With increasing frequency, world experts highlight the connection between electromagnetic fields and human disease. In Ireland alone, according to the Department of the Environment and the Irish Cancer Society, radiation is 1,000 times higher than recommendation.

Dr. Gerd Oberfeld predicts that in approximately six years half of us will become electromagnetically sensitive. His theory is supported by the Royal College of Physicians who predicted, in turn, that half of the Irish population will have “some form of cancer” by the year 2025.

Oberfeld’s observations revolved around the standard division of the electromagnetic spectrum between non-ionising and ionising radiation. “Non-ionising radiation occurs from frequencies that extend down into the natural biological frequencies with which man and all life evolved, such as the Schumann Resonance frequency (about 7,8 ‒ 50 Hz), as well as frequencies used by the brain”.

These natural frequencies overlap with artificial ELF/VHF frequencies including those from power mains (i.e., 50/0 Hz) (Tetra at 16.67 Hz). The non-ionising spectrum ranges through radiation produced by visual display units, fluorescent lamps, radio and television with the upper limits including the second, third and fourth generation of digital communications including radar, infrared and visible light.

Dr. Oberfeld also introduced the concept of harmonics, where devices may emit radiation at other frequencies than the main frequency. These lower harmonic frequencies may fall into the more sensitive and biologically important frequencies and disturb naturally occurring processes.

Ionising radiation has long been recognised as dangerous to human health. Oberfeld traced the process of how ultra-violet radiation, X-rays and gamma radiation produce free electrons at the high end of the electromagnetic spectrum. Ionising radiation interacts with oxygen in human tissue which forms what Oberfeld called superoxide, an oxygen molecule with an additional free electron. This in turn, reacts with nitric oxide which is a signal molecule needed by the body and forms peroxynitrate. “This is one of the most important molecules in our bodies because it’s the molecule that will interact with proteins, with lipids, with certain enzymes and it will cause the definitive damage in the cell,” explained Oberfeld.

“That is the way ionising radiation is acting. The same is true for non-ionising radiation where also free electrons are produced by the NADH oxydase,” he said.

PubMed, the U.S. National Library of Medicine of the National Institutes of Health supports Oberfeld’s interpretation of the effects of NADH oxidase on smooth muscles leading to DNA damage with research presented by scientists from Taiwan.

The increase in our dependence on electricity parallels a rapid rise in the incidence of young childhood leukaemia. Oberfeld cited a study by Stelairova and Fourcher in 2004 that uncovered an annual increase in childhood leukaemia on average of 1.4 percent a year from 1970 ‒ 1999. “This is not an incidence that is going down. It is an incidence that is steadily increasing.”

The incidence of childhood leukaemia reaches its peak around the age of two, which is in line with other countries.

According to a joint study between the National Cancer Registry and University College Cork, in Ireland the survival rate of cancers was high, but the incidence of leukaemia is significantly higher. Researchers concluded,

“Observed 5-year survival in Ireland (79% overall) was slightly higher than European and US averages, and was significantly higher for acute non-lymphocytic leukaemia (67%) and (compared with the USA) significantly lower for Hodgkin lymphoma (83%).”

Oberfeld’s remarks built on the 1996 observation’s by William Reville, a senior lecturer in Biochemistry and Director of the Central Electron Microscopy Unit, University College Cork, that “there is evidence of a weak association between increased exposure and an increased risk of leukaemia in children”.

Oberfeld also cited a study by Milham that there is a “switch-on effect” of leukaemia following electrification. An increase of ten percent in electrification results in an increase of leukaemia by 24 percent. Underscoring the Milham results, Oberfeld also made a reference to a German study using a moving cut point of exposure which showed that childhood leukaemia starts to increase at 0.1 µT in a ratio which is associated with 24-hour exposure to magnetic fields.

EMF are possible carcinogenic to humans

Eventually, in 2001, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organization based in Lyon recognised that extremely low frequency magnetic fields are possibly carcinogenic to humans in relation to childhood leukemias. It marked a distinct change in perception about the ability of low frequency electromagnetic radiation from solely childhood leukaemia to the whole area of being classified as being a full-blown carcinogen.

