Dr Karl – Misleading and Wrong Information and  a  much deeper problem in the selection of experts.



The Influence of Low-Frequency Noise Pollution on the Quality of Life and Place in Sustainable Cities: A Case Study from Northern Portugal

Sustainability 2015, 7, 13920-13946; doi:10.3390/su71013920
ISSN 2071-1050
The Influence of Low-Frequency Noise Pollution on the Quality
of Life and Place in Sustainable Cities: A Case Study from
Northern Portugal
Juliana Araújo Alves 1, Lígia Torres Silva 2,* and Paula Cristina C. Remoaldo 1
1 Lab2PT—Landscape, Heritage and Territory Laboratory, University of Minho, Campus de Azurém,
4800-058 Guimarães, Portugal; E-Mails: jalves.geografia@gmail.com (J.A.A.);
premoaldo@geografia.uminho.pt (P.C.C.R)
2 CTAC—Centre for Territory, Environment and Construction, Department of Civil Engineering,
University of Minho, Campus Gualtar, 4710-057 Braga, Portugal
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed; E-Mail: lsilva@civil.uminho.pt;
Tel.: +351-253510200.
Academic Editor: Tan Yigitcanlar
Received: 8 June 2015 / Accepted: 23 September 2015 / Published: 19 October 2015
Abstract: Discussing urban planning requires rethinking sustainability in cities and
building healthy environments. Historically, some aspects of advancing the urban way of
life have not been considered important in city planning. This is particularly the case where technological advances have led to conflicting land use, as with the installation of power poles and building electrical substations near residential areas. This research aims to discuss and rethink sustainability in cities, focusing on the environmental impact of low-frequency noise and electromagnetic radiation on human health. It presents data from a case study in an urban space in northern Portugal, and focuses on four guiding questions:  Can power poles and power lines cause noise? Do power poles and power lines cause discomfort? Do power poles and power lines cause discomfort due to noise? Can power poles and power lines affect human health? To answer these questions, we undertook research between 2014 and 2015 that was comprised of two approaches. The first approach consisted of evaluating the noise of nine points divided into two groups “near the source” (e.g., up to 50 m from power poles) and “away from the source” (e.g., more than 250 m
away from the source). In the second approach, noise levels were measured for 72 h in
houses located up to 20 m from the source. The groups consist of residents living within
the distance range specified for each group. The measurement values were compared with
Sustainability 2015, 7 13921
the proposed criteria for assessing low-frequency noise using the DEFRA Guidance
(University of Salford). In the first approach, the noise caused discomfort, regardless of the group. In the second approach, the noise had fluctuating characteristics, which led us toconclude that the noise caused discomfort.
Keywords: noise pollution; low-frequency noise; DEFRA; human well-being; sustainability; power poles
1. Introduction
The current accelerated urbanization process in Europe has been accompanied by a number of
environmental and social problems arising from consumption patterns and lifestyle, such as greenhouse
gas emissions, waste and wastewater and environmental noise. These problems have significant
impacts on the environment, public health and people’s quality of life. Noise pollution is a current
public health problem associated with modern life and urbanization. This urban problem continues
to increase in extent, frequency and severity as a result of urbanization, population growth and technological development.
Although the concept of sustainability has been in existence and use for nearly 30 years, even today it is still easier to define the concept than to apply it in practice.
Environmental noise can be regarded as one of the agents of deterioration in people’s quality of life in an urban environment [1]. In Europe, noise achieves a significant level and is considered an environmental problem of major proportions and great impact. Accordingly, the European Noise
Directive was established in 2002. The European Network on Noise and Health (ENNAH) is a Network funded by the European Union that gathers expert groups on noise and health in Europe. The network brings together some 33 European research centers located in 16 countries to support public
policies to cope with noise and health, specifically, traffic noise [2]. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) lost due to environmental noise are “6000 years for ischemic heart disease, 45,000 years for cognitive impairment of children, 903,000 years
for sleep disturbance, 21,000 years for tinnitus and 587,000 years for annoyance” [3]. In addition, noise exposure is increasing in Europe.
Scientific evidence has proved that noise affects human health. On the other hand, it can be observed that large multinational organizations are increasingly concerned about this type of urban pollution. On the other hand, attention given to this topic focuses particularly on sources such as urban traffic,
occupational exposure and wind turbines. Yet, little or no attention has been given to low-frequency noise originating from power poles.
After considering the literature review, it can be stated that, in general, the effects of low-frequency noise are not as well researched as other noise sources. Some authorities, such as the WHO, recognize
the importance of environmental noise [3]. Nevertheless, the assessments adopted for low-frequency components and their effects on human health have received less focus than those of high frequencies in the academic literature, even though low frequencies are considered more annoying for humans [4–8].
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Moreover, the United Kingdom has been progressing towards tackling the issues surrounding
Low-Frequency Noise (LFN).
Noise and its impacts on health must be considered as quality of life indicators in sustainable cities. Studies on low-frequency noise emitted by power poles and its influence on human health are scarce, even if noise exposure has harmful effects and is a risk factor for human health. In Portugal, studies concerning low-frequency noise have focused on sources such as traffic, wind turbines and occupational exposure, specifically research carried out by the Center for Human Performance,
Alverca/Portugal, on vibroacoustic disease [9,10]. This research is motivated by the absence of studies regarding low-frequency sources, such as power poles and their effects on human health. This leads us to pose the following questions: (1) Do power poles and power lines cause noise? (2) Do power poles and power lines cause discomfort? (3) Do power poles and power lines cause discomfort due to noise?
(4) Do power poles and power lines cause an impact on human health?
The main objective of this paper is to analyze the exposure of the population to low-frequency noise from power poles in residential areas, especially in the village of Serzedelo (Municipality of Guimarães, northwestern Portugal), and its impacts on human health.  To accomplish this objective, two groups were considered: the “near the source” (e.g., distance to 400 kV power poles less than 50 m) group and the “away from the source” (e.g., distance to 400 kV power poles more than 250 m) group. In the second approach, a more in-depth analysis was carried out. which consisted of taking measurements for 72 h. All the measurement values were compared
with the values of the criterion curve proposed by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs [11] to evaluate whether the measured values cause annoying conditions. This study followed the sequence of an exploratory one, using surveys undertaken in 2010 in the village of Serzedelo using the same two groups: the “near the source” group (118 individuals were interviewed) and the “away from the source” group (55 individuals were interviewed) [12]. Although this study did not focus on the influence of low-frequency noise pollution, respondents only in the “near the source” group stated that they experienced discomfort from the noise. This paper is organized as follows: Section 2 presents a literature review of low-frequency noise
and human well-being; the material and methods are discussed in Section 3; the results and analysis are presented in Section 4; in Section 5, the evaluation of the perception of noise discomfort is presented. Finally, Section 6 presents the discussion and conclusions are drawn in Section 7.  2. Low-Frequency Noise and Human Well-Being
After the 1970s, several studies began highlighting the discomfort caused by environmental noise [3,8], especially traffic noise [1,13–15]. The most cited effects on human health refer to emotional changes, namely agitation, distraction, disappointment, stress, hypertension [7,16–18] and the association of low-frequency noise with cognitive impairments [19], the development of cardiovascular diseases [20,21], disturbances in sleep and heart rate [22–24] and hypertension [25,26].
In the field of occupational medicine, several studies claim that low-frequency noise is an agent that interferes with the performance of work tasks [25,27–29] and that low-frequency noise can affect mental and physical health.
Sustainability 2015, 7 13923 Exposure to noise has harmful effects and constitutes a risk factor for human health. Some authors have treated these effects under the name as vibroacoustic disease [10], vibroacoustic pathology or vibronoise pathology [30], i.e., systemic pathology encompassing the entire body, characterized by
abnormal proliferation of extracellular matrices caused by excessive and prolonged exposure to low-frequency noise (LFN) [10,31].
In Portugal, the first study of low-frequency noise dates back to 1979. The study focused on Portuguese Air Force health workers in the General Aeronautical Material Workshops (GAMW) (Table 1) [9,10].
The study led to a definition of three clinical stages of vibroacoustic disease: Stage I—Mild
(1–4 years), characterized by slight mood swings, indigestion and heartburn, oropharyngeal infections and bronchitis; Stage II—Moderate (4–10 years), characterized by chest pain, mood swings, back pain, fatigue, skin infections, inflammation of the gastric surface, pain and blood during urination, conjunctivitis and allergic processes; and Stage III—Severe (>10 years) characterized by psychiatric disorders, hemorrhages of nasal, digestive and conjunctive mucosa, varicose veins and hemorrhoids, duodenal ulcers, spastic colitis, decreased visual acuity, headaches, severe joint pain, intense muscular pain and neurological disturbances [9].
Table 1. Low-frequency noise and its effects on human health from different sources.
Authors Object Year Main Results Sample
Donald Laird
(Psychological Laboratory,
Colgate University)
Physiological effects of noise on typists
1928 Increase in energy expenditure when
subjected to noisy environments, when
the noise is smoothed on site the average
increase in calorie spending is lower.
4 experienced typists. E. Dart (Ford Occupational
Physician—Detroit, USA)
Description of symptoms observed in
aircraft technicians.
1946 Report of pain in the hands, swelling,
tenosynovitis and increased vascular tone.
112 aircraft technicians.
G. I. Rumancev Description of the symptoms of a group of
workers in a concrete factory in the Soviet Union
exposed to noise. 1961
Report of pain in the hands, swelling,
tenosynovitis and increased vascular tone.
Alexander Cohen
(National Institute for Occupational Safety and
Health, USA)
Description of clinical complaints of boiler plant
workers before and after the implementation of a hearing
protection programme.
Report of pain in the hands, swelling, tenosynovitis and increased vascular tone.
400 boiler plant workers. Yiming Zhao et al. (Research Center of Clinical Epidemiology;
Research Center of Occupational Medicine, Beijing—China)Description of the effects of
industrial noise on the prevalence of hypertension in a group of 1101 female
workers in a textile mill in Beijing, in 1985.
1991 Report that noise is a significant determinant of the prevalence
of hypertension. 1101 female workers.
Sustainability 2015, 7 13924
Table 1. Cont.
Authors Object Year Main Results Sample
N. V. Grechkovskaia and
I. A. Parpalei
Mention the vibronoise
pathology in workers of the
aircraft industry in
Kiev, Ukraine.
Report of disturbances such as
psychovegetative syndrome,
vegetative-vascular-trophic syndrome,
cerebral anguidystonic syndrome as initial
disturbances of vibronoise pathology.
V. D. Balunov,
A. F. Barsukov,
V. G. Artamonova
Research involving the
evaluation of the health
condition of building
industry workers engaged
into ferro-concrete
production in Saint
Petersburg, Russia,
submitted to infrasound,
noise and general vibration.
The health status was considered under
the combined action of infrasound, noise
and vibration generally presented greater
morbidity for this group.
62 molders
Nuno A. A. Castelo
Branco (Center of Human
Alverca, Portugal)
Research report initiated in
1979 about the systemic
changes caused by the
continuous exposure to
noise in the General
Aeronautical Material
Workshops in Portugal.
Prolonged exposure to low-frequency
sounds, below 500 Hz, presented clinical
concern, especially with the high
incidence of cases of sudden epilepsy and
fury. 20 years of research have led to
the definition of a new disease:
vibroacoustic disease.
Data collected for
20 years
Kerstin Persson Waye
(Department of
Environmental Medicine,
Göteborg University,
Description the effect of
ventilation noise was
further examined along
with traffic noise,
in two laboratory studies.
This study showed that the exposure to
low-frequency noise, especially at night,
may affect the cortisol response, i.e.,
lower cortisol levels after awakening
were associated with subjective reports of
mood and sleep quality.
Ventilation noise
and comparison
with traffic noise:
12 male subjects
with an average
age of 24.5 years
Ventilation noise:
26 male subjects
with an average
age of 26 years.
et al. (Department of
Physical Hazards, Nofer
Institute of Occupational
Medicine—Lodz, Poland)
Research to investigate the
annoyance of LFN at
workplaces in control rooms
and office-like areas.
There were no differences in the
annoyance assessments between
the groups (young and old
volunteers—females and males).
Both groups similarly assessed annoyance
from low-frequency noise.
55 young
70 older
Ta-Yuan Chang et al.
(China Medical
A joint study about
occupational noise exposure
and incident Hypertension
in Men.
High incidence of hypertension in
prolonged exposure to noise levels
≥85 dBA.
578 male workers
in Taiwan
(1998–2008), all
subjects were
divided into
exposure groups
(high, intermediate
and low).
Source: Adaptation from [16]. * No information.
Sustainability 2015, 7 13925
Exposure to low-frequency noise (LFN) has significant impacts on human health. This impact is
absorbed by auditory sensation, which is a function of the perception that encompasses aspects of
