Man-made Magnetic Fields
Man-made Magnetic Fields
By Professor David Wagner
Throughout human history, a number of portentous technological developments have served to greatly advance the rate of progress and quality of life, ranging from basic tool-making capabilities in prehistoric times that, though rudimentary, served to significantly increase the efficiency of hunting and planting, to the almost incomprehensibly complex computer technologies that support twenty-first century life in industrialized nations (Kheifets and Matkin 146). Though different in detail and impact, most historically significant technological developments have been received with enthusiasm and rapidly incorporated into the mainstream of society.
Although there is also a long tradition of resistance to technological advancement, the overarching response of humans to new technological developments has been to fully exploit it and make full use of its capabilities and benefits, particularly economic benefits, without considering the negative ramifications of such an approach. It is only the most radical new technologies that have been seriously considered and limited.1
After the advent of the age of industrialization in the mid-nineteenth century, the true economic, social, and cultural implications of technological development began to be revealed. The achievements gained during this period significantly increased the standard of living and quality of life for millions of individuals residing in industrialized nations. In addition, the elite upper classes began to recognize more fully the potential benefits associated with their support of technological advancement.
As a result of these factors, many Western nations developed an uncritically pro-technology perspective. From this vantage point, new technological developments were almost universally regarded as positive, simply because they represented advancement. Increasingly, the potentially negative implications of technological developments were not fully considered.
In addition, as the rate at which new technological developments began to be produced in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries increased exponentially, the existing scientific body of knowledge and the spectrum of available research assessment instruments were often insufficient to fully assess the consequences and implications of emerging technologies (Kheifets and Matkin 146). One clear-cut example of this trend is radiography, which was developed and implemented as a medical assessment tool long before it was widely recognized that unprotected exposure to x-rays presented a dangerous health risk to biological systems.
In other words, because the nature of scientific discovery and technological development is often disjointed and out of sequence (in contrast to the notion of a linear path of discovery and progress that is often wrongly assumed), new technologies are often discovered and widely implemented before humans possess the knowledge or tools to determine whether they pose a long-term risk (Kheifets and Matkin 146). In many cases, these new technological developments are often deeply woven into the fabric of modern life before it is determined that there may be substantial risks associated with the technology.
This is precisely the case with the problematic development and implementation of electricity. Although electricity is incontrovertibly one of the most significant technological developments to emerge in human history, this technology was in widespread use before many of the risks associated began to be more fully understood (Beale 274).
The property of electricity was first described in the rudimentary scientific observation and investigation conducted in ancient Greece. However, it was not until the seventeenth century that the emerging framework of the scientific method allowed for a more precise understanding of the properties and characteristics of electricity.
In the United States, Benjamin Franklin’s eighteenth century experimentation with electricity served to greatly advance the collective knowledge of the force. By the early 1800s, many commercial applications of electricity were devised, and a number of generators and engines were developed. By the late 1800s, a number of metropolitan areas in the United States had opened power plants. By the early 1900s, household electrification was common in many affluent areas, while rural and/or poorer states’ power grids were not fully operational until the mid-twentieth century.
Today, it is virtually unimaginable for citizens of industrialized nations to consider life without ready access to electricity (Feychting, Ahlbom, and Kheifets 145). Nearly every aspect and activity of our daily lives, ranging from the alarm clocks that we use to help us wake up in the mornings to the bedside lamps that we use to read by before bed, and every action taken in between, are predicated upon our access to an unlimited supply of electricity.
From its initial development, the remarkable benefits of electricity have far outweighed the potential risks associated with the technology. The safety concerns that have been linked with electricity have focused primarily upon obvious problems, such as the risk of electrocution. However, because the benefits of electricity were seen to outweigh these risks, electricity was widely and broadly incorporated into daily life in most developed nations.