Furthermore, IARC conducted a large-scale investigation into the effects of radio frequencies used in the cell phone industry, the “Interphone” Study. The overall result of the study remains debatable because, while admitting the possibility of increased incidence of cancers, researchers could find no increase in the risk of gliomas or meningiomas (brain tumours). The study does, however, admit the possibility that the duration of exposure can play an important part in the development of tumours.

“Interphone did not look for ELF effects but RF effects from mobile phones,” said Oberfeld, “However I would say that most researchers are not aware that mobiles emit magnetic fields in the Hz, kHz and MHz Range.”

In 2006 a Swedish Oncologist, Lennart Hardell and his colleagues at Orebro University Hospital published an extensive research showing a statistically significant 1.4-fold increase in risk for brain tumours on the same side of the head as the mobile phone was used. “The picture gets even clearer,” said Oberfeld, “if you put into account the hours a mobile phone is used. Between 2,000 ‒ 3,000 hours you have a fourfold increased risk for digital phones. Let’s assume a person uses a mobile phone for one hour a day. In one year it will be 365 hours. In ten years we have 3,600 so that’s a logical pattern.”

“When it comes to age groups,” he said, “the younger you are the more areas of the brain will be affected.” All ages grouped together show an increase in brain tumours but for people who started to use cell phones before the age of 20, the rate of tumours is nearly three times greater than rate of all groups, indicating, according to Oberfeld, “There’s a distinct increase with respect to age.”

The mechanism for the development of disease from electromagnetism can be found in research by Joseph Friedman, Sarah Kraus, Yirmi Hauptman, Yoni Schiff and Rony Seger published in the Biochemical Journal 2007 a paper called “Mechanism of short-term ERK activation by electromagnetic fields at mobile phone frequencies”. They revealed that electromagnetic fields affect the behaviour of proteins in membranes. When hit by an EMF 875 MHz frequency (frequency of a typical GSM cell phone), the NADH Oxidase in the cell membrane and the mitochondria produce free electrons.

Free electrons will combine with Oxygen to form Super Oxide which combines with Nitric Oxide (NO) resulting in Peroxynitrite (NO3=ONOO).

“It is the iron-molecule within the NADH oxidase that is the probable interface between the EMF and the biology. It is about spin resonance,” he said, “which is affected so that a very tiny amount of energy needed in order to have it formed in other way and it will produce free electrons. This effect is dependent on the field strength.”

Oberfeld explained that while the effect is dependent on time, ICNIRP recognises an effect at 60 V/m yet scientists can see an effect at only 4 V/m. Citing the work of Martin L. Pall, PhD, Professor of Biochemistry and Basic Medical Sciences at Washington State University, Oberfeld gave credence to the NO/ONOO theory of how the same mechanism can account for people suffering the same condition present with different symptoms.

This theory was scientifically supported by the study of Malka N. Halgamuge at the University of Melbourne and Chathurika D. Abeyrathne at the University of Peradenya, Sri Lanka. In answer to concerns about possible adverse biological effects, their paper, “Behavior of Charged Particles in a Biological Cell Exposed to AC-DC Electromagnetic Fields,” confirms that EMF affects ions and different signals and strengths have a resonant effect. Their work is a numerical model which tested the theories of Greek researcher Dimitris Panagopoulos and his team at the University of Athens. Their work addressed both electromagnetic and oscillating electric fields.

Further evidence comes from Örjan Hallberg and Prof. Olle Johansson who note that EMF and our sleeping habits may contribute to an explosion in the rate of cancers. “A metal spring mattress is acting as a TV antenna and will definitely increase the risk for standing waves and body currents that can disturb the immune system. Consequently, countries where such beds are less frequently used should be expected to show lower melanoma rates.”

Pall’s paper, “Unexplained Illnesses: Disease Paradigm for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, Fibromyalgia, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Gulf War Syndrome and Others” explains in greater detail the process beginning with the production of Super Oxide mentioned by Oberfeld who adds electromagnetic fields as a co-factor in the Super Oxide ‒ ROS ‒ Peroxynitrite process as well as the onset of Alzheimer’s disease in a vicious cycle. “There is evidence, for example, from power lines in Switzerland that those persons that live 50 meters both sides of the line, high voltage power lines, have an increased risk of Alzheimer’s which is dependent upon the length how long they have lived there,” said Oberfeld.

