Laboratory experiments show that
electromagnetic fields from mobile phones destroy the blood brain barrier and
damage neurons even 50 days after a single exposure in rats Dr. Mae-Wan Ho
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Leif Salford at Lund University, Sweden, is head of an interdisciplinary team that has been studying the effects of EMFs on rat brain
since 1988, with a major interest in the blood-brain barrier (BBB). In mammals
including humans, the BBB protects the brain from potentially harmful compounds
circulating in the blood, so normally, very little passes from the blood to the
revealed that EMFs emitted by mobile phones at extremely low ‘non-thermal’
levels leads to increased permeability of the BBB both immediately after 2 hour
of exposure, and also at 7, 14 and 50 days afterwards. Furthermore, damaging
effects on neurons have been found even at 28 and 50 days after the single
exposure . The human BBB is very similar to that of rats.
Mobile phone EMFs up to 1018
times over natural background
The power density of the microwave
background in space is about 0.4 mW/m2. On earth, the natural MW
background is much lower, estimated to be in the order of 10-15 to
10-8 mW/m2. Artificial MWs were not produced until 1886, when
German physicist Heinrich Hertz first broadcast and received radio waves. Since
then, MWs have been the carriers of telegraphic data between stations on earth
and between earth and the satellites. In the 1950s, the high frequency radio
waves (RFs) were used in FM radio and television. Later, MWs were increasing
used by many in mobile phones, and a far greater population became exposed to MWs
through passive mobile phoning and MW-emitting base stations sited everywhere. As
a result, the artificially produced general MW background in our environment is
some 1011 to 1018 times the natural MW background from
Blood brain barrier prevents harmful
compounds getting to the brain
The BBB was discovered by German
bacteriologist Paul Ehrlich and his student Edwin Goldman. They found that when
dyes were injected into the blood, the brain tissue was not stained, and only
became stained when trypan blue was injected directly into the brain
ventricles. A barrier between blood and brain at the site of the brain micro
blood vessels appeared to be a logical explanation.
In fact, a BBB exists not only
in mammals, but in all vertebrates and many invertebrates including insects,
crustaceans, cephalopod molluscs such as the cuttlefish, and in land snails.
The BBB is formed by the
endothelial cells lining the inside of the capillaries (fine blood vessels of
the brain), which are sealed together with tight junctions composed of the
proteins occluding, claudin, and zonula occludens (see Fig. 1). No gaps are
left between the endothelial cells.
Outside the blood vessel, 25
percent of the surface is covered with pericytes, a kind of blood cells
capable of phagocytosis (engulfing bacteria and viruses), and contribute
significantly to the immune response of the central nervous system, as well as to
maintaining the stability of the blood vessels. Surrounding the endothelial
cells and the pericytes is a bilayer basal membrane that supports the outside
surface of the endothelium and may also act as a barrier to macromolecules. The outer surface of the basal membrane is surrounded by brain cells
called protoplasmic astrocytes, which are thought to be involved in regulation
and repair of the BBB. Their protrusions, called end feet, cover the basal
membrane and form a second barrier to hydrophilic molecules, but also connect
the endothelium to the neurons. The BBB is not just a physical barrier, but
also an enzymatic barrier with the special capability of metabolizing solutes
such as drugs and nutrients.
Figure 1 Anatomy of the blood brain barrier
In humans, the protoplasmic astrocytes are 27 times the volume of
those in rats, and far more elaborate. They reside near blood vessels, and
their end feet completely encompass the vessels while those of rat form
rosettes around the vessels.
The BBB allows water, most lipid-soluble molecules, oxygen and
carbon dioxide to diffuse from blood to nerve cells; it is also slightly
permeable to ions such as Na+, K+, Cl-.
However, proteins and most-water-soluble compounds are excluded. During certain
pathological conditions such as tumour formation, infarct, infections, traumas,
epileptic seizures or severe hypertension, the selective permeability of the
BBB is compromised. The result can be cerebral oedema (water in the brain),
increased intracranial pressure and irreversible brain damage. Also, toxic
substances from the blood can now enter the neurons in the brain.
