In Circadian Biology parts I and II, I discussed some of the mechanisms by which human biology is attuned to the “native” electromagnetic spectrum found on earth. Life on our planet is adapted to full spectrum of the sun (250-3000nm) and some geomagnetic forces in the extremely low frequency spectrum known as the Schumann Resonance. Man was immersed in these native electromagnetic frequencies for 6 million years of evolution. In modern times, our species have engineered technological devices like cellular phones and satellites that emit non-native electromagnetic fields for industry, travel, and communication. These non-native frequencies have become ubiquitous in the environment over the last century with little research into their biologic effects on life. Only recently has science begun to uncover some of the potential negative health effects of nnEMF. Much of this new information is suppressed by the communications industry, which now has more influence in the federal government than Big Pharma(R). You have to seek this information out specifically to find it. There is a lot science still has to uncover about the effects of non-native electromagnetic radiation on human physiology, so if you’re a sceptic I think it’s important to look at the research objectively and keep an open mind. Simply realize that we’ve created a science experiment of global proportions and the results remain to be seen. I want to dive into some of the current research on nnEMF today…
A Summary of Electromagnetism
Electromagnetic force is a physical interaction that occurs between electrically charged particles. Electromagnetism can be discussed in terms of field(static state) and radiation(wave). A field is something that exists in space and extends outward from electrically charged objects. All electrically charged particles are surrounded by electric fields. Charged particles in motion produce magnetic fields. When the velocity of a charged particle changes, an electromagnetic field is produced. EM fields fluctuate often and emit waves of energy that behave as massless and chargeless energies. The number of waves formed in one second is called the frequency of the EMF, and the distance the energy travels during one oscillation is the wavelength. The higher the frequency, the shorter the wavelength and vice versa. The standard unit of measurement of electromagnetic frequency is the hertz, which describes the cycles per second of a waveform.(R)
The electromagnetic spectrum theoretically spans from infinitely high to infinitely low frequencies. The shorter and more energy dense frequencies include gamma rays, x rays, and extremely short ultra-violet radiation. These frequencies are called ionizing radiation because the photons are so powerful they can dissociate electrons from atoms and cause highly reactive ions to form. Next comes longer wave UV and the visible spectrum, followed by infrared that we sense as heat. The frequencies of modern communication are found below infrared in the microwave and radio frequency regions. Extremely low frequency EMF like the Schumann resonance (a geomagnetic frequency naturally occurring on earth’s surface below 10 hz) have the longest wavelengths.
The native EMFs that have existed on earth for 4 billion years are simple. There is the Schumann Resonance at 7.83Hz which is an extremely low frequency field modulated by the solar and lunar cycles. It is an electrical tension that develops between the the solar plasma and the atmosphere that comes from the interaction of sunlight on the ionosphere. There are random bursts of static electricity from lightning and weak radio signals from distant stars. The EMF from the sun, specifically UV and infrared, are the most dominant.
Except for visible light and infrared EMF, we can not perceive any of these energies without instruments designed to find them. Our brain senses them all without sensation being perceived consciously. This is the problem for modern humans, who don’t realize we’ve abruptly added massive amounts of non-native EMF to our environment in the last century.
Non-Native EMFs are any electromagnetic fields that are man made and aren’t naturally occurring on earth. This can including frequencies in the visible and non-visible ranges.
Non-Native EMF will keep accumulating because it can’t escape the ionosphere. Einstein’s work tells us that once EMF waves are generated they are never de-modulated and they go on for infinity. On other planets EM fields can dissipate into space, on earth they are trapped in the ionosphere. The first mile above earth is now filled with 2 million times the EMF that there was in 1900. Humans have altered their electromagnetic background more than any other aspect of their environment. Non-Native EMF between 1-300 Hz can be found everywhere in modern societies. (R)
Federal Safety Standards & Regulation
The WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies electromagnetic fields as ‘possible human carcinogens’. This means they haven’t been able to rule out that fact that non-native EMFs could be a cause of cancer.(R)
The WHO advises the public to adopt safety measures to reduce exposure, like the use of hands-free devices or texting.(R)
There is virtually no regulation on the non-native EMF output of industry. The EPA has not surveyed the USA since 1979 for EMF levels or effects. This is before the majority of current EMF pollution existed.
Some countries limit the specific absorption rate of radio frequency technology to 1.6 watts per kilogram of tissue and others limit SAR to 2.0 watts per kilogram. This is detailed in Apple’s RF warning for it’s devices.(R)
Most technologies do meet these standards, but the standards are skewed to only concern THERMAL damage from ELF-EMF radiation. This effect can be observed in microwave ovens. The microwaves vibrate the charged particles in food, heating them up. The technology industry maintains that any devices that don’t cause a thermal effect in tissues is safe, but the reality is that there are many negative NON-THERMAL biological effects on tissues.
Biologic Effects of nnEMF
The short answer is that nnEMFs illicit a stress response at the cellular level.
