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Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) and Health Risk: A Scientific Perspective Martin Blank, PhD Columbia University.

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Presentation on theme: "Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) and Health Risk: A Scientific Perspective Martin Blank, PhD Columbia University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) and Health Risk: A Scientific Perspective Martin Blank, PhD Columbia University

2 James Thurber The Thurber Carnival - 1945 Electricity was leaking all over the house

3 Involuntary Exposure to EMF Cell Phone Antennas in lower Manhattan, as shown on the cover of New York magazine October 4, 2004

4 RF /------------------non-ionizing radiation -------------------/ /-- ionizing radiation -- / /------------------ thermal effects --------------------/

5 EMF Safety Assumes only ionizing radiation causes chemical change EMF cell damage is only caused by heating safe EMF limits can be set in terms of heating rate (SAR) EMF exposure limits can be set separately for each EM spectrum subdivision EMF Research Shows non-ionizing EMF also causes chemical change EMF cell damage occurs without heating non-thermal EMF effects occur below the safety limits biological reactions are stimulated across spectrum and effects may be additive

6 Studying Health Impact Epidemiology – Correlation, qualitative relation – Dose-Response, quantitative relation Laboratory research – Mechanism, scientific plausibility

7 Epidemiology of childhood leukemia EMF-RAPID Report to Congress (1999) on ELF EMF… not entirely safe… minimize exposure to magnetic fields… Epidemiology threshold for childhood leukemia is 3-4mG (Greenland et al, 2000; Ahlbom et al, 2000) IARC - International Agency for Research on Cancer (2002) Exposure to electric and magnetic fields (EMF) is possible cause of cancer ELF background ~1mG; appliances >> 4mG

8 Biological Thresholds in the ELF Range Biological System ThresholdReference Enzyme reaction rates Na,K-ATPase 2-3 mG Blank & Soo, 1996 cytochrome oxidase 5-6 mG Blank & Soo, 1998 ornithine decarboxylase ~20 mG Mullins et al, 1999 Electron transfer rate Belousov-Zhabotinsky <5 mG Blank & Soo, 2001 Stress protein synthesis HL60, Sciara, yeast, <8 mG Goodman et al, 1994 breast (HTB124, MCF7) <8 mG Lin et al, 1998 chick embryo (anoxia) ~20 mG DiCarlo et al, 2000 Disease related block melatonin inhibition of breast carcinoma 2<12 mG Liburdy et al, 1993 Safety limit (ELF) ~1000mGICNIRP, 1997 Leukemia epidemiology 3-4mG

9 Cells answer safety question! Cells synthesize stress proteins in reaction to potentially harmful stimuli in the environment (e.g., changes in temperature, toxic ions, pH, alcohol, etc.). DNA mRNA protein EM fields stimulate the stress response.

10 Stress Response: Evidence of Molecular Damage stress response:... defense reaction of cells to damage that environmental forces inflict on macromolecules. Kültz, Physiol Rev (2005) genes stimulated along with stress genes sense and repair damage to DNA, proteins stimulated by ELF and RF

11 EMF affects breast cancer cell growth Melatonin, Tamoxifeninhibit MCF7 breast cancer cell growth. Liburdy et al. J Pineal Res, 1993 Melatonin, Tamoxifen inhibit MCF7 breast cancer cell growth. Liburdy et al. J Pineal Res, 1993 2mG does not affect inhibition; 12mG overcomes the inhibition and cells continue to grow. EMF threshold is between 2mG and 12mG. Experiment has been repeated in six labs.

12 Human DNA is ~2meters long and has ~3 billion base pairs

13 -230-160 +1 (bp) -320 -192-107-68-100-166 HSP MYCA HSP70 Sp1AP-2HSESp1AP-2HSESRE ATF TATA Sp1AP-2 HSP MYCC HSP MYCB Heat Shock Domain (thermal) (thermal) EMF Domain EMF Domain(non-thermal). EMF Specific Domain in HSP70 Lin et al (1999) J Cellular Biochem 75:170-176.

14 EMF-Specific DNA can be moved counts Chloramphenicol transferase (CAT) Activity 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 Background EM Negative Control Luciferase Activity counts 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 Background EMNegative Control Experimental Conditions Lin et al (2001) J Cellular Biochem 81:143-148.

15 EMF breaks DNA Comet Assay 60Hz, 2hrs a. control b. 1G c. 2.5G d. 5G Lai, Singh (1997) REFLEX (2004): DNA damage at 0.35G

16 RF also reacts with DNA RF stimulates stress response C. elegans (dePomerai et al, 2000) Human epithelial cells (Kwee et al, 2001) Human endothelial cells (Leszczynski et al, 2002) Chick embryos (Shallom et al, 2002) Drosophila (Weisbrot et al, 2003) RF damages DNA (strand breaks) Human T-lymphoblastoid cells (Phillips et al, 1998) Human lymphocytes (Mashevich et al, 2003) Human fibroblasts, HL60 (REFLEX, 2004)

17 Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) does not measure biological dose The stress response is stimulated - in ELF, SAR ~10 -12 W/kg (no heating) - in RF, SAR ~10 -1 W/kg Biological dose is not related to heating rate SAR is no basis for a safety standard! Blank, Goodman. BEMS 25:642-646, 2004

18 Health Risk of RF Fields Cellular studies - RF stimulates protein synthesis, DNA damage Animal studies - lymphoma in mice, Repacholi et al (1997) - blood-brain barrier leaks, Persson et al (1997) - micronuclei in blood, Carlo (2001) Epidemiology - cell phones and cancer, acoustic neuroma 10yr, RR>3 (Kundi et al, 2004; Lonn et al, 2004) - radio and TV antennas Cherry (San Francisco); Szmigielski (Poland); Hocking (Sydney); short wave case in Rome

19 Sutro Tower Study (Cherry, 2002) Tower: 577m Antennas: 400-570m FM: 54.7kW TV: 616kW UHF: 18.3MW Risk Ratio for all childhood cancers (1937-1988) is elevated (at 3km, 1µW/cm 2, RR>5) falls off with distance from antennas

20 Effects of EMF on Cells ELF/RF interact with DNA in many cells - activate DNA, protein synthesis cancer - cause DNA damage cancer Many frequencies active; may be synergistic ELF thresholds (field strength, duration) are below safety limits Thermal basis (SAR) for RF safety is flawed!

21 EMF Safety Needs a Scientific Basis IEEE guideline: The RF safety standard should be based on science. EMF research requires a biological standard to replace thermal (SAR) standard EMF research requires protection against cumulative biological effects stimulated by EMF across the EM spectrum

22 Above all: Minimize EMF Exposure! Precautionary Principle Prudent Avoidance - for public ALARA – as low as reasonably attainable – for regulatory agencies


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