Saturday, April 1, 2023

Tips to Reduce Your Wireless Radiation Exposure

To learn why it is important to reduce your exposure to wireless radiation see my Welcome to EMR Safety page for an overview of the health risks including presentations, radio interviews, and podcasts

This page contains safety tips from various organizations on how to reduce your exposure to wireless radiation from cell phones, cordless phones, laptops, tablets, Wi-Fi routers, and other wireless technology. 

To download the following one-page handout click on the link:  https://bit.ly/wirelesstipsheet




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Environmental Working Group, November 2022

EWG’s big picture recommendations for wireless devices

  • Default to airplane mode.
  • Increase distance from devices.
  • Turn off when not in use.
  • Used wired devices if possible.

Children are almost constantly exposed to wireless radiation, starting as early as the first weeks of life. As they get older, that exposure grows every day, thanks to the widespread use of smartphones, laptops and other wireless devices in the classroom and at home.

Wireless devices radiate radiofrequency electromagnetic fields. Research has raised concerns about the health risks of exposure to this radiation, including harm to the nervous and reproductive systems, and higher risk of cancer. Cell phone radiation was classified a “possible carcinogen” in 2011 by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization. The agency said human epidemiological studies showed a link between higher risk of a type of malignant brain cancer and cell phone use.

At home

Parents and caregivers can exert more control over their kids’ wireless radiation exposure at home than at school, and have more latitude to try new ways of using devices.

Getting started

To begin, inventory your home’s electronic devices. Consider smart speakers, cordless phones and mouses, gaming consoles, cell phones, wireless security systems and electric alarm clocks, among other types of technology. Even things you might not think emit electromagnetic radiofrequency radiation, like Fitbits and other wearable fitness devices, are a source of wireless radiation exposure and best for young kids to avoid.

Increase distance

The first, easiest-to-implement option is to increase the distance between your child and wireless devices in the home. The more distance, the less exposure.

Wired headphones or the speaker mode on a cell phone can put distance between the device and kids’ bodies. They should carry the device in a backpack or bag, not a pocket.

When no one is actively using the device, make sure it’s in airplane mode. Otherwise, the device will keep seeking the “signal” – it will continue trying to communicate with nearby cell towers, producing unnecessary radiation.

Another simple but important fix: Locate routers and cordless phone base stations – the worst radiation offenders – away from where your kids sleep, study and play. See if you can lower your Wi-Fi router’s output. It may be set to “High” as a default, which could create more intense wireless radiation output than anyone in your household needs.

Choose wired

To reduce radiation exposures significantly, many experts recommend using wired devices whenever possible. Make replacing wireless headphones with wired your first step then, over time, choose auxiliary devices that plug in or are battery-powered, including keyboards, mouses and microphones. Wireless earbuds also emit radiofrequency radiation, so limit the use of such devices, especially for children and youth.

Here are some other ways to reduce exposure to electromagnetic radiation from wireless.

The big picture

  • Aside from the obvious devices (phones, tablets, computers, game consoles), think twice about wireless digital baby monitors and other wireless or virtual devices. If used, such devices and appliances should be kept away from bedrooms and other areas where children sleep.
  • Shut off all wireless devices, including your router, at night and when they’re not in use.
  • Consult this checklist for a low-electromagnetic field, or EMF, set-up published by Environmental Health Trust if you or a family member spend a lot of time at a computer.

At night

  • Strongly encourage your child not to sleep near their wireless gadgets. If this isn’t possible – and let’s face it, with teenagers, you may not succeed at wresting the phone or tablet away – try to convince them to place it away from their head instead of under a pillow.
  • Even better, keep electronics out of bedrooms as much as possible, or at least away from beds. This includes TV screens and audio speakers.
  • Use an old-fashioned electric or battery alarm clock that doesn’t connect to Wi-Fi. And get one for your children if they claim to need their cell phone so they can get up in the morning.
  • Move beds away from utility meters or large appliances, which also emit radiation, even if they’re on the other side of a wall.