EMF exposure and BBB
carried out as early as the 1970s have demonstrated an increased leakage of
fluorescein dye into the brain after 30 minutes of pulsed and continuous waves
exposure at 1 200 MHz. However, these findings could not be replicated in all
laboratories and a debate broke out on whether the effect was due to microwave
heating of the tissues.
Salford’s group began work on the rat brain in 1988, and found increased permeability of
the BBB for albumin, which is a natural constituent of the blood, without the
need to inject any foreign substance.
started their experiments with the frequency modulation 16 Hz and its
harmonics, 4, 8, 16, and also 50 Hz, which was believed to be relevant, as it
is the standard line frequency of the European power system, with a carrier
wave of 915 MHz. Initially, 217 Hz modulation was added, as that was the
frequency of the then planned GSM (Global System for Mobile Communication). The
early work, published in the 1990s concluded that there was a significant
difference between the albumin leaked from the brain capillaries into the brain
tissue between the exposed and control groups.
window for effect on BBB
of the data, they found that for the experiment with 217 Hz modulation, and at
SAR values of 0.2 to 4 mW/kg, the 48 exposed rats had increased albumin leakage
significant at p<0.001 compared with the 48 controls. But at SAR (specific
absorption rate) values of 25-50 mW/kg, there was no significant difference
between the 22 exposed rats compared with the matched controls. Thus, there was
a remarkable amplitude window, such that a more pronounced effect was demonstrated
at non-thermal levels below10 mw/kg. The SAR value of around 1 mW/kg exists at
a distance of more than 1 m away from the mobile phone antenna, and at a
distance of about 150-200 m from a base station.
effect of a single exposure
In the early
experiments, the effects on BBB were investigated immediately after whole
animal exposure. Later, Salford’s team performed a series of experiments where
the animals were allowed to survive for 7 day, 14 days, 28 days or 50 days
after a single 2-hour exposure to the radiation from a GSM mobile phone (915
MHz, 217 Hz modulation). The peak power output from the GSM mobile phone fed
into the exposure chambers containing the animals were 1, 10, 100 and 1 000 mW,
resulting in average whole-body SAR of 0.12, 1.2, 12 and 120 mW/kg for the four
different exposure groups.
leakage was detected in rats that had survived for 7 and 14 days after
exposure, but not for those surviving for 28 days. After 50 days, however,
albumin leakage was significantly increased again.
albumin leaked into the brain also spread to the surrounding brain tissue, and
a significantly increased uptake of albumin in the cytoplasm of neurons could
be seen in the GSM exposed animals surviving 7 and 14 days after exposure, but
not in those surviving 28 or 50 days (see Fig. 2).
Figure 2 Albumin leakage and neurone damage after EMF exposure
has been suggested that albumin is the most likely neurotoxin in serum.
Injection of albumin into the brain of rats gave rise to neuronal damage and
neuronal death. It also caused leakage of the rat’s own albumin in and around
the area of neuronal damage. Salford thinks that the initial albumin leakage
into the brain tissue, though not sufficient to damage neurons, may have
started a vicious cycle of further leakages that led to damaged neurons at the
later times. Damaged neurons or dark neurons have irregular cell outlines,
increased chromatin density in the nucleus and cytoplasm and intensely and
homogenously stained nucleus.