physiological, pathological and sociological order. There are caveats in relating certain harmful
effects to a single source of noise, but human exposure to multiple sources of noise must be used as
a criterion [3,6].
The publications on low-frequency noise shown in Table 1 are case-control studies, using large
samples and developed by interdisciplinary researchers. In general, they focus on occupational exposure.
These studies concluded that the clinical picture is similar in what concerns noise exposure: swelling
tenosynovitis, hand pain and hypertension.
Despite all the research on the effects of low-frequency noise and its impact on human health
conducted for more than a century, there are still no references to LFN from the electromagnetic field of power poles and power lines.
Electric, magnetic and electromagnetic fields are physical agents associated with the use of electricity for the transmission and transport of energy (low frequency, 60 Hz). These fields interact with living beings in general and the human body in particular, causing harmful effects by inducing electric currents that exceed the skin shield, damaging sensitive cells and organs [3,32]. For this
research, we used the criterion for low-frequency noise levels below 200 Hz.
Some studies show that low-frequency noise differs from other environmental noises at comparable levels. Much of the urban noise pollution we are exposed to in our daily environment contains significant energy within this range. Low-frequency noise is very common as background noise in urban environments. The effects of LFN are of particular concern because of their pervasiveness due to
numerous sources, efficient propagation and the reduced efficacy of many structures (e.g., walls, houses and hearing protection). For instance, low-frequency noise is a common cause of sleep disturbances, psychological distress, cognitive impairment, increased social conflict, anxiety, emotional instability
and nervousness.
3. Experimental Section
In this section, we briefly describe environmental noise measurements and procedures, as well as
meteorological data collection.
3.1. Study Area
Guimarães is located in the Ave sub-region of the Braga district in northwestern Portugal.
According to the 2011 Census of the National Institute of Statistics, the municipality’s population
totaled 158,124 inhabitants. Guimarães has a population of 54,097 inhabitants distributed among
20 villages and the population density is 2224 inhabitants/km2 [33].
The Guimarães municipality is crossed by four lines of 400 kV and nine lines of 150 kV. The village
of Serzedelo, located southwest of Guimarães city, has a population of 3680 inhabitants, covers an area
of 5.14 km2 and has a high density of power poles and power lines in its territory. In addition to these
facts, there is an electrical substation in Serzedelo with a transformer capacity of 2 × 360 MVA—Riba
de Ave Substation [33] (Figure 1).
Sustainability 2015, 7 13926
Figure 1. Study area—village of Serzedelo.
The village of Serzedelo has power poles less than five meters away from houses, which does not meet the recommendations of related legislation in force in Portugal (Figure 2). Ninety power poles and 12 power lines cover an area of little more than five km2, which means 80% of the village is exposed to high and very high voltage. Figure 2. Power poles and power lines in the village of Serzedelo. Sustainability 2015, 7 13927
3.2. Assessment Framework
The methodology used was based on a procedure developed by the Department of Environment,
Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), Acoustics Research Center, University of Salford—Procedure for the assessment of low-frequency noise complaints [12].
The noise assessments were made using a class 1 sound level meter with a 1/3-octave filter,  the noise indicator recorded was Leq in a range of 10–160 Hz and for an average time of five minutes.  The noise levels of the field measurements were compared with the criteria curve (Figure 3). The L10 and L90 were recorded in the same bands to achieve fluctuating characteristics. In the first approach, the noise measurements were taken for 20 min periods, and in the second approach the measurement time was 72 h periods. To evaluate whether an environmental sound could be responsible for the disturbance, the level of recorded sounds was compared with the criterion curve (Figure 3).
Figure 3. Criterion curve to assess low-frequency noise (Adapted from [12]).
Regarding fluctuations, according to the DEFRA methodology, when the L10–L90 difference
exceeds 4 dB, the sound fluctuates and a penalty should be imposed. The DEFRA suggests that 5 dB relaxation may be applied for steady sounds, rather than introducing a penalty for fluctuating sounds. Furthermore, it states that a fluctuating sound with an average level of 5 dB below the threshold would be audible, whereas a steady sound would not. Since the curve values at low frequency are set 5 dB below the threshold, this is again consistent with allowing relaxation for steady sounds. Using the DEFRA methodology [12], outdoor and indoor measurements were carried out in houses and nearby places. Two approaches were adopted for this research. The first was held in 2014, and the
second in 2015. Both assessments were made using a class 1 sound level meter with a 1/3-octave filter. The first approach was completed between June and July 2014 and entailed evaluating nine points, which were divided into two groups, considering their location due to the source under study. The measuring points were selected based on the methodology used by [11] concerning the exposure to electromagnetic fields in Serzedelo. This included houses near the source (e.g., within
50 m), and houses away from the source (e.g., at a distance equal to or greater than 250 m). Temperature and relative humidity were measured at an automatic meteorological station located in Merelim, Braga, the nearest meteorological station with available data (about 7 km away). In accordance with DEFRA, we used a sound level meter class 1, with third octave filters from 10 Hz to 160 Hz, Sustainability 2015, 7 13928
a tripod and a field calibrator. The height of the measurements was 1.2 m and was carried out at a distance more than 4 m away from the nearest facade. The following factors were considered to select the measurement points:
(a) Distance to 400 kV power poles of less than 250 m from the “near the source” group.
(b) Distance to 400 kV power poles of more than 250 m from the “away from the source” group.
(c) Avoidance of the influence of other noise sources such as road traffic;
(d) Preference for routes with low road traffic, away from highways and with an absence of noise barriers.  The noise measurements taken in the “near the source” group consisted of six points, outside houses located less than 50 m from the source (Figure 4 and Table 2). Measurements were taken over three days: 26 June, 3 July and 8 July 2014.
Table 2. Characteristics of measurement points in the “near the source” group.
Point Proximity to the Source Environmental Area
10 m away from a 400 kV
voltage power pole
Located near houses and extensive cultivation areas (urban garden).
5 m away from a 400 kV voltage
power pole
Located on higher ground over houses. During the measurement, the
passage of a garbage truck on cobbled ground near the measurement
location was recorded. Noise perceived: continuous noise from the power
pole. Less intense noise: birds, auto horn and cicada (insect).
C 5 m away from the source
Located near the houses and urban gardens with a high density of 150 kV
and 220 kV voltage power poles and power lines. Sounds emitted during
the measurement came from a lawnmower, birds, hammering, dogs
barking, roosters and sawmill works.
3 m away from a high-voltage
400 kV power pole
Located near the houses and comprises an area of the 400 kV power poles
corridor. The measurement was carried out near the inter-municipal
highway. At this point, there were reports of discomfort from noise on
wet, rainy days. In this aspect, residents reported using sleeping pills and
experiencing headaches and fatigue.
E 10 m away from the source
Located near the houses and extensive urban gardens. The area had a
concentrated, high density of high-voltage power poles and a mobile
phone antenna.
15 m away from the
electrical substation
Located near of the Riba de Ave Substation. The area is located near
houses and factories. The closest road, of granite cube, did not record
traffic during the measurement period. A microphone shield was used in
the sound level meter due to high wind speed.
The “away from the source” group consisted of three measurement points. This group comprised
locations between 200 and 300 m away from the influence of power poles and power lines (Figure 4
and Table 3). Measurements were performed over three days: 26 June, 3 July and 8 July 2014.
The second approach comprised three measurement points inside three houses located near the
source and in a room where annoyance was detected by the house owner. In point L, the appliances
were switched off for 20 min. In points J and M, there were no appliances. The three measurements
were divided into three blocks, considering the monitoring dates (February and March 2015) (Figure 5
Sustainability 2015, 7 13929
and Table 4). Point J was measured between 9–12 February, Point L between 11–14 March and
Point M between 14–17 March.
Figure 4. First approach—village of Serzedelo.
Table 3. Characteristics of measurement points in the “away from the source” group.
Point Proximity to the Source Environmental Area
250 m away from the influence of
power poles and power lines
During the measurement, a group of people was talking near
the sound level meter and there were also two light vehicles
belonging to local inhabitants
H 250 m away from the source
During the measurement, recording sounds came from light
vehicles, a child crying and a group of people talking next to
the sound level meter.
I About 400 m away from the source
The measurement was carried out at the side of a granite cube
road near some houses. Something to note was the presence of
an unidentified background noise.
For the second approach, three analyses were taken and compared with the criterion curve:
(1) complete measurement, i.e., comprising the measurement for 72 h (three days); (2) measurement
per day, i.e., the values per day, where differentiated, for each frequency band in the criterion curve;
and finally (3) measurement between 02:00–04:00, which characterizes night time, according to the
DEFRA Guidance.
To complement this approach, an interview was conducted with the person of contact, who also
agreed that the measurements could be taken inside the houses. This interview was standardized and
had 30 questions following DEFRA guidelines. The questionnaire was structured in three sections.
Sustainability 2015, 7 13930
The first one dealt with personal data (seven questions). The second section focused on health and the
quality of sleep (eleven questions) and, finally, the third section was concerned with the characteristics
of perceived noise (twelve questions).
Figure 5. Location of the three measurement points in the second approach.
Table 4. Characteristics of measurement points in the second approach.
Proximity to
the Source
Environmental Area
Presence of
5 m away from
a 400 kV
power pole
Located inside a house, in a garage
attached to the residence, where noise
from the source was detected.
House faced
Noise discomfort from the
power pole and some health
problems: depression,
headaches and insomnia.
15 m away
from a 400 kV
power pole
Located inside the house in a room
closest to the source, where the
interviewee felt the presence of
low-frequency noise the most. There
was a mobile phone antenna nearby.
The area was located close to a
residential area near the A7 highway.
House faced
Noise discomfort from the
power pole, especially on
humid and rainy days. Health
problems included fatigue,
headaches and insomnia.
10 m away
from a 400 kV
power pole
Located in an annex close to the source,
where the interviewee most felt the
presence of low-frequency noise.
House faced
Noise discomfort and stress.
In the village, there were
cases of cardiovascular
disease and stomach cancer.
Sustainability 2015, 7 13931
4. Results and Analysis
4.1. The First Approach
The noise measurements taken in the “near the source” group consisted of six points (points A to F).
The “away from the source” group consisted of three measurement points (points G to I).
Measurements were performed over three days: 26 June, 3 July and 8 July 2014.
The criterion reference curve was exceeded in all measurement points (dB Leq—Reference),
especially between the 50 Hz and 160 Hz frequency bands. According to DEFRA Guidance, the
measured levels at these frequencies would be considered audible to most people who are exposed to
them. The D, E and F measurement points showed a higher deviation relative to the criterion reference
curve (Figure 6a). Particularly in measurement point F, a higher deviation from the reference value
was recorded, which can be explained by its location near the Riba de Ave Substation. No association
was found between weather conditions and the noise levels measured (Table 5).
Figure 6. First approach—(a) Measurement point A to F (“near the source” group);
(b) Measurement point G to I (“away from the source” group).
The criterion reference curve was exceeded in all measurement points (dB Leq—Reference),
especially in the G and H measurement points, which presented a higher deviation from the reference
value beginning at 25 Hz (for the first) and 40 Hz (for the second). In the I measurement point,
Sustainability 2015, 7 13932
the deviation was very low—between 50 Hz and 160 Hz (Figure 6b). We could not establish a
relationship between weather conditions and the measured noise levels (Table 5).
Both groups exceeded the values in the criterion curve (dB Leq—Reference). There are two possible
explanations for these results: (1) The low-frequency noise detected in the “away from the source”
group could result from other sources; (2) The need to redefine the limits of the “near the source” and
“away from the source” groups, i.e., what is being regarded as “away from the source” could be
classified as “near the source”. Given the specific characteristics of low-frequency noise, especially its
high capacity for propagation and low absorption by materials and the environment, redefining the
limits of the groups could be accounted for.
Table 5. Weather Conditions, Average [34].
Wind Speeds
26 June 2014
17 0.0 1.5 77.5 Point A and F
3 July 2014 22.9 0.0 3.5 52.5 Point B, C and H
8 July 2014 28 0.0 13 37 Point D, E, F and G
4.2. The Second Approach
The second approach comprised three measurement points inside three houses (points J–M). For the
second approach, three analyses were taken and compared with the criterion curve: (1) complete
measurement for 72 h (three days); (2) measurement per day; and finally (3) measurement between
02:00–04:00, which characterizes night time, according to the DEFRA Guidance.
