In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

Dr Andrew Goldsworthy Explains the Effect of RF EM ( Mobile Phone) Radiation on Living Cells

Posted by seumasach on September 10, 2009

Here Dr Goldsworthy responds to a point raised by Martin Weatheral of the Weep Initiative concerning this passage from the article linked below.

“The effect, in a nutshell, is when a surface absorbs light and it releases electrons.

Early work by Bequerel, Hertz, and Thomson led to the understanding that the amount of electrons emitted after exposure to electromagnetic radiation was proportional to the intensity of the radiation.”

What the article is saying that electromagnetic radiation comes in small packets called photons or quanta, the energy of which is proportional to its frequency. It is relevant to us because a molecule can only absorb one photon at a time and the effect it can have on that molecule is limited by the energy of that photon.

This notion was pounced upon by the cell phone industry and others, who asserted that because the energy of photons of non-ionizing radiation had insufficient energy to break chemical bonds, it must be without biological effects.

This is of course not true. It can still cause structural changes in molecules. For example the photons of non-ionizing light cause structural changes in chlorophyll, the energy of which are used for photosynthesis. Similarly, structural changes in the visual pigments of the eye allow us to detect light and see.

The still lower photon energies of radio waves can still move free electrons and ions, which is why they generate electric currents in the antennas of radio equipment and in living tissues. It is these currents, and the voltages they generate across cell membranes, that appear to do much of the damage to living cells and tissues.

At least some of this damage is caused by the release of calcium ions from cell membranes (or more strictly, their replacement by monovalent ions), which damages them and makes them more inclined to leak. Very little energy is necessary for this since the ions concerned have only to be moved by molecular dimensions and the effect is just to change the natural chemical equilibrium that already exists between calcium and monovalent ions bound to the membrane.  This is a continuous process and there is no threshold value below which there is no effect.

However, the resulting damage is out of all proportion to the energy of the radiation. Enzymes released from damaged lysosomes can digest the rest of the cell, and free radicals released from damaged mitochondria can destroy other molecules, including DNA. Non-ionizing radiation should therefore be treated with as much caution as ionizing radiation.

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