a recent long-term study, rats were exposed to GSM radiation 2 hours weekly
during a period of 55 weeks at 0.5mW/kg and 60 mW/kg. After the protracted
exposure, the rats’ behaviour and memory were tested. The behaviour of the
animals was not affected, but the GSM exposed rats had significantly impaired
episodic memory compared to controls. However, no significant histological
differences could be found between exposed and control groups for albumin
leakage or neuronal damage. The researchers suggested that during the long
period of exposure, some adaptation process might have occurred to prevent
albumin leakage and neuronal damage, but that did not compensate for the
The distinctive approach of the
Salford group is the use of extremely low intensity and non-thermal levels of
exposure, whereas most other laboratories that failed to find significant
effects have used exposure levels 10 or 100 times higher (though still
non-thermal). This is reminiscent of the amplitude window seen in a whole range
of ion cyclotron resonance effects of combined static and alternating magnetic
fields that occur only at extremely weak fields (see  Quantum
Coherent Water, Non-thermal EMF effects, & Homeopathy, SiS
51) that can only be explained in terms of quantum electrodynamical coherence
Relevance to human mobile phone use
The SAR value of around 1 mW/kg exists at a
distance of more than 1 m away from the mobile phone antenna, and about 150-200
m from a base station. When the mobile phone is held next to the ear, the SAR
value of about 1 mW/kg exists in the most central part of the brain, and when a
hands-free set is used, and the phone is for example in the pocket, there will
still be microwaves reaching the brain, though the value of around 1 mWkg will
be in more superficial parts of the brain.
In many safety standard documents,
a SAR limit of 4W/kg is set for localized SAR of limbs, and 2W/kg for localized
SAR of head and trunk. The reasons for choosing this value is a series of
studies performed in the 1970s and 1980s, which tested the trained behaviour of
rats, squirrel monkeys and rhesis monkeys after MW exposure. It was found that
body temperature increases of 1 C or more above the baseline body temperature
resulted in changes of behaviour. Notably, a SAR of nearly 4 W/kg was needed to
produce this 1 C change of body temperature. These safety limits are clearly
inadequate for all the described non-thermal effects.
Salford is in no doubt that 
“non-thermal electromagnetic fields from mobile phones and base stations do
have effects upon the human brain.”
Salford LG, Nittby H,
Brun A, Eberhardt J Malmgren L and Persson BRR. Effects of microwave radiation
upon the mammalian blood-brain barrier. In Giuliani L and Soffritti M. eds. Non-thermal
Effects and Mechanisms of Interaction between electromagnetic Fields and Living
Matter, an ICEMS Monograph, Ramazzini Institute, European Journal of
Oncology Library vol.5, pp. 333-55, Bologna, Italy, 2010.
Pam Peterson Comment left 9th July 2011 11:11:30 I want to thank you very much for a great web site and great informantion you give to the people who care to know what is being aloud in this country.
My question is does the same go for using the speeker phone instead of using the hand held to your head?
Thank you, Pam
claude saint-jarre Comment left 9th July 2011 11:11:50 Perhaps you should give informations on how to protect one self from this pollution: what parents should say to teenagers.
Thank you ery much,
maewan Comment left 9th July 2011 11:11:04 Pam Peterson, thanks for your praise. Speaker phones as such are not the problem. But if they are attached to cordless phones, the same hazards apply because the base station of cordless phones sends out wireless signals constantly, see recent article: Wireless phones & Brain Cancer.
Claude SJ, you should read other articles in the series such as the one here for advice on how to make mobile phone usage more safe: http://www.i-sis.org.uk/EEA_Highlight_Mobile_Phone_Cancer_Risks.php
Sagar Comment left 13th July 2011 17:05:46 This is good research, and we are lucky to have you good people at isis doing this for the planet.
The next wave of wireless is of course broadband. I dont have it at home, but cant avoid it outside, as I am surrounded by laptops, ipad, etc, etc.
Is there any technology being developed to make wireless safer ofr not emit so much radiation?
What is Scalar technology. I have been told that scalar can reduce emf?
With this research now coming out, is it feasible to now produce a video on emf effects on birds, bees and humans?
Leon Comment left 5th May 2012 15:03:50 By the way, what about that so-called "research" many people quote like the WHO EMF Project? This testimony about Michael Repacholi is particularly interesting: http://web.archive.org/web/20080925182934/http://www.ortho.lsuhsc.edu/Faculty/Marino/Comments/RepacholiTestimony.html