Exposure to Magnetic Fields Linked to Asthma Risk

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CHICAGO – Children whose mothers had high exposure to electromagnetic fields while pregnant may have an increased risk of developing asthma, U.S. researchers said on Monday in a study that adds to an ongoing debate.

Many prior studies have failed to consistently show that chronic exposure to electromagnetic fields – from power lines and appliances such as microwaves ovens, hair dryers and vacuum cleaners – are harmful to human health.

But many of these studies required people to estimate their exposure levels over several years, says Dr. De-Kun Li, senior research scientist at the Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California, whose study appears in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

To get a more conclusive answer, Li designed a so-called prospective study in which 801 pregnant women wore monitors that measured their exposure to magnetic fields for 24 hours.

These monitors measured their exposure to low-frequency magnetic fields from electronics such as microwaves, hair dryers, fans, coffee grinders and fluorescent light bulbs, power lines, and transformer stations.

It did not monitor exposure to higher frequency electromagnetic fields generated by cellphones or cellphone towers.

The team used medical records to follow the women’s children for 13 years. During the follow-up, 130 children, or 20.8 percent of study participants, developed asthma.

Most of these cases were diagnosed before age 5.

They then compared exposure levels during pregnancy to rates of asthma and found that children whose mothers had the highest exposure levels – within the top 10 per cent of women in the study – were 3.5 times more likely to develop asthma than those who were in the bottom 10 per cent.

The risk for children whose exposure was somewhere in the middle – between 10 per cent and 90 per cent – was 75 per cent higher than for those in the lowest exposure group.

For the average population, Li said, children of women whose exposure levels were in the range of the bottom 10 percent in the study would have about a 13.6 per cent absolute risk of developing asthma. Women whose exposure was in the highest range would have about a 33 per cent risk of having children who developed asthma over the 13 year study period.

Some 13 per cent of children under age 18 have asthma, which is caused by malfunction of the respiratory organs and the immune system.

Li said it is not clear why exposure to power lines might increase the risk of asthma, but he said there are several possibilities.

He said a prior study by his team found high exposure to electromagnetic fields increased the risk of miscarriages. And some animal studies have suggested that electromagnetic field exposure can affect immune response, which could increase the risk of asthma.

Exposure to power lines has been fodder for significant debate, and while many studies have found an effect of some sort – ranging from immune disorders and poor semen quality to certain types of cancers – Li said his study offers a stronger argument that concerns about magnetic fields may affect human health.

“”This really needs to be studied,”” Li said. He said there have been a lot of dismissive attitudes about the health effects of exposure to magnetic fields, and he hopes his study – which measured exposure levels ahead of time – will encourage others to look further.

Still, he concedes that his findings need to be replicated by different scientists.

Li said if the findings are confirmed, it may offer new strategies for preventing the chronic disease in children.

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Mums-to-be Exposed to Microwave Ovens up Offspring’s Risk of Obesity

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Washington, July 28 : In-utero exposure to relatively high magnetic field levels is associated with a 69 percent increased risk of being obese or overweight during childhood compared to lower in-utero magnetic field levels, according to a new study.

Researchers conducted the prospective cohort study, in which participating women in Kaiser Permanente’s Northern California region carried a meter measuring magnetic field levels during pregnancy and 733 of their children were followed up to 13 years, to collect clinically recorded information on growth patterns. On average, 33 weight measurements per child were collected.

Researchers noted a dose response relationship with increasing in-utero magnetic field levels being associated with further increased risk of obesity or being overweight.

According to the authors, the observed association and supporting evidence provide the first epidemiologic findings that link increasing exposure to environmental magnetic fields, especially in-utero exposure, over the last few decades with the rapid rise in childhood obesity during the corresponding decades.

“Pregnancy is a critical developmental stage that is among the most vulnerable periods to environmental exposures,” said De-Kun Li, MD, PhD, a perinatal epidemiologist with the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research in Oakland, California, and the lead author of the study.

“These findings indicate that electromagnetic fields from microwave ovens to countless wireless devices, may be contributing to childhood obesity risk. This finding could have implications for possibly reducing childhood obesity and better understanding the obesity epidemic. Like any scientific discoveries, the results need to be replicated by other studies,” he said.

