A Report on Non-Ionizing Radiation

Henry Lai: Microwave News Article Archive (2004 - )

April 27, 2017

Narendra P. Singh, known to friends and colleagues simply as NP, died last December at the age of 69. When his family wrote to me with the news, Singh’s wife asked me not to publish a tribute or an obituary at that time. I honored her request, but now, after a decent interval, I break my silence, in part to make good on a promise and to settle some unfinished business.

Singh was a proud and honest man; he was also gentle and unassuming. “He cannot tell a lie, even a white lie,” Henry Lai, his long-time collaborator at the University of Washington in Seattle, told me years ago. Perhaps most of all, Singh was a meticulous experimentalist who believed in the power of science.

September 6, 2016

In May, the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) announced that male rats exposed to cell phone radiation developed higher rates of cancer. Soon, the NTP will explain how that might have happened.

The same RF/microwave radiation that led male rats to develop brain tumors also caused DNA breaks in their brains. Female rats —which did not have significant elevated tumor counts— had fewer DNA breaks.

All these findings are part of the same $25 million NTP project.

The NTP results provide “strong evidence for the genotoxicity of cell phone radiation,” Ron Melnick told Microwave News.

April 24, 2014

Arthur W. Guy, known to all as Bill, died on April 20th at the age of 85. Guy will be best remembered as the leading proponent of the use of specific absorption rates (SARs) as a way of measuring the radiation dose associated with RF/MW exposure.

Guy received a doctorate in electrical engineering in 1966 from the University of Washington, Seattle, and then joined the UW faculty where he remained until his retirement in 1991. He stayed active as a consultant over the next 15 years. He served as a prominent...

March 12, 2013

Lucas Portelli just ran over the Cheshire cat. He didn't know it was there. He's too young to appreciate how this fictional feline has held sway in the EMF-health controversy.

A little background for newcomers: the Cheshire cat is a metaphor for the lack of reproduciblity of EMF effects observed in some laboratories —but not others. It’s a favorite of those who see the study of EMFs as pathological science. The effects come and go, like the Cheshire Cat. Sometimes you see them, sometimes you don’t. EMF effects are not thought as being robust. Or more plainly, they are not to be believed.

But what if there was an unregognized confounding factor that was playing havoc with the EMF experiments? Portelli may well have found such a confounder.

February 22, 2011

A well-regarded and influential team of researchers from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Brookhaven National Lab (BNL) is on the brink of resolving a long-standing dispute with enormous implications for public health. In a paper due out tomorrow, Nora Volkow and coworkers are reporting that cell phone radiation can affect the normal functioning of the human brain.

Whether these short-term changes will lead to health consequences (and what they might be) is far from clear — though Volkow already has preliminary indications of a long-term effect. Nor is the mechanism of interaction yet known. But the new finding, if confirmed, would at the very least force a rethink of the prevailing orthodoxy, which maintains that low levels of RF and microwave radiation are too weak to have any effect and can be disregarded.

May 3, 2010

Fifteen years ago Om Gandhi pointed out that children are exposed to higher levels of radiation from cell phones than adults. He was right then and he is right today. Yet, no one could blame you for thinking otherwise.

In an article published in the May issue of Harper's, Nathaniel Rich uses this putative controversy, among a number of other examples, to make the case that confusion reigns in all aspects of cell-phone research. "The brain of a child absorbs a much greater amount of radiation from a cell phone than does the brain of an adult," he writes, adding immediately after, "No, it does not."

August 16, 2009

It's the strongest warning yet. John Aitken, a well-known fertility researcher, is advising men who want to have children not to keep active mobile phones below their waists. This issue, he says, "deserves our immediate attention."

March 3, 2009

Getting a handle on EMF and RF effects is a frustrating business. A new paper in the March 9 issue of Mutation Research from Finland's University of Kuopio tells the story. The Kuopio research group found that mobile phone radiation, at 5W/Kg, can amplify the DNA damage caused by a chemical mutagen. This is far from the first time an RF-induced genotoxic effect has been reported (see our September 3, 2008 post).

