Why the Current International Safety Standards do not Predict Biological Hazard

1. Microwave electromagnetic fields act by activating voltage-gated calcium channels: why the current international safety standards do not predict biological hazard

Martin L. Pall

Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry and Basic Medical Sciences Washington State University, 638 NE 41st Ave., Portland, OR 97232 USA

Abstract. Microwave and other low frequency electromagnetic fields (EMFs) have been shown to act by activating voltage-gated calcium channels (VGCCs) with most biological effects being due to elevated intracellular calcium, consequent nitric oxide (NO) elevation and either peroxynitrite or NO signaling. This, the role of excessive intracellular calcium in microwave effects and some 20,000 papers on microwave biological effects show that the current international safety standards do not predict biological hazard. Such standards are based on the false assumption that the predominant effects of microwave and other low frequency EMF exposures are due to heating. A whole series of biological changes reportedly produced by microwave exposures can now be explained in terms of this new paradigm of EMF action via VGCC activation, including: oxidative stress; single and double stranded breaks in cellular DNA; therapeutic effects; blood-brain barrier breakdown; greatly depressed melatonin levels and sleep disruption; cancer; male and female infertility; immune dysfunction; neurological dysfunction; cardiac dysfunction including tachycardia, arrhythmia and sudden cardiac death. A two-phase program for greatly improving EMF safety standards is proposed.

world against what they consider to be unsafe exposures to microwave frequency electromagnetic fields (EMFs). Such exposures have increased by large amounts in recent years. Such demonstrations have been met with assertions by government organizations and by industry that these exposures are well within international and national safety standards and therefore can be assumed to be safe. They are correct that these are well within safety standards. A central question being examined here is whether these standards are based on well documented science such that if they are, we should be assured of safety.

Current U.S. and International safety standards are based on the assumption that the only important thing that microwave and other low frequency EMFs can do biologically is to heat things (1-5), like heating things in a microwave oven. Based on that assumption, safety standards are based on heating (1-5) and the reasonable inference, if that assumption is correct, is that levels of exposures which only produce insignificant advocates for current standards argue that current safety standards are about 100 times more stringent than is needed (1), because even exposure levels 100 times higher than allowed by current safety standards produce only slight heating.

However, over 20,000 publications in the scientific literature have reported substantial biological effects of at exposures well within safety standards, such that none of these should be possible if current safety standards are scientifically based. These include some 4000 studies on therapeutic effects of microwave EMFs, effects that are well known to be non-thermal (6).

It should be noted that there is a reasonable basis for the heating assumption underlying current safety standards. The photons that make up microwave frequency and other low frequency fields are very low energy photons, without insufficient energy to individually change the chemistry of our bodies. That is they are different from ionizing radiation or even ultraviolet or visible radiation, where individual photons have sufficient energy to produce chemical changes. How, then can we understand the thousands of studies showing well-documented non-thermal biological effects of microwave frequency and other low frequency EMFs?


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