After controlling for a child’s age at each weight measurement, child gender, maternal age at delivery, pre-pregnancy BMI, race, education level, smoking during pregnancy and breastfeeding, researchers reported a 50 percent increase of participants being obese or overweight for medium in–utero levels (1.5-2.5 mG), and an 84 percent increased risk for high in-utero levels (2.5mG). An mG, or milligauss, represents a unit of magnetic field level or strength as measured using a gaussmeter.

Higher EMF levels have also been associated with diabetes in humans, being overweight and high glucose levels in animals, and ADHD in mice offspring, explained Dr. Li.

In the current study, among those children with longer follow-up time (to the end of the study), the observed association was stronger (2.35 times the risk of childhood obesity/overweight for in-utero MF level 1.5 mG vs. = 1.5 mG).

The study appears in the current online version of Nature’s Scientific Reports. (ANI)

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Risk of Childhood Obesity Linked to Pregnant Mom’s Exposure to Magnetic Fields

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http://www.examiner.com/article/risk-of-childhood-obesity-linked-to-pregnant-mom-s-exposure-to-magnetic-fields

High magnetic field levels could raise the risk of an unborn baby becoming overweight or obese after the child is born. One more exposure scientists link to childhood obesity is the pregnant mother’s exposure to magnetic fields before the birth of her baby, according to a new study by Kaiser Permanente in Northern California.

Local researchers conducted the prospective cohort study, in which participating women in Kaiser Permanente’s Northern California region carried a meter measuring magnetic field levels during pregnancy and 733 of their children were followed up to 13 years, to collect clinically recorded information on growth patterns. On average, 33 weight measurements per child were collected, according to a July 27, 2012 Kaiser Permanente news release, “”In-Utero Exposure to Magnetic Fields Associated with Increased Risk of Obesity in Childhood.””

In-utero exposure to relatively high magnetic field levels was associated with a 69 percent increased risk of being obese or overweight during childhood compared to lower in-utero magnetic field levels, according to a Kaiser Permanente study that appears in the current online version of the journal Nature Scientific Reports (Health Research). Also see, Scientific Reports FAQs – Nature.

Dose-related relationship with increasing in-utero magnetic field levels with increased risk of childhood obesity

Researchers noted a dose response relationship with increasing in-utero magnetic field levels being associated with further increased risk of obesity or being overweight. The observed association and supporting evidence provide the first epidemiologic findings that link increasing exposure to environmental magnetic fields, especially in-utero exposure, over the last few decades with the rapid rise in childhood obesity during the corresponding decades, according to the authors.

“Pregnancy is a critical developmental stage that is among the most vulnerable periods to environmental exposures,” said Dr. De-Kun Li, the lead author of the study, according to Kaiser Permanente’s July 27, 2012 news release, “”In-Utero Exposure to Magnetic Fields Associated with Increased Risk of Obesity in Childhood.”” De-Kun Li, MD, PhD, is a perinatal epidemiologist with the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research in Oakland, California.

Wireless devices and microwave ovens may be contributing to the risk of childhood obesity

“These findings indicate that electromagnetic fields, from microwave ovens to countless wireless devices, may be contributing to childhood obesity risk. This finding could have implications for possibly reducing childhood obesity and better understanding the obesity epidemic. Like any scientific discoveries, the results need to be replicated by other studies,”” Dr. De-Kun Li explained in the July 27, 2012 Kaiser-Permanente news release.

After controlling for a child’s age at each weight measurement, child gender, maternal age at delivery, pre-pregnancy BMI, race, education level, smoking during pregnancy and breastfeeding, researchers reported a 50 percent increase of participants being obese or overweight for medium in-utero levels (1.5-2.5 mG), and an 84 percent increased risk for high in-utero levels (more than 2.5mG). An mG, or milligauss, represents a unit of magnetic field level or strength as measured using a gaussmeter.

