Thursday, April 8, 2021

Effects of Wireless Radiation on Birds and Other Wildlife

Electromagnetic radiation as an emerging driver factor for the decline of insects

Alfonso Balmori. Electromagnetic radiation as an emerging driver factor for the decline of insects. Sci Total Environ. 767:144913.


• Biodiversity of insects is threatened worldwide
• This reductions is mainly attributed to agricultural practice and pesticide use
• There is sufficient evidence on the damage caused by electromagnetic radiation
• Electromagnetic radiation may be a complementary driver in this decline
• The precautionary principle should be applied before any new deployment (e.g. 5G)


The biodiversity of insects is threatened worldwide. Numerous studies have reported the serious decline in insects that has occurred in recent decades. The same is happening with the important group of pollinators, with an essential utility for pollination of crops. Loss of insect diversity and abundance is expected to provoke cascading effects on food webs and ecosystem services. Many authors point out that reductions in insect abundance must be attributed mainly to agricultural practices and pesticide use. On the other hand, evidence for the effects of non-thermal microwave radiation on insects has been known for at least 50 years. The review carried out in this study shows that electromagnetic radiation should be considered seriously as a complementary driver for the dramatic decline in insects, acting in synergy with agricultural intensification, pesticides, invasive species and climate change. The extent that anthropogenic electromagnetic radiation represents a significant threat to insect pollinators is unresolved and plausible. For these reasons, and taking into account the benefits they provide to nature and humankind, the precautionary principle should be applied before any new deployment (such 5G) is considered.


The precautionary principle and the importance of seriously considering EMR as a factor of insect decline

Despite the strong scientific evidence of the negative impacts of electromagnetic radiation on insects, a recent study funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme (EKLIPSE) stated that our current knowledge concerning the impact of anthropogenic RF-EMR on pollinators (and other invertebrates) is inconclusive (Vanbergen et al., 2019). Thus, the extent to which anthropogenic EMR  represents a significant threat to insect pollinators is unresolved. For these reasons, and taking into account the benefits they provide to nature and humankind, the precautionary principle of the European Union (Communication from the Commission on the Precautionary Principle, 2000) should be applied.

The potential effects of RF-EMFs on most taxonomic groups, including migratory birds, bats and insects, are largely unknown, and the potential effects on wildlife could become more relevant with the expected adoption of new mobile network technology (5G), raising the possibility of unintended biological consequences (Sutherland et al., 2018). Thus, before any new deployment (such 5G) is considered, its effects should be clearly assessed, at least while conclusions are drawn and these existing uncertainties are overcome, according to the official document ‘Late Lessons of EarlyWarnings’ (European Environment Agency, 2013).

A letter by the United States Department of the Interior sent to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration in the Department of Commerce warns about the scarcity of studies carried out on the impacts from non-ionising EMR emitted by communication towers (United States Department of the Interior, 2014). The precise potential effects of increases in EMR on wildlife, which are not yet well recognised by the global conservation community, have been identified as an important emerging issue for global conservation and biological diversity (Sutherland et al., 2018). Thus, aswe have explained in this review, EMR should be seriously considered as a complementary driver for the dramatic decline in insects in recent studies, acting in synergy with agricultural intensification, pesticides, invasive species and climate change.


Review. The influence of bioactive mobile telephony radiation at the level of a plant community – Possible mechanisms and indicators of the effects

Czerwiński M, Januszkiewicz L, Vian A, Lázaro.A. Review. The influence of bioactive mobile telephony radiation at the level of a plant community – Possible mechanisms and indicators of the effects. Ecological Indicators. 108, January 2020, 105683.


• There are various indicators of microwave radiation impact on herbaceous vegetation.
• The best indicators are some parameters of vegetation canopy or individual  plants.
• Specific plant functional groups may be indicators of long-term community processes.
• Other organisms interacting with plants, e.g. pollinators, should also be cons idered.
• The selection of indicators depends on the propagation of radiation in the canopy.


