematic Review and Evidence Integration (March 4, 2019): https://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/ntp/ohat/pubs/handbookmarch2019_508.pdf

(3) National Toxicology Program. 2019 OHAT Handbook Update and Clarification Summary Document (March 4, 2019). https://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/ntp/ohat/pubs/handbookclarificationmarch2019_508.pdf

(4) National Research Council. 2007. A Strategy for Assessing Science: Behavioral and Social Research on Aging. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/11788.

Research Protocols for Radiofrequency EHC Reviews


SR1: The effect of exposure to radiofrequency fields on cancer risk in the general and working population: A protocol for a systematic review of human observational studies

Susanna Lagorio, Maria Blettner, Dan Baaken, Maria Feychting, Ken Karipidis, Tom Loney, Nicola Orsini, Martin Röösli, Marilia Silva Paulo, Mark Elwood. The effect of exposure to radiofrequency fields on cancer risk in the general and working population: A protocol for a systematic review of human observational studies. Environ Int. 2021 Aug 22;157:106828. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2021.106828.

Highlights

• RF-EMF was classified by IARC as possibly carcinogenic to humans (2B) in May 2011
• A systematic review of all subject-relevant epidemiological studies is now needed.
• A detailed protocol ensures the review's transparency, utility and credibility.
• Original study validity will be evaluated with a customized OHAT risk of bias tool.
• Internal coherence and external plausibility will inform conclusions.

Abstract

Background: The World Health Organization (WHO) has an ongoing project to assess potential health effects of exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) in the general and working population. Here we present the protocol for a systematic review of the scientific literature on cancer hazards from exposure to RF-EMF in humans, commissioned by the WHO as part of that project.

Objective: To assess the quality and strength of the evidence provided by human observational studies for a causal association between exposure to RF-EMF and risk of neoplastic diseases.

Eligibility criteria: We will include cohort and case-control studies investigating neoplasia risks in relation to three types of exposure to RF-EMF: near-field, head-localized, exposure from wireless phone use (SR-A); far-field, whole body, environmental exposure from fixed-site transmitters (SR-B); near/far-field occupational exposures from use of handheld transceivers or RF-emitting equipment in the workplace (SR-C). While no restriction on tumour type will be applied, we will focus on selected neoplasms of the central nervous system (brain, meninges, pituitary gland, acoustic nerve) and salivary gland tumours (SR-A); brain tumours and leukaemias (SR-B, SR-C).

Information sources: Eligible studies will be identified through Medline, Embase, and EMF-Portal.

Risk-of-bias assessment: We will use a tailored version of the OHAT's tool to evaluate the study's internal validity.

Data synthesis: We will consider separately studies on different tumours, neoplasm-specific risks from different exposure sources, and a given exposure-outcome pair in adults and children. When a quantitative synthesis of findings can be envisaged, the main aims of the meta-analysis will be to assess the strength of association and the shape of the exposure-response relationship; to quantify the degree of heterogeneity across studies; and explore the sources of inconsistency (if any). When a meta-analysis is judged inappropriate, we will perform a narrative synthesis, complemented by a structured tabulation of results and appropriate visual displays.

Evidence assessment: Confidence in evidence will be assessed in line with the GRADE approach.

Funding: This project is supported by the World Health Organization. Co-financing was provided by the New Zealand Ministry of Health; the Istituto Superiore di Sanità in its capacity as a WHO Collaborating Centre for Radiation and Health; ARPANSA as a WHO Collaborating Centre for Radiation Protection.

Registration: PROSPERO CRD42021236798.

Financial support 

This project is supported by the World Health Organization (grant numbers: RAD 2020/1031788–0; RAD 2020/994756–0). Co-financing was provided by the New Zealand Ministry of Health; the Istituto Superiore di Sanit`a in its capacity as a WHO Collaborating Centre for Radiation and Health; ARPANSA as a WHO Collaborating Centre for Radiation Protection.

Role of funders

A strict oversight was exercised by the WHO Secretariat to ensure that all commissioned systematic reviews were planned according to a harmonized and good practice standard. The other sponsors had no role in developing the protocol.

Open access paper: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412021004530?via%3Dihub

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SR3: The effects of radiofrequency exposure on male fertility and adverse reproductive outcomes: A protocol for two systematic reviews of human observational studies with meta-analysis

Ryan P.W. Kenny, Evelyn Barron Millar, Adenike Adesanya, Catherine Richmond, Fiona Beyer, Carolina Calderon, Judith Rankin, Mireille Toledano, Maria Feychting, Mark S Pearce, Dawn Craig, Fiona Pearson. The effects of radiofrequency exposure on male fertility and adverse reproductive outcomes: A protocol for two systematic reviews of human observational studies with meta-analysis. Environment International. 158, 2022, 106968. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2021.106968.

Abstract

Background  The World Health Organization (WHO) is bringing together evidence on radiofrequency electromagnetic field (RF-EMF) exposure in relation to health outcomes, previously identified as priorities for evaluation by experts in the field, to inform exposure guidelines. A suite of systematic reviews are being undertaken by a network of topic experts and methodologists in order to collect, assess and synthesise data relevant to these guidelines. Here, we present the protocol for the systematic review on the effect of exposure to RF on adverse reproductive outcomes (human observational studies), also referred to as Systematic Review (SR) 3 within the series of systematic reviews currently being commissioned.

Objectives  Following the WHO handbook for guideline development and the COSTER conduct guidelines, we will systematically review the effect of RF-EMF exposure on both male fertility (SR3A) and adverse pregnancy outcomes (SR3B) in human observational studies. Herein we adhere to the PRISMA-P reporting guidelines.

Data sources  We will conduct a broad search for potentially relevant records relevant for both reviews within the following bibliographic databases: MEDLINE; Embase; and EMF Portal. We will also conduct searches of grey literature through relevant databases and organisational websites. RF-EMF experts will also be consulted. We will hand search citation and reference lists of included study records.

Study eligibility criteria  We will include quantitative human observational studies on the effect of RF-EMF exposure: (in SR3A) in adult male participants on infertility, sperm morphology, concentration or total sperm count or motility; and (in SR3B) in preconception adults or pregnant women on preterm birth, small for gestational age (associated with intrauterine growth restriction), miscarriage, stillbirth and congenital anomalies.

Study appraisal and synthesis methods  Titles, abstracts and then full texts will be screened in blinded duplicate against eligibility criteria with input from a third reviewer as required. Data extraction from included studies will be completed by two reviewers as will risk of bias assessment using the Office of Health Assessment and Translation (OHAT) tool. If appropriate we will undertake meta-analysis to pool effect measures and explore heterogeneity using sub-group analyses or meta-regression as feasible. We will conduct sensitivity analysis to assess the impact of any assumptions made throughout the review process. The OHAT methodology, based on the GRADE guidelines for evidence assessment, will be used to evaluate the certainty of evidence per outcome and to conclude the level of evidence of a health effect.

Conclusion  This manuscript details the protocols for two systematic reviews. The aims of publishing details of both protocols are to: pre-specify their scope and methods; reduce the impact of reviewer bias; promote transparency and replicability; and improve the review process.

Prospero registration CRD42021265401 (SR3A), CRD42021266268 (SR3B).

Open access paper: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412021005936


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SR4: Effects of Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Field (RF-EMF) exposure on male fertility and pregnancy and birth outcomes: Protocols for a systematic review of experimental studies in non-human mammals and in human sperm exposed in vitro

Francesca Pacchierotti, Lucia Ardoino, Barbara Benassi, Claudia Consales, Eugenia Cordelli, Patrizia Eleuteri, Carmela Marino, Maurizio Sciortino, Martin H.Brinkworth, Guangdi Chen, James P. McNamee, Andrew William Wood, Carlijn R. Hooijmans. Rob B.M. de Vries. Effects of Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Field (RF-EMF) exposure on male fertility and pregnancy and birth outcomes: Protocols for a systematic review of experimental studies in non-human mammals and in human sperm exposed in vitro. Environment Int. Volume 157, December 2021, 106806.

Highlights

• Male infertility and adverse pregnancy outcomes are relevant human health problems.
• Radiofrequency electromagnetic fields are widespread in the human environment.
• A link between radiofrequency and adverse reproductive outcomes is controversial.
• This is the protocol of WHO-funded systematic review and meta-analysis on this issue.

Abstract

Background  Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields (RF-EMF) at environmental level have been reported to induce adverse effects on the male reproductive system and developing embryos. However, despite the number of experiments conducted since the 1970s, the diversity of testing approaches and exposure conditions, inconsistencies among results, and dosimetric flaws have not yet permitted a solid assessment of the relationship between RF-EMF exposure and such effects, warranting a more systematic and methodologically rigorous approach to the evaluation of available data.

Objectives  This study aims at evaluating the effects of RF-EMF exposure on male fertility and pregnancy outcomes by a systematic review (SR) of experimental studies, conducted in compliance with international guidelines. The evidence will be organized into three streams: 1) Studies evaluating the impact of RF-EMF on the male reproductive system of experimental mammals; 2) studies evaluating the impact of RF-EMF on human sperm exposed in vitro; 3) studies evaluating the impact of RF-EMF on adverse pregnancy, birth outcomes and delayed effects in experimental mammals exposed in utero.

Study eligibility and criteria  Eligible studies will include peer-reviewed articles reporting of original results about effects of controlled exposures to RF-EMF in the frequency range 100 kHz–300 GHz on the selected outcomes without any language or year-of-publication restrictions. Eligible studies will be retrieved by calibrated search strings applied to three electronic databases, PubMed, Scopus and EMF Portal and by manual search of the list of references of included papers and published reviews.

Study appraisal and synthesis method  The internal validity of the studies will be evaluated using the Risk of Bias (RoB) Rating Tool developed by National Toxicology Program/Office of Health Assessment and Translation (NTP/OHAT) integrated with input from the SYRCLE RoB tool. Given sufficient commensurate data, meta-analyses will be performed, otherwise narrative syntheses will be produced. Finally, the certainty of the effects of RF-EMF exposure on male fertility and pregnancy and birth outcomes will be established following GRADE.

Funding  The study is financially supported by the World Health Organization.

Registration  OSF Registration DOI https://doi.org/10.17605/OSF.IO/7MUS3; PROSPERO CRD42021227729, CRD42021227746.

Financial support

This project is partially funded by the World Health Organization (contract 2020/1026306-0). Additional in-kind funds are provided by ENEA, Health Canada and Swinburne University of Technology.

Declaration of Competing Interest

AWW directs a research group, which includes three technical associates who are telecommunications company employees. The group is also providing advice for a local government authority and a utility on electric and magnetic field exposure issues on a fee-for-service basis. AWW has been member of the ICNIRP Scientific Expert Group (SEG) from 2013 until 2021 and collaborates with the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency. JPM was a member for IARC Monograph 102 Working Group assessing the carcinogenicity of RF-EMF (Mechanistic Studies sub-group), a co-author of Canada’s Safety Code 6 (which are the de facto national human exposure limits applied in Canada) and a member of the WHO EMF Project International Advisory Committee (Canadian representative). Health Canada financially contributed to the WHO EMF Project to support the completion of the systematic reviews on RF-EMF. CM has been member of Technical Consultation on the WHO RF Research Agenda (2010), member of ICNIRP main commission since May 2012, confirmed in 2016 and 2020, Italian delegate for the European Cost Actions BM0704 and BM1309 “EMF-MED”. All other authors declare that they have no known conflicts of interest.


