Broadcasters are in a 24/7 fishbowl of invisible radiation that can affect heart health, increase fatigue, elevate stress and harm the brain.
Over the past 30 years, the artificial electromagnetic background on planet earth has increased exponentially. This is especially true for broadcasters who are now exposed to low, medium and high frequency non-ionizing radiation on a continuous basis. This e-pollution has been shown to produce unwanted biological effects including DNA damage through oxidative stress.
While studio and broadcast engineers are aware of EMFs causing electromagnetic interference (EMI) affecting sensitive electronic equipment, what about harm to people? Under the present orthodoxy, today’s EMF exposures are legally allowable. Do you know if your personal exposures are safe?
The Chance Meeting
On a crisp, sunny, Westside afternoon two years ago I met a local weekend news co-anchor and reporter as he prepared to interview a doctor at the UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. Because of my specialized work, he shared some frank concerns with me about his occupational exposures to EMFs, saying, “I have often wondered if the radiation we are exposed to on the job is safe or not — and how it may affect us in the long run.”
His statement reminded me of a biography I once read about broadcast radio pioneer, Guglielmo Marconi which chronicled his life story including his chronic exposures to EMFs. Interestingly, Guglielmo’s friends cautioned him not to spend so much time around his electro-magnetic equipment. Marconi eventually suffered 9 heart attacks and died young at age 63. A fatal coincidence?
Unlike the astute news co-anchor (with very white teeth) who questioned the safety of his EMF exposures, most of us have been conditioned to believe today’s allowable EMF exposures are safe. These limits are largely intended to restrict short-term heating by RF radiation that raises tissue temperatures. This “thermal-only effects” approach is outdated, narrow in scope and is not applicable to long-term exposure at low levels.
In the USA, harm from sub-thermal EMF exposures was actually proven by independent researchers and physicians as early as 1957-1974 at no fewer than ten conferences on the biological and health-damaging effects of EMFs. Unfortunately, powerful special interests and lobbyists control the science, the media, our legislators and public awareness so that exposure precautions are woefully inadequate.
News stories of broadcasters with heart problems are not uncommon. Could EMF exposures play a role? According to the Environmental Working Group radiofrequency EMR can contribute to stress on the cardiovascular system among broadcasters (Table 2).
“People studies suggest that radio-frequency radiation can raise the risk for cardiovascular diseases by increasing blood pressure, total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Changes in heart rate and altered response of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system have also been reported following exposure to radio-frequency radiation.” (Uche, Stoiber, & Naidenko, 2022)
Studies show that radiation from wireless technology can affect the blood, the heart, and the autonomic nervous system (Havas, 2013). Recently, Dr. Havas published a double-blind, placebo-controlled provocation study showing 2.4 GHz cordless phone affects the autonomic nervous system (ANS) as measured by heart rate variability.
Seven decades before Marconi’s death, telegraph workers in the 1860s exposed to electric and magnetic fields began to suffer from symptoms of fatigue, exhaustion, depression and apathy. Neurologists back then called the condition “Neurasthenia.” These communication workers were the proverbial canaries in the coal mine in the march toward modernity.
Radio Wave Syndrome
Today, electromagnetic waves with frequencies ranging from 300 MHz up to 300 GHz, are widely used in telecommunications and consumer electronics. Sources of RF Microwave radiation for broadcasters are ubiquitous and include: wearable wireless microphone transmitters and receivers, smart phones, tablets, laptops, computers, transmitters, smart TVs, streaming devices, nearby cell towers, wireless routers, boosters, wireless printers, wireless keyboards, cordless phones, Bluetooth devices, mesh networks, wireless wearables like headphones and watches, wireless lights, wireless security systems, digital assistants and “smart” electrical meters.
Biological effects from high frequency wireless were investigated 91 years ago by German internal medicine physician, Dr. Erwin Schliephake. On May 8, 1932, Dr. Schliephake reported in the Deutsche Medizinische Wochenschrift (German Medical Weekly) about symptoms of “radio wave syndrome” that he noticed in workers who worked near radio transmitters (Hecht, 2022):
- “Severe weakness during the day.