When exposure to EMF is reduced people get better

Other physical damage to the human organism attributable to ELF, radio and microwave exposure includes lipid peroxidation, protein damage, DNA strand breaks, inhibition of enzyme activity, disturbances in cell death, and disruption of the cell cycle. “Increasing evidence suggests,” said Oberfeld, “the participation of mitochondria in neurodegenerative and neuromuscular diseases involving alteration in both nuclear DNA and mtDNA.” Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) are called organelles. These are biological structures within certain cells that convert the chemical energy from food into a form that cells can use. “I propose that it’s a biochemical mechanism and the mitochondria is especially overwhelmed with free electrons forming super oxide, forming peroxynitrite and this will also inhibit enzyme activity within the mitochondria, for example, with energy metabolism so the fatigue many people claim is from my point of view very well backed by this mechanism,” said Oberfeld.

“We know when exposure is reduced people get better. The system can cope with that… a certain amount.” Oberfeld added.

Communication masts, DECT telephones and wi-fi present omni-present sources of microwave radiation from which there is in certain cases no relief or escape. Citing a French study by Roger Santini and others, Oberfeld noted a decrease in a range of symptoms the farther people lived from a sending mobile phone base station. The Santini group found a significant link between the distance to a mast and the incidence of headache: people living close to a phone mast had a headache much more often than people living more than 500 m away from it. Their report, however, was subject to criticism from the Dutch government because participants in the survey were aware of the purpose of the study and which could be reflected in a biased result.

Oberfeld pointed out the so-called “umbrella effect” saying,

“There’s a very strong relationship with the distance to the mobile phone base station and the prevalence of certain symptoms like fatigue. As we can see, between 10 and 50 meters the prevalence is low and then there’s an increase (50 ‒ 100 meters) and then there’s a decrease again. This might be due to the effect that mobile phone antennas will, usually in towns, hit the next houses at those distances so if you are closer to the mobile phone mast it will radiate above your head so you are not that much affected.”

A study by Oberfeld and Spanish colleagues in 2004 investigated association between the personal radiation exposure in the bedroom due to two GSM 900/18 MHz cellular phone masts in the vicinity of La Ñora, Murcia, Spain. A summary report on the research notes: All models showed statistically significant associations between the measured electric field (~ 400 MHz ‒ 3 GHz) and 13 out of 16 health related symptoms.

The strongest five associations found are depressive tendencies, fatigue, sleeping disorder, difficulty in concentration and cardiovascular problems. The symptoms associated are in line with the symptoms reported in the literature as “Microwave Syndrome” Oberfeld, Navarro, Portoles, Maestu, Gomez-Perretta, “The Microwave Syndrome: Further Aspects of a Spanish Study”.

In support of his findings in Spain Oberfeld cited a study by Hans-Peter Hutter and his team at the Institute of Environmental Health at the Medical University of Vienna in Austria. Hutter reports “there was a significant relation of some symptoms to measured power density; this was highest for headaches.”

When it comes to standards, Oberfeld noted there is a huge difference between ICNIRP/WHO/EU and the standards recommended by the BioInitiative Report of 2007 in place in Oberfeld’s native Salzburg where the limit is 666 times lower than those recommended by government on the outside and nearly 2,000 lower inside buildings.

Oberfeld referred the audience to The BioInitiative Report 2007 (www.bioinitiative.org) which argues for a biologically-based exposure standard for electromagnetic radiation. Reading from the report’s summary for the public, Oberfeld said, “Both ELF and RF exposures can be considered genotoxic (will damage DNA) under certain conditions of exposure, including levels that are lower than existing safety limits. The clear consensus of the BioInitiative Working Group members is that the existing safety limits are inadequate for both ELF and RF.”

