RESEARCHER EXPLAINS HOW ELECTROMAGNETIC FIELDS DAMAGE YOUR HEALTH
Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) have been shown to cause biological damage and even cancer, but exactly how does this happen? In this interview, Paul Héroux, Ph.D., a researcher and professor of toxicology and health effects of electromagnetism at the faculty of medicine at McGill University in Montreal, helps answer that question.
Nonthermal Effects Matter
It’s important to realize that the damage EMFs cause has nothing to do with thermal effects. At typical exposures, EMFs do not create heat, which has been the telecommunication industry’s main defense and argument for the safety of cellphone radiation. However, hundreds of researchers have in fact noted biological effects both at low and high frequencies.
You’re in Potentially Hazardous Fields Most of the Day, Every Day
In the research Héroux and his student did on cancer cells, using a field of 60Hz, effects began around 20 nanotesla (nT), which is 0.02 microtesla (mT) or 0.2 milligauss (mG),1 and were fully developed around 50 nT. At levels over 160 nT, magnetic fields have also been shown to affect sperm production — and male fertility declined by about 50 percent between 1973 and 2013. Recent research2 also reveals prenatal exposure to power-frequency fields can nearly triple a pregnant woman’s risk of miscarriage.
These are environmental fields that most people spend a majority of their time in. Based on my own measurements, a vast majority of people never actually leave these fields; they remain in them continuously. Simply living in a home wired for electricity makes it difficult to avoid these fields — unless you take remedial action, such as turning off your circuit breaker at night.
Mechanism of Action — How EMFs Cause Harm
The mechanism of action proposed by Héroux involves the enzyme ATP synthase, which passes currents of protons through a water channel (similar to current passing through a wire). The protons have to go through about 20 molecules of water to get through this channel. ATP synthase is extremely ancient and common to all living systems. It basically generates energy in the form ATP from ADP, using this flow of protons.
Magnetic fields can change the transparency of the water channel to protons, thereby reducing the current. As a result, you get less ATP, which can have systemwide consequences, from promoting chronic disease and infertility to lowering intelligence.