Oram’s Response to EMF Skeptics
I am often asked by clients how I would respond to those who are skeptical that EMFs are real. More specifically, I am asked to respond to those who deny that the sensitivity of someone who claims to be electrically hyper-sensitive (EHS) is truly due to their exposure to EMFs and instead say it is only due to a psychological belief that their symptoms are real, known as the so-called “nocebo effect”.
One of the best reviews of this skeptical understanding is an article that appeared in Britain’s Guardian newspaper on February 17, 2016, entitled, “Household electromagnetic radiation doesn’t make you ill or give you cancer. Here’s why”. You can link to the article by clicking here. This is the most complete article from the perspective of a skeptic that I have ever read. It is well-researched and filled with references.
It is disconcerting that their argument is so persuasive because such articles in mainstream publications make it virtually impossible for those of us who work with electrically hyper-sensitive (EHS) people to convince skeptical family members and friends that what they, the sensitive ones, are experiencing is real and due to their exposure to EMFs. In my experience with thousands of such clients, their sensitivity is not due to the nocebo effect, as the Guardian article purports. They notice a definite relationship between their symptoms and the presence of EMF sources, particularly wireless devices. I see that day after day in my practice.
I say in response to such skeptics, come on jobs with me for a week and meet the people with whom I work. Over half of them are EHS to one degree or another, some quite severely. I don’t doubt the veracity of their sensitivities. In contrast to the tests the Guardian article refers to purportedly debunking the ability of EHS people to tell whether an EMF source is present or not, the people who I conduct EMF evaluations for can tell when an EMF source is present, including radio frequency (RF) EMFs from cell phones and other wireless devices. There is no question in my mind that they feel what they feel and more importantly, that their symptoms are caused by the wireless devices they are exposed to. Read some of their accounts on my Comments from Clients page.
Furthermore, the vast majority of people who I do EMF evaluations for report improvements when we reduce and eliminate not only radio frequency EMFs from wireless devices, but also EMFs from other sources, including electric and magnetic fields and so-called dirty electricity, as discussed in the articles accessed from my Articles on EMFs page.
In specific response to those who are skeptics, I admit I will not be able to change your mind. I will not even try. The arguments you put forth are persuasive, however, I say they do not represent the full story. Again, I work with people who most would agree are credible. You would, as well, if you were to meet them. You cannot convince me that their symptoms are only psychological and due to the nocebo effect.
Those of us who work with such individuals say to skeptics and to the general public, we all need to pay attention to their stories. One good source among many that relates the specific stories of those who are actually electrically sensitive due to exposure to EMFs is the website, We Are the Evidence. There are others. A valuable website written by EHS individuals at EIWellspring with specific advice on how those with EHS can survive in a world filled with EMFs can be found here.
As for medical research that supports the existence of harm from exposure to even low levels of EMFs, there is an abundance of credible research that supports this fact. There are credible assertions that organizations like the World Health Organization and regulatory agencies in most countries are captured by industry and do their bidding and hence, the conclusions that they come to are swayed toward industry and not to the health of the public. We saw that time and again with other industries in the past such as asbestos and tobacco.
I recommend that skeptics read Committee Resolution 1815, published in 2011 by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, that acknowledges the health effects from exposure to EMFs and makes specific recommendations to governments of all European Union countries to educate their citizens on how to reduce their exposure to EMFs and protect against its effects. Click here to read their report.
There is abundant further evidence supporting the fact that EMFs cause ill health. While I personally need to update the contents of my article, Cell Phone and Radio Frequency Risks, you will see a comprehensive list on that page of almost thirty Links to Compendia of Research Articles on the Health Effects of Exposure to Radio Frequencies, accessed by clicking here.
As an update to that list, I would suggest that skeptics watch the documentary, Generation Zapped, available here.
Readers should also watch the presentations by Martin Pall, PhD, David Carpenter, MD, co-editor of the Bioinitiative Report, and the late Martin Blank, PhD at the symposium entitled, “Drunk on Wireless: Public Health Consequences of Cell Phone and Wireless Technologies are Begging for Society’s Attention”. The symposium was held at the Left Forum in New York City on May 22, 2016 and was organized by Camilla Rees of Electromagnetic Health.org. In their talks, Dr. Blank presents information on his research on DNA fragmentation in users of cell phones. Dr. Pall presents his research on the adverse effects of cell phone use on the ability of voltage gated calcium channels to properly regulate cellular metabolism. That presentation was followed by the panel entitled, “Electromagnetic Pollution Solutions: Protecting Our Homes and Communities”. Speakers included Oram Miller.