In both analyses of point J, “complete measurement” and “measurement per day”, the reference
values of the criterion curve were exceeded at the 50 Hz frequency band (Figure 7a,b). Given the lack
of home appliances nearby, the high values on the 50 Hz frequency band recorded in the daytime
analysis are due to other sources. In the night-time measurement analysis, the values in the criterion
curve were not exceeded (Figure 7c).
Figure 7. Cont.
Sustainability 2015, 7 13933
Figure 7. Point J (a) Complete Measurement (b) Measurement per day and (c) Measurement at night.
The noise measured over three days showed fluctuating characteristics (Table 6). The evaluation ofthe fluctuating characteristics of noise was carried out by determining L10–L90 for periods of 15 min, for 72 h and for the 50 Hz frequency band (exceeded bandwidth). The L10–L90 values are greater than
4 dB over 33.90% of the time (Figure 8 and Table 6). During the night period (2:00 to 4:00), for the
three days, this value was exceeded for most of this period. In another hand, it was not possible to
establish a correlation between weather conditions and the measured noise levels (Figure 9).
Table 6. Point J—Fluctuating Characteristics, percentage of time that L10–L90 ≥ 4 dB.
10 12.5 16 20 25 31.5 40 50 63 80 100 125 160
L10–L90 ≥ 4 14 41.5 21.1 27.7 27 42.9 38.1 33.9 31.5 32.9 29.8 38.4 34.9
Sustainability 2015, 7 13934
Figure 8. Point J—L10–L90—1/3 Oct 50 Hz.
Figure 9. Point J—Weather Conditions [34] (a) Relative Humidity and (b) Air Temperature.
At point L, the equipment was installed inside the kitchen of the residence, where the interviewee
claimed she could hear the noise. Due to the influence of the equipment, an analysis was made for
20 min using shutdown equipment.
Sustainability 2015, 7 13935
Figure 10. Point L (a) Complete Measurement (b) Measurement per day and (c) Measurement
at night.
According to [11], this is the frequency band in which refrigerators operate, which could account
for the reference values being exceeded in the 50 Hz frequency band (Figure 11). This deduction can
be confirmed with the results obtained after shutdown equipment (Figure 12), where the criterion curve
was exceeded in this band (50 Hz). It was not possible to establish a correlation between the air
temperature, relative humidity and the measured noise levels (Figure 13).
Sustainability 2015, 7 13936
The fluctuating L10–L90 noise characteristics were determined for periods of 15 min for three days
of measurement. The noise during the complete measurement showed fluctuating characteristics
during 39.1% of the time for band 50 Hz (Table 7). However, during the night-time measurement
(2:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m.), this value was exceeded for most of this period over the three days (Figure 11).
Figure 11. Point L—L10–L90—1/3 Oct 50 Hz.
Figure 12. Point L—Shutdown (20 min).
Figure 13. Cont.
Sustainability 2015, 7 13937
Figure 13. Point L—Weather Conditions [34] (a) Relative Humidity and (b) Air Temperature.
Table 7. Point L—Fluctuating Characteristics, percentage of time that L10–L90 ≥ 4 dB.
Frequency (Hz) 10 12.5 16 20 25 31.5 40 50 63 80 100 125 160
L10–L90 ≥ 4
22.8 28.0 33.6 25.6 23.4 33.2 33.6 39.1 32.9 42.6 31.8 28.0 22.5
Shutdown (20 min)
L10–L90 ≥ 4
25.0 50.0 25.0 0.0 25.0 0.0 0.0 25.0 25.0 50.0 50.0 25.0 25.0
At point M, the sound level meter was installed in the outer area of the residence, inside an annex
away from electrical appliance interference. In all time scales, the criterion curve was exceeded
between the 50 Hz and 160 Hz frequency bands. The measurement shows the highest exceeding values
in the second approach, particularly in the 80 Hz frequency band (Figure 14).
We highlight the high noise levels, which exceeded 40 Hz, and records of almost 50% of the time for
50 Hz, 63 Hz and 80 Hz bands (Table 8). Due to the high overdrive bands, an attempt was made to
correlate the noise levels measured with the weather conditions. However, this was not possible
(Figure 15).
Figure 14. Cont.
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Figure 14. Point M (a) Complete Measurement (b) Measurement per day and
(c) Measurement at night.
Figure 15. Cont.
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Figure 15. Point M (a,b) Weather conditions [34]; (c) Relative humidity vs. Leq (50–160 Hz)
and (d) Air temperature vs. Leq (50–160 Hz).
Table 8. Point M—Fluctuating characteristics, percentage of time that L10–L90 ≥ 4 dB.
10 12.5 16 20 25 31.5 40 50 63 80 100 125 160
L10–L90 ≥ 4 15.3 27.1 41.7 41.3 43.4 48.6 55.6 40.3 43.8 45.8 33.7 37.2 38.5
Sustainability 2015, 7 13940
For the evaluation of the fluctuating characteristics of the noise, the L10–L90 difference was
determined for periods of 15 min for the three days of measurement (Table 8) and exceeded the
frequency bands, i.e., the 50–160 Hz range (Figure 16). The exceeded frequency bands presented
fluctuating characteristics for 55.6%, 40.3%, 43.8%, 45.8%, 33.7%, 37.2% and 38.5% of the
measurement time, respectively, for the frequency bands of 40 Hz, 50 Hz, 63 Hz, 80 Hz, 100 Hz,
125 Hz and 160 Hz.
Figure 16. Cont.
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Figure 16. (a) Point M—L10–L90—1/3 Oct 40 Hz; (b) 1/3 Oct 50 Hz; (c) 1/3 Oct 63 Hz;
(d) 1/3 Oct 80 Hz; (e) 1/3 Oct 100 Hz; (f) 1/3 Oct 125 Hz and (g) 1/3 Oct 160 Hz.
5. Evaluation of the Perception of Noise Discomfort
5.1. The First Approach
The residents of Serzedelo village have expressed their dissatisfaction with power lines in the area
through their own initiative, the National Civic Movement Against High-Voltage Power Lines. In 2007,
the village’s inhabitants filed a petition against the National Energy Company to bury the aerial power
lines crossing the village, but to date, nothing has been done. Subsequently, in 2010, a team from the
University of Minho (Portugal), supported by the local population and the leader of this movement,
conducted an exploratory study in Serzedelo.
The study used two groups: a “near the source” group (118 individuals were interviewed) and
an “away from the source” group (55 individuals were interviewed). The most frequent diseases
identified were cardiovascular diseases (35.6% in the “near the source” and 42.6% in the other group),
and depression (22.9% in the “near group” and 20.4% in the other group). However, there were no
significant differences between the two groups [11]. Additionally, self-awareness of general health was
Sustainability 2015, 7 13942
not perceived differently by the two groups. Perhaps these kinds of diseases could be related more to
the influence of noise than to exposure to electromagnetic fields (power poles and power lines), which
was the main focus of the study. Even if at that time the study did not focus on the influence of
low-frequency noise pollution, it was concluded that only the “near source” group spontaneously
mentioned that the noise was always present in their daily lives (in fact 9.3%), while there was no
mention of the noise by residents of the group “away from the source”.
5.2. The Second Approach
According to the DEFRA Guidance [12], persons living near the measurement points that
mentioned discomfort due to noise should be interviewed to provide other background information to
complement the analysis. For this reason, we interviewed three people that were engaged with the
three points of measurement of the second approach. Two men and a woman were interviewed, aged
between 40 to 70 years old, who had lived in Serzedelo village between 4 and 40 years. Two had a
university degree, while the older person had been a postman for 25 years.
For all of them, the noise is continuous in periods of rain, with fog and wet weather. The following
narratives express this perception.
In the evening, I hear a sound and during the day something that seems like sparks
(Point L, female, 55 years old).
I hear a continuous hissing sound (Point J, male, 69 years old).
For all the respondents, noise has been heard continuously and coincides with the time of
experience of living in Serzedelo, expressed in the following two narratives.
I have heard the noise since 1985, when this 400 kV power pole was installed (Point J,
male, 69 years old).
I have heard the noise for several years or more since living in this house (Point M, male,
45 years old).
All the respondents reported that other people who lived with them or nearby hear noise, as did
their wives, children, visitors and neighbors. The power poles are seen as the source of the noise by all
the respondents.
The noise comes from electric poles placed to the north and south of the house (Point L,
female, 55 years old).
The noise can be heard by respondents inside the house, in the living room, the bedroom and the
kitchen. They mentioned that they have adopted strategies to alleviate the noise, such as “sleeping in a
different room from the usual”, “sleeping in a different position or changing the bed position”, “using
earplugs” or “going on vacation”. The discomfort caused by noise varies between the perceptions from
“very uncomfortable” to a “little bother”.
6. Discussion
Although there is a study focused on the risk of death in Guimarães [35], using 1997 and 2005 data,
which was a response from the regional and local health authorities to the demands of the population
Sustainability 2015, 7 13943
of Serzedelo village and to the National Civic Movement Against High-Voltage Power Line demands
this was not, in fact, a good solution to the problem. The study did not show significant differences in
the risk of death and major causes of death in the population living in Serzedelo village, when
compared to the north of the country and with Portugal as a whole. This happened because of the type
of approach adopted. Mortality indicators are not sufficient to express the relationship between the low
frequency noise, the electromagnetic fields and the different types of cancer as the diseases related to
this type of exposure are currently those that involve a lower risk of death. Taking this into account,
an approach is needed to address the mortality data which can be obtained by the general official
statistics. This inference contradicts the solution that was given by the health authorities, as well as the
need to conduct more comprehensive studies.
Compared with the reference values of the DEFRA Guidance [12], noise from power poles exceeds
the criterion curve. However, more measurements should be carried out in order to consider other
factors that may influence the measured values. A survey investigating noise discomfort experienced
by an exposed population, as well as knowledge of the population’s health status, and access to
morbidity data could complement this analysis.
The concern with the characterization of the surrounding environment is one of the missing aspects
in DEFRA methodology. The low-frequency noise levels can vary considerably within a room
depending on the measurement location and this can occur when the room dimensions are similar to
the wavelength of the sound at these frequencies. The weather seems to be another important aspect
that could influence the noise propagation, therefore future research should include measurements
both in dry and wet periods. A methodology by season may reveal other noise levels and different
perceptions by the population about their discomfort.
7. Conclusions
At the moment we cannot fully answer the fourth question: “Can power poles and power lines affect
human health?” This is a complex issue and requires further study. In particular, the issue needs to be
developed closely by conducting population surveys. In Portugal, as there are no morbidity data on a
village scale for the spectrum of diseases related to this type of problem, the only option is to interview
the population. This will follow the same “near the source” and “away from the source” methodology
and be based on other variables such as type and duration of exposure to the source, age, self-reported
health status and presence of diseases that may influence, among others, depressive disorders and insomnia.
It can be concluded that there is a need to redefine the location range of “away from the source” and
“near the source” groups. It makes more sense to opt for people who live far from the source than
those who live closer, as they are likely to be less subjected to influences from other sources (e.g.,
homes with no crossing of highways, people with a fairly healthy diet and a no-stress lifestyle) and
residences in rural areas.
No association was found between weather conditions and the noise levels measured. However, we
believe that the relationship between low frequency noise levels and weather conditions such as
relative humidity, rainfall and wind direction exists, and should be studied to complement this analysis.
All environmental characteristics should be taken into account (type of terrain, proximity to other
sources of noise, existence of obstacles and factors that facilitate the propagation of noise), especially
Sustainability 2015, 7 13944
due to the peculiar characteristics of high propagation of low-frequency noise and its low absorption
by materials and the environment.
The limitations of research of this nature focus mainly on assigning disturbing effects on human
health to a single factor. Health status is a complex factor that involves multiple aspects, such as
lifestyle, as well as genetic and environmental factors. A single indicator may not put into perspective
the magnitude of the health problems. Future research along these lines should consider these issues.
Additionally, case-control type studies seem to be the most appropriate for continuing this type of
research. It is essential to keep track of the daily lives of the interviewees and monitor their lifestyles
(e.g., diet and sleep quality), aspects related to labor dynamics (e.g., the history of activities performed,
type of activity currently carried out), genetic predisposition (e.g., history of disease cases in the
closest family circle), characterization of the house structure (e.g., position of the bedroom in the
residence and amount of electronic equipment). This last item should be thoroughly analyzed.
In addition to their bedrooms, where the interviewees spend much of the night, the rooms where they
spend most of their time during the day and evening should also be studied in-depth.
This research is part of a more structured investigation that was started in 2009 at the University
of Minho, which focused on the influence of low-frequency noise and electromagnetic fields on
human health.
The authors wish to acknowledge CAPES/Brazil for the doctoral scholarship in Geography
for Juliana Araújo Alves (Process: BEX-1684-13/2) and Bruno Ricardo Dias Gonçalves
Mendes (Ph.D. Student at the Faculty of Engineering, University of Minho) for the technical support in
this research.
Author Contributions
The authors contributed equally to this work.
Conflicts of Interest
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
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BERENIS – The Swiss expert group on electromagnetic fields and non-ionising radiation Newsletter Nr. 16 / April 2019