General Public Electromagnetic Standards and Recommendations
Standards and Guideline Values for Mobile Phone Base StationsV/mµW/cm2
ICNIRP/WHO/EU (all sources)40 ‒ 60435 ‒ 950
Switzerland (per Site)4 ‒ 64.2 ‒ 9.5
South Tyrol32.4
Bioinitiative 20070.60.1
Public Health Department Salzburg 2002 (Outdoors / Indoors)(0.06 / 0.02)(0.001 / 0.0001)

Sources of EMF radiation

Continuous exposure to the compounding set of EMF radiation that surrounds us may seriously affect our health and everyday living. Sources of such EMF radiation include:

  • Cell & smart phones;
  • Computers, laptops & tablets;
  • Microwave Oven (as a microwave ages, the door seals get weaker & the danger gets stronger);
  • Television;
  • Other household appliance;
  • Travel – Cars, motorcycles, trains and planes;
  • Wi-Fi Routers, bluetooth & wireless systems;
  • Power lines;
  • Cell Towers & Antennas;
  • Geopathic Stress Lines, such as: underground streams, mineral concentrations, fault lines and underground cavities;
  • Underground Pipe.

Health problems related to EMF radiation

In his book “Electrical Notes”, Arthur Schuster reminds us that according to research and publications put out by the World Health Organization (WHO), EMF can cause:

  • headaches;
  • fatigue;
  • anxiety;
  • insomnia;
  • prickling and burning skin;
  • rashes;
  • muscle pain.

However, the long term health problems may arise due to EMF effects on human body:

  • risk of damaging DNA;
  • risk of cancer;
  • risk of leukaemia;
  • risk of neurodegenerative diseases; and
  • risk of miscarriage.

During research on health effects of electric and magnetic fields, it has come forward that electric field intensity exposure of about 1 ‒ 10 mv/m in tissue interact with cells, but are not harmful. But strong fields cause harmful effects when their magnitude exceeds stimulation thresholds for neural tissues, namely the central nervous system and brain, muscles and heart.


1. Örjan Hallberg and Gerd Oberfeld. Letter to the Editor: Will We All Become Electrosensitive? Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine, 25: 189 – 191, 2006 Copyright © Informa Healthcare ISSN 1536-8378 print DOI: 10.1080/15368370600873377

2. Lynn S, Gurr JR, Lai HT, Jan KY. NADH oxidase activation is involved in arsenite-induced oxidative DNA damage in human vascular smooth muscle cells. Institute of Zoology, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan, ROC. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10720412 Steliarova-Foucher et al. 2004http://www.nature.com/bjc/journal/v97/n7/full/6603946a.html#bib23

3. M Stack, P M Walsh, H Comber, C A Ryan, and P O’Lorcain. Childhood cancer in Ireland: a population-based study, PubMed. 2007. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2083220/

4. World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer. Research Sections ‒ Section of environment and Radiation. http://www.iarc.fr/en/research-groups/sec6/index.php

5. Coghill, Steward, et al. Measured electric and magnetic fields in the bedplace of children diagnosed with leukaemia: a case control study. (1996) Europ. J Cancer Prevention 5: 53 ‒ 58 Low Frequency electric and magnetic fields in the bedplace of children with leukaemia. Coghill RW, (1996), Biophysics 41(4): 809 ‒ 816

6. EU REFLEX Project Report. No longer available online. For information about the report see Omega-News. http://omega.twoday.net/stories/436261/Hardell L, Carlberg M, Mild KH. Case-control study of the association between the use of cellular and cordless telephones and malignant brain tumors diagnosed during 2000 ‒ 2003. PubMed. 2004. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16023098

7. Joseph Friedman, Sarah Kraus, Yirmi Hauptman, Yoni Schiff and Rony Seger. Mechanism of short-term ERK activation by electromagnetic fields at mobile phone frequencies. The Weizmann Institute of Science. Biochemical Journal. 2007. http://www.biochemj.org/bj/405/bj4050559.htm

8. Pall, Martin L, PhD. Explaining “Unexplained Illnesses: Disease Paradigm for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, Fibromyalgia, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Gulf War Syndrome and Others. Allergy Research Group LLC. http://www.allergyresearchgroup.com/Explaining-by-Martin-Pall-PhD-sp-35.html

9. Loos, Hendricus G, Nervous system manipulation by electromagnetic fields from monitors. http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-ParserSect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=6506148.PN.&OS=PN%2F6506148&RS=PN%2F6506148