Studying, playing and communicating

  • Experts recommend starting a child’s cell phone use as late as practical, considering the family and educational context and needs of each child. The younger kids are, the more vulnerable their bodies are to potentially harmful effects of wireless radiation exposure.
  • Encourage your children to use a device’s speaker function or wired earbuds when they want to use their phone to talk.
  • Download movies and shows instead of streaming them, then watch in airplane mode. Even better, watch on a wired computer or screen.
  • Teach and encourage your children to use their laptop or tablet placed on a table or another hard surface, away from their bodies.
  • Get wired – consider getting cords and cables for your kids’ game console, and turning it off when your children finish playing.

Powering down

  • Put phones in airplane mode as much as possible when they are near children, with both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth turned off. If they (or you) want to put a phone in a pocket or backpack, turn it off first.
  • Also, power devices down when you’re in transit, like on a plane, train, bus or in a car.
  • Get to know when radiation emissions are highest – streaming video, traveling in a car, or when the signal is poor – and do what you can to help your child avoid these scenarios. (To see how strong or weak the signal is, check how many bars it has.)

At school

Parents and caregivers don’t have nearly as much control at school over how much their child is exposed to wireless radiation as they do at home. And with technology ever more prevalent in educational settings, chances are kids are close to a variety of devices all day.

Nearly half of U.S. schools report having a computer for every child, according to a Department of Education study. Another 37 percent have a computer for each child in some age groups. In some cases, kids may take the device home with them for long or short periods. The survey also said 70 percent of teachers use technology in the classroom.

It’s tough to shield your child from wireless radiation exposure entirely. But you can take steps to lower their exposure based on advice published by experts. Start by approaching school administrators with your concerns. Learn your school or district’s cell phone policy. If none exists, request that a committee be formed to develop a policy and plan trainings for teachers about safe technology use.

Here are a few ideas teachers can implement in the classroom or that schools and school districts can use. The gold standard: Whenever possible, use wired connections for laptops, tablets, interactive white boards, printers and other devices.

If a wired school network isn’t feasible:

  • Emphasize keeping devices off and turning them on only when in use – and issue frequent reminders.
  • Students’ personal electronic devices, like cell phones, should be turned off or in airplane mode during school.
  • Make sure the school policy on wireless device use is posted in classrooms.
  • Ask school districts to equip new facilities with wired technology.
  • Many experts recommend setting school Wi-Fi routers to the lowest possible level that still allows educational content access, as well as turning off routers when they’re not in use.

Wireless technology use during the pandemic

From the start of the coronavirus pandemic, wireless technology became the main path for accessing education and participating in virtual classrooms for kids and families in the U.S. and across the globe. In 2020, a survey found nearly half of 2- to 4-year-olds and about two in three kids ages 5 to 8 already owned their own mobile devices, a tablet or smartphone – and that was before the Covid-19-related school closures prompted desperate working parents nationwide to employ wireless devices as babysitters and educators.

That’s many kids with constant access to wireless devices – and also exposed to the health risks of wireless radiation. Parents have taken note of these potential harms. A European citizens group coalition in March called for simple steps to protect kids by swapping wireless for cables in places where children spend time and educating the public about the dangers of exposure.

Earlier this year, EWG together with more than 22,000 people petitioned federal regulators to establish stricter standards for kids’ exposure to wireless devices’ radiofrequency radiation.

For more information

To find additional resources, advocacy guidance, tip sheets and other useful suggestions, consult the websites of one of these organizations:

  • The Environmental Health Trust’s “Wi-Fi in Schools Toolkit” offers a wealth of resources, including fact sheets and tip sheets, background on the science of EMF exposure, and guidance for parents, teachers and schools. It also has more than a dozen downloadable and printable posters on exposure and sleep, children’s development, and the effects of EMF exposure on breast cancer risk and male reproductive health.
  • An Environmental Health in Nursing textbook downloadable chapter on EMF, courtesy of the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, contains useful information, like a detailed explanation of the health impacts of EMF exposure, advocate organizations’ tip sheets, and other valuable resources.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics issued recommendations about EMF exposure.
  • The Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition offers a downloadable backgrounder for students and educators on “Cell Phones, Wireless and Your Health,” which includes suggested activities to use in the classroom and as homework. It includes a list of additional websites you may choose to consult.

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Safety Recommendations for Children Who Use Digital Technologies to Study at Home

Scientific Research Institute of Hygiene and Children's Health in the Russian Ministry of Health 
and the Russian National Committee on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (RusCNIRP)
March 25, 2020 

(The recommendations were translated from Russian using Google's translation tool and then edited for easier reading on the Electromagnetic Radiation Safety website.) 