BERENIS – The Swiss expert group
on electromagnetic fields and non-ionising radiation
Newsletter Nr. 16 / April 2019

Summaries and assessments of selected studies
In the period from late April to early August 2018, 57 new publications have been identified, and eight of these were discussed in depth by BERENIS. Based on the selection criteria, three of these publications were selected as the most relevant ones. Their summaries and assessments are provided below.
1) Experimental animal and cell studies 50 Hz magnetic fields impair cognitive and motor abilities of honey bees (Shepherd et al. 2018)
In the study by Shepherd et al. (2018) honey bees were exposed to extremely low frequency magnetic fields (ELF-MF) (50 Hz) with intensities of 20-100 μT and 1000-7000 μT. Comparable magnetic fields can be found at ground level below high voltage power lines or in the immediate vicinity of the conductor cables. Learning and memory were tested by means of the proboscis extension response of the bees with respect to glucose (olfactory learning). Short-term exposure of one minute showed a dose-dependent impairment of the learning behaviour. This impairment was still visible one hour after the exposure. In order to investigate the effect of the ELF-MF on the flight behaviour, changes in the wing beat frequency during tethered flight were measured. An intensity-dependent increase in the wing beat frequency was observed, however, the difference to the unexposed control bees was only statistically significant at the highest intensity (7000 μT). The effects of 100 μT magnetic fields on foraging were studied in a flight tunnel, showing that while the number of successful outgoing flights was reduced, flights returning to the hive were not affected.  The results suggest that ELF-MF (50 Hz) emitted from power lines may be an environmental stressor for honey bees, with the potential to impact their cognitive and motor abilities, which could in turn affect pollination. The underlying mechanisms are unclear, although the magnetosensitive system of the bees could be involved. Further studies are needed to elucidate the mechanisms of action, and to gain a better understanding of the observations made here.
Magnetoreception: on the influence of weak static magnetic fields on biological processes (Zwang et al. 2018)
The study by Zwang et al. (2018) investigates a possible concept of magnetoreception, the ability to perceive a magnetic field (MF). While it is widely accepted that some animal species such as migratory birds have the ability to detect the Earth’s weak magnetic field and use it for navigation, the underlying sensing mechanism and organ has remained largely speculative. Proposed mechanisms include iron-containing nanoparticles and magnetically sensitive biochemical processes that involve radical pairing (i.e. reactive molecules with unpaired electrons). With regard to the latter mechanism, the current scientific focus is on the photoreceptor cryptochrome (see BERENIS Newsletter Nr. 13 – March 2018), while the biochemical processes and its integration into the regulatory mechanisms of the cells are still unclear. The publication by Zwang et al. (2018) addresses exactly this question by studying the influence of weak static magnetic fields on an enzymatic reaction by a well-controlled cell-free system using purified biomolecules. They used a short piece of DNA with a specific damage (a chemical modification of pyrimidine DNA bases – thymine and cytosine) resulting from UV-C irradiation, which is coupled to a microchip with electrodes. In bacteria, such thymine dimers are repaired in a light dependent reaction by so-called photolyases,
BERENIS – The Swiss expert group
on electromagnetic fields and non-ionising radiation
Newsletter Nr. 16 / April 2019