Cells communicate via a system of ion channels across membranes that regulate energy flows and homeostasis. One major stress pathway in cells is regulated by what are called voltage gated calcium channels embedded in cell membranes. When these VGCCs are stimulated, they induce calcium efflux and flood the intracellular space with calcium signaling an inflammatory cascade. When calcium ions flood the cell they increase free radicals that cause tissue damage. Specifically, the flood of calcium ions increases intracellular nitric oxide which combines with superoxide to create peroxynitrite and hydoxyl free radicals. These are dangerous free radicals capable of causing membrane and mitochondrial tissue damage, along with single and double stranded DNA breaks and protein destruction. This kind of calcium efflux reaction is completely disruptive to cellular metabolism, function, and communication.(R)
Voltage gated calcium channels in cellular membranes are particularly susceptible to the effects of nnEMF because of the physical characteristics of 20 different charged particles within them. In fact, they are approximately 7 million times more sensitive to EMF than other charged particles inside and outside the cell.(R)
Dr. Jack Kruse believes that nnEMF’s dehydrate our tissues by lowering our redox potential in mitochondria, blunting our ability to create water as a byproduct of cellular respiration. This is feasible seeing as calcium efflux slows mitochondrial metabolism.(R)
Calcium efflux provides a mechanism for EMF as a carcinogen, through mitochondrial and DNA damage by increased free radicals. This fits with Warburg and Seyfried’s metabolic theory of cancer. Peroxynitirite and hydroxyl free radicals are known to be produced as part of a cellular stress response when mitochondrial metabolism slows. This free radical storm is produced to kill any pathogen insults threatening neighboring cells or to induce apoptosis in non-viable tissue.(R)
Proper regulation of ion channels is crucial to maintain membrane potentials and voltage, including the mitochondrial membrane. Mitochondria regulate cell homeostasis by carefully monitoring voltage and charge particle gradients. When nnEMFs induce calcium efflux, mitochondria recognize this as a stress signal and induce a cellular danger response. This effect could be crucial in the mitochondrial etiology of neolithic disease as described by Dr. Doug Wallace of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Dr. Robert Naviaux of UCSD.
How EMF Effects Organ Systems
The organ systems that are the most dense with mitochondria seem to be the most susceptible to EMF interference. In humans this is the brain, heart, and reproductive organs. Interestingly, chronic diseases that affect these areas are exploding in technologically advanced societies. Cancer, heart disease, and neurodegeneration are far and away the leading causes of mortality, whereas merely 100 years ago it was infectious diseases like pneumonia and tuberculosis.(R)
It has been shown that EMFs lower sperm count and semen quality.(R)
Cognitive function in humans suffers around nnEMF, a study found slower response times to a spatial working memory task when a cell phone was placed next to the head of males.(R)
The Blood Brain Barrier (sometimes abbreviated BBB) is a protective layer that blocks unwanted substances from entering the brain. Researchers from Lund University have found that BBB integrity is compromised when exposed to EMF and that it can become permeable to damaging substances. This could be critical to the autism epidemic.(R)
In mice, exposure to radiation from cell phones during pregnancy affected the brain development of offspring and caused symptoms that resembled ADHD.(R)
The EXPLOSION of autism spectrum disorders since 1980 correlates almost exactly with the rise in child nnEMF exposure.
This isn’t to say that nnEMF is the only cause of autism, but it certainly is a piece of the puzzle. People with autism have been shown to have oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain, a compromised blood brain barrier, immune abnormalities, and deficiencies in cellular antioxidants like glutathione. All these mechanisms have been demonstrated in nnEMF’s effects on cells.(R)
Additionally, exposure to EMF has been shown the be predisposing factor to neurodegeneration.(R)
EMFs have been shown to cause cardiac arrhythmias.(R)
EMFs have been shown to effect immune responses and can be linked to autoimmunity.(R)
Now I want to talk about non-native EMFs in the visible spectrum.
Man made lighting has utilized increasingly narrow frequency bands over the generations. Most recently, fluorescent lighting has become blue/white light dominant because it is more energy efficient than thermal light sources. This is a problem for humans because these blue frequencies, especially without being balanced by red and infrared like they are in nature, create a stress response in our nervous system and ruin circadian signaling.
In the sun, the full spectrum comes perfectly balanced. In man made lighting, we selectively pick frequencies for our modern applications:
Unbalanced blue light in the 446-477nm range, seen above in the LED and CFL bulbs, is particularly dangerous for human physiology because it has the strongest impact on circadian timing via pigments in our photoreceptors.(R1)(R2)(R3)
Before the advent of technology humans used thermal light sources that emitted red and infrared like fire, candles, and kerosene lamps. These frequencies have much less of an impact on our circadian rhythm than blue light.
When blue light hits the retina, it signals the suprachiasmatic nucleus to commence a hormonal cascade of wakefulness from the pituitary gland. Internal clocks are created through the regulation of the genes CLOCK, ARNTL, and PER3 in neurons. These genes are adjusted by light input from the photoreceptors. When using artificial light sources that are dense with blue, we are getting this signal chronically.(R)
Especially problematic is the timing of artificial light use; blue and green light from artificial light sources suppress melatonin release and severely disrupt sleep onset and quality.(R1)(R2)(R3)(R4)
Even dim light can interfere with circadian rhythm and melatonin secretion. A mere 8 lux can inhibit melatonin.(R)
Even shining a light on the back of the knee in an otherwise dark room can disrupt circadian rhythm.(R)
If we observe advanced modern societies, we are bathed in this alien blue light chronically and often far beyond sunset. You can see how it’s effects on chronobiology and photoendocrinology set the stage for disease and mental illness. For this reason, getting balanced natural light at the right times is critically important.
Modern societies are living within a man-made science experiment of which the results are currently unfolding. The constant accumulation of non-native electromagnetic fields in our environment is creating an interference pattern that has been proven to trigger stress responses in human tissues. The good news is, with this information in mind, mitigation techniques can be employed. Also, it’s important to realize that there is massive economic potential in converting wireless communications to a more biologically compatible platform once the general population is aware of the dangers of the current system. The key is to spread awareness and support unbiased, rigorous scientific research of nnEMF. Other than that, the focus should be to return as much as possible to the native electromagnetic frequencies of our environment.