It was not until the mid-twentieth century that the possibility that there may be hidden health risks associated with the widespread use of electricity in the United States and other industrialized nations (Beale 274). The first indications of a possible problem were detected by military scientists who noticed abnormal health patterns and epidemiological signs of a connection among populations of military workers assigned to duties that involved significant degrees of exposure to electromagnetic fields.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, these early, tentative connections were not publicized. Indeed, one of the ongoing patterns that can be seen in the history of the development and implementation of electricity is the tendency to downplay its potential risks to safety and health (Beale 282; Von Winterfeldt, Eppel, Adams, Neutra, and DelPizzo 1490). This pattern is often a given when a particular technology possesses the potential for lucrative commercial applications.
In the case of electricity, there is a broad array of compelling historical and documentary data that demonstrate that corporate interests and institutions have contrived to minimize the public perception of health risks in order to protect the massive commercial potential of the core technology. There has even been some suggestion that in a number of instances, governmental bodies have failed to fulfill their duty as primary regulators of the public health in response to pressure from the powerful utility industry and its representatives (Beale 282).
In spite of these obfuscatory efforts, there exists a significant amount of data that suggest that there is a causal correlation between the widespread use of electricity and an increase in a number of harmful and potentially harmful biological responses in humans and animals (Beale 275). These statistics have been garnered from several decades of empirical, clinical, and epidemiological evidence on the subject of the health risks of electricity.
While there are many ways in which exposure to electricity can cause health risks or negative biological responses, the most substantial type of risk that has been identified in the extant published literature on the subject pertains to the electric and magnetic fields that are formed when electricity is in use. Although magnetic fields also occur organically in nature, the use of electricity generates a magnetic field that far exceeds the strength, force, and duration of natural magnetic fields (Beale 274).
Furthermore, the unique patterns that govern an individual’s usage of electricity and electrically-powered implements and devices also serve to impact the level of exposure. Over the course of the last fifty years, the average American’s consumption of electricity has increased by a factor of twenty (Bonhomme-Faivre, Marion, Forestier, Santini, and Auclair 713). To meet with this increased demand, the degree of power generated by plants in the United States has increased tenfold. Clearly, this level of exposure to the magnetic fields is unprecedented in human history, and far exceeds the degree of risk associated with encountering naturally-occurring magnetic fields.
Another related risk that has emerged in recent decades is increased exposure to a type of field known as extremely-low frequencies (ELFs) and associated biological responses. Exposure to ELFs has grown in recent years as the number of technological devices employing these frequencies, such as cellular phones, has increased considerably in availability, prevalence, and popularity (Anderson 48). To a large extent, the health risks that are believed to be associated with ELFs overlap with those that have been linked to EMF exposure, although ELFs have been more closely associated with abnormal cell growth in localized areas of the human body that have seen the greatest degree of exposure.
Although there is a degree of inconsistency in the extant published literature pertaining to this subject, a substantial amount of both experimental and epidemiological data have linked exposure to both electromagnetic fields and extra-low frequencies to biological effects, many of which are potentially deleterious. Still, the misguided perception that the results of the experimental data are inconclusive remains startlingly prevalent among not only the general public, but also many medical practitioners and clinicians (Beale 275).
Statement of the Problem
The pronounced disconnect that exists between the existing published literature and the general perception of the issue, which many believed to have been heavily influenced in part by concerted disinformation campaigns mounted by the commercial industries that rely on electricity, has resulted in a failure of many of the mechanisms, processes, organizations, and institutions that are designed to oversee, monitor, and protect the public health. In short, a lack of a clear understanding of the current research findings pertaining to the health risks of EMFs and ELFs have rendered many clinicians and practitioners ill-equipped to advise and protect patients in the populations that may be most vulnerable to the negative effects of exposure.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of the current study is to begin to counteract the confusion and misunderstanding of the experimental results that have been attained in reference to the biological impacts of exposure to man-made electromagnetic fields and extremely-low frequencies. Because of conflicting information, the diffusion and compartmentalization of the scholarly literature, hesitancy on the part of many government agencies and oversight bodies, and blatant obfuscation on the part of the powerful corporate interests that rely on electricity, a concise, clear recognition of the potential health risks associated with EMFs and ELFs has remained elusive.
