Report #2: Review of relevant associated literatures
Report Prepared for the Landlord and Tenant Board Hearing, File Number TWL-03388-10.
August 6, 2010
Dear Mr. Jefferies,
As requested by you, I expect to give expert testimony regarding the scientific research on the biological and health effects of low frequency magnetic fields and on the exposure and sources of these fields at the home of Russell Loader and Katharine Melnitsky, measured on Thursday June 24 between the hours of 11 am and 2 pm. The monitoring results are in a separate report (see Havas, 2010 referred to as Report #1 in this document).
First I will qualify myself in the area of Electromagnetic Pollution and ElectroHyperSensitivity.
I am Associate Professor at Trent University, where I do research and teach about the health effects of electromagnetic pollution (refer to my Curriculum Vitae). As an internationally recognized expert in this field I review papers submitted to peer-reviewed journals including, but not limited to, The American Journal of Medical Sciences and the British Medical Journal (London). I am regularly invited to give lectures about my research and have given 130 presentations since 2005 at various universities, medical centres, and to legislative bodies in both Canada and the United States. I have submitted two environmental petitions to the Auditor General of Canada regarding products that emit electromagnetic frequencies that require immediate attention because they are making people ill. I have provided expert testimony in both Canada and the United States regarding the health effects associated with the electromagnetic energy emitted by high voltage transmission lines, broadcast antennas, and computers. I have been involved in legislative changes regarding ground current in Ontario, and I helped draft Resolution 15 that was passed by the International Association of Fire Fighters in 2004, limiting erection of new cell phone antennas on fire halls. I’m an advisor on electrosmog and electrosensitivity to several NGOs in Canada, the U.S., the UK, and in the Netherlands (Curriculum Vitae attached).
Second, the evidence that I will provide supports the following statements:
Item 1. Magnetic fields were very high, much higher than most occupational exposures, in Unit 409 and these exposures have been associated with the illnesses mentioned in items 3 and 4 below.
Item 2. The high magnetic fields came primarily from the space between the ceiling of Unit 309 and the floor of Unit 409 and were not due to the adjacent power line or to wiring/appliances within Unit 409.
Item 3. Magnetic fields have been associated with several health-related issues including cancers, miscarriages, and Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
Item 4. Sensitivity to electromagnetic fields, known by several names including electrohypersensitivity (EHS), is real and is recognized by governments, scientists and medical authorities in various countries.
Item 5. Many of Katharine Melnitzky’s and Russell Loader’s symptoms resemble those of EHS and seem to have appeared after moving into Unit 409, 120 Colborne St. W., Oshawa, Ontario. So there is a potential causal link (item 4 temporality, Bradford Hill 1965) between the appearance of symptoms and exposure to elevated magnetic fields.
Third, below is the supporting evidence for the items above.
Item 1: Magnetic fields were very high, much higher than most occupational exposures, in Unit 409 and these exposures have been associated with the illnesses mentioned in items 3 and 4 below.
The magnetic field measured in Unit 409 ranged from 3.5 to over 100 mG as measured with the omni directional Trifield meter. High levels in the kitchen (source unknown) and the bathroom (near the sink) may be due, in part, to current flowing along the plumbing. The highest readings in Unit 409 came from two locations, the electrical panel (over 100 mG) and the floor (maximum 50 mG). When the electricity to the unit was turned off, the magnetic field near the floor remained unchanged.
Bonneville Power Authority (BPA, 1996) conducted a major review of electromagnetic fields and reported range of magnetic fields in various settings (see Table 1). According to this table, which also includes the readings taken in Unit 409, few situations exist where the average or maximum magnetic field exceeds the levels found at the floor, window and front door of Unit 409. Indeed, only 1% of homes in the 1000 home study exceeded the highest spot measurement of 12.2 mG in that study (see chart above).