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SR6: The effect of exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields on cognitive performance in human experimental studies: A protocol for a systematic review

Blanka Pophof, Jacob Burns, Heidi Danker-Hopfe, Hans Dorn, Cornelia Egblomassé-Roidl, Torsten Eggert, Kateryna Fuks, Bernd Henschenmacher, Jens Kuhne, Cornelia Sauter, Gernot Schmid. The effect of exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields on cognitive performance in human experimental studies: A protocol for a systematic review. Environ Int. 2021 Jul 29;157:106783. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2021.106783.

Abstract

Background: The World Health Organization (WHO) is currently assessing the potential health effects of exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMFs) in the general and working population. Related to one such health effect, there is a concern that RF-EMFs may affect cognitive performance in humans. The systematic review (SR) aims to identify, summarize and synthesize the evidence base related to this question. Here, we present the protocol for the planned SR.

Objectives: The main objective is to present a protocol for a SR which will evaluate the associations between short-term exposure to RF-EMFs and cognitive performance in human experimental studies.

Data sources: We will search the following databases: PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, Scopus, and the EMF-Portal. The reference lists of included studies and retrieved review articles will be manually searched.

Study eligibility and criteria: We will include randomized human experimental studies that assess the effects of RF-EMFs on cognitive performance compared to no exposure or lower exposure. We will include peer-reviewed articles of any publication date in any language that report primary data.

Data extraction and analysis: Data will be extracted according to a pre-defined set of forms developed and piloted by the review author team. To assess the risk of bias, we will apply the Rating Tool for Human and Animal Studies developed by NTP/OHAT, supplemented with additional questions relevant for cross-over studies. Where sufficiently similar studies are identified (e.g. the heterogeneity concerning population, exposure and outcome is low and the studies can be combined), we will conduct random-effects meta-analysis; otherwise, we will conduct a narrative synthesis.

Assessment of certainty of evidence: The certainty of evidence for each identified outcome will be assessed according to Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE). Performing the review according to this protocol will allow the identification of possible effects of RF-EMFs on cognitive performance in humans. The protocol has been registered in PROSPERO, an open-source protocol registration system, to foster transparency.

Financial support

This project is funded by the World Health Organization.

Registration

PROSPERO CRD42021236168.

Declaration of Competing Interest

The authors declare that they have no known competing financial interests or personal relationships that could have appeared to influence the work reported in this paper.

Open access paper: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412021004086?via%3Dihub

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SR7: The effects of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields exposure on tinnitus, migraine and non-specific symptoms in the general and working population: A protocol for a systematic review on human observational studies

Martin Röösli, Stefan Dongus, Hamed Jalilian, Maria Feychting, John Eyers, Ekpereonne Esu, Chioma Moses Oringanje, Martin Meremikwu, Xavier Bosch-Capblanch. The effects of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields exposure on tinnitus, migraine and non-specific symptoms in the general and working population: A protocol for a systematic review on human observational studies. Environment International, Volume 157, 2021. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2021.106852.

Highlights

• There is public concern to develop non-specific symptoms from EMF.
• No up to date comprehensive systematic review is available.
• Priority outcomes for head exposure are tinnitus, migraine, and headaches.
• Further priority outcomes are sleep disturbances and composite symptom scores.

Abstract

Background  Applications emitting radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF; 100 kHz to 300 GHz) are widely used for communication (e.g. mobile phones), in medicine (diathermy) and in industry (RF heaters). Concern has been raised that RF-EMF exposure affects health related quality of life, because a part of the population reports to experience a variety of symptoms related to low exposure levels below regulatory limits.

Objectives  To systematically review the effects of longer-term or repeated local and whole human body RF-EMF exposure on the occurrence of symptoms evaluating migraine, tinnitus, headaches, sleep disturbances and composite symptom scores as primary outcomes.

Methods  We will follow the WHO handbook for guideline development. For the development of the systematic review protocol we considered handbook for conducting systematic reviews for health effects evaluations from the National Toxicology Program-Office of Health Assessment and Translation (NTP-OHAT) and COSTER (Recommendations for the conduct of systematic reviews in toxicology and environmental health research).

Eligibility criteria  Peer-reviewed epidemiological studies in the general population or workers aiming to investigate the association between local or whole-body RF-EMF exposure for at least one week and symptoms are eligible for inclusion. Only cohort, case-control and panel studies will be included.

Information sources  We will search the scientific literature databases Medline, Web of Science, PsycInfo, Cochrane Library, Epistemonikos and Embase, using a predefined search strategy. This search will be supplemented by a search in the EMF-Portal and checks of reference lists of relevant papers and reviews.

Study appraisal and synthesis method  Data from included papers will be extracted according to predefined forms. Findings will be summarized in tables, graphical displays and in a narrative synthesis of the available evidence, complemented with meta-analyses. We will separately review effects of local, far field and occupational exposure.

Risk of bias The internal validity of included studies will be assessed using the NTP-OHAT Risk of Bias Rating Tool for Human and Animal Studies, elaborated to observational RF-EMF studies.

Evidence appraisal  To rate certainty of the evidence, we will use the OHAT GRADE-based approach for epidemiological studies.

Framework and funding  This protocol concerns one of the ten different systematic reviews considered in a larger systematic review of the World Health Organization to assess potential health effects of exposure to RF-EMF in the general and working population.

Registration PROSPERO CRD42021239432.

Open access paper: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412021004773?via%3Dihub

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SR8: The effects of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields exposure on human self-reported symptoms: A protocol for a systematic review of human experimental studies

Xavier Bosch-Capblanch, Ekpereonne Esu, Stefan Dongus, Chioma Moses Oringanje, Hamed Jalilian, John Eyers, Gunnhild Oftedal, Martin Meremikwu, Martin Röösli. The effects of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields exposure on human self-reported symptoms: A protocol for a systematic review of human experimental studies. Environment International. 158, 2022, 106953. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2021.106953.

Abstract

Background  The technological applications of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) have been steadily increasing since the 1950s across multiple sectors exposing large proportions of the population. This fact has raised concerns related to the potential consequences to people’s health. The World Health Organization (WHO) is assessing the potential health effects of exposure to RF-EMF and has carried out an international survey amongst experts, who have identified six priority topics to be further addressed through systematic reviews, whereof the effects on symptoms is one of them. We report here the systematic review protocol of experimental studies in humans assessing the effects of RF-EMF on symptoms.

Objective  Our objectives are to assess the effects of exposure to electromagnetic fields (compared to no or lower exposure levels) on symptoms in human subjects. We will also assess the accuracy of perception of presence of exposure in volunteers with and without idiopathic environmental intolerance attributed to electromagnetic fields (IEI-EMF).

Eligibility criteria  We will search relevant literature sources (e.g. the Web of Science, Medline, Embase, Epistemonikos) for randomized trials (comparing at least two arms) and randomised crossover trials of RF-EMF exposure that have assessed the effects on symptoms. We will also include studies that have measured the accuracy of the perception of the presence or absence of exposure. We will include studies in any language.

Study appraisal and synthesis  Studies will be assessed against inclusion criteria by two independent reviewers. Data on study characteristics, participants, exposure, comparators and effects will be extracted using a specific template for this review, by two independent reviewers. Discrepancies will be solved by consensus. Risk of bias (ROB) will be assessed using the ROB Rating Tool for Human and Animal Studies and the level of confidence in the evidence of the exposure-outcome relations will be assessed using the GRADE approach. For the perception studies, we will use adapted versions of the ROB tool and GRADE assessment. Where appropriate, data will be combined using meta-analytical techniques.


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SR9: The effect of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) on biomarkers of oxidative stress in vivo and in vitro: A protocol for a systematic review

Bernd Henschenmacher, Annette Bitsch, Tonia de las Heras Gala, Henry Jay Forman, Athanassios Fragoulis, Pietro Ghezzi, Rupert Kellner, Wolfgang Koch, Jens Kuhne, Dmitrij Sachno, Gernot Schmid, Katya Tsaioun, Jos Verbeek, Robert Wright. The effect of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) on biomarkers of oxidative stress in vivo and in vitro: A protocol for a systematic review. Environment International. 158, 2022, 106932. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2021.106932.

Abstract

Background  Oxidative stress is conjectured to be related to many diseases. Furthermore, it is hypothesized that radiofrequency fields may induce oxidative stress in various cell types and thereby compromise human and animal health. This systematic review (SR) aims to summarize and evaluate the literature related to this hypothesis.

Objectives  The main objective of this SR is to evaluate the associations between the exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields and oxidative stress in experimental models (in vivo and in vitro).

Methods  The SR framework has been developed following the guidelines established in the WHO Handbook for Guideline Development and the Handbook for Conducting a Literature-Based Health Assessment). We will include controlled in vivo and in vitro laboratory studies that assess the effects of an exposure to RF-EMF on valid markers for oxidative stress compared to no or sham exposure. The protocol is registered in PROSPERO.

We will search the following databases: PubMed, Embase, Web of Science Core Collection, Scopus, and the EMF-Portal. The reference lists of included studies and retrieved review articles will also be manually searched.

Study appraisal and synthesis method  Data will be extracted according to a pre-defined set of forms developed in the DistillerSR online software and synthesized in a meta-analysis when studies are judged sufficiently similar to be combined. If a meta-analysis is not possible, we will describe the effects of the exposure in a narrative way.

Risk of bias  The risk of bias will be assessed with the NTP/OHAT risk of bias rating tool for human and animal studies.

We will use GRADE to assess the certainty of the conclusions (high, moderate, low, or inadequate) regarding the association between radiofrequency electromagnetic fields and oxidative stress.

Funding  This work was funded by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Registration  The protocol was registered on the PROSPERO webpage on July 8, 2021.

Open access paper: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412021005572

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Prioritizing health outcomes when assessing the effects of exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields: A survey among experts

Jos Verbeek, Gunnhild Oftedal, Maria Feychting, Eric van Rongen, Maria Rosaria Scarfì, Simon Mann, Rachel Wong, Emilie van Deventer. Prioritizing health outcomes when assessing the effects of exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields: A survey among experts. Environment International. Volume 146, 2021. 106300. 
doi:10.1016/j.envint.2020.106300.

Highlights

• RF EMF may lead to other than heat-related health effects by yet unknown mechanisms
• Prioritizing health effects is needed for review utility and resource efficiency.
• RF EMF experts prioritized all peer-reviewed published biological and health outcomes.
• Cancer, heat-related effects, and adverse birth outcomes were rated most critical.
• WHO commissioned ten systematic reviews of the most critical health outcomes.

Abstract

Exposure to radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic fields (EMF) (frequencies of 100 kHz to 300 GHz) has been steadily increasing. In addition to heat-related effects of RF EMF, other yet-unspecified biological effects, might exist which could possibly lead to health effects. Given the large number of health endpoints that have been studied, we wanted to prioritize those that would merit systematic reviews.

We developed a survey listing of all health endpoints reported in the literature and we asked 300 RF EMF experts and researchers to prioritize these health effects for systematic review as critical, important or unimportant. We also asked the experts to provide the rationale for their prioritization.