which are related to the cryptochromes of higher organisms. Both of them are able to absorb blue
light and use the energy to transfer electrons from one molecule to another, involving the formation
of radical pairs. In the case of the photolyases, an electron is transferred to the reduced flavin
cofactor (FAD, flavin adenosine dinucleotide) then to the thymine dimer i in order to repair the
damage before returning to the flavin while reverting the damaged base. In elaborated control
experiments with their microchip, the authors showed that they can follow this repair process, and
that the efficiency of this process is influenced by weak static magnetic fields. They observed that a
0.6 gauss magnetic field (60 μT), thus only 1.5 times stronger than the Earth’s magnetic field at the
site of the experiment, already reduced the repair efficiency of the thymine dimers. Stronger
magnetic fields up to 30 gauss (3 mT) resulted in a further dose-dependent reduction of the reaction,
whereas fields with higher magnetic flux densities did not yield any stronger enhancement of the effect. Furthermore, it was investigated whether this DNA repair reaction and its sensitivity to MF exposure applies for the related cryptochromes that are thought to be not effective in the repair of the thymine dimers, since they hardly bind to the DNA. For this purpose, the authors shortened a plant cryptochrome down to the conserved region in the photolyases, and again they observed a
repair activity as well as an impact of the MF. Another interesting observation was that this reduction was not only dependent on the strength but also the direction of the MF, and that this reduction was effective only on the microchip where all DNA molecules are aligned but not when they were free floating in solution. Another important conclusion of the authors was that the magnetosensitive radical pairing is not located on the photolyase-flavin complex as hypothesised, but in the thymine dimer itself. In the last step of the repair process, two radicals form on the two dimerized bases.  Returning the electron back to the flavin, this either lead to the separation and thus repair or to falling back to the original thymine dimer. The authors conclude that the magnetic field shifts this balance to the disadvantage of the thymine dimer repair.
In summary, this innovative study provides conceptual insight on how a magnetic compass of living organisms may function at the molecular and biochemical level. For the first time, the direct influence of weak magnetic fields on biologically relevant enzymatic processes could be shown, in which the radical pairing mechanisms play a role. However, the search for the magnetic sensor or the magnetosensitive biological process is not conclusively resolved. It seems rather unlikely that a biological compass is based on the relatively dangerous UV-C induced damage of the genetic material. In addition, the fixed molecular structures required for such a mechanism are not known. In respect to the role of cryptochromes of higher organisms as magnetoreceptor, there is still a lot of space for further experimental studies regarding the mode of operation and the influence of manmade electromagnetic fields.

