Health and environmental risks

Wireless technologies, products and infrastructure that emit microwaves, radiofrequency radiation or electromagnetic radiation, such as mobile phone, mobile phone masts, routers for WiFi, smart meters and powerlines, can pose serious risks to people and the environment.

These risks have long been identified and described in scientific research papers and have been increasingly documented over the last decades.

Microwaves and electromagnetic radiation increase the risk of cancer and various neurological and chronic diseases after long term exposure. In the short term, there is a risk of a range of symptoms, called the microwave syndrome, radiofrequency illness, EHS or electromagnetic sensitivity (EMS), that have also become more common in society in parallel with the increasing exposure to this form of radiation. Common symptoms typical for microwave exposure include headache, sleeping problems, tinnitus, dizziness, fatigue, heart arrhythmias, chest pressure, skin issues, memory and concentration problems, behavior changes, anxiety  and depression.

Negative effects abundantly documented in scientific papers include oxidative stress, DNA damage,  sperm damage and harmful effects on fetuses, on the brain and various other organs.

For the environment, the increase in this kind of radiation is also a serious threat. Research has shown that exposure affect vital functions such as orientation and migration, food finding, reproduction, mating, nest and den building, territorial maintenance and defense, and longevity and survivorship. The radiation also has harmful effects on plants.

Exposure to low frequency magnetic fields from powerlines have been documented to increase the risks of childhood leukaemia, adult cancers, dementia or Alzheimers and miscarriage. Scientific studies have also linked ALS to exposure to electric fields.

Conclusions from the scientists within the BioInitiative Report 2012 (link)

The BioInitiative Report in 2012 noted that the 1800 or so studies reviewed by the report showed, for instance:


  • abnormal gene transcription
  • genotoxicity and single-and double-strand DNA damage,
  • chromatin condensation and loss of DNA repair capacity in human stem cells
  • reduction in free-radical scavengers – particularly melatonin
  • neurotoxicity in humans and animals
  • carcinogenicity in humans
  • serious impacts on human and animal sperm morphology and function
  • effects on offspring behavior
  • effects on brain and cranial bone development in the offspring of animals that are exposed to cell phone radiation during pregnancy

They concluded:

“Bioeffects are clearly established and occur at very low levels of exposure to electromagnetic fields and radiofrequency radiation. Bioeffects can occur in the first few minutes at levels associated with cell and cordless phone use. Bioeffects can also occur from just minutes of exposure to mobile phone masts (cell towers), WI-FI, and wireless utility ‘smart’ meters that produce whole-body exposure. Chronic base station level exposures can result in illness.

Many of these bioeffects can reasonably be presumed to result in adverse health effects if the exposures are prolonged or chronic. This is because they interfere with normal body processes (disrupt homeostasis), prevent the body from healing damaged DNA, produce immune system imbalances, metabolic disruption and lower resilience to disease across multiple pathways. Essential body processes can eventually be disabled by incessant external stresses (from system-wide electrophysiological interference) and lead to pervasive impairment of metabolic and reproductive functions.

At least five new cell tower studies are reporting bioeffects in the range of 0.003 to 0.05 μW/cm2 at lower levels than reported in 2007 (0.05 to 0.1 uW/cm2 was the range below which, in 2007, effects were not observed). Researchers report headaches, concentration difficulties and behavioral problems in children and adolescents; and sleep disturbances, headaches and concentration problems in adults. Public safety standards are 1,000 – 10,000 or more times higher than levels now commonly reported in mobile phone base station studies to cause bioeffects”

“There is good evidence to suggest that many toxic exposures to the fetus and very young child have especially detrimental consequences depending on when they occur during critical phases of growth and development (time windows of critical development), where such exposures may lay the seeds of health harm that develops even decades later. Existing FCC and ICNIRP public safety limits seem to be not sufficiently protective of public health, in particular for the young (embryo, fetus, neonate, very young child).”

Due to the increasing available evidence of harmful effects, scientists have for many years called for better protection against the risks. The BioInitiative Report, The EMF Scientists Appeal, The 5G Appeal and the EMF Call are examples of scientists calling for the public to be informed about the health risks and for better protection through stricter limits regulating this form of radiation.

EMF Scientist Appeal signed by 260 scientists (link):

“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.”

They call for:

  1. children and pregnant women be protected;
  2. guidelines and regulatory standards be strengthened;
  3. manufacturers be encouraged to develop safer technology;
  4. utilities responsible for the generation, transmission, distribution, and monitoring of electricity maintain adequate power quality and ensure proper electrical wiring to minimize harmful ground current;
  5. the public be fully informed about the potential health risks from electromagnetic energy and taught harm reduction strategies;
  6. medical professionals be educated about the biological effects of electromagnetic energy and be provided training on treatment of patients with electromagnetic sensitivity;
  7. governments fund training and research on electromagnetic fields and health that is independent of industry and mandate industry cooperation with researchers;
  8. media disclose experts’ financial relationships with industry when citing their opinions regarding health and safety aspects of EMF-emitting technologies; and
  9. safe zones (radiation-free areas) be established.

Some Resarch Review Papers:

Scientific evidence invalidates health assumptions underlying the FCC and ICNIRP exposure limit determinations for radiofrequency radiation: implications for 5G. Link

Effects of non-ionizing electromagnetic fields on flora and fauna, part 1. Rising ambient EMF levels in the environment. Link

Risks to Health and Well-Being From Radio-Frequency Radiation Emitted by Cell Phones and Other Wireless Devices. Link

Cellular Phone Use and Risk of Tumors: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Link

Evidence for a health risk by RF on humans living around mobile phone base stations: From radiofrequency sickness to cancer. Link

Long-term exposure to microwave radiation provokes cancer growth: evidences from radars and mobile communication systems Link

Human health effects of EMFs: The cost of doing nothing Link

International websites for more information :

Physicians for safe technology. Link

Electromagnetic Radiation Safety. Link

Environmental Health Trust. Link

Oceania Radiofrequency Scientific Advisory Association Link

The BioInitiative Report. Link