Of the 300 RF EMF experts queried, 164 (54%) responded. They rated cancer, heat-related effects, adverse birth outcomes, electromagnetic hypersensitivity, cognitive impairment, adverse pregnancy outcomes and oxidative stress as outcomes most critical regarding RF EMF exposure. For these outcomes, systematic reviews are needed. For heat-related outcomes, the experts based their ranking of the critical outcomes on what is known from human or animal studies, and for cancer and other outcomes, they based their rating also on public concern.

To assess health risks of an exposure in a robust manner, it is important to prioritize the health outcomes that should be systematically reviewed. Here we have shown that it feasible to do so in an inclusive and transparent way.

Excerpts

Given the limited resources available for systematic reviews, it was decided to include male fertility but not brain electrical function. The ratings of these two outcomes as critical were similar, but more experts rated male fertility as important....

Declaration of Competing Interest

MF was vice chairman (May 2016 – May 2020) of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection, an independent body setting guidelines for non-ionizing radiation protection. She has served as advisor to several national and international public advisory and research steering groups concerning the potential health effects of exposure to non-ionizing radiation.

MRS is in the Scientific Council of the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority for preparing reports on the evaluation of the scientific literature related to electromagnetic fields and health.

GO is member of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection. She has been member of groups appointed by Norwegian authorities to evaluate potential health effects of non-ionizing electromagnetic fields.

EvR was chairman (May 2016 – May 2020) of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection and is currently vice-chairman. He is also member of the Scientific Council of the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority.

SM is a member of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection’s Scientific Expert Group. Within the UK, he is Secretary to the Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment and he was Secretary (until 2017) to the Advisory Group on Non-Ionising Radiation.

All other authors have declared no conflict of interest.


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Assessing risk of bias in human environmental epidemiology studies using three tools: different conclusions from different tools

Stephanie M. Eick, Dana E. Goin, Nicholas Chartres, Juleen Lam, Tracey J. Woodruff. Assessing risk of bias in human environmental epidemiology studies using three tools: different conclusions from different tools. Syst Rev 9, 249 (2020). doi: 10.1186/s13643-020-01490-8.

Abstract

Background  Systematic reviews are increasingly prevalent in environmental health due to their ability to synthesize evidence while reducing bias. Different systematic review methods have been developed by the US National Toxicology Program’s Office of Health Assessment and Translation (OHAT), the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS), and by the US EPA under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), including the approach to assess risk of bias (ROB), one of the most vital steps which is used to evaluate internal validity of the studies. Our objective was to compare the performance of three tools (OHAT, IRIS, TSCA) in assessing ROB.

Methods  We selected a systematic review on polybrominated diphenyl ethers and intelligence quotient and/or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder because it had been endorsed by the National Academy of Sciences. Two reviewers followed verbatim instructions from the tools and independently applied each tool to assess ROB in 15 studies previously identified. We documented the time to apply each tool and the impact the ROB ratings for each tool had on the final rating of the quality of the overall body of evidence.

Results  The time to complete the ROB assessments varied widely (mean = 20, 32, and 40 min per study for the OHAT, IRIS, and TSCA tools, respectively). All studies were rated overall “low” or “uninformative” using IRIS, due to “deficient” or “critically deficient” ratings in one or two domains. Similarly, all studies were rated “unacceptable” using the TSCA tool because of one “unacceptable” rating in a metric related to statistical power. Approximately half of the studies had “low” or “probably low ROB” ratings across all domains with the OHAT and Navigation Guide tools.

Conclusions  Tools that use overall ROB or study quality ratings, such as IRIS and TSCA, may reduce the available evidence to assess the harms of environmental exposures by erroneously excluding studies, which leads to inaccurate conclusions about the quality of the body of evidence. We recommend using ROB tools that circumvent these issues, such as OHAT and Navigation Guide.


Monday, November 8, 2021

Recent Research on Wireless Radiation and Electromagnetic Fields

I have been circulating abstracts of newly-published scientific papers on wireless radiation and electromagnetic fields (EMF) about once a month since August 2016. These updates are sent to several hundred EMF scientists around the world.

The latest additions appear below. The complete collection of abstracts now covers more than 1,300 scientific papers. This 1,094-page document (pdf) can be downloaded by clicking on the following link:


Note: This link will change when new abstracts are added to the collection.

Recent Papers

The conspiracy of Covid-19 and 5G: Spatial analysis fallacies in the age of data democratization

Eoin Flaherty, Tristan Sturm, Elizabeth Farries. The conspiracy of Covid-19 and 5G: Spatial analysis fallacies in the age of data democratization. Social Science & Medicine. 2021, 114546. 2021. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2021.114546.

Abstract

In a context of mistrust in public health institutions and practices, anti-COVID/vaccination protests and the storming of Congress have illustrated that conspiracy theories are real and immanent threat to health and wellbeing, democracy, and public understanding of science. One manifestation of this is the suggested correlation of COVID-19 with 5G mobile technology. Throughout 2020, this alleged correlation was promoted and distributed widely on social media, often in the form of maps overlaying the distribution of COVID-19 cases with the instillation of 5G towers. These conspiracy theories are not fringe phenomena, and they form part of a growing repertoire for conspiracist activist groups with capacities for organised violence. In this paper, we outline how spatial data have been co-opted, and spatial correlations asserted by conspiracy theorists. We consider the basis of their claims of causal association with reference to three key areas of geographical explanation: (1) how social properties are constituted and how they exert complex causal forces, (2) the pitfalls of correlation with spatial and ecological data, and (3) the challenges of specifying and interpreting causal effects with spatial data. For each, we consider the unique theoretical and technical challenges involved in specifying meaningful correlation, and how their discarding facilitates conspiracist attribution. In doing so, we offer a basis both to interrogate conspiracists’ uses and interpretation of data from elementary principles and offer some cautionary notes on the potential for their future misuse in an age of data democratization. Finally, this paper contributes to work on the basis of conspiracy theories in general, by asserting how – absent an appreciation of these key methodological principles – spatial health data may be especially prone to co-option by conspiracist groups.


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The Havana Syndrome and Microwave Weapons [Health Matters]

James C. Lin. The Havana Syndrome and Microwave Weapons [Health Matters]. IEEE Microwave Magazine. 22(11):13-14. Nov. 2021. doi: 10.1109/MMM.2021.3102201.

Abstract

Every few months, if not weeks, another mysterious attack on U.S. diplomatic and intelligence personnel is reported. Some of the attacks occurred years ago, while others were recounted as recently as July 2021 [1] – [3] . Over the past four or five years, nearly 200 U.S. personnel have reported similar attacks while working in places like Havana, Guangzhou, London, Moscow, Vienna, and Washington, D.C. The acute symptoms include headache and nausea immediately following the sounds of loud buzzing or bursts. The illness and symptoms have been called the “Havana Syndrome” after the place where cases were first reported. It refers to the range of symptoms first experienced by U.S. State Department personnel overseas.

Excerpt

Assuming reported accounts are reliable, the microwave auditory effect provides a scientific explanation for the Havana Syndrome [4], [5]. Pulsed microwaves can create an acoustic wave inside the head [6], [7], [14]. It is plausible that the loud buzzing, burst of sound, or pressure waves could have been covertly delivered using a beam of high power pulsed microwave radiation rather than blasting the subjects with conventional sonic sources. Microwave hearing doesn’t go through the ear; it goes directly from the brain tissue to the cochlea. Absorption of short pulses of microwave energy by brain tissues creates a rapid expansion of brain matter and launches an acoustic wave of pressure (sound wave) that travels inside the head to the inner ear cochlea [7], [14]. The short high-power microwave pulses do not generate noticeable amounts of heat in the brain tissues.

https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/9557212

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Solar Activity Is Associated With Diastolic and Systolic Blood Pressure in Elderly Adults

Veronica A Wang, Carolina L Zilli Vieira, Eric Garshick, Joel D Schwartz, Michael S Garshick, Pantel Vokonas, Petros Koutrakis. Solar Activity Is Associated With Diastolic and Systolic Blood Pressure in Elderly Adults.
J Am Heart Assoc. 2021 Nov 2;10(21):e021006. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.120.021006.

Abstract


Background  Since solar activity and related geomagnetic disturbances modulate autonomic nervous system activity, we hypothesized that these events would be associated with blood pressure (BP).

Methods   We studied 675 elderly men from the Normative Aging Study (Boston, MA) with 1949 BP measurements between 2000 and 2017. Mixed-effects regression models were used to investigate the association of average 1-day (ie, day of BP measurement) to 28-day interplanetary magnetic field intensity, sunspot number, and a dichotomized measure of global geomagnetic activity (Kp index) in 4-day increments with diastolic and systolic BP. We adjusted for meteorological conditions and other covariates associated with BP, and in additional models adjusted for ambient air pollutants (particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter ≤2.5 µm, black carbon, and particle number) and ambient particle radioactivity.
 
Results There were positive associations between interplanetary magnetic field, sunspot number, and Kp index and BP that were greatest with these exposures averaged over 16 through 28 days before BP measurement. An interquartile range increase of 16-day interplanetary magnetic field and sunspot number and higher Kp index were associated with a 2.5 (95% CI, 1.7‒3.2), 2.8 (95% CI, 2.1‒3.4), and 1.7 (95% CI, 0.8‒2.5) mm Hg increase, respectively, for diastolic BP as well as a 2.1 (95% CI, 0.7‒3.6), 2.7 (95% CI, 1.5‒4.0), and 0.4 (95% CI, -1.2 to 2.1) mm Hg increase, respectively, for systolic BP. Associations remained after adjustment for ambient air pollutants and ambient particle radioactivity.

Conclusions   Solar activity and solar-driven geomagnetic disturbances were positively associated with BP, suggesting that these natural phenomena influence BP in elderly men.

Clinical Perspective

What Is New?
  • Solar and geomagnetic activity were associated with increases in blood pressure in a large cohort of predominantly White, elderly men.

  • The association with blood pressure was similar to or greater than that of particulate pollution and of radioactivity associated with ambient particles.

  • The association of solar and geomagnetic activity with blood pressure was independent of these pollutants.

What Are the Clinical Implications?
  • These findings suggest that natural phenomena linked to the solar cycle contributes to increases in blood pressure and, therefore, may influence hypertension management.

The Earth's magnetic field protects living organisms from long‐term, harmful extra‐terrestrial radiation. Despite this protective shield, solar activity can cause geomagnetic disturbances (GMD), disruptions to the Earth's natural magnetic field oscillations, and can impact autonomic nervous system activities,1, 2 which can, in turn, directly and indirectly play a role in initiating and sustaining high blood pressure (BP).3 Numerous pathogenic risk factors such as genetic predisposition,4 physical activity,5 and diet6 have been identified to play key roles in the development of hypertension. A recent review7 highlighted the role of environmental factors, such as temperature, altitude, latitude, and air pollutants, in elevating BP, but few studies considered solar activity and GMD as risk factors for the development of hypertension or transient increases in BP. In those that have,8, 9 the findings suggest that individuals have elevated BP several days before and after magnetic storms.

To gain insight and provide awareness into the association between solar activity and BP in elderly men, a vulnerable population at high risk for cardiovascular disease,10 we conducted a repeated measures analysis to examine the association of average 1‐day (ie, day of BP measurement) to 28‐day solar activity and GMD with BP among elderly men in Boston, MA who had between 1 and 8 health assessments over 17 years. We hypothesized that solar and geomagnetic activity is positively associated with systolic blood pressure (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP).