Based on a review and synthesis of the recent scholarly literature on the subject, the current study will seek to reverse this pattern of misperception, disinterest, and obfuscation, clearly demonstrating that prolonged exposure to ELFs and EMFs result in changes to biological systems that can lead to deleterious health outcomes in human and animal populations.
Importance of the Study
As alluded to previously, the per capita generation and consumption of electricity has increased exponentially over the course of the last several decades. Likewise, the number of electrical devices used by the average individual in a developed nation has also increased considerably in recent years. Considering the rate at which subsequent technological advances are likely to be attained in the future, it is unlikely that this trend will subside.
The research question that will guide the current study is the hypothesized causal correlation between exposure to man-made ELFs and EMFs and an array of potentially deleterious biological responses. If this causal relationship is confirmed by a review of the recent scholarly literature, then unlimited exposure to these fields could pose a substantial public health risk. As such, the critical importance of the current study and other research efforts undertaken in a similar vein cannot be understated. Moreover, exploration into scientific methods of shielding or protecting individuals from the current health risks posed is sorely needed.
Scope of the Study
The historical scope of the study will be defined by the earliest investigations into this issue, which were published in the late 1970s. Geographically, the primary focus of the current investigation will be the United States, although applicable research that has been conducted in other comparable developed nations will also be included.
Based on the existing literature on the subject, the primary epidemiological focus of the current study will be on the ways and degrees to which exposure to man-made EMFs and ELFs can increase an individual’s risk of developing cancers, tumors, and other related types of abnormal cell growth. This focus will reflect the overwhelming majority of previously published studies that have centered on the cancer risk of exposure to EMFs and ELFs. However, in order to attain a fuller view of the possible health outcomes of exposure to these man-made fields, many different correlated biological responses will be considered in the research.
Similarly, the extant published literature on the subject has focused a significant amount of attention on the correlations between EMFs and ELFs and childhood cancers. However, while this concentration is acknowledged in the current research, this study will seek to include the biological responses of exposure among humans (and, to a lesser degree, animals) in all life phases.
Review of Related Literature
Even an informal survey of the recent overviews of the controversy surrounding the health risks associated with ELF and EMF exposure that have been published for a general readership will inevitably reveal the oft-repeated claim that studies on the subject have been inconclusive. This overly broad characterization has convinced many consumers that there are no conclusive findings linking electricity usage to potentially deleterious health outcomes.
However, in truth, there is a substantial amount of data that, taken together, suggest the existence of a causal relationship between an array of negative health outcomes and exposure to man-made ELFs and EMFs. This review of the literature will offer an overview of the major findings, ranging from the studies that originated this field of research in the late 1970s, to the current juncture.
In order to convey the development of the thought on the subject, the literature review will be ordered chronologically. Each study or article will be identified by its date of publication and briefly summarized and analyzed.
Although it has been reported that early reports of health risks associated with the usage of electricity and exposure to electromagnetic fields may have emerged in military settings as early as the 1940s, the issue first began to be addressed in the scholarly literature in the 1970s. An ongoing study undertaken by researcher Nancy Wertheimer represented the first major effort in this area.
Because Wertheimer’s study was longitudinal and, as such, was ongoing for several years, news of her findings began to initiate interest among researchers prior to the 1979 publication of her groundbreaking research. Marino and Becker addressed this issue in a 1978 publication that evaluated the potential health hazards associated with electrical conveyance structures and electromagnetic fields.
In the context of an overview of the relatively scarce research assessing the health effects of EMFs and, in particular, ELFs, the authors note that government agencies and organizations have retained almost complete control over a significant amount of pertinent data. The only major exception to this, the authors note, were a few instances in which government agencies released data to industry-sponsored research efforts. This seemingly biased collusion inevitably engenders the perception of impropriety and should be remedied, the authors contend.