- But restless sleep at night.
- Then headaches, which increase more and more until they become unbearable.
- In addition, tendency to depressive mood and nervousness.
- These phenomena cannot be explained by the effect of heat only.”
There are now more than 26 different epidemiological studies showing a wide range of neuropsychiatric effects that are produced by exposure to sub-thermal radio frequency microwave EMFs. Among the more commonly reported problems (Pall, 2015/16) include:
- sleep disturbance/insomnia
- depression/depressive symptoms
- dysesthesia (unpleasant/distorted sense of touch)
- concentration/attention dysfunction
- memory changes
- loss of appetite/body weight
- skin burning/tingling
- EEG changes
Does RF/MW harm the brain itself? Biophysicist Dr. Nesrin Seyhan has published multiple studies assessing the impacts of radiofrequency radiation on the fragile blood brain barrier as well as on DNA oxidative damage within the brain. Results indicate an increase in permeability and disruption of the BBB integrity following just 20 minutes of RF exposure at levels below the international limits.
Animals exposed to RFR simulating a 3G-mobile phone for 10 days (6h/day) showed increased DNA oxidative brain damage compared to controls. Recently it’s been reported that body worn wireless transmitters seem to create serious health problems for Racehorses at Churchill Downs.
If you are a television broadcaster, are you sure you want to strap on body-worn wireless devices for hours each day over a period of years? While I’m not against all wireless devices, why not hardwire everything you can including lapel lavalier mics and other devices to reduce your exposures to RF radiation?
Power Frequency Exposures and Emotional Dysregulation
According to OSHA, Radio and Television Broadcasters are surrounded by a plethora of electronic devices and electrical equipment. When this equipment is being used, a flow of electrical current begins. This flow of electricity through the equipment and wiring is responsible for creating AC Magnetic Fields. The intensity or strength of the magnetic field is directly related to the power consumption of the device.
These fields usually remain close to their source (1 to 5 feet), but can travel several dozens of feet in the case of an undetected wiring error, or a few hundred feet in the case of high voltage power lines. AC Magnetic Fields are considered low frequency electromagnetic radiation (5 Hz – 400,000 Hz). They can be measured with a tesla meter in nanoTesla (nT) or with a gauss meter in milliGauss (mG).
A recent study suggests that long-term occupational exposure to power frequency EMFs may lead to depression, stress, anxiety and poor sleep quality (Hosseinabadi, et al, 2018). Building Biologists already know this because of clients who feel all worn out when exposed to AC Magnetic fields–and how much better they feel once this type of e-pollution has been mitigated.
In the journal, Health Physics, a study called Environmental Power Frequency Magnetic Fields and Suicide, found significantly more suicides occurred at locations of high alternating current magnetic field strength (Perry, et al, 1980). The authors also stated that the impact of AC magnetic fields can be very broad, involving the major organ systems, including bone and the cardiovascular and nervous systems.
A more recent study confirmed that electrical workers exposed to power frequency EMFs have a higher suicide rate. While there are several high profile cases of suicides among TV and Radio broadcasters (and other on-air personalities), I’m not aware of any formal studies. Yet it’s very possible that some broadcasters, producers, reporters and engineers are unknowingly exposed to both low frequency and high frequency EMFs that can, over time, dysregulate mood.
Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), for example, is characterized by high levels of oxidative stress and various EMFs are shown to increase one’s oxidative stress load. Perhaps more often than suicide, however, depressed or fatigued broadcasters may self-medicate by turning to addictive substances or unhealthy behaviors to cope.
Power Frequency and Neurodegenerative Effects
Some epidemiological studies suggest a possible link between long-term AC/MF exposures and increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). In 1998, Dr. Maria Feychting at the Karolinska Institute, found that occupational magnetic field exposure may possibly influence the development of dementia.
In 2003, a study in the journal Epidemiology found that workers in electrical and electronics occupations had a 140% greater risk of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease (Feychting, et al). The authors suggested that magnetic field exposure may represent a late-acting influence in the disease process.