Furthermore, a landmark opinion piece was published on October 17, 2019 in Scientific American entitled, We Have No Reason to Believe 5G Is Safe. It was written by Professor Joel Moskowitz, PhD, Director, Center for Family and Community Health at the School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley. In that article, Dr. Moskowitz sites more than 500 research studies that have “found harmful biologic or health effects from exposure to RFR at intensities too low to cause significant heating”. As a result of this research, over 240 scientists worldwide who themselves have published more than 2,000 peer-reviewed research studies on the adverse health effects of radio frequency EMFs have signed the International EMF Scientist Appeal, calling for tighter limits on radio frequency radiation (RFR) exposure for the general public. That petition is found at EMFscientist.org.
The appeal states, “Numerous recent scientific publications have shown that EMF affects living organisms at levels well below most international and national guidelines. Effects include increased cancer risk, cellular stress, increase in harmful free radicals, genetic damages, structural and functional changes of the reproductive system, learning and memory deficits, neurological disorders, and negative impacts on general well-being in humans. Damage goes well beyond the human race, as there is growing evidence of harmful effects to both plant and animal life.”
Dr. Moskowitz discusses the damaging effects of long term, low-level exposure to modulation from signalling (polarization and pulsing) in cell frequencies and how this is particularly harmful to biological systems in human cells. He calls for new, more stringent limits on human RFR exposure, particularly from cell phones held at close proximity to the head and body, even when on standby. Recent research conducted by the US National Toxicology Program (NTP) found clear evidence of cancer and DNA damage in laboratory animals. This was further corroborated by the Ramizzzini Institute in Italy using even weaker RFR exposure levels.
Dr. Moskowitz concludes this part of his article by saying, “Nonetheless, without conducting a formal risk assessment or a systematic review of the research on RFR health effects, the FDA recently reaffirmed the FCC’s 1996 exposure limits in a letter to the FCC, stating that the agency had ‘concluded that no changes to the current standards are warranted at this time,’ and that ‘NTP’s experimental findings should not be applied to human cell phone usage.’ The letter stated that ‘the available scientific evidence to date does not support adverse health effects in humans due to exposures at or under the current limits.'”
Interestingly, Louis Slesin’s Micro Wave News reported on January 17, 2020 that “NTP Scientists Endorse Precaution — First Federal Officials To Take a Stand on Cell Phone Safety”. In the article, Louis writes, “In an email to Microwave News, (John) Bucher (the former associate head of the National Toxicology Program and the leader of the NTP cell phone project) confirmed that he is following the precautionary steps offered on the NTP website. In a separate exchange, Michael Wyde, who managed the study and continues to run the follow-up work, wrote that he too is taking these precautions.” This followed initial proclamations from these study leaders that they were not personally following any cell phone use precautions. Link to Louis Slesin’s article here.
In my humble opinion, the FDA and FCC are clearly cow-towing to corporate interests in the face of strong evidence to the contrary. Many in the EMF community feel, with good reason, that the FCC is a “captured agency”. Reports exist that in the mid-1980s, the cell industry wanted to deploy cellular technology, developed by the military in earlier decades, for civilian use. They reportedly pressured the US federal government to move any oversight of health effects from cellular technology out of the NIH and EPA, agencies that have medical researchers, and place that function in the hands of the Federal Communications Commission, or FCC. The sole function of the FCC is to allocate frequencies to broadcasters. They have no medical researchers on staff who can oversee health effects from human exposure to radio frequency radiation (RFR). That move of health oversight was done on purpose. This is according to Dafna Tachover, EMF researcher and attorney licensed in New York and Israel who lectures on the adverse health effects of 5G. Her website is Wearetheevidence.org, mentioned above.
A healthy debate on this topic is welcome. Often, those of us who know that EHS is real and is due to exposure to EMFs, we realize that we often do not have success convincing skeptics that this is real. I certainly do my best, when asked by clients who are experiencing symptoms they feel are related to EMFs, to help their spouse and family understand that what they are experiencing is real and that he or she needs the assistance of others in the house to reduce the presence of fields to help thm feel better in their own home. That can be done, although it is a challenge.