Miller and Kaufman (1978) published another early assessment of the issue.
The authors document the increasing demand for electricity in the United States throughout the twentieth century, and note that this increase in demand has also resulted in a concomitant increase in the per capita exposure to electricity and electromagnetic fields. They further note that this trend has resulted in increased concerns about the safety, environmental impact, and potential health outcomes associated with increased electricity exposure and demand.
Even from the relatively early historical vantage point of this publication, authors Miller and Kaufman note the significant disconnect between the general assumption that there are no deleterious effects noted with regard to ELF and EMF exposure and the findings of many individual studies that have determined that there are, in fact, discernible biological responses associated with exposure, many of which have the potential to be deleterious.
Specifically, the authors refer to biological responses that have been observed in plants, humans, and animals. However, at the time of the late 1970s, a conclusive case demonstrating deleterious harms had yet to be made. Notably, this publication preceded the release of Wertheimer’s results.
Wertheimer (1979) reported on the results of a several-year-long study in which both epidemiological and field data were used to assess the existence and nature of a correlation between exposure to electromagnetic fields and health problems, specifically cancers, among children residing in a number of neighborhoods in the Denver metropolitan area.
During field visits conducted with the families of children with cancers, Wertheimer spontaneously noticed that a large proportion of the children seemed to live in close proximity to transformers, power stations, exposed power lines, or other structures and devices used for conveying electricity into homes. This informal observation prompted Wertheimer to undertake an analysis that sought to assess the significance of this risk factor in the cancer cases of dozens of Denver children.
The data gathered in the study indicated that the risk of childhood cancers was approximately twice the level seen within the general population among children residing in close proximity to an electromagnetic field. Even allowing for a number of other potentially confounding correlates, this inexplicably high increase among children with higher EMF exposure rates remained constant.
However, despite this strong correlation, Wertheimer declined to confirm the existence of a causal relationship between EMF exposure and the risk of developing childhood cancer due to the preliminary nature of the research. Still, the highly suggestive findings that were attained in Wertheimer’s 1979 study initiated a cascade of subsequent research, and as such, it remains a highly influential cornerstone of the scholarly literature pertaining to the health risks associated with high levels of exposure to man-made electromagnetic fields.
Some of the research findings that were attained in the years following the release of Wertheimer’s 1979 publication were collated, reviewed, and analyzed in a comprehensive literature review conducted by Sheikh (1986). In this literature review, the author marshaled a compelling array of evidence which, taken together, make a strong case for the correlation between exposure to man-made EMFs and ELFs and a broad spectrum of potentially deleterious biological responses. In particular, Sheikh’s analysis focused on exploring the link between EMF exposure and childhood cancers, including leukemia.
Even in the mid-1980s, Sheikh identified one of the problems that would continue to cause confusion for several decades, namely, that inconsistencies in research methodologies, analytical methods, and operational definitions had frequently resulted in conclusions that seemed to be inconsistent and contradictory. However, the author notes that when each study is considered on an individual basis, it seems apparent that an otherwise inexplicable causal correlation appears to be at work. Still, applying the rigorous parameters of scientific analysis, these differences between studies have rendered it impossible to conclusively state that a causal connection between EMF and/or ELF exposure and a number of potentially deleterious biological responses and health outcomes actually exists.
Sheikh’s prescient analysis identified a shortcoming that continues to plague the scientific literature on this subject twenty years later. In spite of Sheikh’s recommendation that a more standardized approach to the investigation and analysis of biological responses and health outcomes associated with ELF and EMF exposure be developed and applied within the discipline, widespread methodological differences continue to render broad analyses and syntheses of the literature difficult to nearly impossible. Furthermore, this degree of seeming inconsistency has allowed corporate interests to capitalize on what appears to be scientific inconclusiveness. This problem has been largely responsible for fomenting the highly prevalent misconception that the body of scientific literature on the subject is fundamentally unsound and unreliable.