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Assessment of Human Exposure to Electromagnetic Fields: Review and Future Directions

Akimasa Hirata, Yinliang Diao, Teruo Onishi, Kensuke Sasaki, Seunyoung Ahn,  Davide Colombi, Valerio De Santis, Ilkka Laakso, Luca Giaccone, Wout Joseph, Essam A. Rashed, Wolfgang Kainz, Ji Chen. Assessment of Human Exposure to Electromagnetic Fields: Review and Future Directions. IEEE Transactions on Electromagnetic Compatibility, doi: 10.1109/TEMC.2021.3109249.

Wolfgang Kainz, Center for Devices and Radiological Health, Food and Drug Administration, Silver Spring, MD 20852 USA (e-mail: wolfgang.kainz@fda.hhs.gov).

Abstract

This article reviews recent standardization activities and scientific studies related to the assessment of human exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF). The differences of human exposure standards and assessment of consumer products and medical applications are summarized. First, we reviewed human body modeling and tissue dielectric properties. Then, we explain the rationale of current exposure standards from the viewpoint of EMF and the standardization process for product compliance based on these exposure standards. The assessment of wireless power transfer, as an example of emerging wireless devices, and environmental EMFs in our daily lives are reviewed. Safety in magnetic resonance systems, where the EMF exposure is much larger than from typical consumer devices, is also reviewed. Finally, we summarize future research directions and research needs for EMF safety.

Excerpts

The overall improvement in human model accuracy is an important topic as mentioned in Section II-A and B. This may include an intersubject variability study using different models or an analysis of the population level. In addition, the accurate measurement of dielectric human tissue properties is essential for evaluating the induced field strength. Recent studies suggest that the conductivity of skin and brain tissues may be significantly higher than those commonly used in LF dosimetry (e.g., [31]). Recent publications reported a novel approach for dielectric measurements that allows the estimation of dielectric human tissue properties in vivo using MRI [137]. These and other novel medical imaging and measurement technologies will help to further improve human body modeling.

Research needs in the areas of human EMF safety (Section III) are summarized by various international standardization bodies [4], [138], [139]. The topics listed therein relate to human body modeling, as well as the necessity of more accurate dosimetry, which includes reductions of uncertainties, and multiphysics or multiscale methods for correlating the field quantities with substantiated biological effects (e.g., [140]). The assessments of exposure to emerging LF and RF technologies and simultaneous exposure (local and whole-body) to multiple sources will also prove useful for identifying potential changes in the dominant factors affecting EM safety. Additional research on human EM safety will provide more scientific data and improve the justifications for exposure limits, especially at frequencies higher than 6 GHz, and in the intermediate frequency range.

New mobile wireless technologies, such as 5G/6G and beyond, are being developed continuously. Their safe use demands not only conservative short- and long-term exposure limits for the new frequencies, but also adequately standardized compliance methods. Therefore, additional relevant exposure evaluation methods are needed to support frequencies from 100 to 300 GHz within the next 10 years. As the complexity of new wireless technologies has substantially increased over the years, further development and standardization of novel and more efficient EMF compliance testing methodologies are needed. International standardization will continue to play a key role in harmonizing global test procedures to establish compliance with current and future wireless technologies. One challenge faced by standardization will be to define test conditions that provide conservative, but realistic exposure conditions based on real-life situations, rather than relying on theoretical or unreasonable assumptions and simplifications. The assessment methods by the computation may become more common for emerging wireless systems, and thus further research is needed for verification of its effectiveness in different scenarios.

Future work for the environmental spectral measurement (see Section V) will focus on measurement procedures to assess worst-cases and realistic exposure to EMF from 5G New Radio (NR)—Ma-MIMO with a focus on sub-6 GHz and millimeter wave bands. The literature scarcely documents in situ assessment of 5G Ma-MIMO signals at millimeter waves and the proper adjustment of measurement settings. For personal exposimeter studies, protocols for 5G personal exposure assessment will need to include active and inactive users. In contrast to legacy technologies, Ma-MIMO base station exposure strongly depends on the activity of the individual user (e.g., streaming data, downloading files, and web browsing). Involving millimeter waves for personal exposure assessment is a significant challenge.

Also, in RF-MR safety, it is necessary to develop clinically relevant human body models for measurements in addition to developing new computational methods for multiscale and multiphysics applications. Most computational human body models use over 30 different types of tissue. However, below 500 MHz dielectric human tissues properties are not significantly different from each other. Some preliminary studies provided evidence that simplified human body models can still achieve accurate EM simulation results. This leads to the possibility of developing simplified computational and experimental models for different RF-MR safety measurement needs for PIMDs, AIMDs, and high-field MR systems (e.g., [141]). Furthermore, simple and equivalent test methods/equipment those are based on the physics principles should be developed (e.g., [142]).


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Accurately assessing exposure to radio frequency electromagnetic fields from 5G networks

Accurately assessing exposure to radio frequency electromagnetic fields from 5G networks. Ericsson white paper. GFTL-21:001105 Uen. October 2021.

No abstract.

Excerpts

"Measurements were recently taken in a large number of street-level locations around base stations in a commercial 5G network with massive MIMO base stations operating in the 3.5GHz band [9]. It was found that the contribution from the 5G network to the total environmental RF EMF exposure was less than 10 percent even in the case of 100 percent induced traffic and that the maximum exposure levels from the 5G base stations were 150 to 200 times below the international limits set by the ICNIRP."

Conclusion

"The high spectrum efficiency and the advanced antenna technologies used by 5G NR lead to lower levels of RF EMF exposure than from earlier generations of mobile networks for comparable services. The base stations in 5G NR networks need to comply with the same RF EMF safety regulations as other radio equipment, and the limits cover all frequency bands used by 5G, including those in the millimeter-wave range. International RF EMF exposure guidelines have recently been published based on the latest available scientific research, with conservative limits that have been or will be adopted in national regulations. Assessing compliance with RF EMF limits may be a challenge for massive MIMO 5G base stations due to dynamic beam steering, but solutions such as envelope beam pattern files together with recommended power reduction factors are available to enable accurate evaluations. The typical overall environmental RF EMF exposure will remain at a small fraction of international limits even with 5G being deployed since the contribution from 5G is relatively small."


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Physical units to report intensity of electromagnetic wave

R Ramirez-Vazquez, I Escobar, T Franco, E Arribas. Physical units to report intensity of electromagnetic wave. Environ Res. 2021 Nov 2;112341. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2021.112341.

Abstract

The aim of this work is to propose a consensus to scientific community that handles personal exposimeters, which measure intensity of an electromagnetic wave (W/m2). To express the intensity of an electromagnetic wave there is a duality in the way of expressing it. Some scientists prefer to use W/m2 while others use V/m, which is a unit of the electric field. There is also a duality in the name, sometimes it is called it power flux density and some other times, wave intensity. We believe that this second name is more appropriate from the point of view of physics. We suggest expressing intensity of an electromagnetic wave in W/m2 instead of giving the value of their electric field which is measured in V/m. There is a quadratic relation between electric field and intensity of the wave, and it is necessary to do a mathematical operation, so in our opinion, it is preferable to use W/m2 which directly gives us the value of the measured intensity. Furthermore, if the intensity is very low, it may be expressed in μW/m2 and with only three significant figures, due to sensitivity of the current exposimeters used.


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The effects of radiofrequency exposure on male fertility and adverse reproductive outcomes: A protocol for two systematic reviews of human observational studies with meta-analysis

Kenny RPW, Millar EB, Adesanya A, Richmond C, Beyer F, Calderon C, Rankin J, Toledano M, Feychting M, Pearce MS, Craig D, Pearson F. The effects of radiofrequency exposure on male fertility and adverse reproductive outcomes: A protocol for two systematic reviews of human observational studies with meta-analysis. Environ Int. 2021 Nov 1;158:106968. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2021.106968.

Abstract

Background: The World Health Organization (WHO) is bringing together evidence on radiofrequency electromagnetic field (RF-EMF) exposure in relation to health outcomes, previously identified as priorities for evaluation by experts in the field, to inform exposure guidelines. A suite of systematic reviews are being undertaken by a network of topic experts and methodologists in order to collect, assess and synthesise data relevant to these guidelines. Here, we present the protocol for the systematic review on the effect of exposure to RF on adverse reproductive outcomes (human observational studies), also referred to as Systematic Review (SR) 3 within the series of systematic reviews currently being commissioned.

Objectives: Following the WHO handbook for guideline development and the COSTER conduct guidelines, we will systematically review the effect of RF-EMF exposure on both male fertility (SR3A) and adverse pregnancy outcomes (SR3B) in human observational studies. Herein we adhere to the PRISMA-P reporting guidelines.

Data sources: We will conduct a broad search for potentially relevant records relevant for both reviews within the following bibliographic databases: MEDLINE; Embase; and EMF Portal. We will also conduct searches of grey literature through relevant databases and organisational websites. RF-EMF experts will also be consulted. We will hand search citation and reference lists of included study records.

Study eligibility criteria: We will include quantitative human observational studies on the effect of RF-EMF exposure: (in SR3A) in adult male participants on infertility, sperm morphology, concentration or total sperm count or motility; and (in SR3B) in preconception adults or pregnant women on preterm birth, small for gestational age (associated with intrauterine growth restriction), miscarriage, stillbirth and congenital anomalies.

Study appraisal and synthesis methods: Titles, abstracts and then full texts will be screened in blinded duplicate against eligibility criteria with input from a third reviewer as required. Data extraction from included studies will be completed by two reviewers as will risk of bias assessment using the Office of Health Assessment and Translation (OHAT) tool. If appropriate we will undertake meta-analysis to pool effect measures and explore heterogeneity using sub-group analyses or meta-regression as feasible. We will conduct sensitivity analysis to assess the impact of any assumptions made throughout the review process. The OHAT methodology, based on the GRADE guidelines for evidence assessment, will be used to evaluate the certainty of evidence per outcome and to conclude the level of evidence of a health effect.

Conclusion: This manuscript details the protocols for two systematic reviews. The aims of publishing details of both protocols are to: pre-specify their scope and methods; reduce the impact of reviewer bias; promote transparency and replicability; and improve the review process.

Prospero registration: CRD42021265401 (SR3A), CRD42021266268 (SR3B).


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The effects of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields exposure on human self-reported symptoms: A protocol for a systematic review of human experimental studies

Bosch-Capblanch X, Esu E, Dongus S, Oringanje CM, Jalilian H, Eyers J, Oftedal G, Meremikwu M, Röösli M. The effects of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields exposure on human self-reported symptoms: A protocol for a systematic review of human experimental studies. Environ Int. 2021 Nov 1;158:106953. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2021.106953. 
Abstract

Background: The technological applications of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) have been steadily increasing since the 1950s across multiple sectors exposing large proportions of the population. This fact has raised concerns related to the potential consequences to people's health. The World Health Organization (WHO) is assessing the potential health effects of exposure to RF-EMF and has carried out an international survey amongst experts, who have identified six priority topics to be further addressed through systematic reviews, whereof the effects on symptoms is one of them. We report here the systematic review protocol of experimental studies in humans assessing the effects of RF-EMF on symptoms.

