Is there any risk?
At my last university I had a colleague who was very successful in obtaining research grants for projects related to possible adverse effects of mobile phones. Using rats, mice or hamsters he and his co-workers exposed the experimental rodents to stimuli that were hundreds of times stronger than what the ordinary human mobile phone users would be exposed to. And the result: as far as I remember, apart from some very minor effects no dramatic changes, no cancers, no untimely deaths, no fertility problems.
And yet, the debate never ends: are high voltage power lines, radio transmitters, mobile phones and other electric gadgets bad for health or are they not? Actually, the famous experiments by Harold Urey and Stanley Miller in the early 1950s, who showed that in a mixture of water (the ancient ocean) and hydrogen, methane and ammonia resembling the archaic Earth’s atmosphere, simple organic molecules considered the building blocks of living organisms, could form. However, that was only possible because of electric sparks (meant to simulate lightning) that were delivered to the mixture. So, did life get a push start from electricity?
A doctoral dissertation by a sceptical Swedish biologist on cows under high voltage power lines and in occasional contact with electric wires found no detrimental effect, but electric and magnetic fields have been shown to have some influence on the speed with which nerves regenerate. Also frog and other egg cells can sometimes be induced to divide and start to develop without earlier having been fertilized and I know that in developing fish embryos, for example, nerve cells appear to be guided by following minute differences in electric potential. Muscle cells in culture, termed ‘fibres’, orientate to an electric field in a perpendicular position. As little as 300 millionth of a volt are required to demonstrate the effect.
Branching and sprouting can also be induced in cultured nerve tissue of frog spinal cord by small electric fields applied at right angle to the growing cells. Hearing aid batteries attached to amputated frog legs have been reported to have considerably improved regeneration of bone, muscle, and cartilage in the stump. A team of researchers in Würzburg (Germany) could show that artificial magnetic fields increased the life span of honey bees by 60%, but significantly reduced their flying and other activities. Despite their increased “chronological” age, the magnetic field bees contained less of the ageing pigment lipofuscin in their brains than the control bees.
So, does that mean human-made electric and magnetic fields surrounding us in our daily routines aren’t bad after all? Some people have suggested that the increased body height observed in members of populations all over the world has something to do with the all-pervading electric gadgets in the modern world rather than the more nutritious food stuffs nowadays available. Still despite the research grants and the work done on bees, frogs, rats and cows, nobody knows for certain if there is any measurable effect in humans at all, because a human isn’t a bee, and a bee isn’t a frog, and a frog isn’t a hamster, and a hamster isn’t a cow, and a cow isn’t………….
© Dr V.B. Meyer-Rochow and http://www.bioforthebiobuff.wordpress.com, 2017.
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