The study follows up on a previous study that showed how electromagnetic fields may impact pregnancy outcomes and childhood diseases including asthma and diabetes

This study follows previous work from Dr. Li (and others) that showed electromagnetic fields may impact pregnancy outcomes and childhood diseases including asthma. Higher EMF levels have also been associated with diabetes in humans, being overweight and high glucose levels in animals, and ADHD in mice offspring, explained Dr. Li in the Kaiser news release.

In the current study, among those children with longer follow-up time (to the end of the study), the observed association was stronger (2.35 times the risk of childhood obesity/overweight for in-utero MF level > 1.5 mG vs. ≤ 1.5 mG). Similarly, if the study only considered those who were persistently obese/overweight through childhood during the follow-up, the association was also much stronger (almost five-fold increased risk of obesity/overweight for in-utero MF level > 1.5 mG vs. < 1.5 mG).

Electro-magnetic frequencies during pregnancy could impact fetal development

“EMF exposure during pregnancy could impact the fetal development, including endocrine and metabolic systems, predisposing offspring to higher risk of obesity,” Dr. Li said in Kaiser’s news release. He added that environmental impacts tend to be amplified during fetal development, both in terms of affecting multiple organ systems and having long-lasting changes to physiology, such as to the endocrine systems and hormone receptors.

Researchers examined maternal factors, prenatal factors, childhood factors, outcome measures and other factors that could be confounders. Among 18 factors examined, only family income and childhood habits of eating fruits and vegetables varied among the three maternal MF exposure groups. However, there was not a consistent pattern of MF exposure with family income: women with either low or high family income had lower MF exposure level than women with medium family income.

Environmental impacts tend to be amplified during fetal development

Children eating more fruits and vegetables tended to have a mother who had higher MF exposure during pregnancy. There was no difference among the three MF exposure groups in the average number of weight measurements per child. The proportion of children who remained in the Kaiser Permanente Northern California integrated care delivery system at the end of the study (11 years and older) was almost identical in all three groups. None of the 18 factors examined could explain the observed association.

“Expectant mothers should take this new research into account, but they should not panic,” said Ruth Shaber, MD, medical director of the Center for Healthcare Delivery at the Kaiser Permanente Care Management Institute, according to the Kaiser news release. “We still have a lot more to learn about the impact of the environment on pregnancy and young children.”

Low-fat diets, weight-loss and menopause, another recent Kaiser study

You may also want to check out another Kaiser study published on July 11, 2012, “”Weight Loss Resulting from a Low-Fat Diet May Help Eliminate Hot Flashes and Night Sweats in Menopausal Women.””

Weight loss that occurs in conjunction with a low-fat, high fruit and vegetable diet may help to reduce or eliminate hot flashes and night sweats associated with menopause, according to a Kaiser Permanente Division of Research study that appears in the current issue of the journal Menopause.

This Women’s Health Initiative study of 17,473 women found that women on a diet low in fat and high in whole grains, fruit and vegetables, who had menopausal symptoms, who were not taking hormone replacement therapy, and who lost weight (10 or more pounds or 10 or more percent of their baseline body weight), were more likely to reduce or eliminate hot flashes and night sweats after one year, compared to those in a control group who maintained their weight.

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Pregnant Women are at Risk From Magnetic Radiation

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Microwave ovens and other wireless appliances may be increasing the odds that your child will be overweight or obese later, a new study said.

According to researchers, magnetic fields from these appliances during pregnancy can increase risk of the baby growing up to be overweight or obese by almost 69 percent.

“Pregnancy is a critical developmental stage that is among the most vulnerable periods to environmental exposures. These findings indicate that electromagnetic fields, from microwave ovens to countless wireless devices, may be contributing to childhood obesity risk,” said De-Kun Li, a perinatal epidemiologist with the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research in Oakland, and the lead author of the study.

Mothers participating in the study carried a meter that measured the magnetic field that they were being exposed to during the pregnancy. The researchers then studied growth of some 733 babies born to these mothers. Researchers tracked every child in the study group for almost 11 years. During this period, researchers collected height and weight measurements.

Researchers found that low to medium exposure to electromagnetic field (EMF) was associated with about 50 percent increase in obesity risk while a high EMF exposure lead to an increase in obesity rates by about 84 percent.