Nearly a decade later, researchers Zahm and Devesa (1995) conducted a literature review of the pertinent studies on the subject released between 1986 and 1995. While the authors considered studies that pertained to a wide array of biological and carcinogenetic responses associated with exposure to man-made electromagnetic fields and other hazardous environmental factors and variables, their specific focus remained on the incidence of childhood cancers among those with higher-than-normal exposure rates to these environmental variables.
The authors note that many studies have indicated that among the population of adults with higher-than-normal occupational levels of exposure to EMFs and ELFs, the rate of cancers and leukemia were significantly increased. At the same time, for children and adolescents whose residences were in close proximity to electromagnetic fields, power lines, transmission stations, and other devices used for large-scale conveyance of electricity, a number of studies have found a statistically significantly disproportionate risk for the development of cancers and leukemia.
Furthermore, the authors reached the conclusion that the puzzling array of experimental and epidemiological findings pertaining to the role of EMF exposure as a carcinogenetic factor indicate that there exists some significant pattern that has remained undetected by previous analytical methodologies. The authors recommend the development and application of increasingly significant analytical frameworks to understand this relationship, as well as an expanded paradigm of carcinogenesis that combines both genetic and environmental factors and variables.
In the 1990s, researchers began to further explore other types of biological responses related to high levels of exposure to EMF and ELF. From this research, an array of new correlations and outcomes were identified, further bolstering the long-hypothesized relationship between exposure to man-made electromagnetic fields and negative health outcomes.
Reiter (1995) reported on the findings of a study that linked exposure to electromagnetic fields to melatonin suppression, as well as the negative health outcomes that were identified as a result of sub-optimal melatonin levels in the body. According to the author, melatonin is a hormone that is secreted from the pineal gland in the brain.
Achieving homeostasis in the body’s melatonin level is crucial, because even minute variations have been associated with an array of potentially deleterious consequences. Some researchers have postulated that melatonin suppression can be carcinogenic in some environments. Reiter’s findings suggested a link between EMF exposure and disruption of the melatonin production and/or regulation mechanisms and processes. He suggested further research as a means of refining this supposition and determining whether supplementary melatonin could potentially be used to counteract the negative health effects of excessive ELF or EMF exposure.
Demonstrating a newly refined assessment model, McCann and Kavet (1997) presented an in-depth evaluation of the carcinogenic properties of an electromagnetic field and the ways in which exposure to such an environment could impact animal and human health and biological systems. The authors contend that one of the only effective ways to contravene the categorical contradictions and operational and methodological inconsistencies that have been the constant shortcomings of much of the extant published literature pertaining to EMF-related carcinogenesis is by relying instead on clinical data generated in laboratory settings.
To this end, the authors devised an experiment in which rats and mice were exposed to levels of EMF that would approximate the exposure of a human residing in close proximity to power lines. In a number of simulations, the authors identified the conditions under which exposure to high EMF levels appeared to play a carcinogenic role.
It was noted that the most aggressive changes in cell growth and behavior occurred during the progression stage of already-existing growths. This finding prompted the authors to suggest that exposure to EMF may serve to facilitate and exacerbate tumor growth.
As the rates and prevalence of mobile and cellular phone usage increased exponentially in the late 1990s, concerns about the health effects of exposure to the radiofrequency bands associated with both cellular towers and mobile phones themselves began to circulate. Repacholi (1997) assessed the carcinogenic properties associated with this type of electromagnetic field.
According to the author, there are a wide array of negative health outcomes that have been associated with excessive exposure to the radio frequencies and electromagnetic fields that are used in the conveyance of mobile phone signals. These range from tumor promotion to the advancement of existing cancerous growths and abnormal cell activity.
