by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
A concerned mother explained,
My daughter has mild to moderate bilateral hearing loss and wears hearing aids. In her Montessori classroom, they also use an FM system when appropriate. I have visited schools where they now use wireless soundfield systems. They seem great, especially for a traditional classroom setting. My question is, “Who is evaluating all of these devices, hearing aids (especially ones that communicate aid-to-aid), FM systems, soundfield systems, etc. for levels of radiation when used together?”
If you put a child with hearing aids, with an FM, and a sound field in a wireless environment, are they getting slowly “cooked”? I am not sure safety is taken into account when all of these technologies are applied layer upon layer—especially with children who have thinner skulls and developing brains.
I just don’t feel confident with the information I have been given. Your thoughts are appreciated.
You have posed an excellent question. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending how you see it), we live in an increasingly wireless world. Like practically every technology ever developed, there are good points and bad points to the all-pervading wireless revolution we are experiencing. The trick is to use the good while eliminating as much of the bad as possible. As so often happens, the “bad” is swept under the carpet and everyone pretends it isn’t causing any problems. That is happening with microwave wireless devices.
We Are Surrounded by Microwaves
Many/most of the wireless devices we use today operate in the microwave frequencies—typically between 1 GHz and 10 GHz or so. This means we are bathed in a microwave smog (some call it electro-smog) pretty-well every minute of every day (and all night too), and it is getting worse as more and more items we use are going wireless.
Besides the microwave ovens in our kitchens, think of all the other devices at home, work and school that emit microwaves. There are Wi-Fi routers and wireless modems, cell phones, smart phones, laptop computers, tablets, wireless baby monitors, DECT (Digitally Enhanced Cordless Technology) cordless phones, wireless video game consoles, wireless burglar alarms, wireless printers, Bluetooth devices of all kinds, and numbers of other wireless electronic devices.
That is not all. Outside our homes, schools and places of work there are other major sources of the electro-smog that surrounds us. These include nearby cell phone towers and all our neighbors’ electronic wireless devices and routers.
For hard of hearing people the list is even longer. We use RF (radio frequency) systems integrated with our hearing aids so we can hear distant speakers and our TVs. These operate in the 2.4 GHz band (microwave frequencies). Even hearing aids can now “talk” to each other and this is also done at 2.4 GHz. All the Bluetooth assistive devices operate in this same band. And in your school, so do the wireless sound-field systems.
Furthermore, there are more and more smart phone apps available to help us hear better, but to use them we need to use our cell phones (and remember, they also emit microwaves). As a result, we are bathed in even more microwaves than people with normal hearing.
Microwaves Negatively Affect Our Health
As scientists discovered back in the 1940s and 1950s with the development of radar and other technologies, microwaves were dangerous to human health. They are still just as dangerous today. Make no mistake about it. Surrounding ourselves in a microwave smog is not good for us.
Because of the power involved, microwave radiation from cell phone towers, cell phones and Wi-Fi routers are the primary culprits, not our hearing aids and assistive listening devices that also use microwave frequencies.
Note: exposure to radiation from cell towers is rapidly increasing with the deployment of 4G technology, but the average exposure from cell towers is still well below that of our cell phones themselves (1) because they are so much closer to our bodies (heads).
However, for hard of hearing people, adding wireless assistive devices to the mix just compounds the problem. Furthermore, hearing aids are right against the skull—so when they “talk” to each other via 2.4 GHz, even though the power output is very low, they just add to the electro-smog assaulting our bodies.
The dangers to our bodies from microwave radiation is of two kinds—thermal (heat) and non-thermal.
“Cell phones radiate microwaves, as do microwave ovens. The exposure limits set by the Federal Communications Commission in the United States and by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation, Protecting for most countries in the European Union assume the only danger from microwave radiation would come from temperature increases in our brains, or from temperature increases to any other part of our bodies.” (2) In short, all the industry thinks of is thermal damage from microwaves heating up our cells and “cooking” us, They are not considering short and long term non-thermal microwave effects.
To be sure, thermal effects from microwaves can be a problem if we are close to a high-powered microwave antenna. But with most microwave devices (apart from our microwave ovens which are designed to cook things), internal cell heating from microwave radiation is the least of our worries.
Therefore, you shouldn’t have to worry about your child being “cooked” in school from all the microwave devices in use in the classroom. However, you do have to concern yourself with other health issues associated with microwaves from their non-thermal effects.