“This finding could have implications for possibly reducing childhood obesity and better understanding the obesity epidemic. Like any scientific discoveries, the results need to be replicated by other studies,” Dr. Li said.

Researchers have earlier found a link between high exposure to magnetic fields during pregnancy and asthma risk in children. According to researchers, environment factors are amplified during development of the baby in the womb and these factors affect many organ systems and some of these changes remain for a long time.

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Secondhand Exposure to Cell Phone Radiation: An Emerging Public Health Problem?

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Many people are unaware that they are exposed to cell phone radiation when their cell phones are in standby mode. This occurs because their cell phone contacts the nearest cell tower periodically to update its location.

In a moving vehicle, cell phones in standby mode contact cell towers more frequently. Thus, exposure to cell phone radiation from one’s cell phone is greater in transit.

Two Swiss researchers, Damiano Urbinello and Martin Roosli, set out to measure personal cell phone radiation exposure during car, bus and train trips when one’s own phone was in standby mode.

Their study just published in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology identified a source of cell phone radiation that may constitute a public health problem. Namely, secondhand exposure to cell phone radiation from other people’s cell phones can be considerable while traveling on buses and trains (1).

During bus or train trips, individuals may be exposed to considerable amounts of cell phone radiation from other people’s cell phones. Buses and railroad cars act like “”Faraday cages”” that reflect much of the electromagnetic radiation emitted by cell phones throughout the vehicles’ interiors. Thus, all passengers, including infants and pregnant women as well as those without cell phones, may be exposed to considerable levels of cell phone radiation emitted by others’ phones.

As for car trips, the results of the study suggest that exposure to cell phone radiation from one’s own phone in standby mode is relatively low compared to overall exposures during public transit. Nonetheless, those who are concerned about their exposure to cell phone radiation should turn off their phones during car trips, or at the very least, avoid using their phones for calls.

● “”The study indicates that own uplink exposure during car driving can be considerably reduced (about a fraction of 100) when turning off ones own mobile phone in order to prevent it from location updates.”” (1)

The researchers found that GSM, the 2G carrier system in Europe which is used in the U.S. for voice communication by AT&T and T-Mobile, is particularly problematic compared to UMTS, a 3G carrier system used for data transmission. The researchers did not test CDMA which in the U.S. is used by Verizon and Sprint for voice calls. Other research has found that GSM emits 13 to 28 times more radiation on average than CDMA during phone calls. No published studies have examined exposures from LTE, the 4G carrier system now in widespread use in this country.

● “”GSM levels in the reference scenario during bus and train rides were about 100 times higher than those during car rides. As a consequence of this high background exposure in trains, due to the use of other people’s mobile phone in a closed area intensified by the Faraday cage effect, the relative contribution of the location update from ones own mobile phone is small”” (1)

The study also reported that smart phones, including the iPhone 4 and the Blackberry Bold 8800, which can operate on four radiofrequency bands emit more radiation during standby mode than classic phones, like the Nokia 2600, which operate on two bands.

Earlier this year, a study was published that examined cell phones in standby mode while stationary. Kjell Mild and his colleagues from Sweden found that under these conditions cell phones contacted the cell towers only once every two to five hours. They concluded that exposure to cell phone radiation in this situation “”can be considered negligible.”” (2)

These studies should be replicated in the U.S. as well as in other countries since every cell phone carrier system operates differently.

In the meantime it is advisable to keep cell phone use in moving vehicles to a minimum as low level exposures to cell phone radiation have been associated with deleterious effects in humans.

To protect us from the health risks associated with cell phones and related devices (e.g., cordless phones, Wi-Fi, wireless Smart Meters and security systems, and cell towers), we need research independent of industry to develop biologically-based standards and safer technologies. A nickel a month from each cell phone subscription would suffice to fund a comprehensive program of research. Since the average cell phone subscription costs more than $47.00 per month, this tiny fee constitutes a prudent investment in our health and our children’s health.

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Pembroke Pines, FL: The New Battleground For Cell Phone Radiation

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We have been seeing a torrent of changes in the way that people, governments and legal bodies have been approaching the issue of cell phone radiation.