Objective: Our objectives are to assess the effects of exposure to electromagnetic fields (compared to no or lower exposure levels) on symptoms in human subjects. We will also assess the accuracy of perception of presence of exposure in volunteers with and without idiopathic environmental intolerance attributed to electromagnetic fields (IEI-EMF).

Eligibility criteria: We will search relevant literature sources (e.g. the Web of Science, Medline, Embase, Epistemonikos) for randomized trials (comparing at least two arms) and randomised crossover trials of RF-EMF exposure that have assessed the effects on symptoms. We will also include studies that have measured the accuracy of the perception of the presence or absence of exposure. We will include studies in any language.

Study appraisal and synthesis: Studies will be assessed against inclusion criteria by two independent reviewers. Data on study characteristics, participants, exposure, comparators and effects will be extracted using a specific template for this review, by two independent reviewers. Discrepancies will be solved by consensus. Risk of bias (ROB) will be assessed using the ROB Rating Tool for Human and Animal Studies and the level of confidence in the evidence of the exposure-outcome relations will be assessed using the GRADE approach. For the perception studies, we will use adapted versions of the ROB tool and GRADE assessment. Where appropriate, data will be combined using meta-analytical techniques.


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Radio-frequency exposure of the yellow fever mosquito (A. aegypti) from 2 to 240 GHz

De Borre E, Joseph W, Aminzadeh R, Müller P, Boone MN, Josipovic I, et al. (2021) Radio-frequency exposure of the yellow fever mosquito (A. aegypti) from 2 to 240 GHz. PLoS Comput Biol 17(10): e1009460. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1009460

Abstract

Fifth generation networks (5G) will be associated with a partial shift to higher carrier frequencies, including wavelengths of insects. This may lead to higher absorption of radio frequency (RF) electromagnetic fields (EMF) by insects and could cause dielectric heating. The yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti), a vector for diseases such as yellow and dengue fever, favors warm climates. Being exposed to higher frequency RF EMFs causing possible dielectric heating, could have an influence on behavior, physiology and morphology, and could be a possible factor for introduction of the species in regions where the yellow fever mosquito normally does not appear. In this study, the influence of far field RF exposure on A. aegypti was examined between 2 and 240 GHz. Using Finite Difference Time Domain (FDTD) simulations, the distribution of the electric field in and around the insect and the absorbed RF power were found for six different mosquito models (three male, three female). The 3D models were created from micro-CT scans of real mosquitoes. The dielectric properties used in the simulation were measured from a mixture of homogenized A. aegypti. For a given incident RF power, the absorption increases with increasing frequency between 2 and 90 GHz with a maximum between 90 and 240 GHz. The absorption was maximal in the region where the wavelength matches the size of the mosquito. For a same incident field strength, the power absorption by the mosquito is 16 times higher at 60 GHz than at 6 GHz. The higher absorption of RF power by future technologies can result in dielectric heating and potentially influence the biology of this mosquito.

Author summary

Radio Frequency (RF) exposure of the A. aegypti mosquito can lead to absorption and dielectric heating. We used Finite Difference Time Domain (FDTD) simulations between 2 and 240 GHz to study the RF power absorbed by the insect and the distribution of the electric field (EF) in and around it. For this, three male and three female mosquito 3D models were constructed from micro-CT scans. We used high resolution models and dielectric properties, both retrieved from real insects, to gain realistic outputs. For increasing frequency up to 90 GHz, the absorbed power increases for all models. At 90–120 GHz, the wavelength is comparable to the body size, and the increase in absorbed powers reaches a maximum. Therefore, moving to higher frequencies in 5G, implies higher absorbed power and possibly higher dielectric heating of the insect.

Excerpt 

The insect of interest in this paper is the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti, it is known as a vector for diseases such as yellow fever, dengue fever and zika virus infections [14, 15]. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S., yellow fever cases and deaths worldwide are estimated at 200,000 and 30,000 each year [16], respectively. The yellow fever mosquito is a tropical species favouring a hot and humid environment. Temperature affects the life cycle and feeding behaviour of the mosquito and the reproduction of the viruses [14, 15]. RF power absorption and dielectric heating can cause disturbance in for example the behaviour or development of the mosquito. Another interesting consequence of dielectric heating and higher body temperature, may be the spread of the mosquito to areas that are normally unfavorable for them. Be that as it may, the focus in this paper is on the RF power absorption, the dielectric heating or other consequences are not considered.

Open access paper: https://journals.plos.org/ploscompbiol/article?id=10.1371/journal.pcbi.1009460

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The detrimental effect of cell phone radiation on sperm biological characteristics in normozoospermic

Mohammadmehdi Hassanzadeh-Taheri, Mohammad Ali Khalili, Ali Hosseininejad Mohebati, Mahmood Zardast, Mehran Hosseini, Maria Grazia Palmerini, Mohammad Reza Doostabadi. The detrimental effect of cell phone radiation on sperm biological characteristics in normozoospermic. Andrologia. 10 October 2021. doi: 10.1111/and.14257.

Abstract

Radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation emitted from cell phone has harmful effects on some organs of the body, such as the brain, heart, and testes. This study aimed to assess the effects of cell phones on sperm parameters, DNA fragmentation, and apoptosis in normozoospermic. Normal sperm samples were divided into two groups of control and case. The samples from the case were placed for 60 min at a distance of approximately 2.5 cm from the cell phone set in the active antenna position. Control samples were exposed to cell phones without active antennas. All specimens were analysed by World Health Organization criteria. Sperm viability, sperm with chromatin abnormality and maturity, DNA fragmentation, and apoptosis were examined. Viability and motility in the case were significantly lower than the control (p < .001, p = .004 respectively). The percentage of apoptotic sperms and DNA fragmentation were significantly higher in the case when compared with the control (p = .031, p < .001 respectively). The other parameters studied such as morphology, chromatin abnormality, and maturity showed no significant difference between the case and control groups. Cell phone waves had a detrimental effect on human sperm's biological features. Therefore, it is recommended to keep the cell phone away from the pelvis as much as possible.

Conclusion

The cell phone waves can reduce the sperm's biological characteristics, such as morphology, motility, viability, DNA integrity, and an increase in apoptosis in normozoospermic men. Therefore, it is recommended for men to keep the cell phone away from their pelvic.


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Prenatal chronic exposure to electromagnetic fields modulated adenosine deaminase activity in serum and brain of Wistar rats’ offspring

Behrooz Mohammadi, Mahdi Sadegh, Homa Soleimani. Prenatal chronic exposure to electromagnetic fields modulated adenosine deaminase activity in serum and brain of Wistar rats’ offspring, Journal of Microwave Power and Electromagnetic Energy. 2021. DOI: 10.1080/08327823.2021.1993045

Abstract

Considering the importance of the embryonic stage, we investigated the brain and serum ADA of offspring chronically exposed to low and high frequency electromagnetic field (EMF-LF/HF) during their embryonic period. Male and female rats were randomly selected for mating. After mating, the females were divided into four groups. The first group was exposed to extremely EMF-LF (50 Hz) through a solenoid for 30 minutes per day, the second group was constantly exposed to EMF-HF (900 MHz) via a cell phone, the third group (sham) was placed inside solenoid without any exposure, and the last group (control) was placed in their cage. The brain and serum samples of offspring (6 females and 6 males in each group) were collected four weeks after birth. ADA was measured by a specific enzymatic kit and a spectrophotometer. Exposure to EMF-LF (1.5 mT) was significantly increased the brain ADA activity in both male and female offspring. In addition, long-term HF exposure significantly enhanced serum ADA activity in males in compared with control group but, the brain ADA level was increased significantly in both genders(p < 0.01). The present study revealed alterations in the serum and brain ADA following embryonic exposure to HF and ELF. These alterations depended on gender, frequency and wave intensity.


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The Effect of Mobile Radiation on the Oxidative Stress Biomarkers in Pregnant Mice

Nargess Moghadasi, Iraj Alimohammadi, Ali Safari Variani, Azadeh Ashtarinezhad. The Effect of Mobile Radiation on the Oxidative Stress Biomarkers in Pregnant Mice. J Family Reprod Health. 2021 Sep;15(3):172-178. doi: 10.18502/jfrh.v15i3.7134.

Abstract

Objective: Due to the growing use of communication instruments such as cell phones and wireless devices, there is growing public concern about possible harmful effects, especially in sensitive groups such as pregnant women. This study aimed to investigate the oxidative stress induced by exposure to 900 MHz mobile phone radiation and the effect of vitamin C intake on reducing possible changes in pregnant mice.

Materials and methods: Twenty-one pregnant mice were divided into three groups (control, mobile radiation-exposed, and mobile radiation plus with vitamin C intake co-exposed (200 mg /kg)). The mice in exposure groups were exposed to 900 MHz, 2 watts, and a power density of 0.045 μw /cm2 mobile radiation for eight hours/day for ten consecutive days. After five days of rest, MDA (Malondialdehyde), 8-OHdG (8-hydroxy-2' -deoxyguanosine), and TAC (Total Antioxidant Capacity) levels were measured in the blood of animals. The results were analyzed by SPSS.22.0 software.

Results: The results showed that exposure to mobile radiation increased MDA (P=0.002), and 8-OHdG (P=0.001) significantly and decreased Total Antioxidant Capacity in the exposed groups (P=0.001). Taking vitamin C inhibited the significant increase in MDA and 8-OHdG levels in exposed groups.

Conclusion: Although exposure to mobile radiation can cause oxidative stress in the blood of pregnant mice, vitamin C as an antioxidant can prevent it.


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No Significant Effects of Cellphone Electromagnetic Radiation on Mice Memory or Anxiety: Some Mixed Effects on Traumatic Brain Injured Mice


Doaa Qubty, Shaul Schreiber, Vardit Rubovitch, Amir Boag, Chaim G Pick. No Significant Effects of Cellphone Electromagnetic Radiation on Mice Memory or Anxiety: Some Mixed Effects on Traumatic Brain Injured Mice. Neurotrauma Rep. 2021 Aug 17;2(1):381-390. doi: 10.1089/neur.2021.0009.

Abstract

Current literature details an array of contradictory results regarding the effect of radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation (RF-EMR) on health, both in humans and in animal models. The present study was designed to ascertain the conflicting data published regarding the possible impact of cellular exposure (radiation) on male and female mice as far as spatial memory, anxiety, and general well-being is concerned. To increase the likelihood of identifying possible "subtle" effects, we chose to test it in already cognitively impaired (following mild traumatic brain injury; mTBI) mice. Exposure to cellular radiation by itself had no significant impact on anxiety levels or spatial/visual memory in mice. When examining the dual impact of mTBI and cellular radiation on anxiety, no differences were found in the anxiety-like behavior as seen at the elevated plus maze (EPM). When exposed to both mTBI and cellular radiation, our results show improvement of visual memory impairment in both female and male mice, but worsening of the spatial memory of female mice. These results do not allow for a decisive conclusion regarding the possible hazards of cellular radiation on brain function in mice, and the mTBI did not facilitate identification of subtle effects by augmenting them.