The following recommendations for distance learning at home are intended for children (up to 18 years of age) and their parents and grandparents and anyone who helps children study at home using digital technologies.

1. Children under 18 years of age who study at home should primarily use personal computers and laptops connected to the Internet via a wired network. When using a wireless network, the distance from the Wi-Fi router to the student should be at least 5 meters (16 feet).

2. The keyboard of the computer or laptop must be disinfected with an antiseptic every day before starting work. The monitor also needs to be treated with an antiseptic agent.

3. Before using the keyboard wash the hands of both the child and the adult who helps him or her.

4. To reduce the risk of visual impairment and musculoskeletal system disorders, provide a child working at a computer or laptop with a convenient workplace (the height of the table and chair should correspond to the height of the child), to exclude the illumination of the monitor screen.

5. The main light source at the child's workplace should be located on the side of the screen (not behind the screen and not from the back of the person working with the screen). The brightness of the source should approximately correspond to the brightness of the screen.


6. The use of tablets for distance learning at home is acceptable for adolescents over 15 years old. Before using the tablet, you need to wash your hands and wipe the screen with a disinfectant (wet towel). The location of the Wi-Fi point should be at least 5 meters (16 feet) from the student’s workplace. The tablet is placed on the table on a stand at an angle of 30 degrees, the distance from the screen to the pupil’s eyes is at least 50 centimeters (20 inches). Do not use a laptop or tablet on your lap, in your hands, lying down and the like.
30 degree angle
         
7. For all age groups: completely avoid use of smartphones for educational purposes (reading, searching for information)

8. For all age groups: for reading or completing tasks, mainly use ordinary books and notebooks.

9. Children under 6 years old must not use any computer equipment for educational purposes at home.

10. Children 6 to 12 years of age should minimize the use of computer equipment for educational purposes at home. If it is necessary to use it, the total duration of all types of on-screen activities should not exceed 2 hours per day (including watching TV). The class schedule should be based on a one-to-three schedule for 6 to 8 year olds (for every 10 minutes of work 30 minutes of rest) and one-to-two schedule for ages over 8 and up to 12 years (for every 10 minutes of work - 20 minutes of rest).

11. For children 12 to 18 years of age, the following mode of computer use is recommended: “one to two” for 12 to 15 year olds (for every 30 minutes of work - 60 minutes of rest) and “one to one” for children for 16 to 18 year olds (for every 45 minutes of work - 45 minutes of rest). 


The total duration of all types of screen activities for children 12 to 18 years of age, including watching TV, should not exceed 3.5–4 hours per day.

12. For the prevention of visual fatigue, perform gymnastics for the eyes during the break; for the prevention of general fatigue - a warm-up (tilts, body turns, squats, etc.)

13. If necessary to use headphones limit their continuous use: no more than an hour at a volume of not more than 60%.

14. Ventilate the room where the students study, before the start of classes (at least 15 minutes) and after each hour of work.

15. Do not use tablets and smartphones for educational purposes outdoors (in the park, on the playground and similar places).


The above recommendations are based upon research from multicenter studies on children's health and safety while using digital educational technologies, materials from the Scientific Research Institute of Hygiene and Children's Health “NRCM of Children's Health,” and the Russian National Committee for Protection against Non-Ionizing Radiation, as well as recommendations from the World Health Organization and the best safety practices for children's digital educational environments.

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California Department of Public Health


In December, 2017, the California Department of Public Health captured worldwide attention when it published an official cell phone safety document,"How to Reduce Exposure to Radiofrequency Energy from Cell Phones." The three-page document is available at http://bit.ly/CDPHguidance.

In March, 2017, before the judge could finalize her ruling in a lawsuit we filed under the Public Records Act, the California Department of Public Health released an unofficial cell phone safety document, "Cellphones and Health," dated April, 2014. The document was originally written in 2009 but never released to the public. More information is available on my web site.
To download 3-page document: http://bit.ly/CDPHguidance

More Safety Tips

American Academy of Pediatrics. "Cell Phone Radiation & Children’s Health: What Parents Need to Know." http://bit.ly/AAPrecs

Athens Medical Association. "16 Rules to Reduce Wireless Radiation Exposure." http://bit.ly/2pOt2HG

Baby Safe Project. "What You Need to Know about Wireless Radiation and Your Baby."
bit.ly/BabySafeEMR

City of Berkeley. Berkeley Cell Phone "Right to Know" Ordinance.