We recently reported a groundbreaking court case in Italy that ruled in favor of a man who claimed he developed a brain tumor as a result of excessive phone use for his work.

Another high profile occurrence was a recent study that was released which indicated a negative affect on unborn fetuses from phone radiation.

These are only a few of the changes that are going on worldwide, but in the last week a radical development occurred and it has turned the unlikely town of Pembroke Pines, FL into the new battleground for cell phone radiation awareness.

Inspired by a resident’s cancer survival story, Pembroke Pines passed what’s thought to be the first resolution in the state to warn residents about the possibility of cellphone radiation causing cancer.

Pembroke Pines resident Jimmy Gonzalez had a cancerous brain tumor removed from the area above Gonzalez’ left ear the same place where he held his cellphone for hours a day while working as an attorney. Just a year earlier, surgeons removed a tumor from his left hand, in between his index finger and middle finger.

The resolution encourages all residents to keep their cellphone at least one-inch away from their bodies, and to use a wired headset or speakerphone and to send messages by text or email. The resolution also encourages residents to stay informed about the latest scientific reports about cellphone radiation.

Pines plans to send the resolution, passed at its most recent meeting, to agencies across the state including the governor’s office, the Florida League of Cities and the Florida Legislature to encourage other cities and school boards to adopt a similar resolution to protect Floridians.

Does this sound familiar? That is because these are suggestions we have been promoting for quite sometimes. Simple and easy to follow tips that will help you limit the dangers of exposure to phone radiation.

We all know that smartphones are a huge part of our lives, and most of us are not willing to give them up. With tawkon for Android you don’t have to. You can talk all you want and tawkon will alert you when radiation levels spike, and suggest ways to lessen your exposure.

Do you think this is a harbinger of things to come? Will more towns, cities and states all over the country begin to adopt similar requirements?

What are your thoughts?

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Cell Phone Radiation Increases Risk of Parotid Gland Tumors

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Traditionally, parotid gland tumors have been very rare. And they’ve generally shown up in people after the age of 50.

Not so anymore. According to a study done by a research group in Israel, there has been a sharp increase in these types of malignant tumors and most of them are occurring with people under the age of 20. Cell phone radiation is the suspected culprit.

What is the Parotid Gland?

The parotid gland is a type of salivary gland in the cheek the one closest to where most people hold a cell phone.

What’s important is that the new data from the Israeli study show no similar increases in the two other major types of salivary glands the submandibular and sublingual glands that are further away from where a phone is generally held.

The study, headed by R. Czerninzki of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem at Hadassah school of Dental Medicine, reported a significant increase in incidence of parotid gland tumors over last 30 years. Finding a four-fold increase in parotid gland cancers from 1970-2006, they found the steepest increase happened after 2001.

US Senate Hearing on Cell Phone Radiation

In 2008, Dr. Siegal Sadetzki, principal investigator of another study on cell phone radiation testified in a US senate hearing that cell phones were identified as a contributor to salivary gland tumors. In his report, he stated that risk of getting a parotid tumor on same side of head used for speaking on cell phone increases by:

34% if you are regular cell phone user & have used a cell phone for 5 yrs
49% if you have spoken on phone for more than 266.3 hours during your lifetime
58% if you’ve had more than about 5500 calls in your lifetime
Parotid gland tumors are not the only tumors being linked to cell phones.

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Is There a Connection Between Autism Electromagnetic Radiation?

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Research has established a potential link between autism and fetal/neonatal exposure to radio frequency electromagnetic radiation. Based on epidemiological data, there has been a dramatic increase in the incidence of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Recent evidence indicates the incidence of ASD to be roughly 1 per 110 children.

Some data suggest a possible correlation between autism incidence an environmental toxin known as radio frequency (RF) radiation. This is a biologically active substance. It is known that human exposure to RF radiation has increased during the past 20 years. It is suggested that fetal or neo-natal exposures to RF radiation may be associated with an increased incidence of autism.

Dr. George Louis Carlo PhD studied risks associated with cell phones funded by a government grant. The results he obtained initially indicated no correlations, however, by 1999, Dr. Carlo had obtained significantly more evidence pointing to a risk to DNA, eye cancers, and brain tumors.

