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EMF Studies

01 February 2014

Interview with Swedish EMF Expert Professor Olle Johansson

Prof. Olle Johansson:  "I am worried [about the effects of mobile phone radiation on health] and I question myself why there is no responsibility for testing this kind of things before the introduction of it in society? These gadgets, wireless internet and so on are no life necessities. Not like food and shelter which are life necessities. You can live without a mobile phone and wireless internet and therefore it is not too bad to wait with the introduction of them until we know for sure it is safe. This must change!

The safety of using hands-free equipment? "Industry believes the hands-free mode must be much better and less harmful. But they don’t seem to realize that it is as harmful but causing problems at another site than the head. By using it hands-free you decrease the amount of radiation on your head 100-fold, but while holding it in your hand away from your head, it is mostly closer to your abdomen, where your ovaries, testicles, intestines and organs are, where the radiation is increased a 100-fold."...

"Some argue that the radiation of a microwave oven is much stronger and that the radiation of a mobile phone is not heating up our flesh like a microwave oven would. But it is important to realize that these two systems are very different. The microwave oven is a CLOSED system, the radiation won’t get out, while the mobile phone is an OPEN system, constantly next to your body with radiation strong enough to travel many kilometers."

EMF #2 (English version): Interview with the Swedish EMF-expert Professor Olle Johansson
by Kelly Mostard, MSc, lexnaturalis.nl

I was very honored to be able to interview Professor Olle Johansson of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. He and his research group investigate health effects of modern, man-made electromagnetic fields such as mobile phone and wireless internet radiation as well as the functional impairment electrohypersensitivity. Professor Johansson introduced the term “screen dermatitis” to explain the cutaneous damages that developed in the 70’s when office workers, mostly women, began to be placed in front of computer monitors. Screen dermatitis is a reaction at the cellular level of persons with electorhypersensitivity to electromagnetic radiation similar as cellular reactions when exposed to sun rays, x-rays, radioactivity or chemical odours.

Apart from EMF, Prof. Johansson also worked in great depth in areas such as skin diseases, cancer, child delivery, female urine incontinence, oral mucosa diseases, brain and spinal cord morphology, synaptology and chemical transmission, peripheral nervous system-related issues, cardiac function, skeletal muscle function and disease, and connective tissue ripening phenomena.

Prof. Johansson is one of the scientists that highly appreciates the wifi experiment with water cress of the Danish schoolgirls and says it is highly worthwhile to replicate in a scientific setting. LexNaturalis wants to know what he thinks of the experiment and about EMF in general. Is it dangerous or not? Should we protect ourselves or are we overreacting? Although it is hard to find an trustworthy answer on these questions, an answer that is based on objectivity (not personal/professional motivations) we think the scientific opinion of Prof. Johansson is quite close to such a trustworthy answer.

Read the interview with Professor Johansson below:

Pleased to meet you Professor Johansson, thanks for your precious time of which you normally spent a lot in researching the health effects of EMF. The experiment of the Danish girls with the water cress exposed to wifi radiation showed some very interesting results. What do you think about the experiment?

The girls did it very nicely but the experiment is not done in a scientific setting and therefore it does not count as additional scientific proof. However, it is still very interesting as an educational model and inspiration for research. That is also the reason why I would like to replicate this experiment in a 100% controlled double-blind randomized experimental setting. But, so far, we were not able to get funding for this experiment unfortunately.

Could you tell us more about your current research on EMF to start with?

We want to do a lot of research on electromagnetic fields in relation to the public health but again unfortunately there is not a lot of funding available in Sweden for research on EMF. It is not very popular to invest in this kind of research.

Why is it not popular?

That is hard to say although I have some suspicions. The telecom industry is one of the biggest in the world which means that there are many political and industrial interests involved that are considered very important.

Why do you think it is important to do research on EMF?

When we speak about the radiation of mobile phones and wifi (microwaves) we are talking about very high radiation levels compared to the background radiation we were exposed to for millions of years during our evolutionary development. I often ask the question: “how many times higher do you think the radiation background levels are today compared to 30, 40, 50 years ago?” Once there was a very brave man who answered: “100 times higher.” In fact it is one million billion times higher! And that is only the background radiation, when using gadgets such as phones or tablets, you have to add a few more zero’s behind that number. While, during our development, we were never exposed to such enormous background radiation, it is very unlikely that such a huge change in the environment has no biological effects at all. And from the thousands of studies that are available in the literature, you can see the biological effects. Therefore it is very important to investigate the safety of this type of radiation.

Do you think EMF has negative health effects on humans?

If you look at the 2008’ mobile phone study with tomatoes we see some serious molecular effects of EMF. The tomatoes were exposed to 900 megahertz microwaves and at a molecular kind of view they looked like they were crashed with a hammer. This shows, next to thousands of other publications, that EMF can damage cells and alter molecular pathways! Thousands of peer-reviewed studies show that if you are a piece of tissue, a mouse or a cell you should definitely not buy or use gadgets such as a mobile phone, a tablet, wireless internet etc. This makes me as a scientist very suspicious of the risk for humans. And these suspicions grow stronger every day when there pops up another study showing correlations between EMF and health problems in humans such as decreased short-term memory, infertility, cancer, immune system changes, brain problems etc.

The scariest thing here is that children are using such wireless gadgets 24/7. They use it at school, they use it for their homework, for playing videogames or watching tv and they are constantly exposed to these very extreme high levels of radiation.

So you are seriously worried about mobile phone radiation and our future health?

