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Health Implications of Electromagnetic Fields, Mechanisms of Action, and Research Needs

DOI: 10.1155/2014/198609

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Abstract:

Electromagnetic fields (EMF) have been implicated to influence a range of bodily functions. Given their ubiquitous nature, widespread applications, and capability to produce deleterious effects, conclusive investigations of the health risks are critical. Accordingly, this paper has been constructed to weigh the bioeffects, possible biointeraction mechanisms, and research areas in bioelectromagnetics seeking immediate attention. The several gaps in the existing knowledge do not permit one to reach a concrete conclusion but possibility for harmful effects cannot be underestimated in absence of consistent findings and causal mechanisms. Several studies with appropriate methodologies reflect the capacity of electromagnetic radiations to cause adverse health effects and there are several credible mechanisms that can account for the observed effects. Hence, need of the hour is to activate comprehensive well-coordinated blind scientific investigations, overcoming all limitations and demerits of previous investigations especially replication studies to concretize the earlier findings. Furthermore, appropriate exposure assessment is crucial for identification of dose-response relation if any, and the elucidation of biological interaction mechanism. For the time being, the public should follow the precautionary principle and limit their exposure as much as possible. 1. Introduction The terrestrial electromagnetic environment has been and is being rapidly altered by humans as a result of technological advancements. This was well recognised very early in the seventies by Dr. Robert O. Becker (twice nominated for Nobel Prize) who said “I have no doubt in my mind that, at the present time, the greatest polluting element in the earth’s environment is the proliferation of electromagnetic fields (EMFs).” On one hand, these electromagnetic waves (EMW) provide immeasurable benefits; on the other hand, they may also create potential hazards through uncontrolled and excessive radiation emissions. There are various types of electromagnetic radiations (EMRs) and depending upon their frequency and wavelength they are categorized into different types. Broadly the EMFs are categorized into two groups, namely, extremely low frequency (ELF) EMF (>3?Hz–3?kHz) and radiofrequency radiation (RFR) EMF (3?kHz–300?GHz). Scientific investigations concerning the interaction of EMF with living systems, especially its health effects, are increasing in number. There are arguments for both positive [1–3] and negative bioeffects [4–8]. However, the lack of sufficient knowledge on biological

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