Later, in 2007, a study by the Swiss Federal Bureau of Public Health looked at 20,000 railway worker exposures to AC Magnetic fields over 31 years. It found a link between these exposures and Alzheimer disease and indicated that ELF-MF might act in later stages of the disease process.
The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine reported in 2013 that occupational exposure to magnetic fields may be associated with a moderately increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. The results of a 2014 study indicated that working in an occupation with high or medium-high MF exposures may increase the risk of severe cognitive dysfunction.
Because AC Magnetic field exposures are prevalent in many broadcasting and some studio environments, it’s a good idea to have your power frequency exposures professionally measured. If undesirable levels are detected, solutions can often be implemented: wiring errors can be fixed, motors can often be shielded, safe distances can be established. Broadcasters and their support staff, like electrical workers, should take care to limit their power frequency exposures and practice prudent avoidance whenever possible.
Can Less EMFs Help Reduce Broadcaster Burnout?
Television and Radio Broadcasters often work in complex, high-stress environments: Fame. Competition. Brutal work hours. Sleep disruptions. Pandemics. Social upheaval. Political dysfunction. Inflation. Reporting on crime, shootings and murders. Child abuse and abductions. Accidents and natural disasters. Family concerns. Like the HBO series, “The Newsroom,” broadcasting work can be exhilarating, hectic, grueling and traumatic work.
Fifty-three percent of broadcasters in one pre-pandemic study (Turchaninov, 2017) reported feeling exhausted and burned out. According to the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma many broadcast journalists have also experienced work-related traumas and up to 20 percent experience depression. Just like other people, some broadcasters cope with stress through addictions.
“the electronic journalist’s search for an escape from stress ends up far more often in detox centers and drug-addiction clinics” (Washington Journalism Review, Wines, 1986, p. 38).
Although EMF exposures do not directly cause substance abuse and addictions they affect mood and are a stress/burnout factor. Obversely, reductions in exposures are beneficial to brain neurotransmitters and the regulation of stress hormones. Less EMFs also reduce neuroinflammation, fatigue, depression and uncomfortable feelings of agitation.
Away from work, achieving a low-EMF bedroom can dramatically improve sleep, melatonin production, and ATP synthesis in the brain, plus removal of glymphatic waste for a host of benefits. A good night’s sleep can help you to feel pretty terrific.
Proven Benefits of Reducing Radio Frequency Microwave Radiation
♡ In a remarkable intervention study, “Significant Decrease of Clinical Symptoms after Mobile Phone Base Station Removal” Drs. Tetsuharu and Akemi Shinjyo monitored the overall health of condominium residents exposed to high frequency wireless radiation. One hundred and twenty-two occupants were interviewed and examined. The health of the residents was studied before and after RF/MW radiation was reduced. The reduction of EMF pollution made a positive difference in so many lives. It was simply amazing…
Prior to the removal of the antennas, 21 people suffered from chronic fatigue; 14 from dizziness, vertigo, or Ménière’s disease; 14 from headaches; 17 from eye pain, dry eyes, or repeated eye infections; 14 from insomnia; 10 from chronic nosebleeds.
Five months after removal of the antennas, no one in the building had chronic fatigue. No one had nosebleeds any more. No one had eye problems. Only two people still had insomnia. One still had dizziness. One still had headaches. Cases of gastritis and glaucoma resolved.
Based on the application of the principles of Building Biology, there are a number of protocols for detecting, measuring, mitigating, and reducing various types of e-pollution in home and work environments. In addition, environmental therapeutics can improve work and dwelling spaces. The results can be quite transformative. It’s a hidden key for increasing broadcaster wellness and productivity.
In Part 2 we’ll look at the possible link between three types of EMF exposures and some cancer risks for broadcasters. I’ll highlight a mobile broadcasting study that may shock you (no pun intended). In the meantime, if you are a radio or television broadcaster and would like to reduce your EMF exposures, let’s create calm.