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Cellular stress response to extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields (ELF-EMF): An explanation for controversial effects of ELF-EMF on apoptosis (Review)

Barati M, Darvishi B, Javidi MA, Mohammadian A, Shariatpanahi SP, Eisavand MR, Madjid Ansari A. Cellular stress response to extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields (ELF-EMF): An explanation for controversial effects of ELF-EMF on apoptosis. Cell Prolif. 2021 Nov 6:e13154. doi: 10.1111/cpr.13154.

Abstract

Impaired apoptosis is one of the hallmarks of cancer, and almost all of the non-surgical approaches of eradicating tumour cells somehow promote induction of apoptosis. Indeed, numerous studies have stated that non-ionizing non-thermal extremely low-frequency magnetic fields (ELF-MF) can modulate the induction of apoptosis in exposed cells; however, much controversy exists in observations. When cells are exposed to ELF-EMF alone, very low or no statistically significant changes in apoptosis are observed. Contrarily, exposure to ELF-EMF in the presence of a co-stressor, including a chemotherapeutic agent or ionizing radiation, can either potentiate or inhibit apoptotic effects of the co-stressor. In our idea, the main point neglected in interpreting these discrepancies is "the cellular stress responses" of cells following ELF-EMF exposure and its interplay with apoptosis. The main purpose of the current review was to outline the triangle of ELF-EMF, the cellular stress response of cells and apoptosis and to interpret and unify discrepancies in results based on it. Therefore, initially, we will describe studies performed on identifying the effect of ELF-EMF on induction/inhibition of apoptosis and enumerate proposed pathways through which ELF-EMF exposure may affect apoptosis; then, we will explain cellular stress response and cues for its induction in response to ELF-EMF exposure; and finally, we will explain why such controversies have been observed by different investigators.


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Melatonin: a Potential Shield against Electromagnetic Waves

Maya Jammoul, Nada Lawand. Melatonin: a Potential Shield against Electromagnetic Waves. Curr Neuropharmacol. 2021 Jun 9. doi: 10.2174/1570159X19666210609163946.

Abstract

Melatonin, a vital hormone synthesized by the pineal gland, has been implicated in various physiological functions and in circadian rhythm regulation. Its role in the protection against the non-ionizing electromagnetic field (EMF), known to disrupt the body's oxidative/anti-oxidative balance, has been called into question due to inconsistent results observed across studies. This review provides the current state of knowledge on the interwoven relationship between melatonin, EMF, and oxidative stress. Based on synthesized evidence, we present a model that best describes the mechanisms underlying the protective effects of melatonin against RF/ELF-EMF induced oxidative stress. We show that the free radical scavenger activity of melatonin is enabled through reduction of the radical pair singlet-triplet conversion rate and the concentration of the triplet products. Moreover, this review aims to highlight the potential therapeutic benefits of melatonin against the detrimental effects of EMF, in general, and electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS), in particular.


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Static magnetic field measurements of smart phones and watches and applicability to triggering magnet modes in implantable pacemakers and implantable cardioverter-defibrillators

Seth J Seidman, Joshua Guag, Brian Beard, Zane Arp. Static magnetic field measurements of smart phones and watches and applicability to triggering magnet modes in implantable pacemakers and implantable cardioverter-defibrillators. Heart Rhythm. 2021 Oct;18(10):1741-1744. doi: 10.1016/j.hrthm.2021.06.1203.

Abstract

Background: Implantable pacemakers and implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) are designed to include a "magnet mode" feature that can be activated from magnets stronger than 10 G. This feature is designed to be used when a patient is undergoing a procedure where electromagnetic interference is possible, or anytime suspension of tachycardia detection and therapy is needed. A publication in Heart Rhythm demonstrates an iPhone 12 triggering the magnet mode of a Medtronic ICD.

Objective: The purpose of this study is to determine the separation distance between consumer electronic devices that may create magnetic interference, including cell phones and smart watches, and implantable pacemakers and ICDs where magnet mode can be triggered.

Methods: The static magnetic fields of the iPhone 12 models and Apple Watch were measured at several planes in 1 cm resolution using an FW Bell 5180 Gauss Meter with STD18-0404 Transverse probe (unidirectional probe).

Results: All iPhone 12 and Apple Watch 6 models tested have static magnetic fields significantly greater than 10 G in close proximity (1-11 mm), which attenuates to below 10 G between 11 and 20 mm.

Conclusion: The findings of this study support the US Food and Drug Administration recommendation that patients keep any consumer electronic devices that may create magnetic interference, including cell phones and smart watches, at least 6 inches away from implanted medical devices, in particular pacemakers and cardiac defibrillators.


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Interpretation of Timetrends (1996-2017) of the Incidence of Selected Cancers in England in Relation to Mobile Phone Use as a Possible Risk Factor

Frank de Vocht. Interpretation of Timetrends (1996-2017) of the Incidence of Selected Cancers in England in Relation to Mobile Phone Use as a Possible Risk Factor. Bioelectromagnetics. 2021 Oct 11. doi: 10.1002/bem.22375.

Abstract

Radiofrequency (RF) radiation from mobile phones has been classified as possibly carcinogenic to humans (2b) by IARC. However, to date, the discussion on whether mobile phone use is a cancer risk factor has not been solved. In this context of continuing uncertainty, it is important to continue to monitor cancer incidence trends. Annual incidence rates and directly age-standardized rates of selected cancers by sex and 5-year age groups for 1996 to 2017 for England were obtained from the UK Office for National Statistics. Interpretation in light of mobile phone use as a contributing risk factor was conducted for cancers of the brain, parotid gland, thyroid, and colorectal cancer, which have all been hypothesized to be associated with RF exposure. Brain and parotid gland cancers were updated by an additional 10 years following a previous publication, and continue to provide little evidence of an association with mobile phone use. Although mobile phone use as a potential risk factor contributing to increased incidence of colorectal or thyroid cancer could not be excluded based on these ecological data, it is implausible that it is an important risk factor for either. In the absence of clarity from epidemiological studies, it remains important to continue to monitor trends. However, for the time being, and in agreement with data from other countries, there is little evidence of an association between mobile phone use and brain or parotid gland cancer, while the hypotheses of associations with thyroid or colorectal cancer are similarly weak.


My comments:

This paper provides a biased interpretation of data from a weak observational study that employs ecological, time series data. Given the limitations of cancer registry data, interpretation of cancer incidence trends is fraught with problems. Although the results of this observational study are not clear-cut, the overall results suggest that standardized cancer incidence rates in England for all four cancers under investigation increased over time:

 

“Although the DAS rates suggest an increase of 30% in the incidence rates of brain cancers in women and 34% in men from 1996 to 2017….”

 

“A steady increase (p<0.001) from 0.4 to 0.6 incident cases per 100,000 women and 0.7 to 0.8 for men, respectively, over the 1999-2017 time period was observed for incidence of cancer of the parotid gland; mainly in DAS rates following the use of the revised ESP (Figure 2).”

 

“Cancer of the thyroid gland has increased steadily over time (p<0.001), especially in women where the DAS rate has more than tripled from 1996 to 2017 from 2.7 incident cases to 8.5 per 100,000 women but also in men (from 1.2 to 3.6 incident cases per 100,000 men), with little differences between population rates and DAS rates (Figure 3).”

 

“The incidence rates of colorectal cancer in England have been stable for women (+3% from 1999 to 2017; p<0.001) and slightly increasing for men (+15% from 1999 to 2017; p<0.0.01) (Figure 4).…In younger age groups clear increase in incidence can be observed, especially in the age groups 25-34 year olds describing annual increases of 7% in both sexes (p<0.001), with some indication of plateauing of this pattern in those of 29 years or younger.”

 

The above results could have been interpreted as supportive of the association with increases in mobile phone use over time in England due to the considerable lag between exposure to a risk factor and diagnosis of solid tumors. Furthermore, the case-control research suggests the increased cancer risk is a function of heavy mobile phone use (e.g., 17 minutes per day over a ten-year period for risk of glioma [Choi et al., 2020]) and perhaps also genetic susceptibility (for thyroid cancer risk [Luo et al., 2018, 2020]) so not everyone would be affected.

 

Analyzing time trend data may be a fruitless endeavor when there are multiple risk factors for the tumors under investigation as some exposures may be increasing over time while others are decreasing. It is impossible to make causal attributions with time series designs when there is a considerable lag between an exposure (e.g., mobile phone use) and an outcome (e.g., cancer). Similarly, it is problematic to rule out a risk factor with such a weak research design. The results clearly do not warrant the following assertions made by this paper:

 

“Although mobile phone use as a potential risk factor contributing to increased incidence of colorectal or thyroid cancer could not be excluded based on these ecological data, it is implausible that it is an important risk factor for either.”

 

“…there is little evidence of a causal relation of mobile phone use with brain or parotid gland cancer, while the hypotheses of associations with thyroid or colorectal cancer is similarly weak.”

 

Although the strongest epidemiologic evidence for increased cancer risk associated with mobile phone use is for glioma, a subtype of brain cancer (IARC Working Group, 2013), the paper did not cite Philips et al. (2018). Yet the Philips study examined brain cancer incidence data for England from 1995-2015 to calculate incidence rates (ASR) per 100,000 person-years, age-standardized to the European Standard Population (ESP–2013). Philips et al. found “a sustained and highly statistically significant ASR rise in glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) [a subtype of glioma] across all ages. The ASR for GBM more than doubled from 2.4 to 5.0, with annual case numbers rising from 983 to 2531. Overall, this rise is mostly hidden in the overall data by a reduced incidence of lower grade tumours.” Thus, it should come as no surprise that the current paper failed to find much of an increase in overall brain cancer incidence in England for almost the same time period.

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Psychological models of development of idiopathic environmental intolerances: Evidence from longitudinal population-based data


Luc Watrin, Steven Nordin, Renáta Szemerszky, Oliver Wilhelm, Michael Witthöft, Ferenc Köteles. Psychological models of development of idiopathic environmental intolerances: Evidence from longitudinal population-based data. Environ Res. 2021 Sep 8;204(Pt A):111774. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2021.111774.

Abstract

The origin of idiopathic environmental intolerances (IEIs) is an open question. According to the psychological approaches, various top-down factors play a dominant role in the development of IEIs. The general psychopathology model assumes a propensity towards mental ill-health (negative affectivity) increases the probability of developing IEIs. The attribution model emphasizes the importance of mistaken attribution of experienced somatic symptoms; thus, more symptoms should lead to more IEIs. Finally, the nocebo model highlights the role of expectations in the development of IEIs. In this case, worries about the harmful effects of environmental factors are assumed to evoke IEIs. We estimated cross-lagged panel models with latent variables based on longitudinal data obtained at two time points (six years apart) from a large near-representative community sample to test the hypothesized associations. Indicators of chemical intolerance, electromagnetic hypersensitivity, and sound sensitivity fit well under a common latent factor of IEIs. This factor, in turn, showed considerable temporal stability. However, whereas a positive association was found between IEIs and increased somatic symptoms and modern health worries six years later, the changes therein could not be predicted as hypothesized by the three psychological models. We discuss the implications of these results, as well as methodological aspects in the measurement and prediction of change in IEIs.