Figure I, also from the Bonneville Power Authority (1996), shows the range of exposures in various occupational settings. According to this figure the range of exposures in Unit 409 (3.5 to 50 mG) overlap with workers who are involved with the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity and those who work in substations. The lowest reading (3.5 mG) in Unit 409 over!aps with the 7SU'-percentile of what people are exposed to in offices, shops, during travel and at home. What this means is that 75% of the sites monitored have values below 3.5 mG (see chart above).
Item 2: The high magnetic fields came primarily from the space between the ceiling of Unit
309 and the floor of Unit 409 and were not due to the adjacent power line or to wiring/appliances within Unit 409.
Refer to report by Report #1 (Havas 2010).
Item 3: Magnetic fields have been associated with several health-related issues including cancers, miscarriages, and Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The California Department of Health (California EMF Program 2002) conducted a study on the health effects of low frequency magnetic fields and came up with the following conclusions
- To one degree or another, all three of the DHS scientists are inclined to believe that EMFs can cause some degree of increased risk of childhood leukemia, adult brain cancer, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and miscarriage.
- They strongly believe that EMFs are not universal carcinogens, since there are a number of cancer types that are not associated with EMF exposure.
- All three scientists had judgments that were "close to the dividing line between believing and not believing" that EMFs cause some degree of increased risk of suicide, or
- For adult leukemia, two of the scientists are "close to the dividing line between believing or not believing" and one was "prone to believe" that EMFs cause some degree of increased risk.
Item 4: Sensitivity to electromagnetic energy, known by several names including electrohypersensitivity (EHS), is real and is recognized by governments, scientists and medical authorities in various countries.
EHS is recognized as an “environmental impairment” in Sweden for which accommodations are made including hospital rooms that are shielded from electromagnetic radiation.
1. Papers by Johansson 2009, Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine 25: 245-258.
“In Sweden, electrohypersensitivity (EHS) is an officially recognized functional impairment
. . . 230,000 to 290,000 Swedish men and women report a variety of symptoms when being in contact with electromagnetic field (EMF) sources.”
2. EHS is recognized by the World Health Organization and discussed at their Conference, which was dedicated to the topic of ElectroSensitivity, in Prague in 2004 (WHO 2004, 2006).
WHO defines electrosensitivity as follows:
2004: “. . . a phenomenon where individuals experience adverse health effects while using or being in the vicinity of devices emanating electric, magnetic, or electromagnetic fields.
. . Whatever its cause, EHS is a real and sometimes a debilitating problem for the affected persons, while the level of EMF in their neighborhood is no greater than is encountered in normal living environments. Their exposures are generally several orders of magnitude under the limits in internationally accepted standards”
2006: “The WHO recommends that people reporting sensitivities receive a comprehensive health evaluation. . . . Some studies suggest that certain physiological responses of EHS [Electrohypersensitive] individuals tend to be outside the normal range. In particular, hyperactivity in the central nervous system and imbalance in the autonomic nervous system need to be followed up in clinical investigations and the results for the individuals taken as input for possible treatment.”
3. Canadian Human Rights Commission Report, The Medical Perspective on Environmental Sensitivities includes EHS. (Sears, M. 2007).
Approximately 3% of Canadians have been diagnosed with environmental sensitivities. They usually experience neurological impairments, and often experience other symptoms including runny eyes and nose, headaches, fatigue, pain and breathing and digestive problems. Environmental sensitivities may develop gradually after chronic exposure to relatively low levels of chemicals as seen in “sick buildings,” or suddenly after a major exposure to an environmental disaster or a chemical spill. This condition may be initiated by one or a combination of environmental factors such as mould, pesticides, solvents, chemicals off-gassing from carpets or furnishings, or electromagnetic phenomena.
4. Various resolutions and appeals from scientific and medical authorities stating that EHS is real, is increasing, and occurs below existing guidelines and they call for guidelines to be reviewed. This includes the following:
- 2002: Catania Resolution, Italy. Scientists recognize adverse health effects of EMF at levels below international guidelines. [www.emrpolicy.org/faq/catania.pdf]
- 2002: Freiburger Appeal, Germany. Physicians request tougher guidelines for radio frequency exposure, endorsed by hundreds of healthcare practitioners. [www.mastsanity.org/doctors-appeals.html].