Yes, I am worried. I really hope that we as scientists can prove that the mobile phone radiation is safe and that we can use it without compromising our health, but the articles unfortunately show different. And every day a new study is added to the list that feeds this suspicion. Still I hope we are wrong although the chances are very small that we are. The question is: what exactly are the effects on our health in the future? Cancer is a long-term effect and needs long-term studies. Important observations are 1) that microwaves lead to DNA damage and 2) that male sperm quality (as well as infertility rates) are worse than ever before in history (mobile phones are carried in pockets close to the reproduction organs).

So, yes I am worried and I question myself why there is no responsibility for testing this kind of things before the introduction of it in society? These gadgets, wireless internet and so on are no life necessities. Not like food and shelter which are life necessities. You can live without a mobile phone and wireless internet and therefore it is not too bad to wait with the introduction of them until we know for sure it is safe. This must change! Like medicines, these kind of things should be pre-tested, before consumption, not afterwards.

Apart from pre-testing, the responsibility of its safety should be shifted to the producer of such equipment. In 2004 I was in London at a big conference about EMF and the most remarkable thing was that the question was not íf mobile phones and such are safe but who would be held responsible if they turned out not to be safe. The operator companies make very sure that they will never be held responsible of any possible health effects and that they have to pay for the damage. The tobacco industry is the last industry which made this mistake and who had to pay for the damage (lung cancer) of their products.

The industry won’t pay a dime if it turns out to be harmful and expensive (healthcare costs) in the end. The society has to pay for it eventually, with their health but also financially. That means that taxpayers like you and me are paying for the costs that mobile phone radiation will bring along. Everybody pays, except the industry:

Industry takes the profit, Society pays the cost.

So you suspect that the operators already know that their product is harmful but that they only care about profits and not getting sued?

The operators already know that it is dangerous. They do read the scientific papers too and they know about the risks. I have the feeling that the industry has realized this for quite some time already and that they have scientific evidence themselves that they hide. In 1990 a couple of American scientists proved that mobile phone signals damage DNA molecules. The industry wanted to shed off this evidence by replicating the study. They spent a huge amount of money on hiring European scientists to do the experiment again. However, the European research proved that the Americans were right. Then the industry tried to stop the study from being published, but it was unsuccessful in its attempt.

Have you ever been asked by the industry to work for them too?

No, they never asked me to do research on mobile phone signals for them. But I had a lot of discussions with representatives of the mobile phone industry about the radiation and hands-free equipments. They believe the hands-free mode must be much better and less harmful. But they don’t seem to realize that it is as harmful but causing problems at another site than the head. By using it hands-free you decrease the amount of radiation on your head 100-fold, but while holding it in your hand away from your head, it is mostly closer to your abdomen, where your ovaries, testicles, intestines and organs are, where the radiation is increased a 100-fold. I asked them: How far from your body should the phone be to be safe? The answer to that question is 5 to 10 km. There is no hands-free set on the market that keeps the source of radiation this far away from the body. People have to remember this.

Then there is the comparison with a microwave oven, which uses the same kind of non-ionizing radiation as a mobile phone: Some argue that the radiation of the oven is much stronger and that the radiation of a mobile phone is not heating up our flesh like a microwave oven would. But it is important to realize that these two systems are very different. The microwave oven is a CLOSED system, the radiation won’t get out, while the mobile phone is an OPEN system, constantly next to your body with radiation strong enough to travel many kilometers.

But speaking about open radiation systems: What about the sun? Isn’t that as dangerous or safe as mobile phone radiation? Why is mobile phone radiation different from such a strong radiation as the radiation from our sun?

All living creatures that live today have dealt with that or died if they were unable to deal with sun rays. Humans evolved a way to protect themselves against this kind of radiation by pigmentation in their skin. This is not the case for microwaves or radiofrequent waves. This kind of radiation is only around since 1955 and we are not adapted to it in a biological fashion. Our skin cells are not developed to protect us from microwaves and it is already suspected that FM radiofrequent signals may cause melanoma’s.

Still there are two sides of every coin. Hopefully microwaves are completely safe and we can tear this interview apart but I extremely doubt it. I would be highly surprised if it was and so far thousands of studies show the harmful side of the coin.

Do you use a mobile phone yourself?

No, I do not. Although it is not for the reasons pointed out before. In the 1980ies mobile phones were only used by rich and very important people in Sweden. I was not very important nor rich, so there was no need for me to have a mobile phone. I don’t buy things I don’t need. Apart from that, I like to be able to read, write and relax without getting disturbed by such gadgets.

If you had children would you recommend them not to use mobile phones, wireless internet etc.?
Yes, if I had children I would definitely recommend them not to use them. I would also tell them not to trust any expert but to go to all the different sources of information, download and read them for themselves and make their own decisions. I would recommend that to everybody. To inform yourself and make your own decisions for yourself, your partner and children.

For instance, when looking at the advice of the Radiation Protection Board, it says that mobile phone radiation is 100% safe, BUT at the same time they recommend measures to lower your exposure to radiation. A smart person would place some question-marks there. Why do they recommend lowering the exposure to something they claim to be 100% safe?

Another reason why you don’t need a mobile phone is that many very successful persons in history didn’t had a mobile phone either, for example William Shakespeare. And Einstein did not even have a pocket calculator! Not having a mobile phone is not the end of your life. Maybe it is the beginning of a different life. Read a book, make a painting or go for a walk instead of spending your time with games and social media.

http://www.lexnaturalis.nl/?p=688

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