10. Peterson, Barbara H. US Patent 6506148 – Nervous system manipulation by electromagnetic fields from monitors. 2011. http://spktruth2power.wordpress.com/2011/02/16/us-patent-6506148-nervous-system-manipulation-by-electromagnetic-fieldsfrom-monitors

11. Santini R, Santini P, Danze JM, Le Ruz P, Seigne M. Investigation on the health of people living near mobile telephone relay stations: I/Incidence according to distance and sex. PubMed.gov. 2002. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12168254

12. Hutter HP, Moshammer H, Wallner P, Kundi M. Subjective symptoms, sleeping problems, and cognitive performance in subjects living near mobile phone base stations. PubMed. 2006. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16621850

13. Panagopoulos DJ, Messini N, Karabarbounis A, Filippetis AL, and Margaritis LH, (2000): A Mechanism for Action of Oscillating Electric Fields on Cells, Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, 272(3), 634 ‒ 640

14. Panagopoulos DJ, Karabarbounis, A and Margaritis LH, (2002), Mechanism for Action of Electromagnetic Fields on Cells, Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, 298(1), 95 ‒ 102

Further research

As it turns out, in the last ten years alone, electromagnetic field sources, such as power lines, mobile phones, computers and TV screens, GPS antenna, radars, microwave ovens have become a constant focus of health concerns. Apparently, more and more people have attributed a large spectrum of symptoms to low levels of exposure to electromagnetic fields at home, or in their offices. Some of the reported symptoms include extreme fatigue and lethargy, sleeping disorders, anxiety, depression, loss of libido, nausea and even suicidal moods.

However, concerns over the harmful effects of EMF radiations have been raised in the past, in the early 70’s: “The microwave radiation hazards associated with the use of large antennas become increasingly more dangerous to personnel as the transmitters go to ever higher powers. The near-field area is of the greatest concern. It has spill over from subreflector and reflections dioxide contents in alveolar air were recorded in aircraft crew from nearby objects. Centimetre waves meeting in phase will reinforce each other and create hot spots of microwave energy. This has been measured in front of and around several 26 meters antennas. Hot spots have been found and are going to be the determining factor in delineating safe areas for personnel to work”.

Microwave radiation hazards around large microwave antenna. A Klascius (California Institute of Technology, A73-37197 Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.). American Industrial # Hygiene Association Journal, vol. 34, Mar. 1973, p. 97 ‒ 101 AEROSPACE MEDICINE AND BIOLOGY (Supplement 121) NOVEMBER 1973

In their book “Pathological effects of radio waves”, MS Tolgskaya and ZV Gordon demonstrated that weak microwave radiations alter nerve cells in the hypothalamus. After five months the cells secreting neurotransmitters completely atrophied. Neurotransmitters are substances generated by the nervous system which provide the transmission of information from the sense organs to the central nervous system and are vital for all living organisms, because without them the brain lacks stimuli. The organism cannot be deprived of sensory information as this generates an intense stress and anxiety.

Other researchers, such as JJ Noval, concluded that the EHF electromagnetic radiations block the production of neurotransmitters and weaken the activity of the cortex and immune system.

Dr. Robert O. Becker’s well-known work demonstrates the sensitivity of living organisms to subtle electric forces. By the 1960s, Becker had proposed a theory that an electrical communication system exists within all living things. He also pointed out that possible harmful effects could arise from exposures to artificial external electromagnetic fields that could effect the processes of growth and regeneration within the living body.

Dr. Wendell Winters of the University of Texas was asked to investigate the effects of 60 Hz fields on cells of the immune system. He reached a staggering conclusion: apparently the cancer cells increased their rate of growth by several hundred percent with only a 24 hour exposure, and that this growth rate was thereafter permanent. Winters and his colleague Dr. Jerry Phillips of the Cancer Research and Treatment Centre, in San Antonio Texas carried on the work all of Winters’ initial observations were not only confirmed but extended, leading to recent publications in scientific journals.

Given the overwhelming amount of scientific evidence, we should all grow awareness and try, as much as possible, to protect ourselves from the overwhelming negative effects.


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