For the most part, I am successful in getting others in the family to help create an environment that is more comfortable for the sensitive person but still allows others to communicate wirelessly. That works in most families, while for others, a total ban on wireless is necessary. That is the most challenging situation, but it is not the most common occurrence.
We have many workarounds to provide hardwired connections for the person who is sensitive while allowing others to connect. I discuss all this in my Safer Use of Computers article. We also try to reduce exposure to other EMFs for all occupants in the home to the degree they are willing to implement the recommendations that we provide. In many cases, many in the family feel some degree of improvement, not just the person who is symptomatic. That is a good outcome.
What I will not do is acquiesce to the request by some EHS people for me to convince their spouse or older children to reduce their use of wireless devices. I say to my client, if those are the first words I say to others in the family, they won’t listen to anything I say beyond that point. Instead, I try to be non-judgmental, to not take sides, and to acknowledge that what my client and I are claiming is not accepted by the mainstream. I try to find common ground to keep everyone happy, starting with having others in the family understand that what their ailing spouse or parent is experiencing is real and that they need others to cooperate in order for them to be more comfortable. I tell them that workarounds do exist to keep EMF/RF levels low around the EHS person, while allowing others to connect. We have strategies to accomplish that.
Then, if the symptomatic person starts to feel better and their asymptomatic family members find that their lifestyle is not too significantly impacted by the changes they make, some of them may start to think about the impacts of EMFs on their health and choose to take precautions of their own. Many asymptomatic family members report that they actually feel better themselves when we reduce the overall EMF levels in the home, even when they did not think they had any EMF issues to begin with.
My goal is be respectful of all points of view and to find common ground. We ask skeptics to work with us and acknowledge that these symptoms are real and that there are many who feel them in the presence of EMF sources in spite of evidence to the contrary. We in the EMF community must also recognize that the cell industry has a big financial stake in providing technologies that the public wants, including many EHS people. Most of us don’t expect wireless devices to be shunned by the public. The genie is out of the bottle. Too many people rely on the portability and convenience that these devices provide.
We in the EMF safety community also need to recognize the fact that many people who use wireless devices will never experience health symptoms nor develop any long-term disease. Researchers, such as the late Dr. Martin Blank of Columbia University in New York, say that 100% of brain cells experience DNA damage, such as fragmentation, transcription errors, heat shock proteins and other signs of damage when a cell phone is held close to the head, even for a call that lasts only two minutes. Yet, these researchers estimate that two-thirds of the population can repair cellular damage at night when they sleep, thereby never manifesting frank symptoms or disease. These people appear to go on using cell phones without developing any health effects whatsoever.
I am not advocating that that is the best approach for them. I am saying, for those who will not reduce their cell phone use and follow our advice, the majority will probably not go on to develop ill health. That is hard for many EHS people to accept, but I say, if you back off on your pressure on family members, you will have more success, in my experience, in the long run.
The reason we are in this situation today is because almost all people want the portability and convenience of wireless devices, we cannot see, hear or smell EMFs (unlike cigarette smoke that you can see and smell), and we have an industry that spends a large amount of money insuring that we never hear or see any credible evidence that there are health effects from the use of their products. This is because these companies have captured governmental regulatory agencies and mainstream media through heavy advertising. The deck is stacked against those of us who know there is harm.
What we do say is, for those with EHS symptoms, we have ways to help you connect to the outside world in a hardwired way, and we also recommend that you reduce other forms of EMFs in your home or office besides wireless devices, such as magnetic fields, electric fields and dirty electricity. This helps to reduce your sensitivity to RF.
For those who are not electrically sensitive but are health-conscious and want to reduce their risk, we recommend that you follow these three steps as much as possible when it comes to the use of wireless devices:
- Reduce use
- Increase distance
- Favor hardwired connections whenever and wherever possible
I review how to do that in my article, Safer Use of Computers. That includes how you can also use hardwired connections for iPhones and iPads for most applications (but not with most Android devices yet).
For those who are health conscious and not symptomatic from EMFs, whether you end up getting symptoms or not is a matter of assessing your level of risk. That is dependent upon the degree of current exposure, your past exposure to EMFs, and other related factors such as any predisposition to EMF-related health effects caused by genetic and diet/life style factors.