Newsletter (15 April 2004)



Report on the International Conference "Electromagnetic Fields and Human Health" in Almaty, Kazakhstan, September 4-12, 2003

Karl Maret, M.D., M. Eng.


Neuroscience: A Swedish study links mobile phones to brain damage. In rats, anyway

by Elizabeth Svoboda

February 2004

The safety of cellphones has been called into question, again. This time the scientific community is paying very close attention.

Last summer neurosurgeon Leif Salford and colleagues at Lund University in Sweden published data showing for the first time an unambiguous link between microwave radiation emitted by GSM mobile phones (the most common type worldwide) and brain damage in rats. If Salford's results are confirmed by follow-up studies in the works at research facilities worldwide, including one run by the U.S. Air Force, the data could have serious implications for the one billion?plus people glued to their cellphones.

The findings have re-ignited a longstanding debate among scientists and cellphone manufacturers over cellphone safety.

Many of the hundreds of studies performed during the past decade suggest cellphone use may cause a host of adverse effects, including headaches and memory loss. Other studies, however, have shown no such effects, and no scientific consensus exists about the effect of long-term, low-level radiation on the brain and other organs. A comprehensive $12 million federal investigation of cellphone safety is currently under way but will take at least five years to complete.

The cellphone industry so far has been quick to dismiss the data, saying emissions from current mobiles fall well within the range of radiation levels the FCC deems safe (body-tissue absorption rates of under 1.6 watts per kilogram). "Expert reviews of studies done over the past 30 years have found no reason to believe that there are any health hazards whatsoever," says Mays Swicord, scientific director of Motorola's Electromagnetic Energy Programs. Dr. Marvin Ziskin, chair of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' Committee on Man and Radiation, is similarly skeptical. "The levels of radiation they used seem way too low to be producing the kinds of effects they're claiming."

Informant: Don Maisch


Cellphones may boost forces on biological tissue

12:30 09 April 04

Exclusive from New Scientist Print Edition

Mobile phone radiation may cause a massive increase in the forces that living cells exert on each other, suggests a new study from Sweden. The research could be important in answering the question of whether the radiation from mobile phones cause cancer or other health problems. Many researchers fear the answer is yes, yet they have been unable to come up with any plausible way that radiation from a phone could affect, let alone harm, biological tissue.

The conventional view is that the only way radio waves could damage a cell would be if they were energetic enough to break chemical bonds or heat the tissue, like microwaves. Yet the radiation given off by handsets is much too weak to produce either of these effects.

Finding an alternative mechanism is the "holy grail" for those who believe the radiation is harmful, says Camelia Gabriel of Kings College London, who is carrying out research into microwaves as part of the Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research programme (MTHR) funded by the UK government.

Ideas have been put forward, she says. "But there are no proven mechanisms."

Positive and negative

Now Bo Sernelius, a physicist at Linkoping University in Sweden, has a new lead. He modelled the dielectric properties of cells. Water molecules have poles of positive and negative electric charge that are known to create attractive forces between cells, known as van der Waals forces. These are normally extremely weak, typically around a billion-billionth of a newton. Using a highly simplified mathematical model of two red blood cells, Sernelius calculated what effect electromagnetic fields created by different frequencies of radiation would have on the forces. He found that the water molecules inside the cells attempt to align their positive and negative poles with the alternating field produced by the radiation. They all end up pointing in the same direction, and this strengthens the van der Waals forces.

According to Sernelius's figures, in fields of 850 megahertz - around the frequency used by mobile phones - the attractive forces appear to leap to micronewton strength. That is a huge jump of around 11 orders of magnitude, and completely unexpected, says Sernelius.

Clump together

The finding is important, says Katie Daniel, deputy editor of the journal Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, which has just published the study (vol 6, p 1363). "It highlights the idea that electromagnetic radiation might act on cells by affecting the attractive forces between them rather than simply causing heat damage to tissue."

Gabriel agrees that the new mechanism is plausible. But she points out that Sernelius's model is extremely simple, and what applies to two cells may not necessarily apply to more. "It needs to be tested experimentally," she says.

Sernelius suggests checking the dielectric properties of different types of biological tissue during exposure to radiation across the range of frequencies normally used by mobile phones, which is exactly what Gabriel and her colleagues are working on for the MHTR. Their results will be published in December.

Duncan Graham-Rowe


3G base stations may cause headaches

2 October 2003

Cancer cell study revives cellphone safety fears

24 October 2002

Bo Sernelius, Linkoping University

Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research programme

Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics

Source: (excerpt)


Immune system 'attacked by mobile phones


Thursday, October 15, 1998 Published at 16:50 GMT 17:50 UK

Scientists have doubts about the safety of mobile phones

Radiation from mobile phones can severely damage the human immune system, a scientist has claimed. Biologist Roger Coghill has long campaigned for health warnings to be attached to mobile phones, which he has already linked to headaches and memory loss. His latest research suggests the microwaves generated by mobile phones may damage the ability of white blood cells to act as the "policemen" of the body, fighting off infection and disease. Mr Coghill took white blood cells, known as lymphocytes, from a donor, keeping them alive with nutritients and exposed them to different electric fields. He found that after seven-and-a-half hours, just 13% of the cells exposed to mobile phone radiation remained intact and able to function, compared with 70% of cells exposed only to the natural electromagnetic field produced by the human body.

Body's balance is upset

The dark cell is a lymphoctye - the body's policeman

Mr Coghill claims the body's immune system is partially controlled by electromagnetic fields emitted by the body. He believes the radiation emitted by mobile phones damages the body's own electromagnetic fields, and undermines the proper functioning of the immune system. Mr Coghill has launched a legal test case against a mobile phone shop for allegedly failing to warn customers of the potential risk of radiation.

The industry is worth a £14bn a year in Britain alone

Industry attacks findings

Tom Wills-Sandford defends mobile phones

Mr Coghill was criticised by a leading industry figure for not announcing his findings before they had been reviewed by experts and published in a recognised scientific journal. Tom Wills-Sandford, director of the Federation of the Electronics Industry, which represents mobile phone manufacturers, said: "None of the proper scientific protocol has been followed. "This is not a proper way to conduct science, and one wonders if these results will ever be published properly." Mr Wills-Sandford said an enormous amount of research had been carried out into the safety of mobile phones but none had produced any real evidence of a risk to health.

'Scientifically sound'

But Mr Coghill, who spoke at a conference on mobile phone safety in London on Thursday, insisted that his results were scientifically sound and should not be ignored. He said: "We found that the competence of these white blood cells was depleted after being exposed for seven or eight hours to a mobile phone on standby.

A spokesman for the National Radiological Protection Board, the radiation watchdog, said: "We have no comment to make on the claims made by Roger Coghill. If his work is published in a scientific journal it will be reviewed by the NRPB's advisory group on non-ionising radiation."

Informant: Robert Riedlinger


Workshop in Helsinki, Finland on April 28-29, 2004

Dear all,

The workshop is organized by the Forschungsgemeinschaft Funk (Research Association for Radio Applications), in cooperation with COST 281, STUK (Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority) and WHO.

Contributions to the topic are accepted till April, 1st. Please send your proposals to the FGFoffice ( .

For attending the workshop as an observer or as an attendee please register soon, the turnout is limited.

Best regards

Anette Kellendonk

Informant: Sianette Kwee

Omega see further under


Biggest Seal Hunt in 50 Years Draws Protest


Canadian seal hunt gets under way


Indian voting rights trial begins

Informant: Thomas L. Knapp


Omega-News Collection 15. April 04