Are you afraid of EMFs?

Does your smart meter make your nose bleed?

Are you terrified of your microwave?

Have you installed am anti-brain cancer thingy on your cell phone?

Welcome to the world of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) and their alleged harmful effects.

For the last ten years or so, people have been worrying about EMFs, along with the increase in the use of electronics.  And even though scientific data obtained so far is reassuring about the effects of EMFs on human health, a lot of people are still scared.

It took almost a year to create this comic. After all, the topic is mind-blowingly complex and, as a pharmacist, I am not at all qualified to speculate about it. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to work with two awesome collaborators from the very beginning:

Jérôme Poulin (Ph. D) is a physicist and researcher in optical physics. His Ph.D thesis was about cold atom guidance in a hollow-core photonic cristal fibre using a blue detuned hollow laser beam (Olivier’s note: I have no idea what that means… I think it’s about building the next Death Star or something). He was also part of the Electro-Urban Brigade, a team of scientists who measured the daily exposure to electromagnetic fields of citizens in the province of Quebec, Canada.

Michel Trottier-McDonald (Ph.D) is a physicist and data scientist. He namely worked on the ATLAS experiment at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the CERN in order to find the Higgs Boson (Olivier’s note: yeah, that big thing).

None of us are experts on the effects of EMFs on health and we don’t pretend otherwise. Fortunately, scientific knowledge on the matter is advanced enough for us to relay conclusive evidence to you.

The 5 key messages of the comic go as follows:

  • Certain types of electromagnetic radiation can break the molecules of the body, others cannot;
  • Until proven otherwise, mobile/radio/Wi-Fi fields do not pose a threat to human health;
  • Every day, we are exposed electromagnetic radiation that is hundreds, if not thousands of times below the international standards deemed safe;
  • Symptoms experienced by people who identify as “electrosensitive” do not appear to be caused by electromagnetic fields;
  • So-called experts and companies that pretend otherwise may not be trustworthy, or even qualified to discuss EMFs.

But hey, you should to read the comic before disagreeing…

So cover your head with aluminium foil, make holes for your eyes, turn off your router & 4G and read this right away!

P.S. As always, scientific references for this comic are listed in the first comment.

Translated by Patricia Rainville; edits and proofreading by Robyn Penney.

 

Title

 

Ionizing and non-ionizing radiation

Daily exposure to ionizing radiation

 

 

 

Visible light is the strongest type of non-ionizing radiation

No effects of non-ionizing radiation on human health have been found

 

 

 

Daily exposure to EMFs and international standards

Smart electric meters emit as much EMFs as a TV remote

What about increasing the international standards of EMF exposure

 

 

 

Electromagnetic hypersensitivity

An example of trial to assess whether electrosensitivity is caused by EMFs

Wi-Fi allergies and suicides

 

 

 

So-called EMF experts

The carcinogenic potential of EMFs

Anti-EMF devices and clothing

 

 

 

Conclusion 1

Conclusion 2

 

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5 responses to “Are you afraid of EMFs?

  1. References and interesting links:

    – Really cool chart by XLCD about EMF exposure, including the radioactive banana.
    https://xkcd.com/radiation/

    – Can X-ray scans cause cancer? It’s not that clear. http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-02/luhs-npt020316.php

    – Heat increase inside a human head while using a cell phone.
    http://www.academicjournals.org/article/article1380635276_Faruque%20et%20al.pdf

    – No association between power lines and cancer. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23337237

    – Results of the Interphone trial, conducted by the WHO. No increased risk of tumors associated with the use of cell phones.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20483835

    – Analysis of the Interphone trial in Nature. http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100517/full/news.2010.246.html

    – Cell phones and cancer according to the National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/radiation/cell-phones-fact-sheet

    – The “geeky physicists” were part of the Electro-Urban Brigade. http://www.polymtl.ca/carrefour-actualite/en/news/polytechnique-montreal-launches-electro-urban-brigade

    – Data collected by the Electro-Urban Brigade (in French only; requires a subscription). http://www.protegez-vous.ca/maison-et-environnement/ondes-radiofrequences.html

    – Nearly half of all U.S. electricity customers have smart meters.
    https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=34012

    – Here is the type of smart electric meter being deployed in Canada right now.
    http://meters.hydroquebec.com/

    – Here is an example of a trial with solid methodology to assess whether or not electromagnetic hypersensitivity is caused by EMFs.
    http://www.badscience.net/wp-content/uploads/2007/07/eltitietal_ehp_revised.pdf

    – Meta-analysis of 31 trials about electrosensitivity, including 725 participants. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15784787

    – Wi-Fi allergies and suicides.
    https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/electromagnetic-hypersensitivity-and-wifi-allergies-bogus-diagnoses-with-tragic-real-world-consequences/

    – Critical appraisal of the BioInitiative Report.
    http://www.emfandhealth.com/Criticism%20Bio-Intitiative.html

    – Another critical appraisal of the BioInitiative Report. https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/picking-cherries-in-science-the-bio-initiative-report/

    – The Health Council of the Netherlands concluded that “the BioInitiative report is not an objective and balanced reflection of the current state of scientific knowledge”. This conclusion was also shared by many governmental agencies worldwide. https://www.gezondheidsraad.nl/sites/default/files/200817E_0.pdf

    – Discussion on Reddit where readers point out the flaws in a study from a McGill University researcher about the health effects of non-ionizing radiation. https://www.reddit.com/r/science/comments/2aul2e/science_ama_series_im_paul_h%C3%A9roux_a_professor_of/

    – The World Health Organization classifies EMFs as possibly carcinogenic to humans. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs193/en/

    – Critical analysis of this classification by the WHO.
    https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/are-cell-phones-a-possible-carcinogen-an-update-on-the-iarc-report/

    – Coffee is a Group 2B possible carcinogen according to the WHO. http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Monographs/vol51/mono51.pdf

    – Aloe is a Group 2B possible carcinogen according to the WHO.: http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Monographs/vol108/mono108-01.pdf

    – Beet juice is a Group 2B possible carcinogen according to the WHO. http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Monographs/vol94/mono94-6.pdf

    – Cocoamide DEA is a Group 2B possible carcinogen according to the WHO. http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Monographs/vol101/mono101-005.pdf

    – About anti-EMF clothing and devices.
    http://www.emfandhealth.com/EHS%20Scams.html

    – About the need for a Faraday Cage to protect oneself from EMFs. http://video.mit.edu/watch/faradays-cage-3625/

  2. In general i agree, but what about the non-thermal effects of EMF, e.g. the Frohlich hipotesis? There are a lot of interesting experiments done by Pirogova and Vojisavljevic,
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17575949
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/qua.560020505/abstract

    • Hey Lukas!

      Thanks for the links, I had never heard of this before. There’s a Wikipedia page that summarizes some of it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bioelectrodynamics

      Hypotheses are welcome of course, and there’s actually a lot of those regarding potential health hazards of EMFs. One example is the research done at McGill University, which was subsequently taken apart by others in the field (cited in my references).

      As I mention in item #2, just because no mechanism for harmful effects of EMFs has been found so far doesn’t mean we won’t find one in the future (see the part about the Nobel prize).

      As for the Frohlich hypothesis itself, I can’t comment as this is way out of my field of expertise.

      Thanks again!

      Olivier

  3. Mhairi Galloway

    Just wanted to say that I
    had the supreme pleasure of stumbling upon your website. Love your work! A big fan in Denmark 🙂

    • Denmark, AWESOME! Can I say that I’m a huge fan of your country, having been there several times?
      Thanks for the nice words Mhairi!
      Olivier

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