Does Electromagnetic Radiation Pose Any Health Hazards?

In this excerpt from the book “Zapped,” health expert and best-selling author Ann Louise Gittleman discusses the potential health hazards of electromagnetic radiation.

| February 8, 2011

  • ZAPPED cover
    Constant exposure to technology and electromagnetic fields pose invisible hazards to our health. Read how to make small changes in your life to make a big difference in your level of exposure to daily doses of radiation.   

  • ZAPPED cover

The following is an excerpt from Zapped: Why Your Cell Phone Shouldn’t Be Your Alarm Clock and 1,268 Ways to Outsmart the Hazards of Electronic Pollution by Ann Louise Gittleman (HarperCollins Publishers, 2010). The book explores emerging evidence that electromagnetic fields from a host of everyday devices are creating energy disturbances within the body, leading to increased free radicals and disruptions in cellular DNA. This excerpt is from Chapter 2, “The Body Interrupted,” and Chapter 5, “Zap-Proof Your Home.” 

The widespread use of the light bulb — one of the most life-changing events in the past 10,000 years — was how it all began. In October 1882, Thomas Edison built the first electrical plant that lit just 1,300 street lamps and homes in New York City. What followed was an unprecedented avalanche of inventions that harnessed electric power to make Americans more productive and prosperous, as well as safer and healthier, than ever before. In just the first half of the 20th century, Americans were introduced to everything from conveyor belts, printing presses, electrocardiograms and X-ray machines to radio, radar, television and computers.

In the last 15 years alone, the latest modern electronic wonder — wireless technology — has expanded like a sponge in water. Today, 84 percent of Americans own cell phones, and by 2012, the wireless industry is expected to become a larger sector of the U.S. economy than agriculture and automobiles. About 89 million of us watch TV shows beamed to us by satellite — sports, music, comedy and drama captured by a metal dish on the roof or outside a high-rise window. And you can’t have a cup of coffee at Starbucks without being subject to Wi-Fi, the wireless network that allows you to surf the Internet as you sip your latte.

Yet we may not understand the potential consequences of our latest discoveries any better than our earliest ancestors understood the perils of fire.

Unraveling the Mystery

In the past decade, I have experienced some baffling symptoms for which I could find no relief. In 2005, I was diagnosed with a (thankfully) benign tumor of the parotid, one of the salivary glands located just below the earlobe. Why I got it was a mystery that puzzled even my doctor. It’s a rare tumor, most often caused by radiation exposure. I didn’t live near a nuclear plant, I hadn’t been exposed to an inordinate number of medical X-rays or other screening tests and, except for a brief time I spent working as a nutritionist in a hospital, I hadn’t even been near a CAT scanner or MRI machine. But, on a hunch, I began my investigations with a theory: What if I was suffering from was an environmental condition, one caused by something I’m exposed to every day but consider harmless?

There are several historical connections that supported my suspicions. Many well-respected historians believe the Romans were the first society to be destroyed by environmental toxicity. Wealthy Romans painted their walls with lead-based paint. They used the heavy metal for everything, from water pipes to toys, statues, cosmetics, coffins and roofs. But in an article written for The New England Journal of Medicine, lead poisoning researcher and environmental chemist at the University of Michigan, Jerome Nriagu, Ph.D., D.Sc., says it was their consumption of copious amounts of wine that may have given them their heaviest dose.

Jan Steinman
2/28/2011 5:18:24 PM

Why oh why do people insist on conflating ionizing radiation with electromagnetic radiation? This article is supposed to be about EMF -- fair enough. But it then leaps into a description of the effects of nuclear radiation, without so much as explaining the difference! This is irresponsible and sensationalistic journalism! Very low levels of ionizing radiation cause molecular changes in materials, including living cells. These changes can result in mutations, cancer, and other chronic, long-term diseases. But to the best of scientific knowledge, low-level electromagnetic radiation does not cause molecular changes, and has not been positively linked to cancer or mutation. There may well be problems with EMF, and a certain amount of caution may be warranted. But describing the effects of ionizing radiation without explanation is simply irresponsible and untrue. Please issue a correction!

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