"I have never seen a set of epidemiological studies that remotely approached the weight of evidence we're seeing with extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields. Clearly there is something here."
---Martin Halper, The Environmental Protection Agency, Director of Analysis and Support
We have all heard of the threats we face from pesticides in our food and water; from acid rain; from holes in the ozone; from toxic waste; from nuclear leaks and accidents; from nuclear wastes that can't be safely disposed. But electromagnetic energy fields? Yes, EMFs (electromagnetic fields) of all kinds are becoming a growing threat to our health and well-being. And unlike some forms of pollution, electromagnetic pollution is virtually everywhere.
Twenty-four hours a day we are exposed to a hodgepodge of harmful electromagnetic fields. Inside our homes, we are zapped by electric shavers, hair dryers, electric blankets, TVs, stereos, VCRs, radios, computers, microwave ovens, toasters, dimmer lights, and electric toothbrushes. Outside our home, we are zapped by military installations, communication dishes, industrial machines, TV transmitters, high tension power lines and transformers, broadcast frequencies from radio, TV, cellular phones, even electromagnetic fields generated by cars. Unless we live in some remote corner of the planet, there is no escape. Simply put, our growing exposure to electromagnetic energy fields is a serious threat to our health, and the health of our children.
Of thirty five international research studies on EMF, thirty three made a conclusive link between brain tumors, leukemia, and other forms of cancer and electromagnetic exposure. 1
Electric utility workers with high exposure to magnetic fields had more than twice the risk of brain cancer than workers with lower exposure. Workers with moderate to high exposure to electromagnetic radiation were three to four times as likely to develop degenerative brain disease, such as Alzheimer's disease, as those who did not work around strong electromagnetic fields. 3
Low level microwave radiation (used in cellular phone technology) causes DNA breaks in the brains of experimental animals--and may have the same affect on human beings. 4
Women in electrical occupations have a greater chance of dying of breast cancer than those working in non-electrical occupations. 5
Women who use video display screens that emit strong electromagnetic fields are at a greater risk of having miscarriages than those using low-field video display screens. 6
A growing number of people who live near high voltage power lines are developing life-threatening illnesses. Some have even died. Some of these people have taken their local power companies to court, claiming their power companies had information on the harmful health effects of EMFs for years, but deliberately withheld that information from their customers. 7
After noticing an unusually high rate of cancer among teachers and learning disabilities among children who attend schools that are overshadowed by high voltage power lines, concerned teachers and parents in several school districts persuaded their administrators to relocate classrooms to safer locations. These moves, however, did not go unchallenged. Moves to safer locations were often preceded by bitter fights with local power companies who claimed there was no danger, but could not account for the unusually high incidence of cancer among teachers who taught in areas overshadowed by high voltage power lines. 8
Other EMF symptoms include: Eyestrain, headaches, inability to concentrate, neckaches, irritability, depression, memory loss, weakened immune system and, in more extreme cases, birth defects and leukemia in children. Children, unfortunately, are especially susceptible to EMFs.
The Environmental Protection Agency publicly acknowledged that electromagnetic pollution is a serious threat to health. While the White House and U.S. Air Force apparently tried to suppress an EPA report for fear the report "might be unnecessarily alarming to the public," EPA staffers felt the situation was so serious that they leaked a draft copy of their findings to the press. Called "Evaluation of the Potential Carcinogenicity of Electromagnetic Fields," the EPA report was 150 pages long. It reviewed studies that had been completed prior to 1990 that included six residential studies of children and adults; over thirty studies of workers in electrical occupations; two studies of the relationship between children's cancer rates and their father's EMF exposures; as well as hundreds of laboratory studies. The conclusion:
"The several studies showing leukemia, lymphoma, and cancer of the nervous system in children exposed to magnetic fields from residential 60-Hz electrical power distribution systems, supported by similar findings in adults in several occupational studies also involving electrical power frequency exposures, show a consistent pattern of response that suggests... a causual link." 8
While we should all be concerned about how much ourselves and our children are exposed to harmful electromagnetic fields, we don't need to feel powerless. In the public arena, we can demand for this problem to be squarely addressed by government, science and industry. Privately, we can take a look around our homes and offices and design things in such a way that we minimize our exposure to electromagnetic energy.
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