Epidemiological studies Mobile phone radiation and adolescents’ memory performance in Switzerland (Foerster et al. 2018)
The study of Foerster et al. (2018) investigated the relationship between exposure to RF-EMF from wireless communication devices and memory performance in adolescents. The study follows up a report published by Schoeni et al. in 2015, with twice the sample size and more recent information on the absorption of RF-EMF in adolescents’ brains. Almost 700 adolescents aged 12 to 17 years participated in the study over a period of one year. The participants were recruited from 7th to 9th public school grades in urban and rural areas of Swiss-German speaking Switzerland. Figural and verbal memory performance was measured twice with a one-year follow-up period using standardised computer tests. In addition, with the consent of the parents and the adolescents, the
BERENIS – The Swiss expert group on electromagnetic fields and non-ionising radiation
Newsletter Nr. 16 / April 2019
analysis included objectively collected mobile phone usage data from the Swiss mobile service providers, covering the entire study period. Environmental RF-EMF exposure was individually modelled for the school and residence of the study participants. A subgroup of the adolescents also participated in a personal RF-EMF measurement study. Based on these usage and exposure data, the
cumulative RF-EMF dose from mobile phones and other wireless communication devices was calculated both for the brain and for the whole body. The study found that cumulative RF-EMF brain exposure from mobile phone use over one year may have a negative effect on the development of figural memory performance in adolescents, confirming prior results published in 2015. Figural memory is mainly located in the right brain hemisphere, and association with RF-EMF was more
pronounced in adolescents using the mobile phone on the right side of the head (80% of study participants). Verbal memory is mainly located in the left brain hemisphere. With regard to usage data from mobile service providers, adolescents using their mobile phone also on the left side of the head tended to show a negative effect on the development of their verbal memory. Other aspects of wireless communication use, such as sending text messages, playing games or browsing the internet
cause only marginal RF-EMF exposure to the brain and were not associated with the development of memory performance over one year.  The dependence of the results on the laterality and the absence of associations in the negative exposure control variables texting, gaming and browsing the internet may suggest that RF-EMF absorbed by the brain is responsible for the observed associations. Most of the cumulative brain dose was from own mobile phone calls, while the contribution of mobile phone base stations and Wi- Fi was low. This is the world’s first epidemiological study that has made dose calculations for the
adolescent brain, using objectively collected usage data from mobile service providers. The effects were relatively small and the underlying mechanism is unclear. An influence of other factors thus cannot be ruled out. For instance, the study results could have been affected by puberty, which affects both mobile phone use and the participant’s behaviour as well as cognitive abilities.  A German / French summary of the complete HERMES study has recently been published in a Swiss periodical (Roser et al., 2018). In addition to the memory effects described here, the HERMES study
also investigated possible influences on behaviour, nonspecific symptoms and the ability to concentrate.
Foerster M, Thielens A, Joseph W, Eeftens M, Röösli M (2018): A Prospective Cohort Study of Adolescents’ Memory Performance and Individual Brain Dose of Microwave Radiation from Wireless Communication. Environ Health Perspect. 2018 Jul 23;126(7):077007.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30044230 Roser K, Schoeni A, Foerster M, Röösli M (2018): Wie wirkt die Nutzung und die Strahlung von Mobiltelefonen auf Jugendliche? [Quels sont les effets de l’utilisation et du rayonnement des téléphones mobiles sur les jeunes?] Primary and Hospital Care – Allgemeine Innere Medizin, 2018:
18(21): 386–388. https://primary-hospital-care.ch/de/article/doi/phc-d.2018.01852/
Schoeni A, Roser K, Röösli M (2015): Memory performance, wireless communication and exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields: a prospective cohort study in adolescents. Environ Int.
2015 Dec;85:343-51. Epub 2015 Oct 30. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26474271

BERENIS – The Swiss expert group
on electromagnetic fields and non-ionising radiation
Newsletter Nr. 16 / April 2019
Shepherd S, Lima MAP, Oliveira EE, Sharkh SM, Jackson CW, Newland PL (2018): Extremely Low
Frequency Electromagnetic Fields impair the Cognitive and Motor Abilities of Honey Bees. Sci Rep.
2018 May 21;8(1):7932. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29785039
Zwang TJ, Tse ECM, Zhong D, Barton JK (2018): A Compass at Weak Magnetic Fields Using Thymine
Dimer Repair. ACS Cent Sci. 2018 Mar 28;4(3):405-412. Epub 2018 Mar 7.

Dr Stefan Dongus
BERENIS Secretariat
Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute
Department of Epidemiology and Public Health
Environmental Exposures and Health Unit
Socinstr. 57, P.O. Box, CH-4002 Basel, Switzerland
Tel: +41 61 284 8111
Email: stefan.dongus@swisstph.ch

MPs claim 5G ‘electromagnetic radiation’ is carcinogenic and kills insects

MPs claim 5G ‘electromagnetic radiation’ is carcinogenic and kills insects

We don’t have enough faces or palms

MPs claim 5G 'electromagnetic radiation' is carcinogenic and kills insects

A GROUP OF ill-informed MPs have argued that 5G ‘electromagnetic radiation’ is carcinogenic, worse for the environment than aviation and could wipe out the world’s insect population.

The claims were made in a debate moved by Gower MP Tonia Antoniazzi on Tuesday, where MPs discussed the risk of “health-related effects of electromagnetic fields” – a long-debunked urban myth – and 5G communications.

Antoniazzi cited Washington State University’s Dr Martin Phall who has described the 5G rollout as “absolutely insane“. Phall also claims that electromagnetic fields are responsible for autism and is a favourite of conspiracy theorist David Icke.

“The government are sweeping the health concerns under the carpet and there appears to be an absolute refusal to acknowledge that the health-related effects even exist,” claimed Antoniazzi.

“What shocked me was the number of people who have ES [electromagnetic sensitivity] but are too afraid to talk publicly about their illness, because they are really wary of being humiliated and ostracised.

“Electrosensitivity is the symptomatic sensitivity to electric or magnetic fields of any frequency, including radio frequency transmissions. The condition was first described in 1932. It is when a person’s physiology is affected by external electromagnetic fields, giving rise to a spectrum of symptoms, which are often neurological.

“It is therefore an illness caused by environmental agents – essentially, an environmental toxic pollutant.”

Symptoms, apparently, include headaches, fatigue, disturbed sleep, limb pain, stabbing pains, brain fog and impaired cognitive function, dizziness, tinnitus, nose bleeds and palpitations.

“I will not accept the response that electrosensitivity does not exist; studies show that it does. It has many effects that are not at all subjective, including effects on proteins and DNA, cell death, altered brain activity and effects in animals, as my honourable friends have mentioned. Those effects can be measured, and they cannot be dismissed as being all in the mind.”

Geraint Davies, MP for neighbouring Swansea West, added that “4G has the same carbon footprint as all of aviation, and 5G will be a lot more”.

He claimed that 5G would also have a “detrimental impact on insect life”, which is decreasing in number at a rate of 2.5 per cent a year. He suggested that “the precautionary principle” ought to be applied to the roll-out of 5G, which presumably means that it shouldn’t proceed, “even if all sorts of commercial threats are being made to the government behind closed doors”.

Belief in electromagnetic radiation even extends to the shadow front bench, with David Drew MP, the shadow minister for environment, food and rural affairs joining in: “I have met people who are incredibly affected by electromagnetic sensitivity – to the extent that, when they moved into their house, they had to have the smart meter taken out, and even asked their neighbour to take out theirs.

“Once that happened, their health dramatically improved. People say that electromagnetic sensitivity is all psychosomatic, but I have seen the evidence of people’s sensitivity to electromagnetic waves. If we ignore it, there will certainly be health and biological consequences, and there may be many more problems.”

He demanded that the government respond “to the growing evidence”, adding: “There is growing concern, and it needs to be recognised and answered.”

And the shadow minister for public health, Sharon Hodgson, added her not considerable scientific knowledge to the debate, too: “I had heard… that 5G can go through us, where other things go around us, so it cannot go through trees but it can go through humans. There is a lot more we need to know about the technology.”

Thankfully, or perhaps remarkably, in view of the expertise thus far demonstrated in the debate, the parliamentary under-secretary for health and social care, Seema Kennedy MP, was able to offer some actual science.

“People ask whether radio wave exposure levels are increasing and whether there could be health consequences, and I want to put on record right at the beginning that, very importantly, radio waves are non-ionising radiation.

“That means that the packets of energy that form the radiation are too small to break chemical bonds: the radiation cannot damage cells and cause cancer in the same way as ionising radiation,” said Kennedy, adding that a lot of research has already been done in the UK and around the world into the issue.

She also noted: “Health concerns about electromagnetic fields have been raised in relation to each successive wave of new communications services, from 2G to 3G and 4G mobile phone networks, and with WiFi, smart meters and now 5G.”

There is, of course, an awful lot of nonsense written and amplified online about 4G, 5G and the risks posed by electromagnetic fields in general, such as the suggestion that it kills birdsinhibits plant growthturns people into ‘snowflakes’, and requires hazmat suits for installation.