Environmental exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMFs) from mobile telephony has rapidly increased in the last two decades and this trend is expected to continue. The effects of this exposure at plant community level are unknown and difficult to assess in a scientifically appropriate manner. Such an assessment can be scientifically adequate if a studied plant community is completely new and control-impact radiation treatment is used.

In this review we aimed to predict ecological effects and identify indicators of the impact of bioactive RF-EMFs at the mobile telephony frequency range on plant communities. We considered the scenario where a plant community was exposed to radiation generated by a base transmitting station antenna mounted on a nearby mast. This plant community can be represented by mesic meadow, ruderal or arable weed community, or other herbaceous, moderately productive vegetation type. We concentrated primarily on radiation effects that can be recorded for a year since the exposure started. To predict them we used physical theories of radiowave propagation in vegetation and the knowledge on plants physiological responses to RF-EMF. Our indicators can be used for the detection of the impact of RF-EMFs on vegetation in a control-impact experiment.

The identified indicators can be classified into the following groups: (1) canopy parameters; (2) plant characteristics to be measured in the field or laboratory in a number of individuals that represent the populations of selected species; (3) community weighted means/medians (CWMs) of plant traits and strategies; (4) the abundance of other organisms that interact with plants and can influence their fitness or population size. The group of canopy parameters includes mean height, vertical vegetation structure and dry weight of above-ground standing phytomass. Plant characteristics requiring biometric sampling in the field are plant height, the number of fruits and seeds, as well as seed viability. The group of plant traits that are calculated as CWMs covers seed releasing height, seed dispersal mode, SLA, leaf orientation, month of germination and flowering, Ellenberg’s light indicator value, and the proportion of individuals in the classes of competitors and stress tolerators according to Grime's CSR strategy scheme. The group of “non-plant” indicators includes primarily the frequency of flower visits by beetles, wasps, hoverflies, and bees that have their nests over ground. To detect ecological responses that occur for the first year since a herbaceous community has been exposed to potentially bioactive RF-EMF, the first two indicators groups should be used.

Aug 1, 2019 (Updated Nov 1, 2019)

Selected Studies that Reported Adverse Effects of Electromagnetic Field (EMF) Exposure 
on Plants, Animals and Insects

written by the Advisors to the International EMF Scientist Appeal, June 25, 2019

EMF exposure studies have found ...

in plants reduced growth, increased infection and physiological and morphological changes (Balodis et al. 1996, Haggerty 2010, Waldmann-Selsam et al. 2016, Havas and Symington 2016, Vian et al. 2016, Halgamuge 2017);

in birds, aggressive behavior, impaired reproduction and interference with migration (Southern 1975, Larkin and Sutherland 1977, Balmori 2004, Balmori and Hallberg 2007, Everaert and Bauwens 2007, Fernie et al. 2010, Engels et al. 2015, Wiltschko et al. 2015);

in livestock, especially dairy cows, reduced productivity, impaired reproduction, and sudden death (Burchard et al. 1996, Loscher and Kas 1998, Hillman et al. 2013, Stetzer et al. 2016);

in rodents, increased cancer risk in three long-term studies (Chou et al 1992, NTP 2018, Falcioni et al. 2019); 

in amphibians (Balmori 2006, Balmori 2010) and insects (Cucurachi et al. 2013), deformities and population decline; and

in honey bees, aggressive behavior, reduced learning, reduced productivity, swarming and abandoning hives (Harst et al. 2006, Pattezhy 2009, Warnke 2009, Favre 2011, Kumar et al. 2011, Sahib 2011, Shepherd et al. 2019). 


Balmori A. 2004. Effects of electromagnetic fields of phone masts on a population of white storks (Ciconia ciconia). Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine 24: 109–119.

Balmori A. 2006. The incidence of electromagnetic pollution on the amphibian decline: Is this an important piece of the puzzle? Toxicological & Environmental Chemistry 88 (2): 287–299.