December 15, 2008

This could be a breakthrough, a major breakthrough. It could explain how power lines promote childhood leukemia. It could identify which children are at greatest risk. And it could shed new light on the pivotal role played by EMF-induced DNA breaks.

Chinese researchers have found that children who carry a defective version of a gene that would otherwise help repair damaged DNA are much more likely to develop leukemia if they also live near power lines or transformers. Xiaoming Shen and coworkers at the Jiao Tong University School of Medicine in Shanghai have reported that children with this genetic variant —known as a polymorphism or snp (pronounced "snip") —and who lived within 100 meters of these sources of EMFs had over four times more leukemia than neighboring children with a fully functional version of the same gene.

July 31, 2006

Radiation Research is a scientific journal whose primary focus is on ionizing radiation, with only a minority of papers devoted to the non-ionizing side of the electromagnetic spectrum. Its June issue, however, features five papers, all of which claim to show that EMFs of one type or another have no biological effects.

September 29, 2005

Research scientists in China have found that relatively low-level RF radiation can lead to DNA breaks, according to a briefing paper prepared for the cell phone industry obtained by Microwave News.

At the 4th International Seminar on EMFs and Biological Effects, held in Kunming China, September 12-16, Zhengping Xu of the Zhejiang University School of Medicine reported that cells exposed to a pulsed 1800 MHz RF radiation at an SAR of 3 W/Kg for 24 hours showed a statistically significant increase in DNA damage. The Mobile Manufacturers Forum (MMF), an industry lobbying group based in Brussels, circulated the news in a September 22 Research Briefing.

March 29, 2005

Bill Guy says that he didn’t do it, that he didn’t call NIH, that he didn’t try to shut down Henry Lai’s work on microwave-induced DNA breaks. (See "Wake-Up Call.")

In a letter to Microwave News, Guy wrote: “I most vehemently and unequivocally deny that I, or anybody that I am aware of, made any calls to NIH...”

March 11, 2005

The March issue of the University of Washington alumni magazine, Columns, features a well-deserved tribute to Henry Lai and his colleague, N.P. Singh, who have demonstrated that low-level microwave radiation can lead to an increase in DNA breaks in the brain cells of rats (available online). The headline of the piece tells the story: “Wake-Up Call: Can Radiation from Cell Phones Damage DNA in Our Brains? When a UW Researcher Found Disturbing Data, Funding Became Tight and One Industry Leader Threatened Legal Action.”

December 7, 2004

Precautionary policies to protect children from power line electromagnetic fields (EMFs) should have been adopted years ago. It’s a no-brainer, yet health officials continue to sit on their hands.

There has long been widespread agreement that EMFs are linked to childhood leukemia. They are also likely to play a role in both brain and breast cancer as well as in miscarriages and in neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

But health agencies have been unwilling to move against these largely preventable risks. It’s astonishing that those charged with promoting public health —not just electric utility executives— are the roadblocks to change.

July 1, 2004

If you had any doubts that the wireless industry is in total control of the RF health debate, you need only to have gone to the workshop held at the FCC’s Washington headquarters on June 28. By the end of the day, the fog would have lifted.

Motorola’s Joe Elder told the assembled delegates from the U.S., the EU, Japan and Korea that the health issue is just about settled. There is no credible evidence that casts doubt on the current 4 W/Kg threshold for ill effects from mobile phone radiation, he said.

January 30, 2004

The ability of ELF magnetic fields to damage DNA may be getting clearer (see item below) —but not so for microwaves. Over the last ten years, the battle of the Washington universities has been raging, with Joseph Roti Roti of Washington University in St. Louis at odds with Henry Lai and N.P. Singh of the University of Washington, Seattle. Roti Roti is now claiming the upper hand in the February issue of Radiation Research.

January 27, 2004

Environmental Health Perspectives will publish a new paper by Henry Lai and N.P. Singh showing that a 24-hour exposure to 100 mG ELF EMFs can lead to significant increases in single- and double-strand DNA breaks. The two University of Washington, Seattle, researchers found even larger increases following a 48-hour exposure, leading them to conclude that the effect is cumulative.

Subscribe to Henry Lai: Microwave News Article Archive (2004 - )