EMF and their biological effects

Dr. Robert Becker, a Nobel Prize nominee, once warned that “the greatest polluting element in the Earth’s environment is the proliferation of electromagnetic fields (EMFs).” We know that EMFs affect biological systems, whether they can be classified as positive or negative. Some of these biological effects include change in melatonin levels, induction of heat shock protein, effects on spatial memory, change in calcium concentration, enzyme activity, and subjective symptoms (1). However, research in this field is controversial because some studies can be contradictory and not always confirmed by independent researchers. With that said, I am going to explore some studied biological effects of EMFs on the human body.


A study conducted by Johansson showing objective skin symptoms of EHS have been related to an increase in mast cells and their degranulation, causing the release of inflammatory markers.(2) Studies exploring occupational exposures affecting sleep quality have also concluded poorer sleep in the exposure group (3,4). Navarro et al conducted a survey in houses near a cellular phone base and found that there was a significant correlation between power densities and severity of symptoms.


Through this research, we can conclude that there are biological effects due to EMF exposure and the EHS phenomenon will only gain steam as we develop more gadgets for our everyday lives. Further research with clear identification criteria, exposure assessment, and suitable control variable need to be done to gain more insight (1).


References

1. Singh S, Kapoor N. Health Implications of Electromagnetic Fields, Mechanisms of Action, and Research Needs. Adv Biol. 2014;2014:e198609. doi:10.1155/2014/198609.

2. Johansson O. Disturbance of the immune system by electromagnetic fields — A potentially underlying cause for cellular damage and tissue repair reduction which could lead to disease and impairment. Pathophysiology. 2009;16(2):157–177. doi:10.1016/j.pathophys.2009.03.004.

3. Monazzam MR, Hosseini M, Matin LF, Aghaei HA, Khosroabadi H, Hesami A. Sleep quality and general health status of employees exposed to extremely low frequency magnetic fields in a petrochemical complex. J Environ Health Sci Eng. 2014;12:78. doi:10.1186/2052–336X-12–78.

4. Barsam T, Monazzam MR, Haghdoost AA, Ghotbi MR, Dehghan SF. Effect of extremely low frequency electromagnetic field exposure on sleep quality in high voltage substations. Iran J Environ Health Sci Eng. 2012;9:15. doi:10.1186/1735–2746–9–15.