Balmori A. 2010. Mobile phone mast effects on common frog (Rana temporaria) tadpoles: the city turned into a laboratory. Electromagn Biol Med. 29 (1–2):31–35.

Balmori A and O Hallberg. 2007. The urban decline of the house sparrow (Passer domesticus): A possible link with electromagnetic radiation. Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine 26 (2): 141–151.

Balodis V, G Briimelis, K Kalviskis, et al. 1996. Does the Skrunda Radio Location Station diminish the radial growth of pine trees? The Science of the Total Environment 180: 57-64.

Burchard JF, DH Nguyen DH, and M Rodriguez. 2006. Plasma concentrations of thyroxine in dairy cows exposed to 60 Hz electric and magnetic fields. Bioelectromagnetics 27 (7): 553–559.

Chou C-K, A Guy, LL Kunz, RB Johnson, JJ Crowley and J. H. Krupp. 1992. Long-term, low-level microwave irradiation of rats. Bioelectromagnetics 13:469–496. See NTP: Not the First Govt. Study to Find Wireless Radiation Can Cause Cancer in Lab Rats

Cucurachi S, WLM Tamis et al. 2013. A review of the ecological effects of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF), Environment International 51:116–140.

Engels S, N-L Schneider, N Lefeldt, et al. 2015. Anthropogenic electromagnetic noise disrupts magnetic compass orientation in a migratory bird. Nature 509: 353.

Everaert J and D Bauwens. 2007. A possible effect of electromagnetic radiation from mobile phone base stations on the number of breeding house sparrows (Passer domesticus) Electromagn Biol Med. 26 (1): 63–72.

Falcioni L, L Bua, E Tibaldi, et al. 2019. Report of final results regarding brain and heart tumors in Sprague-Dawley rats exposed from prenatal life until natural death to mobile phone radiofrequency field representative of a 1.8 GHz GSM base station environmental emission. Environmental Research 165:496–503. See Ramazzini Institute Cell Phone Radiation Study Replicates NTP Study

Favre D. 2011. Mobile phone-induced honeybee worker piping. Apidologie 42 (3): 270– 279.

Ferni KJ, NJ Leonard and DM Bird. 2010. Behavior of free-ranging and captive American kestrels under electromagnetic fields. J. Tox. and Environ. Health Part A Vol 59 (8).

Haggerty K. 2010. Adverse influence of radio frequency background on Trembling Aspen seedlings: Preliminary observations. International Journal of Forestry Research 2010, 7 pages.

Halgamuge MN. 2016. Review: Weak radiofrequency radiation exposure from mobile phone radiation on plants. Electromagn Biol Med. 2017;36(2):213-235.

Harst W, J Kuhn, and H Stever. 2006. Can electromagnetic exposure cause a change in behaviour? Studying possible non-thermal influences on honey bees–An approach within the framework of Educational Informatics. Acta Systematica – IIAS Intern. J. 6: 1–6.

Havas M and MS Symington. 2016. Effects of Wi-Fi radiation on germination and growth of garden cress (Lepidium sativum), broccoli (Brassica oleracea), red clover (Trifolium pratense) and pea (Pisum sativum) seedlings: A partial replication study. Current Chemical Biology 10 (1): 65–73.

Hillman D, D Stetzer, M Graham, CL Goeke, et al. 2013. Relationship of electric power quality to milk production of dairy herds – Field study with literature review. Science of the Total Environment 447: 500–514.

Kumar NR, S Sangwan and P Badotra. 2011. Exposure to cell phone radiations produces biochemical changes in worker honey bees. Toxicol Int. 18 (1): 70–72.

Larkin RP and PJ Sutherland. 1977. Migrating birds respond to Project Seafarer's electromagnetic field. Science. 195 (4280): 777–9.