In the face of this disquieting development, we feel obliged to inform the public of our observations . .
What we experience in the daily reality of our medical practice is anything but hypothetical! We see the rising number of chronically sick patients also as the result of an irresponsible "safety limits policy", which fails to take the protection of the public . . . as its criteria for action. Instead, it submits to the dictates of a technology already long recognized as dangerous. For us, this is the beginning of a very serious development through which the health of many people is being threatened.
We will no longer be made to wait upon further unreal research results - which in our experience are often influenced by the communications industry, while evidential studies go on being ignored. We find it to be of urgent necessity that we act now!
Above all, we are, as doctors, the advocates for our patients. In the interest of all those concerned, whose basic right to life and freedom from bodily harm is currently being put at stake, we appeal to those in the spheres of politics and public health.”
2005: Irish Doctors’ Environmental Association (IDEA), Ireland. Doctors recognize electrohypersensitivity (EHS) is increasing and request advice from government on how to treat EHS [www.ideaireland.org].
2005: Helsinki Appeal, Finland. Call for new safety standards, reject International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) guidelines. [www.emrpolicy.org/headlines/helsinki_appeal_05.pdf]
2006: Benevento Resolution, Italy. Scientists recognize adverse health effects, recommend precautionary principle, identify funding biased studies, [www.icems.eu]-International Commission for Electromagnetic Safety.
2007: BioInitiative Report, USA. Reviewed 2000 studies showing biological effects of ELF and RF radiation and calling for biologically based exposure guidelines. [www.bioinitiative.org]
2008: Venice Appeal, Italy. Scientists recognize biological effects at non-thermal levels, that standards are inadequate, that electro-sensitivity exists and that there is a need to research mechanisms. [http://www.icems.eu/resolution.htm]
2009: Porto Alegre Resolution, Brazil. Scientists and doctors recognize electrohypersensitivity and are concerned that exposure to electromagnetic fields may increase the risk of cancer and chronic diseases; and that exposure levels established by international agencies (IEEE, ICNIRP, ICES) are obsolete and places at risk the health of children, teens, pregnant women and others who are vulnerable.
5. Websites dedicated to electrohypersensitivity and electromagnetic pollution:
Item 5: Many of symptoms experienced by Katharine Melnitzky and Russell Loader resemble those of EHS and seem to have appeared after moving into their current residence, Unit 409, 120 Colborne St. W., Oshawa, Ontario. So there is a potential causal link (item 4 temporality, Bradford Hill 1965) between the appearance of symptoms and exposure to elevated magnetic fields.
The following symptoms are associated with electrohypersensitivity (EHS) (Eltiti 2007):
Neuro-vegetative: Anxiety, Depression, Difficulty in concentrating, Difficulty in focusing attention, Exhaustion, Fatigue, Foggy thinking, Memory difficulties, Sleep disturbances, Stress Skin: Dry skin, Pain/Soreness on the skin, Skin burning sensation, Skin irritation, Skin rash, Skin redness, Skin swelling
Auditory: Pain in the ear, Pressure in the ear, Ringing/Buzzing in the ear, Warmth in the ear Headache: Dull or sharp headache, Heaviness in the head, Migraines, Pain/Warmth in head Cardio-respiratory: Asthma, Breathing difficulties, Cardiac pains, Chest pains, Heart palpitations
Cold related: Dry Cough, Impaired sense of smell, Impaired sense of taste, Runny or stuffy nose
Locomotor: Back pain, Muscle tension, Muscle weakness, Pain in joints
Allergy related: Allergies, Asthma
According to “Brief Synopsis” prepared by Katherine Melnitzky, she experienced the following symptoms after moving into Unit 409: difficulty sleeping, fatigue, body aches, fibromyalgia, stinging and burning of legs and arms. The first four symptoms are commonly mentioned by those with EHS when they are exposed to electrosmog.