At this time he developed a theory that low frequency cell phone signals are harmful to the functioning of cells. What can result of this impaired functioning is that cells which normally move wastes and toxins out of the body started to protect themselves and this cellular movement stopped. Without the ability to move wastes outside cells results in a buildup of toxins. Dr. Carlo’s hypothesis suggests that autistic children are less able to process heavy metals, so these remain in their bodies and cause neurological damage, including autism.

Further research conducted by Dr. Carlo along with Tamara Mariea and published in the Journal of the Australian College of Nutrition and Environmental Medicine in November 2007, demonstrated the positive effects that autistic children could experience in an Electromagnetic-free (EM-free) clinic. This was a trial with 20 autistic children, involving spending at least four hours, 2-3 times a week, in the EM-free clinic. In three months, analyses showed that heavy metals were beginning to be excreted by the children.

Food for Thought:

• The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) sets standards for the amount of radio frequency that can be emitted by a cell phone based on the size and structure of a man’s head.
• Radio-frequency signals can reach deeper into children’s head because their skulls are thinner and their brains contain more fluid.
• In 2004, standards relaxed and roughly doubled the amount of radio frequency that could reach an adult brain and quadrupled that reaching a child’s.
• A child’s brain doubles in size during the first two years of life and keeps on developing until their early 20s.

Although it is impossible to pinpoint one single cause of autism or one single barrier to an autistic child’s successful recovery, we are continuing to take steps forwards in identifying contributing factors. It is definitely reasonable to agree with researchers who believe that the increase in exposure to EMR from all of the wireless devices in our lives in combination with environmental and genetic factors is creating the perfect storm to increase the incidence of autism.

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Study Links In-utero Exposure to Magnetic Fields to Child Obesity

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Wireless devices and household appliances may impact fetal development, changing endocrine and metabolic systems, according to a large study by Kaiser Permanente.

High electromagnetic field levels of household appliances (such as washing machines and hair dryers) and wireless devices (such as laptops and routers) may be at least partially to blame for the rise in childhood obesity in recent years, according to a 13-year study by Kaiser Permanente that followed hundreds of pregnant women and 733 of their children.

After controlling for several factors, including child gender, pre-pregnancy BMI, maternal age at delivery, race, education, breastfeeding, and smoking, researchers write in Nature’s Scientific Reports that children exposed to high in-utero levels are nearly twice as likely to be overweight or obese as children exposed to low in-utero levels.

Specifically, high levels were considered to be more than 2.5 milligauss (mG), which is a unit of magnetic field strength, while low levels were considered to be less than 1.5 mG, and medium was everything in between. (The Environmental Protection Agency has compiled a list of magnetic field measurements in everyday electrical devices.)

“”Pregnancy is a critical developmental stage that is among the most vulnerable periods to environmental exposures,”” De-Kun Li, a perinatal epidemiologist and the lead author of the study, said in a news release. “”EMF exposure during pregnancy could impact the fetal development, including endocrine and metabolic systems, predisposing offspring to higher risk of obesity…This finding could have implications for possibly reducing childhood obesity and better understanding the obesity epidemic.””

When breaking the study down into the 18 factors considered, the findings are a bit befuddling. Out of all areas studied, including maternal, prenatal, and childhood factors, researchers found that only family income and childhood habits of eating fruits and vegetables varied among the low, medium, and high maternal exposure groups.

It turns out that children who ate more fruits and veggies tended to have a mother with higher magnetic field exposure during pregnancy. Researchers said they could not explain this association. And oddly, the pattern of exposure according to family income was inconsistent: Women with low or high family income had lower exposure than women with medium family income.

The study comes on the heels of Dr. Li’s previous work showing that electromagnetic fields could play a role in pregnancy outcomes and childhood diseases such as asthma. Still, he stresses that the results need to be replicated by additional studies.

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Electromagnetic Radiation is More Than Skin Deep

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Milind Deora, Lok Sabha MP, has recently brought into the public domain a major health issue relating to electromagnetic radiation from cell phones and base stations mounted on telecom towers. The trigger for his taking this important public health issue with the department of telecom (DoT) was the accidental death of a young boy, which, according him, was due to ‘electronic discharge coming in contact with high-tension overhead wire and (that) electrocuted him’. While this may be a freak incident, Deora has rightly focused on the related issue of cell phone radiation, a serious health hazard in the long term.