Löscher W, and G Käs. 1998. Extraordinary behavior disorders in cows in proximity to transmission stations. Translated from German language. Der Praktische Tierarz 79 (5): 4377 444.

NTP 2018. NTP Technical Report on the Toxicology and Carcinogenesis Studies in Hsd:Sprague Dawley SD Rats exposed to Whole-body Radio Frequency Radiation at a Frequency (900 MHz) and Modulations (GSM and CDMA) used by Cell Phones. National Toxicology Program, National Institutes of Health, Public Health Service, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 384 pp. See NTP Cell Phone Radiation Study: Final Reports

Pattazhy S. 2009. Mobile phone towers a threat to honey bees: Study. The Times of India, August 2009.

Shepherd S, Hollands G, Godley VC, Sharkh SM, Jackson CW, Newland PL. Increased aggression and reduced aversive learning in honey bees exposed to extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields. PLoS One. 2019 Oct 10;14(10):e0223614. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0223614.

Southern WE. 1975. Orientation of gull chicks exposed to project Sanguine's electromagnetic field. Science. 189 (4197): 143–145.

Stetzer D, AM Leavitt, CL Goeke, and M Havas. 2016. Monitoring and remediation of on-farm and off-farm ground current measured as step potential on a Wisconsin dairy farm: A case study. Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine 35 (4): 321–336.

Vian, A, E Davies, M Gendraud and P Bonnet. 2016. Plant responses to high frequency electromagnetic fields, BioMed research International Vol. 2015 Article ID 1830262, 13 pp.

Waldmann-Selsam, A Balmori-de la Puente, H Breunig and A Balmori. 2016. Radiofrequency radiation injures trees around mobile phone base stations. Science of the Total Environment 572: 13 554–569.

Warnke U. 2009. Bees, birds and mankind. Destroying nature by ‘electrosmog’ effects of wireless communication technologies, A brochure series by the Competence Initiative for the Protection of Humanity, Environment and Democracy, 47 pp.

Wiltschko R, P Thalau, D Gehring, C Niessner, T Ritz and W. Wiltschko. 2015. Magnetoreception in birds: the effect of radio-frequency fields. J R Soc Interface 12(103).


Increased aggression and reduced aversive learning in honey bees exposed to extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields

Shepherd S, Hollands G, Godley VC, Sharkh SM, Jackson CW, Newland PL. Increased aggression and reduced aversive learning in honey bees exposed to extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields. PLoS One. 2019 Oct 10;14(10):e0223614. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0223614. 


Honey bees, Apis mellifera, are a globally significant pollinator species and are currently in decline, with losses attributed to an array of interacting environmental stressors. Extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields (ELF EMFs) are a lesser-known abiotic environmental factor that are emitted from a variety of anthropogenic sources, including power lines, and have recently been shown to have a significant impact on the cognitive abilities and behaviour of honey bees. Here we have investigated the effects of field-realistic levels of ELF EMFs on aversive learning and aggression levels, which are critical factors for bees to maintain colony strength. Bees were exposed for 17 h to 100 μT or 1000 μT ELF EMFs, or a sham control. A sting extension response (SER) assay was conducted to determine the effects of ELF EMFs on aversive learning, while an intruder assay was conducted to determine the effects of ELF EMFs on aggression levels. Exposure to both 100 μT and 1000 μT ELF EMF reduced aversive learning performance by over 20%. Exposure to 100 μT ELF EMFs also increased aggression scores by 60%, in response to intruder bees from foreign hives. These results indicate that short-term exposure to ELF EMFs, at levels that could be encountered in bee hives placed under power lines, reduced aversive learning and increased aggression levels. These behavioural changes could have wider ecological implications in terms of the ability of bees to interact with, and respond appropriately to, threats and negative environmental stimuli.

Open access paper:


April 17, 2019

Letter to the National Park Service from the Environmental Health Trust

This thirteen page letter to the National Park Service from the Environmental Health Trust, dated April 10, 2019, summarizes the scientific basis for major health and environmental concerns about a proposal to install wireless telecom facilities in Grand Teton National Park.