Canadians for Safe Technology. "Wireless Safety Tips. http://bit.ly/C4STtips

Connecticut Department of Public Health. "Cell Phones: Questions and Answers about Safety." http://bit.ly/cellphoneFAQsConn

Consumer Reports. "Cell Phone Radiation Warnings." http://bit.ly/CRwarnings

Electrosensitive Society. "How to reduce your exposure: Electromagnetic hygiene in 12 easy steps. http://bit.ly/ESsafetytips

Environmental Health Trust. "10 Tips to Reduce Cell Phone Radiation."  http://bit.ly/EHT10tips

Environmental Working Group. "EWG's Guide to Safer Cell Phone Use." http://bit.ly/EWGcellphone

German Federal Office for Radiation Protection. Recommendations from the BfS for making telephone calls on mobile communications. http://bit.ly/BfScalls

German Federal Office for Radiation Protection. Smartphones and tablets--tips to reduce radiation exposure. http://bit.ly/GFRPtips

International Commission on the Biological Effects of Electromagnetic Fields. "Safety Tips on Reducing Wireless Radiation Exposure." https://bit.ly/ICBE-safety-tips 

New Jersey Education Association. "Minimize Health Risks from Electronic Devices." NJEA Review. Sept 2016. bit.ly/NJEAtips

Physicians for Safe Technology. "Safety Tips for Wireless Devices." bit.ly/MDsafeTechTips

Vienna Medical Association. "Mobile Phone Information." 




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

On March 28, the U.S. intelligence community released a declassified, but heavily redacted, extensive report on the potential causes of the "Havana Syndrome," entitled "Anomalous Health Incidents: Analysis of Potential Causal Mechanisms." Consistent with the National Academy of Sciences investigation, the report reaffirms the plausibility that the syndrome is caused by pulsed, radiofrequency radiation. 

The report was originally issued by the Intelligence Community Experts Panel in September, 2022. The panel consisted of experts in science, medicine and engineering. The panel reviewed more than a thousand classified documents and interviewed people who experienced anomalous health incidents (AHIs).

The panel reached six major conclusions:
  • The signs and symptoms of AHIs are genuine and compelling.
  • A subset of AHIs have a unique combination of core characteristics that cannot be explained by known environmental or medical conditions and could be due to external stimuli.
  • Electromagnetic energy, particularly pulsed signals in the radiofrequency range, plausibly explains the core characteristics, although information gaps exist.
  • Ultrasound also plausibly explains the core characteristics, but only in close-access scenarios and with information gaps.
  • Psychosocial factors alone cannot account for the core characteristics, although they may explain some other reported incidents or contribute to long-term signs and symptoms.
  • Ionizing radiation, chemical and biological agents, infrasound, audible sound, ultrasound propagated over large distances, and bulk heating from electromagnetic energy are all implausible explanations for the core characteristics in the absence of other synergistic stimuli.
The panel made recommendations regarding detection, diagnosis, and treatment of AHIs and development of biomarkers.

An excerpt from this report:

"Little research in the West has systematically explored configurations of electromagnetic energy that could cause nonthermal clinical effects. Although there is a large amount of research on such effects—an estimated 25,000 publications as of 2018 89—the vast majority has understandably focused on configurations related to the safety of commercial appliances and communication systems.

Interestingly, safety standards in Russia 90 and many other former Soviet states 91 place much stricter limits on human exposure to electromagnetic fields than current Western standards.

Western scientists have attempted to replicate Russian claims of biological effects at nonthermal power levels despite the absence of details about the waveforms and energy levels of greatest concern, but their efforts have failed to show similar results. Thus, the primary organizations responsible for setting Western exposure standards do not include most of the Russian studies in their considerations. 92 93

The data from these incidents are generally consistent with academic research [redacted text] but are too limited to draw firm conclusions. 94 95 They seem to suggest, however, that different individuals can experience the same type of stimulus in different ways, which may help account for some of the observed heterogeneity in cases exhibiting the core characteristics. In addition, higher power exposures appear to generate symptoms that are distinct from those with less intense exposures, suggesting that more than one variable or biological mechanism may be at play. Lastly, the effects of electromagnetic exposure may be cumulative over time (e.g., over hours) and may be capable of triggering acute symptoms without warning. The Panel emphasizes, however, that confirming or disconfirming any of these preliminary observations will require systematic research."