The biological systems that proved to be particularly vulnerable to prolonged exposure to these types of frequencies and fields included the lungs, the mammary glands, the brain, and the skin. Tumors that were identified in the population of rodents used in the experiments included sarcoma colonies in the lung, mammary tumors, skin tumors, hepatomas, and sarcomas.
The author suggested that further laboratory studies should supplant the excessive reliance on analyses of existing epidemiological data that have been the primary source for past studies. This is due in large part to the fact that existing epidemiological data cannot accurately reflect the rapid changes in technology use that often occur within a short span of time.
Beale (1997) presented an overview of a substantial cross-section of the research pertaining to the health outcomes and biological effects of EMF and ELF exposure. Acknowledging the ongoing controversy surrounding the issue and the seeming contradiction between scientific and government conclusions on the question of the fundamental health and safety of ELF and EMF exposure, the author contends that more stringent regulation of these electromagnetic fields should be enacted.
Although Beale acknowledges that electromagnetic fields exist in nature, he demonstrates that the concentration of the fields that are generated by man-made devices far exceed the levels seen in natural settings. Beale argues that the characterizations of a vast body of differentiated, but largely unified research as “inconclusive” are at best irresponsible and at worst, are actively misleading. The author recommends that individuals be advised to attempt to reduce their EMF and ELF exposure, and that government and industry regulatory oversight should be increased significantly.
The study of the possible impact of EMF/ELF exposure on biological systems and development was further refined in the mid-to-late 1990s. Carpenter (1997) assessed the ways in which exposure to electromagnetic fields can impact neurological development, prenatal development, and genetic abnormalities. The author contends that the preliminary finding that adults in occupational positions that entail increased EMF exposure often have children who demonstrate the symptoms of heightened exposure, as well, suggests that there may be a genetic or inheritable component to EMF/ELF exposure and its biological effects.
Based on numerous statistical analyses, Carpenter identified a number of statistically significant correlations with EMF exposure. These included brain tumors and Alzheimer’s disease. Evaluating the variables of neurodevelopmental disorders and neurodevelopmental behaviors and their relationship to residential or occupational exposure to high levels of EMF, Carpenter was unable to detect an unambiguously strong statistical correlation. However, even the weak relationship that was identified in the study between these two variables merits further investigation, according to the author. Many of these conclusions were affirmed in a 2005 study conducted by Brown, Lockwood, and Sonawane.
A major trend that characterized the direction in research assessing the health effects of EMFs and ELFs in the late 1990s was the preference for laboratory-centered investigations that relied primarily upon in vive research, rather than epidemiological sources, as its primary data-gathering mechanism. Although epidemiological research initiated this area of inquiry in the 1970s, many researchers, even those who suspected that EMF and ELF exposure may play a role in carcinogenesis, concluded that epidemiological data, in and of itself, was insufficiently convincing to change the public view of this issue or to conclusively affirm the existence of a causal correlation between EMF/ELF exposure and negative health outcomes.
Anderson (1998) reported on a series of laboratory experiments that focused specifically upon the task of evaluating the impact of ELF exposure upon animals. According to the author, the strongest link that has been established to date has been seen in animal experiments that associated mammary carcinogenesis with excessive exposure to electromagnetic fields.
However, Anderson also reports that a number of experiments seemed to suggest that exposure to both ELFs and EMFs can act in a promotional manner, accelerating and/or exacerbating nascent cancers, tumors, or instances of abnormal cell growth. Still, the author concluded that additional laboratory research would be necessary before these preliminary findings could be further confirmed, ensuring the validity of the hypothesized carcinogenic or promotional model of EMF or ELF exposure.
Although childhood cancers remained the primary focus of investigations assessing the health impacts of ELF and EMF exposure, other cancers, injuries, and diseases were evaluated as well. Kheifets and Matkin (1999) assessed the role of EMF exposure as a factor in carcinogenesis in the mammary gland and/or breast tissue.
