Dr. Magda Havas, PhD Environmental Studies Research Papers

NIEHS Review Biological effects of non-ionizing EMFs

Posted on October 7, 2009

Havas, M. 2000. Biological effects of non-ionizing electromagnetic energy: A critical review of the reports by the US National Research Council and the US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences as they relate to the broad realm of EMF bioeffects. Environ. Rev. 8: 173–253.

Abstract: Our dependence on electricity and our growing dependence on wireless telecommunication technology is causing this planet to be inundated with electromagnetic energy ranging in frequency from less than 60 Hz to greater than 2 GHz. Concerns expressed by the public, who live near power lines, cell phone antennas, or television and radio broadcast towers, have prompted two major reviews: one by the US National Research Council (NRC) and the other by the US National Institute of Environmental Health Science (NIEHS). Both of these documents deal with the biological and health effects primarily in a residential setting of extremely low frequency (ELF) or power frequency (50 and 60 Hz) fields. This paper critically evaluates the NRC and NIEHS documents. This evaluation includes both the content and the process leading to the final reports. It summarizes the information available on human exposure to electric and magnetic fields and identifies key biological markers and potential mechanisms that have been linked to electromagnetic exposure. It examines the conclusions of both documents in terms of the slightly broader realm associated with occupational exposure, non-power frequency fields, EMF hypersensitivity, and response of species other than humans. It presents some of the scientific controversy surrounding the question “Are low frequency electric and magnetic fields harmful?” and examines the concepts of bias and consistency in data interpretation. This paper also attempts to place the discussions about technologically generated fields (technofields) into a much broader perspective, a perspective that includes naturally occurring geofields and biofields.

Key words: leukemia, breast cancer, melatonin, calcium flux, extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields, radio frequency radiation.