Salon and Microwave News have reported this story.

My note: To date the evidence for many of the anomalous health incidents is consistent with electromagnetic hypersensitivity. Furthermore, my hypothesis that the source of the electromagnetic fields could be a microwave surveillance activity, as opposed to a microwave weapon attack, still seems plausible (see my posts below from 2017 on).

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Mar 3, 2023

Updated Assessment of Anomalous Health Incidents

National Intelligence Council. Updated Assessment of Anomalous Health Incidents.  CA 2023-02286-B. March 1, 2023.

The report "addresses the question of whether one or more foreign actors bears responsibility, either deliberately or unintentionally, for causing anomalous health incidents (AHIs) reported by US Government officials across multiple agencies since 2016...."

"The IC pursued three separate lines of inquiry: the first encompassed work determining whether available data points to the involvement of a foreign adversary in the incidents; the second focused on the feasibility and existence of deliberate mechanisms that an adversary might use against US personnel to cause AHIs; and the third evaluated whether medical analysis can help determine if an outside actor is involved in the broad range of phenomena and symptoms associated with AHIs. Based on the results of these three lines of inquiry, most IC agencies have concluded that it is “very unlikely” a foreign adversary is responsible for the reported AHIs. IC agencies have varying confidence levels, with two agencies at moderate-to-high confidence while three are at moderate confidence. Two agencies judge it is “unlikely” an adversary was responsible for AHIs and they do so with low confidence based on collection gaps and their review of the same evidence...."

"A review of intelligence reporting, open-source information, and scientific and medical literature about foreign weapons and research programs, as well as engagement with researchers inside and outside the US Government have led IC agencies to judge that there is no credible evidence that a foreign adversary has a weapon or collection device that is causing AHIs. As a result, most agencies assess that deliberate causal mechanisms are very unlikely to have caused the sensory phenomena and adverse symptoms associated with AHIs but with varying confidence levels. Two agencies have high confidence in this judgment while three agencies have moderate confidence. Two agencies judge that deliberate causal mechanisms are unlikely to have caused AHIs and have low confidence because they judge that radiofrequency (RF) energy is a plausible cause for AHIs, based in part on the findings of the IC Expert Panel and the results of research by some US laboratories. All agencies acknowledge the value of additional research on potential adversary capabilities in the RF field, in part because there continues to be a scientific debate on whether this could result in a weapon that could produce the symptoms seen in some of the reported AHI cases."



NOTE: No agency has publicly ruled out the possibility that the exposures causing the "anomalous health incidents" were due to surveillance by a foreign actor. This could be accomplished with a moderate-intensity microwave device, rather than a high-intensity microwave weapon (e.g., "Moscow Signals"), and could cause the symptoms experienced by many of the people who were exposed due to electromagnetic hypersensitivity.


Sep 15, 2022

The Moscow Signals Declassified: Microwave Diplomacy, 1967-1977

William Burr & Peter Kornbluh, National Security Archive (Briefing Book #805), Sep 15, 2022

    "The history of the Moscow Signal has received renewed media attention in recent months as a potential historical precedent for the 'Havana Syndrome'—a mysterious constellation of cognitive and neurological symptoms suffered by CIA and State Department personnel in Havana and elsewhere that led to the shuttering of the CIA Station in Cuba and drastic staff reductions at the U.S. Embassy in Havana five years ago this month. Significant differences between the two phenomena notwithstanding, in interviews and articles a number of former diplomats who were exposed to the Moscow Signal have compared the two episodes. “Today’s Havana Syndrome is ‘like déjà vu all over again,’” wrote retired diplomat James Schumaker, who developed leukemia after serving in Russia in the 1970s, in an article for The Foreign Service Journal titled 'Before Havana Syndrome there was Moscow Signal.' 

     The Archive’s 'Microwave Diplomacy, 1967-1977' posting is the second of a two-part series on the Moscow Signal. Part I, 'PANDORA/BIZARRE,' was published on September 13. A related posting concerning the Soviet beaming of ionizing radiation, 'Irradiating Richard Nixon,' will be published the week of September 19...."