The non-ionising radiations from microwaves emitted by telecom base stations and cell phones have been considered safe due to their extremely low power density that does not cause any thermal effect on human cells as long as the exposures are within the limits prescribed by the Inter- national Commission for Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (Icnirp) in its guidelines. Based on studies conducted in the 1990s, Icnrip fixed limits on radiation from cellular base stations that are 4.5 W/m2 for GSM 900, 9.0 W/m2 for GSM 1800 and 10 W/m2 for UMTS (3G) in 1998. Several measurements made of radiation at the base of telecom towers and other locations have found radiation levels much lower than these limits. Therefore, WHO has declared mobile phones and base stations safe for public health.

However, it should be noted that the Icnirp guidelines are based on short-term, immediate health effects such as stimulation of peripheral nerves and muscles and harm caused by tissue temperatures, resulting from absorption of energy during exposure to electromagnetic fields expressed in terms of specific absorption rate (SAR). These are not based on long-term exposure to radiation from cellphone and base stations, particularly from broadband wireless systems such as WiMAX and 3.5G mobile systems.

Subsequent to the publication of the Icnirp guidelines more than a decade back, a number of studies have brought out the dangers of long-term exposure of RF radiation to public health. Notable among these are the Freiburger Appeal published in October 2002 by the interdisciplinary society for environmental medicine of Germany. The Salzburg Resolution of 2000 recommends outdoor exposure limits that are much lower than the Icnirp guidelines, particularly in publicly accessible areas. Similarly, the Catania Resolution recommends preventive strategies based on the ‘precautionary principle’. The Paris Charter, signed in March 2003 by three mobile phone operators and the City of Paris, limits public exposure to radiation at levels much lower than the Icnirp limits.
The inadequacies of the existing guidelines have been brought out in the BioInitiative Report 2009 in which a number of adverse biological effects of electromagnetic radiation at very low levels from hundreds of peer-reviewed studies have been highlighted.

It is learnt that in India, the Telecom Commission has decided to adopt Icnirp guidelines. In view of the doubts raised about these guidelines in so many countries, including the European Union, it will be prudent to carefully examine all existing international standards and review the decision already taken. The country will have one billion mobile phones by 2012. To connect so many cell phones, about one million base stations may be required. This will create an enormous electromagnetic smog, particularly in urban areas. The effect of such exposure from multiple base stations has not yet been studied in depth. The latency of a serious disease like cancer is ten to 20 years. Therefore, a precautionary approach is justified.

Some regulatory measures can somewhat mitigate the problem. One is to prescribe the maximum emitted power for various systems in the licence and to measure the same for compliance during acceptance testing. Another could be mandating indoor coverage for all commercial and office buildings, particularly for third generation systems. It is estimated that 80% of the 3G multimedia (data/video) traffic will originate or terminate indoor in crowded urban centers. To provide in-building coverage, outdoor base stations have to increase their power level, ie, radiation contributing to the electromagnetic smog.

In case dedicated indoors cells are provided, their radiation level will come down considerably. Studies have indicated up to 400% increase in system capacity by deployment of indoor pico/ microcells and outdoor macrocells, which will make the environment safer, due to reduction in electromagnetic radiation levels. Last but not the least is to give financial incentive to operators who deploy lower power density systems which are environment-friendly.

Since the 3G systems have a much higher level of radiated power, a numberof countries, notably China, have prescribed stricter norms to limit electromagnetic radiation from these systems. These norms are more stringent than what is applicable in Europe/ North America.

Since 3G and broadband wireless access systems like WiMAX are to be inducted in India in the near future, urgent action is required to study the effects of radiation from these systems by an independent group of experts with a view to fixing limits in the Indian context. While various municipal corporations like MCD have recently formulated policies to regulate erection of towers in cities like Delhi, mainly from aesthetic & structural angle, there is no authority at present to regulate radiation from these towers. This must be done by Trai in the interest of public health.

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