This abstract is for a presentation made an international conference entitled “The Precautionary
EMF Approach: Rationale, Legislation and Implementation”, convened by the International
Commission for Electromagnetic Safety and hosted by the City of Benevento, Italy, in February
Non-thermal effects of EMF upon the mammalian brain
Leif G. Salford MD, PhD, Dept of Neurosurgery, Bertil Persson, PhD, Jacob
Eberhardt DMSc, PhD, Gustav Grafström PhD and Lars Malmgren D.Eng, Dept of
Medical Radiation Physics and Arne Brun MD, PhD, Dept of Neuropathology, Dept
of Neurosurgery, Lund University, Lund Sweden.
The world´s largest biological experiment ever, takes place since few years and now
one third of the world´s population is included in the experiment as test persons,
voluntarily exposing their brains to electromagnetic fields produced by their mobile
phones. The other two thirds constitute a control group, however not ideal, as many
of the non-users are exposed to “passive mobile phoning” and other types of radio
The question whether the type of electromagnetic fields used in mobile
communication is harmful or not to the human body, is not clarified and the
biological effects, which have hitherto been observed in laboratories around the
world, deserve a serious evaluation by the community.
The effects of RF electromagnetic fields upon the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and
upon tumour growth in the mammalian brain have been studied by us since many
years and we have collected an extensive experimental experience in this field. While
our studies on the effects of CW and pulsed modulated microwaves at 915 MHz upon
brain tumour growth have not disclosed any growth-promoting effects in our rodent
models (Salford ea 1997a), the same RF electromagnetic fields have been revealed to
cause significantly increased leakage of albumin through the BBB of exposed rats as
compared to non-exposed animals – in large series studied since 1988 in our
laboratory. We have exposed rats to various magnetic and electromagnetic fields, as
well 915 MHz as continuous wave (CW) and pulse-modulated at various repetition
rates (4 – 200 pulses per s.), and in studies with real GSM-900 and GSM-1800
One remarkable observation in our studies is the fact that SAR values around 1
mW/kg give rise to a more pronounced albumin leakage than higher SAR values –
all at non-thermal levels (Salford ea 1992, 94, 97b, 2001, Persson ea 1996, 97). If
the reversed situation were at hand, we feel that the risk of cellular telephones, basestations
and other RF emitting sources could be managed by reduction of their
emitted energy. The situation that the weakest fields, according to our findings, are
the biologically most effective, poses a major problem. The most pronounced BBBopening
effect of the cellular telephone may not be in the most superficial layers of
the brain, but several centimetres deep in central cerebral structures! It can not be
excluded that non-users in the vicinity of the cellular phone users, may be influenced
by these weak effects. The SAR value of around 1 mW/kg is produced at a distance
of more than one meter away from the mobile phone antenna and it can be calculated
that this energy level exists centrally in the human brain or even in the contralateral
hemisphere when the mobile phone is held at the ear
If mobile communication, even at extremely low SAR values, causes the users´
own albumin to leak out through the BBB, which is meant to protect the brain,
also other unwanted and toxic molecules in the blood, may leak into the brain
tissue and concentrate in and damage the neurones and glial cells of the brain. It
can not be excluded that this, (especially after many years intense use) may
promote the development of autoimmune and neuro-degenerative diseases, and
we conclude that the suppliers of mobile communication – and our politicians –
have an extensive responsibility to support the exploration of these possible
risks for the users and the society. This is especially true for the new and
hitherto barely examined 3G technique which sends microwaves of a different
character, and it is quite possible that the biological effects of 3G differ from
those of GSM. REad full paper at: http://www.icems.eu/docs/Salford.pdf
Baureus Koch CL, Sommarin M, Persson BR, Salford LG, Eberhardt JL 2003
Interaction between weak low frequency magnetic fields and cell membranes. Bioelectromagnetics Sep;
Eberhardt J, Persson BRR, , Malmgren L, Brun A, Salford LG. Blood-brain barrier permeability and nerve cell
damage in the rat brain 14 and 28 days after exposure to microwaves from GSM mobile phones.
Persson, B. R. R. & Salford, L. G. 1996, “Permeability of the blood-brain barrier in rats induced by continuous
wave and pulse-modulated 915 MHz electromagnetic radiation exposure in TEM-cells.,” CEC-XIII-244/6/-96
edn, A. Chiabrera & J. Juutilainen, eds., EU DG XIII, Brussel, pp. 66-72.
Persson, B. R. R., Salford, L. G., & Brun, A. 1997, “Blood-Brain Barrier permeability in rats exposed to
electromagnetic fields used in wireless communication.” Wireless Networks, vol. 3, pp. 455-461.
Salford, L. G., Brun, A., Eberhardt, J., Malmgren, L., & Persson, B. 1992, “Electromagnetic field-induced
permeability of the blood-brain barrier shown by immunohistochemical methods,” in Interaction Mechanism of
Low-Level Electromagnetic Fields in Living Systems, B. Nordén & C. Ramel, eds., Oxford University Press,
Oxford, pp. 251-258.
Salford, L. G., Brun, A., Eberhardt, J. L., & Persson, B. R. R. 1993, “Permeability of the Blood-Brain-
Barrier Induced by 915 MHz Electromagnetic-Radiation, Continuous Wave and Modulated at 8,
16, 50 And 200 Hz“, Bioelectrochemistry and Bioenergetics, vol. 30,no. 1-3, pp. 293-301.
Salford, L. G., Brun, A., Sturesson, K., Eberhardt, J. L., & Persson, B. R. R. 1994, “Permeability of the
Blood-Brain-Barrier Induced by 915 MHz Electromagnetic-Radiation, Continuous Wave and
Modulated at 8, 16, 50 And 200 Hz“, Microscopy Research and Technique, vol. 27, no. 6, pp. 535-542.
Salford LG, Brun A, Persson BRR. 1997a Brain tumour development in rats exposed to electromagnetic fields
used in wireless communication. Wireless Networks Journal. 3:463-469
Salford, L. G., Persson, B. R. R., & Brun, A. 1997 b, “Neurological Aspects on Wireless Communication,” in
Non-Thermal Effects of RF Electromagnetic Fields, vol. ICNIRP 3/97 J. H. Bernhardt, R. Matthes, & M. H.
Repacholi, eds., International Commission of Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection and World Health
Organization, Proc. Sem on Biol. Eff. Non-Therm. Pulsed and Amplitude Modulated RF EM Fields and Related
Health Risks, Munich Germany Nov 20 and 21, 1966, pp. 131-144.
Salford, L. G., Persson, B. R. R., Malmgren, L., & Brun, A. 2001. Téléphonie mobile et barriere Sang-cerveau
(in french) Mobile Communication and the Blood-Brain Barrier in Telephonie Mobile: Effets potentiels sur la
santé des ondes électromagnétiques de hautes fréquences, P. Lannoye, ed., Marco Pietteur, B-4053 Embourg,
Belgique, pp. 141-152.
Salford LG, Brun AE, Eberhardt JL, Malmgren Lars and Persson BRR. 2003. Nerve cell damage in mammalian
brain after exposure to microwaves from GSM mobile phones. Environmental Health Perspectives, On-line Jan
29 2003. DOI # 10.1289/ehp.6039, in print: Environmental Health Perspectives 2003 111(7): 881-883