Health Implications of Electromagnetic Fields, Mechanisms of Action, and Research Needs



Advances in Biology
Volume 2014, Article ID 198609, 24 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/198609

Review Article

Health Implications of Electromagnetic Fields, Mechanisms of Action, and Research Needs
Sarika Singh and Neeru Kapoor

Occupational Health Division, Defence Institute of Physiology & Allied Sciences, DRDO, Lucknow Road, Timarpur, Delhi 110054, India

Received 21 May 2014; Revised 26 August 2014; Accepted 1 September 2014; Published 23 September 2014

Academic Editor: Byung-Cheon Lee

Copyright © 2014 Sarika Singh and Neeru Kapoor. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Electromagnetic fields (EMF) have been implicated to influence a range of bodily functions. Given their ubiquitous nature, widespread applications, and capability to produce deleterious effects, conclusive investigations of the health risks are critical. Accordingly, this paper has been constructed to weigh the bioeffects, possible biointeraction mechanisms, and research areas in bioelectromagnetics seeking immediate attention. The several gaps in the existing knowledge do not permit one to reach a concrete conclusion but possibility for harmful effects cannot be underestimated in absence of consistent findings and causal mechanisms. Several studies with appropriate methodologies reflect the capacity of electromagnetic radiations to cause adverse health effects and there are several credible mechanisms that can account for the observed effects. Hence, need of the hour is to activate comprehensive well-coordinated blind scientific investigations, overcoming all limitations and demerits of previous investigations especially replication studies to concretize the earlier findings. Furthermore, appropriate exposure assessment is crucial for identification of dose-response relation if any, and the elucidation of biological interaction mechanism. For the time being, the public should follow the precautionary principle and limit their exposure as much as possible.

Excerpt:

The terrestrial electromagnetic environment has been and is being rapidly altered by humans as a result of technological advancements. This was well recognized very early in the seventies by Dr. Robert O. Becker (twice nominated for Nobel Prize) who said “I have no doubt in my mind that, at the present time, the greatest polluting element in the earth’s environment is the proliferation of electromagnetic fields (EMFs).”

Conclusion

Given the ubiquitous nature of EMFs, their widespread applications, and their capability to produce deleterious effects, conclusive investigations of the health risks are critical. With the published literature on EMF, it is still not sufficient enough to reach a concrete conclusion. But the possibility of negative consequences cannot be excluded. Several studies with appropriate methodologies reflect the capacity of EMFs to cause adverse health effects. However, the absence of any established biointeraction mechanism does not diminish the reliability of these studies as there are several credible mechanisms like OS that can account for the observed effects.

Therefore, need of the hour is to restrict the swelling numbers of scientific investigations and in place activate comprehensive well-coordinated blind scientific investigations especially long-term studies overcoming all limitations and demerits of previous findings with suitable replication studies and follow-up. There is a need for standardized research methodology along with the inclusion of appropriate exposure assessment technique which is crucial for identification of dose response relation if any and the elucidation of mechanism for biological interaction. If we do not work upon the demerits of previous findings, we may remain far from any concrete conclusion. At the same time, it is critical to analyse the EMF investigations giving more weight to the similarities and dissimilarities rather than giving more importance to the endpoints reached.

For the time being, since it is difficult to protect oneself from EMFs, the only practical way to check exposures is to distance oneself from the source. Together, the precautionary approach and ALARA (as low as reasonably achievable) principle can also be applied to save us from substantial exposures and the possible ill effects if any. The objective is to minimize EMF exposures to the greatest degree possible without significant economic cost and disturbance.

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