Highlights
• Compares and integrates theories of Idiopathic Environmental Intolerances (IEI).
• Tests competing theories in a large longitudinal study (N = 1837).
• Correlations, but no cross-lagged associations of IEIs with neighboring constructs.
• Latent variable models indicate a strong commonality of different IEIs.
• We advocate for more attention on the nomothetic span of IEIs.
Conclusion

In the current study, cross-lagged panel models were applied to investigate reciprocal association between IEIs and general psychopathology, somatic symptoms, and modern health worries in longitudinal data of a large near-representative community sample. Contrary to theoretical predictions, higher initial levels in either of the three constructs were not associated with increases in IEIs over a period of 6 years. The proneness to idiopathic environmental intolerances (IEIs), such as chemical intolerance, noise sensitivity, and electromagnetic hypersensitivity, appeared very stable. Somatic symptoms, indicators of negative affectivity, and modern health worries showed reliable associations with IEIs. However, they did not predict IEIs. Therefore, popular theories of the development of IEIs could not be confirmed empirically.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34506786/

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RF Measurements of EMFs for Human Exposure Assessment Due to Modern Cellular Base Stations (5G)

D. Capriglione. In-Situ RF Measurements of EMFs for Human Exposure Assessment Due to Modern Cellular Base Stations. IEEE Instrumentation & Measurement Magazine, vol. 24, no. 8, pp. 31-36, November 2021, doi: 10.1109/MIM.2021.9580794.

Abstract

TC-37-Measurements and Networking (current Chair Prof. Domenico Capriglione, University of Cassino and Southern Lazio, Italy) was built some years ago as an idea of Prof. Leopoldo Angrisani (University of Napoli Federico II, Italy) and Prof. Claudio Narduzzi (University of Padova, Italy), having in mind that given the complexity of modern networks and related systems, a multidisciplinary approach has to be followed for correctly addressing the technological challenges and issues that are arising and will arise in the future in the field of telecommunication systems and networking. So, the TC-37 is actively trying to promote the international cooperation and integration of researchers belonging to the Instrumentation and Measurement Society with ones coming from other areas of telecommunication and information technologies.

Conclusions and Open Issues

The measurement of human exposure to RF EMFs is a topic of great interest today because of the growing diffusion and fast evolution of communication technologies. Due to the importance of the topic and the technical difficulties arising from the ever-increasing level of complexity of the communication technologies and experimental scenarios, worldwide researchers are involved in designing and fine-tuning measurement methods, standard procedures, and instruments for achieving reliable results of human exposure.

The practical examples in this paper highlight how the research in this field needs continuous updates, and it should involve long-term experimental campaigns for assessing the reliability of measurement techniques and procedures in several experimental conditions and scenarios. These statements are strongly supported by current trends that push to employ DSS (Dynamic Spectrum Sharing) and 5G cellular technologies which will offer new challenges for the measurement of human exposure to EMFs generated by these kinds of sources. In particular, the antenna beamforming and the complexity of 5G technology will require the design of new and effective measurement techniques and protocols able to warrant an adequate tradeoff between accuracy and time needed to completely characterize human exposure in high-density urban scenarios, where several base stations simultaneously operate in the same area. These aspects shall be investigated for both narrowband and broadband approaches.

Furthermore, the estimation of the measurement uncertainty will be an important topic to be addressed, taking into account several quantities of influence among which the response of the antennas, probes, and instruments to the signals generated by modern communication systems, as well as the long-term variability of the power emitted by the related Base Stations in given points of analysis should be examined.


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Spatial variability of outdoor exposure to radiofrequency radiation from mobile phone base stations, in Khartoum, Sudan

Mohammed O A Mohammed, Ahmed A Elzaki, Babiker A Babiker, Omer I Eid. Spatial variability of outdoor exposure to radiofrequency radiation from mobile phone base stations, in Khartoum, Sudan. Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2021 Oct 8. doi: 10.1007/s11356-021-16555-x.

Abstract

The wide-spread exposure to constantly evolving wireless technologies believed to pose a serious health threat. Human beings are persistently exposed to RF radiation from mobile phones and their base stations. The current study aimed at classifying and characterizing the exposure to RF radiation from the mobile phone base stations. Spatial distribution measurements were carried out in Khartoum city during two time periods, first in 2012 (pilot survey) and again during Sept. 2019-Jan. 2020, to cover a total of 282 antennas operating with GSM900, GSM1800, and UMTS2100. The tested antennas belong to three mobile communication companies namely Sudani, Zain, and MTN companies, that randomly coded into company A, company B, and company C for security purposes. Measurements were performed using frequency-selective RF analyzer at fixed distances from the antennas/towers. Data were subjected to advanced repeated measures ANOVA, linear discriminant analysis (LDA), and spatial interpolation with ArcGIS. The averages of GSM900, GSM1800, and UMTS measurements were 0.01933 W/m2, 0.0067 W/m2, and 0.0046 W/m2. The high levels of power densities for each single antenna were recorded at 90 m, 110 m, 130 m, and at 150 m distances, for the majority (70%) of the measured antennas and the peak/highest values reported mainly at 110 m distance. Conversely, the discriminant loadings as part of LDA, suggested that, much of variance among measurements is attributed to measurements at 150 m, 170 m, and 190 m distances, while visual illustration of group centroids implied that, the RF signals of the different companies were measured separately which support accuracy of frequency-selective measurements. The LDA has confirmed the ANOVA results that, the overall difference between the three companies was statistically significant for UMTS, and GSM900 measurements but not significant for GSM1800 measurements. Kriging interpolation using ArcGIS provided a strong evidence of great spatial distribution of exposure across the study area, with market places and typical urban residential quarters showing highest levels of RF. Few extreme values exceeding ICNIRP limits are reported but excluded from the calculations because of an issue of normality of data that is considered a prerequisite for parametric data analysis. Existence of extreme levels of RF indicates a need for further investigation and some antennas of Company B are mounted on towers belongs to Company C, implying multi exposure. Unexpected pattern of RF levels continued to increase up to 190 m distance and possibly beyond 190 m is reported for UMTS measurements of Company C.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34622411/

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Near Field Exposure Conditions by UHF-RFID Systems in Smart Healthcare Environments

S. de Miguel-Bilbao et al. Near Field Exposure Conditions by UHF-RFID Systems in Smart Healthcare Environments. 2021 IEEE International Joint EMC/SI/PI and EMC Europe Symposium. 2021, pp. 13-18, doi: 10.1109/EMC/SI/PI/EMCEurope52599.2021.9559189.

Abstract

Short range wireless RFID technology has many applications in socialcare and healthcare environments, having to coexist with other sources of electromagnetic (EM) radiation and even with patients’ implanted devices. This work provides an overview of exposure conditions in near EM field conditions and evaluates this exposure. The near EM field conditions by RFID reader is discussed based on the results of measurements inside an anechoic chamber under strict experimental conditions, and numerical modelling with simulation software. The obtained results were considered with respect to the human EM exposure evaluation principles and exposure limitations provided by the relevant international guidelines and regulations. In areas close to the RFID reader, the local exposure to EM radiation has the near field nature, i.e. the impedance of EM field significantly differs from the far field (free space). Evaluating human exposure requires measurements of the electric and magnetic field strength, or even the numerical modelling of Specific Energy Absorption Rate (SAR). It was found that a near field nature of EM radiation near an RFID reader ranges several times longer when the operator is present nearby, compared to the same emitting device considered alone in the empty space. This is of significance when evaluating EM exposure of humans (patients or health care personnel, especially users of medical implants) if, for any reason, they are less than 50 cm away from an RFID reader, especially when emission from it exceed 2 W.


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Human‑made electromagnetic fields: Ion forced‑oscillation and voltage‑gated ion channel dysfunction, oxidative stress and DNA damage (Review)

Dimitris J Panagopoulos, Andreas Karabarbounis, Igor Yakymenko, George P Chrousos. Human‑made electromagnetic fields: Ion forced‑oscillation and voltage‑gated ion channel dysfunction, oxidative stress and DNA damage (Review). Int J Oncol. 2021 Nov;59(5):92. doi: 10.3892/ijo.2021.5272.

Abstract

Exposure of animals/biological samples to human‑made electromagnetic fields (EMFs), especially in the extremely low frequency (ELF) band, and the microwave/radio frequency (RF) band which is always combined with ELF, may lead to DNA damage. DNA damage is connected with cell death, infertility and other pathologies, including cancer. ELF exposure from high‑voltage power lines and complex RF exposure from wireless communication antennas/devices are linked to increased cancer risk. Almost all human‑made RF EMFs include ELF components in the form of modulation, pulsing and random variability. Thus, in addition to polarization and coherence, the existence of ELFs is a common feature of almost all human‑made EMFs. The present study reviews the DNA damage and related effects induced by human‑made EMFs. The ion forced‑oscillation mechanism for irregular gating of voltage‑gated ion channels on cell membranes by polarized/coherent EMFs is extensively described. Dysfunction of ion channels disrupts intracellular ionic concentrations, which determine the cell's electrochemical balance and homeostasis. The present study shows how this can result in DNA damage through reactive oxygen species/free radical overproduction. Thus, a complete picture is provided of how human‑made EMF exposure may indeed lead to DNA damage and related pathologies, including cancer. Moreover, it is suggested that the non‑thermal biological effects attributed to RF EMFs are actually due to their ELF components.


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Hippocampal Oxidative Stress Induced by Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Radiation and the Neuroprotective Effects of Aerobic Exercise in Rats: A Randomized Control Trial


Mina Rasouli Mojez, Abbas Ali Gaeini, Siroos Choobineh, Mohsen Sheykhlouvand. Hippocampal Oxidative Stress Induced by Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Radiation and the Neuroprotective Effects of Aerobic Exercise in Rats: A Randomized Control Trial. J Phys Act Health. 2021 Oct 25;1-7. doi: 10.1123/jpah.2021-0213.

Abstract

Background: The present study determined whether 4 weeks of moderate aerobic exercise improves antioxidant capacity on the brain of rats against oxidative stress caused by radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation emitted from cell phones.

Methods: Responses of malondialdehyde, catalase, glutathione peroxidase, and superoxide dismutase, as well as the number of hippocampal dead cells, were examined. Male Wistar rats (10-12 wk old) were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 groups (N = 8): (1) moderate aerobic exercise (EXE) (2 × 15-30 min at 1215 m/min speed with 5 min of active recovery between sets), (2) exposure to 900/1800 MHz radiofrequency electromagnetic waves 3 hours per day (RAD), (3) EXE + RAD, and (4) exposure to an experimental phone without battery.

Results: Following the exposure, the number of the hippocampal dead cells was significantly higher in group RAD compared with groups EXE, EXE + RAD, and control group. Malondialdehyde concentration in group RAD was significantly higher than that of groups EXE, EXE + RAD, and control group. Also, the activity of catalase, glutathione peroxidase, and superoxide dismutase in groups EXE, EXE + RAD, and control group was significantly higher compared with those of the exposure group.

Conclusion: This study demonstrated that moderate aerobic exercise enhances hippocampal antioxidant capacity against oxidative challenge in the form of radiofrequency electromagnetic waves.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34697252/

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Vm-related extracellular potentials observed in red blood cells

Hughes MP, Kruchek EJ, Beale AD, Kitcatt SJ, Qureshi S, Trott ZP, Charbonnel O, Agbaje PA, Henslee EA, Dorey RA, Lewis R, Labeed FH. Vm-related extracellular potentials observed in red blood cells. Sci Rep. 2021 Sep 30;11(1):19446. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-98102-9.