One such health risk is brain tumors/brain cancer. Brain tumors happen to real people from using microwave devices such as cell phones. Here is Enrico Grani’s story. He explains:
“I used cell phones for 10+ years extensively on and off, and because of this, I developed a brain tumor.
It 2007, about one week before my birthday, I was diagnosed with a 3 cm x 4 cm brain tumor. I had a stroke in late November 2006. An MRI examination revealed a brain tumor in the area of my brain next to my ear where I always held my cell phone—in the exact position where the cell phone’s antenna was located.
Cell phones are much more dangerous than anyone can possibly imagine. I would gladly trade in all my money (which isn’t much now) and every single material possession I have for the chance to have my brain function restored. I was foolish. Please don’t make the same mistake. Your brain is much more precious than the device called a cell phone.” (3)
“The first major indication that cell phones might be a health hazard came out of a massive research project funded by the Cellular Telephone Industry Association (CTIA). To the industry’s surprise and dismay, the results of the study came to the opposite conclusion from the one they were hoping for.
The study’s results included findings of:
— A nearly 300% increase in the incidence of genetic damage when human blood cells were exposed to radiation in the cellular frequency band.
— A significant increase in cell phone users’ risk of brain tumors at the brain’s outer edge, on whichever side the cell phone was held most often.
— A 60% greater chance of acoustic neuromas, a tumor affecting the nerve that controls hearing, among people who had used cell phones for six years or more.
— A higher rate of brain cancer deaths among handheld mobile phone users than among car phone users (car phones are mounted on the dashboard rather than held next your head and the antenna was typically outside the car).” (4)
This study by Dr. George Carlo reported “a statistically significant doubling of brain cancer risk; a statistically significant dose-response risk of acoustic neuroma with more than six years of cell phone use, and; findings of genetic damage in human blood when exposed to microwave (cell phone) radiation.” (2)
Another industry-funded research study showed that brain tumors are not just due to chance, but that there is a significant “20% increased risk of brain tumors for every year of cell phone use”. (2)
Independent researcher, Dr. Hardell and his team in Sweden found significantly increased risk of brain tumors from 10 or more years of cell phone (or cordless phone) use. Some of their findings included:
— “For every 100 hours of cell phone use, the risk of brain cancer increases by 5%.
— For every year of cell phone use, the risk of brain cancer increases by 8%.
— After 10 or more years of digital cell phone use, there is a 280% increased risk of brain cancer.
— For digital cell phone users who were teenagers or younger when they first started using a cell phone, there is a 420% increased risk of brain cancer.” (2)
In spite of what the cell phone industry’s public relations departments may say, “the link between cell phone use and brain tumors is well substantiated and backed by more than 100 scientific studies.” (5)
For starters, health conditions that are linked to cell phone use include 9 types of cancer/tumors (known as of 2013). These include gliomas (brain cancer), meningiomas (tumors of the meninges that encases the brain), salivary gland cancer, eye cancer, testicular cancer in males, breast cancer in females, thyroid cancer, leukemia and acoustic neuromas (tumors on the acoustic nerves resulting in hearing loss) (6), In fact, in 2004, the second Interphone study to be published raised considerable alarm when it reported a nearly 300% increased risk of acoustic neuroma. This is because when a cell phone is held to the ear, it is the acoustic nerve that receives the highest microwave exposure.) (2)
That is not all, the French national Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Safety. (ANSES), after evaluating more than 300 international studies, published a report highlighting the biological effects of EMR [electro-magnetic radiation] on humans and animals concerning sleep, male fertility and cognitive performance. (1)
Chronic exposure to even low-level radiation (like that from cell phones) in addition to causing a wide variety of cancers, can also impair immunity and contribute to Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, heart disease and many other ailments. (7)
For example, studies have found that cell phone radiation can affect mens’ fertility (decreased sperm count, reduced sperm motility and damaged sperm mitochondrial DNA). (6) This is because men, and particularly teenage boys, place their cell phones in their pants pockets when they are not holding them to their heads. In addition, one study reported an 80% increased risk of testicular cancer. When the cell phone was kept in the left pocket, then the left testicle developed cancer. When kept in the right pocket, than the right testicle developed cancer. (2)
How is it that microwave radiation can cause all these health problems? Dr. Mercola explains,
“Your body is a complex communication device for cells ‘talk’, tissues ‘talk’, organs ‘talk’ and organisms ‘talk’. At each of these levels, the communication includes finely tuned bio-electrical transmitters and receivers, which are tuned like tuning into a radio station. What happens when you expose a radio antenna to a significant amount of external noise? You get static from the noise—and that is what is happening to your body in today’s electro-smog environment.