Russell Loader’s primary symptom, mentioned in the “Brief Synopsis”, was an open wound on his spine and right ankle that was slow to heal. Impaired immune system, which would lead to slow healing, is one of the symptoms of EHS but the open wound being caused by exposure to high magnetic fields has not been reported in the literature and is unlikely.
During our visit Russell Loader described his symptoms as follows: a rare arthritic disorder, known as Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS), that affects curvature of his spine, his head is bent as are his fingers (see video) and toes, excessive pain, difficulty sleeping, compromised immune system. He was diagnosed with AS 1991 and began to experience the curvature in his fingers 6 months after moving into Unit 409. The previous resident in Unit 409 had migraines. I am unaware of any studies showing this type of arthritis is associated with magnetic field exposure. Russell’s other symptoms are consistent with EHS.
When Russell and Katharine leave their home and stay at an environment with low magnetic fields, they sleep better and reduce the amount of their pain medication they take. All of this is consistent with the magnetic field in the apartment (or some unmeasured factor) contributing to poor sleep and pain.
Hillman (2005) Professor Emeritus at Michigan State University, documented his symptoms (which included 29% increase in heart rate, 10% increase in systolic blood pressure, 48% increase in diastolic blood pressure, and an increase in body temperature) when he sat on the sofa and his feet were exposed to 20 to 50 mG coming from the ground wire below the floor. The magnetic field exposure in this situation was similar to the exposure in Unit 409. He also measured a 228 millivolt and 2.44 amperes of electrical current passing through his body (what we monitored with the Inner Voice). Levels above 18 microA have been associated with cancers according to the US National Institute of Health. So the current flowing through his body was 136,000 times higher than levels contributing to cancer. Dr. Hillman has prostate cancer.
The residents of Unit 409 at 120 Colborne St. W., Oshawa, ON (Katharine Melnitzky and Russell Loader) are exposed to magnetic fields (3.5 to 50 mG) in their home that are much higher than exposure in most occupational and residential settings. These fields are coming from under the floor and are not coming from the nearby power line or from within Unit 409. The magnetic fields are sufficiently high to account for many of the health symptoms experienced by Katharine and Russell, which include poor sleep, chronic pain, slow rate of healing, and stinging/burning of legs and arms.
BPA 1996. Electrical and Biological Effects of Transmission Lines: A Review. Bonneville
Power Authority, Portland Oregon, 295 pp.
California EMF Program. 2002. An Evaluation of the Possible Risks from electric and Magnetic Fields (EMFs) from Power Lines, Internal Wiring, Electrical Occupations, and Appliances. Prepared by RR Neutra, V DelPizzo, and GM Lee, California EMF Program, California Department of Health Services, Oakland CA.
Eltiti, S. et al. 2007. Development and Evaluation of the Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity
Questionnaire. Bioelectromagnetics 28:137-151.
Bradford Hill, A. 1965. The Environment and Disease: Association or Causation? Issues of
Causal Inference, Section of Occupational Medicine, 6 pp.
Hillman, D. 2005. Exposure to Electric and Magnetic Fields (EMF) linked to Neuro-Endocrine
Stress Syndrome: Increased Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes, and Cancer. Shocking News, No. 8, 8 pp.
Havas, M. 2000. Biological effects of non-ionizing electromagnetic energy: A critical review of
the reports by the US National Research Council and the US National Institute of Environmental
Health Sciences as they relate to the broad realm of EMF bioeffects. Environ. Rev. 8:173-253.
Havas, M. 2010. Report #1: Measurements of EMF/EMR on June 24, 2010 at Unit 409, 120
Colborne St. W., Oshawa, ON. Report Prepared for the Landlord and Tenant Board Hearing, File Number TWL-03388-10. 4 pp
Johansson 2009. Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine 25:245-258.
Sears, ME. 2007. The Medical Perspective on Environmental Sensitivities. Canadian Human
Rights Commission. 85 pp.
Respectfully Submitted, Magda Havas, B.Sc., Ph.D.