It doesn’t reflect well on the calibre of MP today that some of that nonsense should be echoed in the chamber of the House of Commons.  µ




The case against 5G comes to Sonoma

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The case against 5G comes to Sonoma

Posted on July 1, 2019 by Sonoma Valley Sun

On a recent Saturday, the foes of 5G—and the world it would create—were out in force at Vintage House on First Street East. They had come to hear Dafna Tachover, the Israeli-born founder of We Are the Evidence, an international organization that publicizes the woes inflicted on humans by wireless radiation. It’s sometimes called “Micro Sickness” and “Electromagnetic Hyper Sensitivity.”

Tachover is one of many humans harmed by laptops and cellphones. More and more people say they have the same symptoms she has. They are in Sonoma and all over the world.

Ten years ago, soon after she bought a new laptop computer for her work, Tachover felt odd. She had heart palpitations, experienced what she calls ‘cognitive block in the brain” and felt tingly sensations in her hands and feet.

It wasn’t just the new laptop that caused the problems. All wireless devices made her feel that she wasn’t herself, and that something had taken over her mind and her body.

Tachover moved away from New York where she had been living and working as a lawyer. For two years, her home was her own car; it was the only environment in which she felt anywhere near her normal self.

“Flying was a nightmare,” she says. “Airports were the worst.” To escape from wireless devices and from radiation, she lived in the Catskill Mountains in New York State, and later in a tent in Green Bank, West Virginia, a town that has no cell towers and where people who suffer from “micro sickness” go to get healthy.

These days, Tachover has no fixed abode; some of her friends and fans call her “a Wandering Jew.” Over the last few months she has wandered across California and brought her message to receptive audiences.

Born in Israel in 1972, and descended from Iraqi Jews on her mother’s side of the family and European Jews on her father’s side, Tachover served in the Israeli military from 1990 to 1993. As a lieutenant, she managed the computer center for the Israeli Defense Forces. “I don’t remember anything I did there,” she says. “I erased it all from my memory.” That’s probably for the best.

In 1998, she became an Israeli lawyer, and the following year she brought legal action against the Ministry of Education to ban all use of WIFI in schools in Israel. “I wanted to save the children,” she says. “My duty was to protect them.” Though she submitted affidavits from school kids who said that WIFI made them sick, the court ruled against her. Yedioth Aheonoth, a daily newspaper published in Tel Aviv, called her  “A Radiation Victim,” a title she has rejected, though she explains that she is a victim of government and industry lies about wireless communication.

Before a lively audience at Vintage House, Tachover offered mostly bad news. “We are going into a world I don’t want to be part of,” she says. “The future looks like a very bad place.”

Tachover doesn’t expect people to throw away all their devices and she doesn’t only offer bad news. “You don’t have to give up your phone,” she explained. Still, she urges everyone to turn off cellphones as much as possible, op out from so-called “smart meters,” get rid of Blue Tooth, and disable WIFI when not in use.

“Keep your house as free from these devices as you can,” she says. “And keep up the fight against 5G which will increase exposure to radiation.” Sometimes faster isn’t better. Sometimes more information delivered in fewer seconds than ever before isn’t real progress.

— By Jonah Raskin


5G logo over a city at night

5G, the next generation of cellular technology for the next generation of smartphones, is imminent. And with it, there’s concern about the health risk of this new, more powerful network. How worried should you be about the coming 5G healthpocalypse?

By now, you may have seen articles on Facebook or alternative health websites. The gist: 5G is a dangerous escalation of traditional cellular technology, one packed with higher energy radiation that delivers potential damaging effects on human beings. Some 5G pundits contend that the new network generates radiofrequency radiation that can damage DNA and lead to cancer; cause oxidative damage that can cause premature aging; disrupt cell metabolism; and potentially lead to other diseases through the generation of stress proteins. Some articles cite research studies and opinions by reputable organizations like the World Health Organization.

It sounds worrisome, but let’s take a look at the actual science.

What Is 5G?

5G has been hyped for a few years, but this is the year that carriers begin the process of rolling out the new wireless standard. AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint have all started to deploy their networks in the first half of the year, though widespread availability is still a year or more away. 5G will get a foothold in little more than a handful of cities this year.

That isn’t keeping device manufacturers and service providers from jumping onto the 5G bandwagon. Samsung’s new Galaxy S10 and Galaxy Fold (the phone that unfurls into a tablet), for example, are both 5G-ready, along with models from LG, Huawei, Motorola, ZTE, and more.

LG V50 ThinQ 5G
LG V50 ThinQ 5G’s is one of the first 5G phones available. LG

5G offers at least a tenfold improvement in network performance. The last major network upgrade was 4G, which debuted in 2009 (the year of the Colorado balloon boy hoax), with a peak speed of about 10 Mbps. In comparison, 5G is poised to deliver peak speeds between 10 and 20 Gbps. And network latency will drop from 30ms to about 1ms, ideal for video game streaming, online video, and the Internet of Things, which is anticipating 5G to connect sensors, computers, and other devices with ultra-low latency.

RELATED: What Is 5G, and How Fast Will It Be?

An Evolution of Concerns

Before we address 5G, it’s worth pointing out that the latest health fears about radiation aren’t happening in a vacuum (there’s some physics joke in there, no doubt). Concerns about 5G are the latest iteration of decades of headlines about the dangers of electromagnetic radiation. We’ve seen controversies about everything from the health risks of Wi-Fi to smart meters.

Electromagnetic hypersensitivity, for example, is a hypothetical disease in which certain people experience debilitating symptoms in the presence of radiation like cell phones and Wi-Fi—so yes, Michael McKean’s bizarre behavior on “Better Call Saul” is a real thing. But despite people claiming such sensitivities for at least 30 years, systematic scientific reviews have found that “blinded” victims can’t tell when they’re in the presence of an electromagnetic field, and the World Health Organization now recommends psychological evaluation for people so afflicted.

Likewise, decades of studies have found no link between cell phones and cancers like brain tumors, though that hasn’t kept municipalities like San Francisco from passing laws requiring stores to display the radiation emitted by handsets—which implies, in the minds of consumers, risk.

How Dangerous Is Radiofrequency Radiation?

5G cellular base station

At the root of all concerns about cell phone networks is radiofrequency radiation (RFR). RFR is anything emitted in the electromagnetic spectrum, from microwaves to x-rays to radio waves to light from your monitor or light from the sun. Clearly, RFR isn’t inherently dangerous, so the problem becomes discovering under what circumstances it might be.

Scientists say that the most important criterion about whether any particular RFR is dangerous is whether it falls into the category of ionizing or non-ionizing radiation. Simply put, any radiation that’s non-ionizing is too weak to break chemical bonds. That includes ultraviolet, visible light, infrared, and everything with a lower frequency, like radio waves. Everyday technologies like power lines, FM radio, and Wi-Fi also fall into this range. (Microwaves are the lone exception: non-ionizing but able to damage tissue, they’re precisely and intentionally tuned to resonate with water molecules.) Frequencies above UV, like x-rays and gamma rays, are ionizing.

Dr. Steve Novella, an assistant professor of neurology at Yale and the editor of Science-Based Medicine, understands that people generally get concerned about radiation. “Using the term radiation is misleading because people think of nuclear weapons—they think of ionizing radiation that absolutely can cause damage. It can kill cells. It can cause DNA mutations.” But since non-ionizing radiation doesn’t cause DNA damage or tissue damage, Novella says that most concern about cell phone RFR is misplaced. “There’s no known mechanism for most forms of non-ionizing radiation to even have a biological effect,” he says.

Or, in the less refined but more visceral words of author C. Stuart Hardwick, “radiation isn’t magic death cooties.”

Studies Aren’t Clearcut

Of course, just because there’s no known mechanism for non-ionizing radiation to have a biological effect, that doesn’t’ mean it’s safe or that no effect exists. Indeed, researchers continue to conduct studies. One recent study was released by the National Toxicology Program (NTP), an agency run by the Department of Health and Human Services. In this widely quoted study about cell phone radio frequency radiation, scientists found that high exposure to 3G RFR led to some cases of cancerous heart tumors, brain tumors, and tumors in the adrenal glands of male rats.

The study is a good object lesson in how hard it is to do science like this. As RealClearScience points out, the number of tumors detected were so small that they statistically could have occurred by chance (which may be more likely since they were only detected in male subjects). Moreover, the level and duration of the RFR exposure were well in excess of what any actual human would ever be exposed to, and in fact, the irradiated test rats lived longer than the unexposed control rats. Says Dr. Novella, “Experienced researchers look at a study like that and say that doesn’t really tell us anything.”

Sizing Up 5G’s Risks

Ongoing studies aside, 5G is coming, and as mentioned, there are concerns about this new technology.

A common complaint about 5G is that, due to the lower power of 5G transmitters, there will be more of them. The Environmental Health Trust contends that “5G will require the buildout of literally hundreds of thousands of new wireless antennas in neighborhoods, cities, and towns. A cellular small cell or another transmitter will be placed every two to ten homes according to estimates.”

