Electromagnetic toxicity and illness (Part 1)

As the computer visual display (VDU) unit became more common in the workplace, the issue of radiation hazards associated with the prolonged use of VDU’s were tested by reputable laboratories and found to emit no detectable levels of X-  rays. A similar study by Canadian Radiation Protection. Bureau researchers arrived at the same conclusion. World  Health Organisation (WHO) experts endorsed similar findings. Given such reassurances, the temptation has been to  conclude that VDU’s are harmless. However, deeper more haunting statistics suggest that health problems from VDU’s could arise from electromagnetic radiation.

The early research did not consider all the relevant data. Since 1979 small clusters of miscarriage and birth defects among VDU users in a dozen or more office locations have been reported. Due to the low level of X-ray radiation around VDU’s, authorities often dismissed the increased incidence of these abnormalities as chance occurrences, while  others argued alternately that the reported defects could be  hereditary.

In 1982 Delagado and others reported powerful inhibitory effects on chicken embryos produced by weak 100 H2 {28}  electromagnetic fields. The following year Ubeda and others also observed ‘teratogenic” changes or monstrous mutations to chicken embryos exposed to low intensity pulsed electromagnetic fields of 100Hz. The most deterious effects  were observed with a weak magnetic field strengths of about 1  micro Tesla, with stronger and weaker fields less effective.   Since the original work of Delgado and co-workers, several more recent studies have confirmed that weak  electromagnetic fields are capable of interacting with  biological systems of specific frequencies and intensities. Since magnetic field strength pulses of up to 400,000 microtesla have been reported with VDU’s it follows that weak  magnetic pulses will exist even at a considerable distance  from the units.

With approximately half the workforce using VDU’s being women of childbearing age, the health implications are enormous.  McDonald and co-workers who studied births in the Montreal area in 1984, reported, that the rate of spontaneous  abortion in 2609 current pregnancies with no VDU use was 5.7%  compared to 8.3% for 588 with weekly exposure of less than 15  hours and 9.4% for 710 pregnancies with VDU use greater than 15 hours per week.

In 1988 Goldhaber and co-workers found in a case control study of pregnancy outcome that there exists:  “Significantly elevated risk of miscarriage for working women who using VDU’s for more than 20 hours per week during the first trimester of pregnancy compared to other working who reported not using VDUs”. The increased risk could not be explained by age, education, occupation, smoking, alcohol consumption on other maternal characteristics.

Be well

Dr Sundardas D. Annamalay

 

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