Professor Igor Belyaev PhD is one of the world's top experts in EMF health effects.
Professor Igor Belyaev PhD is one of the world's top experts in EMF health effects.

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Igor Belyaev is not a militant environmentalist. Rather one of the world's top experts in the health effects of electromagnetic fields (EMFs). He speaks from experience when he asks with chilling realism: “If our countries do not want to fund independent EMF studies, are they governed by the telecom industry they seem to be protecting? EMF exposures from smart meters and other wireless devices cause cancer and drug companies reap all the profits. And industry will always find experts to say that it is not dangerous.” A keynote speaker at the 5th Paris Appeal Congress held last May at the Belgian Academy of Medicine in Brussels, Belyaev is a scientist of the highest caliber: an engineer in physics and radiation dosimetry graduated from the prestigious Moscow Engineering Physics Institute, he defended his PhD in radiobiology at the Soviet Academy of Science's Institute of Biophysics, obtained a doctorate of Science (habilitation for full professorship) in genetics at the St-Petersburg State University, and has been since 2004 an Associate Professor of Toxicological Genetics at Stockholm University, in Sweden. A member of the World Health Organization's Working Group onEMFs, he is also a professor in the Radiobiology Laboratory of the Institute of General Physics, at the Russian Academy of Science, in Moscow, and heads the Radiobiology Laboratory in the Slovak Academy of Science's Cancer Research Institute, in Bratislava.

In 2011, the editors of Bioelectromagnetics awarded him and his seven co-authors the award for the most influential paper published in the scientific journal between 2006 and 2010. Exposure of rat brain to 915 MHz GSM microwaves induces changes in gene expression but not double stranded DNA breaks or effects on chromatin conformation was published in the journal in May 2006. The study showed that a 915 megahertz radiofrequency(RF)/microwave signal emitted by a cellular phone could cause changes in gene expression in rat brain. These changes altered proteins essential in the fight against cancer and other diseases, affecting regulation of neurotransmitters, permeability of the blood brain barrier and melatonin production.

Will Russia abandon its precautionary approach?

Prior to the Brussels conference presided by Dr Dominique Belpomme and which focused this year on electromagnetic and chemical intolerance, I had the pleasure of speaking with him walking the streets of the Belgian capital and seat of the European Parliament. He had just learned from a colleague that Russia was considering harmonizing its RF exposure limits with standards adopted by the majority of Western countries, which are a thousand times more lenient. “I was shocked to hear that. The Russian RF exposure limits are safer than in many other countries but they may be changed because no cell phone can respect them. There is no scientific justification to do this, it would only be an administrative decision. In the Soviet Union, this would not have been possible. Such decisions had to be based on science. We wanted to develop technology while caring for people's safety.” For three decades, the expert in the mechanisms of EMF health effects has cosigned more than 70 scientific articles, notably on the effects of radiation on DNA damage and repair, chromosome aberrations, and molecular markers of radiosensitivity. He told me that to justify their policy of laissez-faire concerning electrosmog, government and industry only quote studies that ignore the many physical and biological variables that explain why low doses of exposure to microwaves (RFs between 300 MHz and 300 GHz) can be harmful... or even beneficial: frequency, bandwidth, modulation, polarization, dose, duration and coherence time of exposure and of non-exposure, electromagnetic environment (geomagnetic field and stray extremely low frequency EMF), density of cells, genetics, gender, age, individual differences and other physiological characteristics of the subjects, the presence of metals, antioxidants and free radical scavengers, such as melatonin and gingko biloba. EMF effects “deniers” are almost typically scientists funded by industries wishing to legitimize the current exposure limits. Limits which, according to Belyaev and several other experts, threaten public health because they only take into account the thermal effects of microwaves. (Yes, your microwave oven uses similar radio waves used by your cell phone, cordless phone and tablet.) And when a researcher discovers non-thermal health risks (such as cancer) resulting from prolonged exposure to low doses of RF/microwaves at specific conditions of exposure, funding to reproduce the findings typically dry up.