Says Dr. Novella, “What they’re really saying is the dose is going to be higher. Theoretically, this is a reasonable question to ask.” But skeptics caution you shouldn’t conflate asking the question with merely asserting that there’s a risk. As Novella points out, “We’re still talking about power and frequency less than light. You go out in the sun, and you’re bathed in electromagnetic radiation that’s far greater than these 5G cell towers.”

It’s easy to find claims online that the greater frequency of 5G alone constitutes a risk. RadiationHealthRisks.com observes that “1G, 2G, 3G and 4G use between 1 to 5 gigahertz frequency. 5G uses between 24 to 90 gigahertz frequency,” and then asserts that “Within the RF Radiation portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, the higher the frequency, the more dangerous it is to living organisms.”

But asserting that the higher frequency is more dangerous is just that—an assertion, and there’s little real science to stand behind it. 5G remains non-ionizing in nature.

Devices emitting electromagnetic fields in the home

The FCC—responsible for licensing the spectrum for public use—weighs in as well. Says Neil Derek Grace, a communications officer at the FCC, “For 5G equipment, the signals from commercial wireless transmitters are typically far below the RF exposure limits at any location that is accessible to the public.” The FCC defers to the FDA for actual health risk assessments, which takes a direct, but low-key approach to addressing the risks: “The weight of scientific evidence has not linked cell phones with any health problems.”

In 2011, the World Health Organization weighed in, classifying RF Radiation as a Group 2B agent, which is defined as “Possibly carcinogenic to humans.” This, too, is nuanced. Says Novella, “you have to look at all the other things they classify as a possible carcinogen. They put it in the same class as things like caffeine. That is such a weak standard that it basically means nothing. It’s like saying ‘everything causes cancer.’”

Part of the problem with the WHO declaration is that it’s focused on hazard, not risk—a subtle distinction often lost on non-scientists, not unlike the rigorous distinction between “precision” and “accuracy.” (Precision refers to how tightly clustered your data is; accuracy refers to how close that data is to the real value. You might have a dozen miscalibrated thermometers that all tell you the wrong temperature with a very high degree of precision.) When the WHO classifies coffee or nickel or pickles as a possible carcinogen, it’s asserting hazard without regard for real-world risk. Explains Novella, “A loaded pistol is a hazard because theoretically, it can cause damage. But if you lock it in a safe, the risk is negligible.”

Scientists will continue to test new networks as technology evolves, to make sure the technology we use every day remains safe. As recently as February, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal critiqued the FCC and FDA for insufficient research into the potential risks of 5G. As the NTP study shows, research into radiation risks is difficult and often inconclusive, meaning it can take a long time to make real progress.

But for now, everything we know about 5G networks tells us that there’s no reason to be alarmed. After all, there are many technologies we use every day with a substantially higher measurable risk. And as Dr. Novella says, “With 5G the hazard is low—but non-zero—and the actual risk appears to be zero. We’ve picked up no signal in the real world.”



WSU prof warns 5G ‘will utterly destroy us’ as Ericsson predicts 45% adoption in 5 years


WSU prof warns 5G ‘will utterly destroy us’ as Ericsson predicts 45% adoption in 5 years

5G cell towers dangerous for health


As Ericsson predicts 45% 5G adoption worldwide over the next five years, a WSU professor tells The Sociable, “We will be completely and utterly destroyed,” by 5G.

5G technology is being hailed and dreaded across the world for its potential effects on society. On the one hand, experts are warning us vehemently against increased radiation levels. On the other, 5G is poised to disrupt communications speeds like never before.

<a href="https://me-pedia.org/wiki/File:Martin_Pall.png#filelinks">Flickr</a>
Dr. Martin Pall

“We will be completely and utterly destroyed because our brain function will be destroyed, our reproductive function will be destroyed, our DNA and essentially every other biological process in our bodies will be attacked”

Martin Pall, Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry and Basic Medical Sciences at Washington State University, is one of the signatories on the International Appeal to Stop 5G on Earth and in Space.

He tells The Sociable that while it’s not certain that such appeals will succeed in stopping the deployment of 5G, it is imperative that we try, because “it will destroy us very quickly if we are unsuccessful.”

Emphasizing the ill effects of Electro-Magnetic Field (EMF) radiation, he says, “We will be completely and utterly destroyed because our brain function will be destroyed, our reproductive function will be destroyed, our DNA and essentially every other biological process in our bodies will be attacked.”

Yet, a recent report from Swedish telecom-equipment maker Ericsson reveals that 45% of the world’s population will be accessing the next generation wireless networks in 2024. Ericsson, after having revised its estimate for global 5G subscriptions, now expects 1.9 billion subscriptions by the end of 2024, a 27% spike from its forecast in November.

The Many Appeals Against 5G

The International Appeal to Stop 5G on Earth and in Space is an appeal to the UN, WHO, EU, Council of Europe, and governments of all nations, which has been signed by thousands of scientists, doctors, environmental organizations, and citizens around the world as a movement to stop 5G from being deployed on Earth as well as in space.

Read More: How we got to 5G and what it means

According to them, 5G will increase exposure to radio frequency radiation by 10 to 100 fold. RF radiation has been proven harmful for humans and the environment.

“The deployment of 5G constitutes an experiment on humanity and the environment that is defined as a crime under international law,” it says.

The Appeal had 31,291 signatories as of January 11, 2019.

Dr. Magda Havas has listed the concerns expressed against EMF radiation by prominent experts from different parts of the world over the years, starting in 1997 with the Boston Physicians’ and Scientists’ Petition. The petition calls upon public health officials to intervene to halt the initiation of communication transmissions employing ground level, horizontally transmitted, pulsed microwaves in Boston.

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Does it require wearing a hazmat suit against cooking of 5G radiowaves?

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The list includes at least 40 other such appeals including the 2005 Helsinki Appeal, made by physicians and researchers to the European Parliament; the letter by the board of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, opposing the installation of wireless “smart meters” in homes and schools written in 2012; and the International EMF Scientist Appeal of 2015.

In 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and World Health Organization(WHO) classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans, based on an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer associated with wireless phone use.

Meanwhile, WSU’s Dr. Pall says that there has been an average of over 2.4 expressions of high level concern per year over a 17-year period, about safety guidelines from independent scientists and/or physicians from much of the world. However, the concerns have been universally ignored by governments and media.

In one of his research papers, he also states that all current EMF safety guidelines are based on the assumption that average EMF intensities and average SAR can be used to predict biological effects and therefore safety. However, he finds that “safety guidelines” do not predict biological effects and therefore do not predict safety.

“Because of that we have a multi-trillion dollar set of companies, the telecommunication industry, where all assurances of safety are fraudulent because they are based on these ‘safety guidelines’,” he says.

5G Promises

With 20 GBPS Internet, 5G’s promises go beyond connecting people to fully realizing the Internet of Things (IoT) and the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Juniper Research has also predicted 25% growth for smart-home automation revenues by 2024, reaching $57 billion.

“5G is the key to making it all work – driving economic value from enhanced mobile broadband to industry digitalization”

The Ericsson report says that, during the second quarter of 2019, several markets have switched on 5G with the introduction of 5G-compatible smartphones. Some communications service providers are striving to reach up to 90% of population coverage within the first year.

Read More: 5G and blockchain: a combination for disruption

As 5G devices and service providers increase, over 10 million 5G subscriptions are projected worldwide by the end of 2019.

“Digital infrastructure can make distance less relevant than ever. 5G is the key to making it all work – driving economic value from enhanced mobile broadband to industry digitalization,” the Ericsson report says.

Fake Report Against 5G

Yet, many are pushing the case against 5G. Around the time that the Ericsson report came out, a news report came out saying the Prime Minister of Poland, Mateusz Morawiecki, had signed the International Appeal against 5G.

The Polish Ministry of Digitalisation has since denied the news, saying, “The opponents of 5G are heating-up the mood, serving customers fake news – we want to give Poles a reliable source of information about 5G so that no one misleads them.”


Ran into a protest march against 5G today in . Evidently what is a technology upgrade to the rest of us is the new wind farm syndrome for others. Guess the anti-vaxxers found a new group to sell ‘it’ll cause autism’ to.

See Fiona’s other Tweets

However, in their annual SONAR report, Swiss Re, a reinsurance company based in Zurich, featured 15 emerging risk themes and 5 emerging trend spotlights the re/insurance industry needs to have on its radar. 5G is on it. The insurer essentially says that 5G is not safe and therefore not insurable.


Meanwhile, 6G is already gearing up to enter the market. Recently, South Korean telecommunications company, SK Telecom, has joined hands with telecoms equipment vendors, Nokia and Ericsson for research and development of 6G technology.

It remains to be seen as to who will prevail between those who herald and those who oppose the advent of 5G. Will appeals against 6G start as well?



WSU prof warns 5G ‘will utterly destroy us’ as Ericsson predicts 45% adoption in 5 years

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