Two of the more well-known biological impacts from electro-smog are the interruption of the brain wave pattern leading to behavior issues, and the interference to your body’s entire communication system, leading to abnormal neurological function such as dementia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and fibromyalgia.
At the cellular level, your cell membrane receptors (the brain of the cell) recognize electromagnetic fields at very low levels of exposure producing a stress response similar to that produced by exposure to heavy metals or toxic chemicals.
This can cause the cell membrane to go from an ‘active’ or permeable state where it allows nutrients in the toxins out, to an ‘inactive’ state where the cell membrane is impermeable. During a normal day, your cells will change states thousands of times, but when under constant environmental stress, the membranes can be locked in the inactive state. This is often referred to as ‘oxidative stress’ as nutrients are able to enter into the cell, while toxins (free radicals) are not allowed to leave.
There is also real evidence that this inactive state can even have geno-toxic effects, meaning electro-smog is toxic by both damaging DNA and preventing your body from repairing DNA, which can be the first step to cancer.” (7)
Unfortunately, it is our children that are slated to bear the brunt of these cancers. As Dr. Mercola also reports, “Young children are much more vulnerable to these risks than adults because of their thinner skulls, smaller heads, and still-developing brains and nervous systems. Their thinner skull bones allow for greater penetration of radiation. The radiation can enter all the way into the mid-brain where tumors are more deadly.” (4)
Furthermore, children’s brains can absorb up to three times as much radiation as compared to adults (1) since children’s brain tissue is more conductive and their smaller brains and softer brain tissue allows radiation to penetrate more effectively.
Dr. Mercola concludes, “Children’s cells reproduce more quickly, so they’re more susceptible to aggressive cell growth. Their immune systems are often also not as well developed as adults. Lastly, children face a far greater lifetime exposure. Not only should children not use cell phones, but adults should not use them (or Wi-Fi) around children.” (4)
You can see revealing graphics showing how deeply cell phone radiation penetrates a five-year-old child’s head (brain) as compared to the head (brain) of an adult.
By comparing the first and last graph, it is obvious that cell phone radiation would penetrate in excess of 60% of a five-year-old child’s brain. In contrast, it would penetrate less than 20% of an adult brain. (8) As microwave radiation penetrates deeper into the cranial cavity, it can result in more tumors in these areas of the brain.
Not only do children’s brains absorb microwaves more readily than adult brains do, children also have potentially a much longer period of exposure to microwave radiation because they are playing with and/or using wireless devices and cell phones from a very early age. (1)
“The younger the child is when he or she starts using a cell phone, the higher the risk. Since texting became popular, it is common that children sleep with their cell phones underneath their pillows. They set their cell phones to vibrate mode so their parents won’t hear the phone ring. Sleeping with a cell phone beneath a pillow results in a night-long exposure, every night.” (2)
Thus, we can expect microwave-related health problems in children much sooner than we would expect the same kinds of problems in older adults who were not exposed to microwaves for most of their lives.
Summing it up, it appears that the risk of getting a brain tumor from exposure to microwave radiation from cell phone use has the following characteristics:
— “The higher the cumulative hours of wireless phone use, the higher the risk.
— The higher the number of years since first wireless phone use, the higher the risk.
— The higher the radiated power from the cell phone, the higher the risk.
— The higher the exposure (use on the same side of head as the brain tumor), the higher the risk, and
— The younger the user, the higher the risk.” (2)
As you can see, the real risk of all the microwave devices we (and our kids) are using is not their thermal effects, but their non-thermal effects. This is what we have to guard against.
The unabridged version of this article has whole sections of information on how this microwave problem is being covered up and downplayed, what other countries are doing to ameliorate this problem, and, most importantly, a comprehensive list of things you need to know and implement in your life and in the lives of your loved ones and kids in order to help reduce your/their radiation exposure from microwave devices, especially cell phones and Wi-Fi devices.
Just as not everyone who smokes gets lung cancer, so not every one who uses cell phones, Wi-Fi or other microwave devices will develop brain cancer or suffer other neurological damage. Some will and some won’t. There are many variables that contribute to your susceptibility. Since you don’t know which group you will fall into, it seems wise and prudent to act now and limit, as much as is reasonably possible, given your belief system and lifestyle, your exposure to microwaves, rather than wait until bad things begin to happen in your family. I’m already doing what I can. Are you?
(1) References are listed in the unabridged article.