Abstract

Even in nonexcitable cells, the membrane potential Vm is fundamental to cell function, with roles from ion channel regulation, development, to cancer metastasis. Vm arises from transmembrane ion concentration gradients; standard models assume homogeneous extracellular and intracellular ion concentrations, and that Vm only exists across the cell membrane and has no significance beyond it. Using red blood cells, we show that this is incorrect, or at least incomplete; Vm is detectable beyond the cell surface, and modulating Vm produces quantifiable and consistent changes in extracellular potential. Evidence strongly suggests this is due to capacitive coupling between Vm and the electrical double layer, rather than molecular transporters. We show that modulating Vm changes the extracellular ion composition, mimicking the behaviour if voltage-gated ion channels in non-excitable channels. We also observed Vm-synchronised circadian rhythms in extracellular potential, with significant implications for cell-cell interactions and cardiovascular disease.


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A survey on electromagnetic hypersensitivity: the example from Poland

Grzegorz Tatoń,  Artur Kacprzyk, Tomasz Rok, Monika Pytlarz, Rafał Pawlak, Eugeniusz Rokita. A survey on electromagnetic hypersensitivity: the example from Poland. Electromagn Biol Med. 2021 Oct 22;1-8. doi: 10.1080/15368378.2021.1995873. 

Abstract

Idiopathic environmental intolerance attributed to electromagnetic field (IEI-EMF) called electromagnetic hypersensitivity or electrosensitivity appeared in Polish society awareness due to a considerable change made at the end of 2019 in Polish telecommunication laws. The aims of the project were to access the prevalence of IEI-EMF in Poland and to define a reliable methodology to study this phenomenon. The first step was the internet survey performed at the end of 2018. The IEI-EMF prevalence estimated at the level of 39.7% suggested considerable bias affecting the results. The faults of the first approach were analysed and then a second study stage was performed as a telephone survey at the end of 2020. The latter survey allowed estimating the prevalence of IEI-EMF as less than 1.8%. These discrepancies in the results of both surveys were connected to the medium used in the first survey (Internet) indirectly causing that the group pooled was not representative. The second pitfall was the definition of the criteria used for an electrosensitive person classification. This is why the IEI-EMF prevalence was investigated in the second stage with the use of numerous criteria. The application of different criteria allowed for essential conclusions concerning the appropriate methodology for such kinds of studies. Corrections of the methodology before the second survey allowed reliable results consistent with the results obtained in similar studies performed in other countries. Our findings also show that the IEI-EMF frequency reports presented in the literature have to be treated carefully and with some dose of scepticism.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34686066/

The worldwide prevalence of IEI-EMF is estimated at 1–13%. The results vary according to the data source and methodology of the studies used (Huang et al. 2018; Szemerszky et al. 2019).

Conclusions

The first study overestimated the incidence of IEI-EMF in Polish society at 39.7% due the limitations accompanying the study. The more realistic estimation based on the second research stage is 1.8%.

The proposed criterion of IEI-EMF qualification assumes that a hypersensitive person is one whose symptoms differ from the rest of society and are so severe that she or he seeks medical help.

Our results support the thesis that the criterion used in such studies for assigning subjects to the IEI-EMF group should be accurately defined and harmonized.

Even slight differences in the survey questions and methodologies can result in considerably different IEI-EMF prevalence estimations.

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Electromagnetic Exposure Dosimetry Study on Two Free Rats at 1.8 GHz via Numerical Simulation

Wang Xianghui, Xia Chengjie, Lu Lu, Qi Hongxin, Zhang Jie. Electromagnetic Exposure Dosimetry Study on Two Free Rats at 1.8 GHz via Numerical Simulation. Frontiers in Public Health. 9:1404. 2021. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2021.721166  

Abstract

Normally, the impact of electromagnetic exposure on human health is evaluated by animal study. The biological effect caused by electromagnetic exposure on such experimental animals as rats has been proven to be dose-dependent. However, though the dose of radio frequency (RF) electromagnetic exposure described by the specific absorbing rate (SAR) on fixed rats has been relatively well-studied utilizing the numerical simulations, the dosimetry study of exposure on free rat is insufficient, especially in the cases of two or more free rats. Therefore, the present work focuses on the variation of SAR caused by the existence of neighboring free rat in the same cage. Here, infrared thermography was used to record the activity of the two free rats who lived in the same cage that mounted at the far-field region in the microwave darkroom for a duration of 48 h. Then, using image processing techniques, the relative positions and orientations of the two rats are identified, which are defined by three parameters, such as the relative distance (d), relative direction angle (α), and relative orientation angle (β). Using the simulation software XFdtd 7.3, the influence of d, α, and β on the whole-body average SAR (WB-avgSAR) of the rats exposed to 1.8 GHz electromagnetic wave was calculated and analyzed. Then, the average variation of WB-avgSAR of the two rats compared with that of a single rat within 48 h was calculated. The numerical simulation results showed that the relative posture position described by (d, α, and β) of the two rats affects their WB-avgSAR and leads to fluctuations at different positions. However, the variation rate of the 48-h-average WB-avgSAR was only 10.3%, which implied that the over-time average SAR of two or more rats can be roughly described by the WB-avgSAR of a single free rat, except when a real-time precise control of exposure dose is necessary.

https://www.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpubh.2021.721166

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Design and Dosimetric Characterization of a Broadband Exposure Facility for In Vitro Experiments in the Frequency Range 18-40.5 GHz


Gernot Schmid, Rene Hirtl, Isabel Gronau, Vivian Meyer, Karen Drees, Alexander Lerchl. Design and Dosimetric Characterization of a Broadband Exposure Facility for In Vitro Experiments in the Frequency Range 18-40.5 GHz. Bioelectromagnetics. 2021 Oct 7. doi: 10.1002/bem.22376.

Abstract

A novel exposure facility for exposing cell monolayers to centimeter and millimeter waves (18-40.5 GHz) used by future 5G mobile communication technology and similar applications has been developed. A detailed dosimetric characterization of the apparatus for frequencies of 27 and 40.5 GHz and 60 mm petri dishes, used in a presently ongoing study on human dermal fibroblasts and keratinocytes, was carried out. The exposure facility enables a well-defined, randomized, and blinded application of sham exposure and exposure with selectable values of incident power flux density, and additionally provides the possibility of continuous monitoring of the sample temperature during exposure while it does not require significant deviations from routine in vitro handling procedures, i.e. petri dishes are not required to be placed inside waveguides or TEM cells. Mean specific absorption rate (SAR) values inside the cell monolayer of 115 W/kg (27 GHz) and 160 W/kg (40.5 GHz) per watt antenna input power and corresponding transmitted power density (St ) values at the bottom of the cell monolayer of 65 W/m2 (27 GHz) and 70 W/m2 (40.5 GHz) per watt antenna input power can be achieved, respectively. For reasonable amounts of harvested cells (80% of petri dish bottom area), the variation (max/min) of SAR and St over the cell monolayer remains below 3.7 dB (27 GHz) and 3.0 dB (40.5 GHz), respectively.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34622469/

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The ecology of electricity and electroreception

Sam J England, Daniel Robert. The ecology of electricity and electroreception. Biol Rev Camb Philos Soc. 2021 Oct 12. doi: 10.1111/brv.12804.

Abstract

Electricity, the interaction between electrically charged objects, is widely known to be fundamental to the functioning of living systems. However, this appreciation has largely been restricted to the scale of atoms, molecules, and cells. By contrast, the role of electricity at the ecological scale has historically been largely neglected, characterised by punctuated islands of research infrequently connected to one another. Recently, however, an understanding of the ubiquity of electrical forces within the natural environment has begun to grow, along with a realisation of the multitude of ecological interactions that these forces may influence. Herein, we provide the first comprehensive collation and synthesis of research in this emerging field of electric ecology. This includes assessments of the role electricity plays in the natural ecology of predator-prey interactions, pollination, and animal dispersal, among many others, as well as the impact of anthropogenic activity on these systems. A detailed introduction to the ecology and physiology of electroreception - the biological detection of ecologically relevant electric fields - is also provided. Further to this, we suggest avenues for future research that show particular promise, most notably those investigating the recently discovered sense of aerial electroreception


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Effects of an electric field on sleep quality and life span mediated by ultraviolet (UV)-A/blue light photoreceptor CRYPTOCHROME in Drosophila


Haruhisa Kawasaki, Hideyuki Okano, Takaki Nedachi, Yuzo Nakagawa-Yagi, Akikuni Hara, Norio Ishida. Effects of an electric field on sleep quality and life span mediated by ultraviolet (UV)-A/blue light photoreceptor CRYPTOCHROME in Drosophila. Sci Rep. 2021 Oct 15;11(1):20543. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-99753-4.

Abstract

Although electric fields (EF) exert beneficial effects on animal wound healing, differentiation, cancers and rheumatoid arthritis, the molecular mechanisms of these effects have remained unclear about a half century. Therefore, we aimed to elucidate the molecular mechanisms underlying EF effects in Drosophila melanogaster as a genetic animal model. Here we show that the sleep quality of wild type (WT) flies was improved by exposure to a 50-Hz (35 kV/m) constant electric field during the day time, but not during the night time. The effect was undetectable in cryptochrome mutant (cryb) flies. Exposure to a 50-Hz electric field under low nutrient conditions elongated the lifespan of male and female WT flies by ~ 18%, but not of several cry mutants and cry RNAi strains. Metabolome analysis indicated that the adenosine triphosphate (ATP) content was higher in intact WT than cry gene mutant strains exposed to an electric field. A putative magnetoreceptor protein and UV-A/blue light photoreceptor, CRYPTOCHROME (CRY) is involved in electric field (EF) receptors in animals. The present findings constitute hitherto unknown genetic evidence of a CRY-based system that is electric field sensitive in animals.

Open access paper: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-99753-4

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Tracking Devices for Pets: Health Risk Assessment for Exposure to Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields


Judith Klune, Christine Arhant, Ines Windschnurer, Veronika Heizmann, Günther Schauberger. Tracking Devices for Pets: Health Risk Assessment for Exposure to Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields. Animals (Basel). 2021 Sep 17;11(9):2721. doi: 10.3390/ani11092721.

Abstract

Every year, approximately 3% of cats and dogs are lost. In addition to passive methods for identifying pets, radiofrequency tracking devices (TDs) are available. These TDs can track a pet's geographic position, which is transmitted by radio frequencies. The health risk to the animals from continuous exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMFs) was reviewed. Fourteen out of twenty-one commercially available TDs use 2G, 3G, or 4G mobile networks, and the others work with public frequencies, WLAN, Bluetooth, etc. The exposure of pets to RF-EMFs was assessed, including ambient exposure (radios, TVs, and base stations of mobile networks), exposure from indoor devices (DECT, WLAN, Bluetooth, etc.), and the exposure from TDs. The exposure levels of the three areas were found to be distinctly below the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) reference levels, which assure far-reaching protection from adverse health effects. The highest uncertainty regarding the exposure of pets was related to that caused by indoor RF-emitting devices using WLAN and DECT. This exposure can be limited considerably through a reduction in the exposure time and an increase in the distance between the animal and the RF-emitting device. Even though the total RF-EMF exposure level experienced by pets was found to be below the reference limits, recommendations were derived to reduce potential risks from exposure to TDs and indoor devices.