     "High-level U.S. efforts to press Soviet leaders to halt the radiation activity began in 1967 and continued under four administrations into the Carter era. The microwave transmissions, believed to be related to bugging devices hidden in the Embassy walls, continued for decades after they were first detected when the U.S. Chancery opened in the early 1950s...."

For more information on the Moscow Signal, see summaries of 32 recently declassified documents in addition to the original documents:



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Intelligence Community Expert Panel: Executive Summary

On February 1, 2022, the executive summary from a report prepared by the IC (U.S. Intelligence Community) Expert Panel on Anomalous Health Incidents (AHIs) was declassified by Avril Haines, Director of National Intelligence. 

The report makes the following conclusions:

"Four 'core characteristics' were prominent among these AHIs: the acute onset of audio-vestibular sensory phenomena, sometimes including sound or pressure in only one ear or on one side of the head; other nearly simultaneous signs and symptoms such as vertigo, loss of balance, and ear pain; a strong sense of locality or directionality; and the absence of known environmental or medical conditions that could have caused the reported signs and symptoms."

"The signs and symptoms of AHIs are genuine and compelling. The panel bases this assessment on incident reports, medical data from affected individuals and interviews with their physicians, and interviews with affected individuals themselves. Some incidents have affected multiple persons in the same space, and clinical samples from a few affected individuals have shown early, transient elevations in biomarkers suggestive of cellular injury to the nervous system. The reported signs and symptoms of AHIs are diverse and may be caused by multiple mechanisms, but no case should be discounted."

"... the combination of the four core characteristics is distinctly unusual and unreported elsewhere in the medical literature, and so far have not been associated with a specific neurological abnormality. Several aspects of this unique neurosensory syndrome make it unlikely to be caused by a functional neurological disorder. The location dependence and sudden onset and offset, for example, argue for a stimulus that is spatially and temporally discrete. The perception of sound and pain within only one ear suggests the stimulation of its mechanoreceptors, a specific cranial nerve, or nuclei in the brainstem, all of which mediate hearing and balance. The lack of other symptoms also helped rule-out known medical conditions."

"Pulsed electromagnetic energy, particularly in the radiofrequency range, plausibly explains the core characteristics, although information gaps exist. There are several plausible pathways involving various forms of pulsed electromagnetic energy, each with its own requirements, limitations, and unknowns. For all the pathways, sources exist that could generate the required stimulus, are concealable, and have moderate power requirements. Using nonstandard {redacted words} antennas and techniques, the signals could be propagated with low loss through air for tens to hundreds of meters, and with some loss, through most building materials. {redacted sentence}."

"Ultrasound also plausibly explains the core characteristics, but only in close-access scenarios and with information gaps...."

"Psychosocial factors alone cannot account for the core characteristics, although they may cause some other incidents or contribute to long-term symptoms...." 

"Ionizing radiation, chemical and biological agents, infrasound, audible sound, ultrasound propagated over large distances, and bulk heating from electromagnetic energy are all implausible explanations for the core characteristics in the absence of other synergistic stimuli. These mechanisms are unlikely, on their own, to account for the required effects or are technically or practically infeasible...."

Three of the seven recommendations are completely redacted: Detectors, Biological Effects, and Devices to Aid Research. 

The executive summary can be downloaded: 

https://www.dni.gov/files/ODNI/documents/assessments/2022_02_01_AHI_Executive_Summary_FINAL_Redacted.pdf

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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.

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Research on high power microwave weapons

Guoqi Ni, Benqing Gao, Junwei Lu. Research on high power microwave weapons. 2005 Asia-Pacific Microwave Conference Proceedings, 2005, doi: 10.1109/APMC.2005.1606492.

Abstract

This article describes for high power microwave (abbreviation HPM) weapons research from its procedures and developing trends. In the process of researching, developing and using weapons, we have been seeking a real "multi-purpose" weapon which is able to attack the overall target, suitable in all climates and on multi-platform carrier, both for battle field and peace keeping operations. As a result of over twenty years of research, HPM weapons are found to be the optimum answer for all the questions.

Conclusions

Due to classification restrictions, details of this work are relatively unknown outside the military community. The author in this article analyses the current available information and discusses it from several periods, the purpose is to encourage others coming up with valuable opinions.