Medical and military uses

“Different electromagnetic signals cause different effects, Belyaev explained. For example, a remote control only works with specific frequencies”, usually infrared waves but sometimes radio waves. Similarly, Belyaev worked with a team of some 300 scientists, about 20% of whom were medical doctors, created by order of the Soviet Ministry of Health to investigate methods for treating human diseases with microwaves. Microwave Resonance Therapy is used to treat various health problems with various radio frequencies and at very precise dosages. “Some therapies have had good results, said Belyaev. For example, with a 70 to 80% success rate for gastric ulcers, while others were no better than a placebo, with 40 to 50% success rates.” (See the paper Exposure to ELF Magnetic Field Tuned to Zn Inhibits Growth of Cancer Cells, which Belyaev cosigned in 2005 and our feature Bioresonance : healing with waves.) But US Naval Medical Research Institute scientist Zorach Glaser discovered around 1970 that the Russians also knew since 1934 (Altabasheva and Il'Yashevich) that microwaves can be harmful under certain conditions. Published since 1960, most of their military research reports have not been translated into English. “Most EMF studies were not published, they were state secrets, said Belyaev. About ten institutes in the USSR studied the effects of microwave on the immune system for many years. The reports were delivered to the Ministries of Health and Defense and were archived. During the Cold War, microwaves were considered as potential military weapons, and prototypes were also developed and tested in the United States.”

  In 1976, American reporters revealed that the US embassy was irradiated since 1953 with 0.6 to 9.5 GHz microwaves beamed by Soviet sources. After 1975, their intensity increased to 18 microwatts per cm² (7.8 volts per meter), explained Dr David O. Carpenter of Albany University (NY) at the Brussels conference. “Ambassador Stoessel suffered from ocular hemorrhages and a blood disorder. Three men died of cancer, five women underwent a mastectomy linked to cancer. Neither a hypothetical risk nor an abstract risk, exposure to microwave EMF is harmful at non-thermal levels. How does one develop wireless technologies in this context?”, wrote Swiss engineer Pierre Dubochet, former technical head of the Neuchâtel radio station. But a US State Department investigation concluded that no relationship between staff health problems and exposure to microwaves was found, professor emeritus of clinical medicine Dr Herbert Pollack said in a 1979 talk. But the embassy employees were too few and did not work there long enough to draw conclusions, explained Dr. Carpenter: “While no elevations of cancer were found, many people developed microwave sickness, consisting of depression, irritability, difficulty in concentrating and memory loss”, said Carpenter, quoting the 1979 Pollack report.

Avoidance was the first treatment prescribed

In 1972, NASA published a translation of a report written by IR Petrov of the Soviet Academy of Medical Sciences, entitled Influence of microwave radiation on the organism of man and animals. He reported that a quarter of military personnel using radio waves and radar suffered from fatigue, dizziness, headaches, sleep problems, concentration and memory, sleep problems, anger, etc. “The treatment suggested was a change of assignments and to keep away from EMF. Rest, physical exercise, and nutritious food were offered. The symptoms described are the same as those found 40 years later in Finnish people with electromagnetic hypersensitivity”, Swedish oncologist and epidemiologist Lennart Hardell cowrote in a recent article, Electromagnetic hypersensitivity - an increasing challenge to the medical profession. Not surprisingly, Igor Belyaev recommends avoiding or minimizing the use of wireless devices as much as possible. “I have no Wi-Fi in my office. I had a modem installed in my home and its emissions measured 20 milliwatts (mW) per square meter while the Austrian Medical Association recommends not exceeding 1 mW/m² [or 1,000 microwatts (μW)/m², and says the ideal level is 1 μW/m²]. I asked the supplier to turn it off and the power density fell to 100 μW/m².” Belyaev adds that the presence of metal in the environment may also affect our exposure to RF EMFs because it modifies the Earth's static geomagnetic field. “A meter away, a 10-microtesla change in the static magnetic field due to ferromagnetic objects may increase detrimental effects of RFs. All metals change the geomagnetic field. Several years ago, I contacted Mays Swicord, director of biological research at Motorola, to recommend a very good way of reducing the harmful effects of microwaves. A small chip could measure the static magnetic field and send the information to the base station so it could provide a frequency that is not coupled to the geomagnetic field it. He refused.” What can consumers do then? “There are metal containing window films (see and carbon-based paints that block RFs, but they are rather expensive, answered Belyaev. They will not solve the problem for most people. The solution is to adopt stricter exposure limits. We should also change the dogma of society and stop working only for profit without regard for people's health.” For more, read Non-Thermal Effects and Mechanisms between Electromagnetic Fields and Living Matter, an important collection of scientific research papers edited by the Ramazzini Institute and published in the European Journal of Oncology, Vol. 5, 2010.