The authors note that the rates of breast cancer that have been observed in developed and/or industrialized nations far exceeds that which is typically documented in less developed nations. While there are many potential environmental, lifestyle, and other factors that could account for these differences, the authors hypothesize that differences in exposure to man-made electromagnetic fields could be a major source of the disproportionate rate of breast cancers documented in developed nations.
The authors undertook an exhaustive review and analysis of existing research, including clinical, laboratory, and epidemiological findings. Kheifets and Matkin echo the concerns about categorical, operational, and methodological differences that make cross-sectional comparisons of the research literature exceedingly challenging and often inconclusive.
Despite these inconsistencies in the literature, the authors were able to find enough compelling evidence to determine that a link exists between EMF/ELF exposure and breast cancer. Kheifets and Matkin make a number of methodological suggestions for future research efforts that will allay these difficulties and more clearly indicate the nature of the negative health outcomes associated with ELF or EMF exposure.
Vecchia (2003) presents an overview of the origins, characteristics, and consequences surrounding the contentious debate over the health impacts of EMF exposure. More specifically, the author also evaluates the potential public health impact of this debate and its implication for policy and regulatory oversight. Vecchia also relates these experiences to the scientific investigation of emerging electrical applications, including extremely high frequency bands.
According to the author, a number of prominent international health organizations, including the World Health Organization, have made the determination that EMFs and ELFs are likely carcinogenic in some measure. Still, these determinations have been made with many qualifications and caveats, noting that the carcinogenic risk is likely minimal to moderate compared to other known environmental risk factors.
However, the author notes that even the appearance of contradiction, inconsistency, and controversy can augment the perception of a risk factor in the mind of the public. Some individuals respond to the perception of a risk by assiduously avoiding it, while others choose deliberately to downplay and/or ignore the risk. Ultimately, however, Vecchia concludes that either one of these responses is maladaptive and unproductive. This demonstrates the problems that can arise when the scientific, commercial, and government communities are unable to achieve a clear consensus on important public health issues.
An analysis conducted by Von Winterfeldt, Eppel, Adams, Neutra, and DelPizzo (2005) further explores these issues. The authors assessed the controversy surrounding the biological responses and health outcomes associated with EMF/ELF exposure and, using a number of risk-assessment and decision-making models, attempted to determine the urgency and sensitivity of the health risks that are posed by exposure to electromagnetic fields.
Based on a number of factors, including both the scientific and scholarly literature on the subject and the recent determination of major world health organizations that EMFs do, in fact, have a causal correlation with ailments ranging from childhood cancers to miscarriage, the authors made the determination that EMFs do pose a public health threat. Furthermore, they determined that this risk can increase considerably in certain environments, such as in close proximity to an EMF or ELF source, among populations with compromised health or genetic predisposition to cancer, or those who have experienced occupational exposure to EMF or ELF sources, or who have family members who have occupational exposure to these fields.
Based on these analyses, the authors recommend more stringent policy guidelines and oversight at the local, state, and federal government levels in the United States.
Based on this review of the literature, it is clear that a wide variety of studies have been undertaken since the late 1970s as a means of identifying and evaluating the biological responses and health impacts of human and animal exposure to EMF/ELF sources. Although there are some inconsistencies in the nature and degree of the findings that have been attained, all have concluded that some level of correlation exists between EMF/ELF exposure and deleterious health outcomes.
While only a few of the researchers whose investigations were reviewed in this chapter asserted that a clear causal connection exists between EMF/ELF exposure and negative health outcomes, the sheer volume of the statistically significant correlations seem to suggest that such a relationship exists.
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1 One recent example of this is the debate over human cloning. Because of the extremely challenging ethical dimensions of this area of research, many scientists have made a concerted effort to delineate the scope of their work and to consider its implications beforehand. However, this effort has not prevented the undertaking of maverick research efforts that stray outside of these officially-endorsed boundaries.