The letter summarizes research on harm to the environment and wildlife from wireless radiation exposure. Furthermore, it addresses the following topics: (1) research on harm to humans; (2) rapid increase in wireless radiation exposure; (3) inadequacy of the Federal Communications Commission's exposure limits to protect humans; (4) greater susceptibility of children; (5) recent appeals from hundreds of experts to reduce exposure limits; and (6) other cell tower safety hazards. 

This well-documented letter (81 references) can be downloaded from the following link:


July 18, 2016

A Briefing Memo by Dr. Albert Manville

Albert M. Manville, II, Ph.D. A Briefing Memorandum: What We Know, Can Infer, and Don’t Yet Know about Impacts from Thermal and Non-thermal Non-ionizing Radiation to Birds and Other Wildlife — for Public Release. July 14, 2016.

In this memo, Dr. Manville reviews the scientific literature that examines the impacts on wildlife from exposure to radio frequency radiation. 

He observes that although the FCC has standards to protect humans from the heating  (i.e., thermal) effects of wireless radiation exposure from cellular and broadcast towers, no standards exist to protect wildlife from thermal or non-thermal effects:

“The radiation effects on wildlife need to be addressed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Commerce, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and other governmental entities.”

Dr. Manville concludes with the following statement:

“In summary, we need to better understand … how to address these growing and poorly understood radiation impacts to migratory birds, bees, bats, and myriad other wildlife. At present, given industry and agency intransigence … massive amounts of money being spent to prevent addressing impacts from non-thermal radiation — not unlike the battles over tobacco and smoking — and a lack of significant, dedicated and reliable funding to advance independent field studies, … we are left with few options. Currently, other than to proceed using the precautionary approach and keep emissions as low as reasonably achievable, we are at loggerheads in advancing meaningful guidelines, policies and regulations that address non-thermal effects....”

Dr. Manville recommends that the U.S. adopt the following recommendations because federally-protected wildlife species are currently in danger from RFR exposure:

“We desperately need to conduct field research on thermal and non-thermal radiation impacts to wild migratory birds and other wildlife here in North America, similar to studies conducted in Europe….”

“Studies need to be designed to better tease out and understand causality of thermal and non-thermal impacts from radiation on migratory birds…. efforts need to be made to begin developing exposure guidelines for migratory birds and other wildlife …”

“To minimize deleterious radiation exposures, these guidelines should include use of avoidance measures such as those developed by the electric utility industry for bird collision and electrocution avoidance …”

“Studies need to be conducted on the use of “faux” branches (i.e., metal arms that mimic pine or fir branches) on cell and/or FM towers intended to disguise the towers as trees, but provide nesting and roosting opportunities for migratory birds including Bald Eagles, which will almost certainly be impacted both by thermal and non-thermal radiation effects.”

“Agencies tasked with the protection, management, and research on migratory birds and other wildlife … need to develop radiation policies that avoid or minimize impacts to migratory birds and other trust wildlife species.”

“As Levitt and Lai (2010) concluded, we do not actually need to know whether RFR effects are thermal or non-thermal to set exposure guidelines. Most scientists consider non-thermal effects as well established, even though the implications are not fully understood.”

“Given the rapidly growing database of peer-reviewed, published scientific studies (e.g.,, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley), it is time that FCC considers thermal and non-thermal effects from EMR in their tower permitting, and incorporates changes into their rulemaking regarding ‘effects of communication towers on migratory birds.’”

Dr. Albert Manville II is an adjunct faculty member at Johns Hopkins University. He served as a senior wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from 1997 to 2014.  He chaired the Communication Tower Working Group, partnering with the communications industry, federal and state agencies, researchers, and non-profit organizations. He testified more than 40 times before Congress and other governmental bodies and published more 170 papers. For more information, see

Dr. Manville’s memo is available at