The Schumann Resonance: Beings of Frequency (produced by Federal Jack.com) is an informative, well-researched film about the growing number of health and environmental problems linked to cell phones, wi-fi and cell phone masts. It has a really unfortunate title. “Schumann resonances,” named after German physicist Winfried Schumann, is a term referring to natural low frequency electromagnetic radiation emitted by planet Earth. The beginning of the film, which delves in depth into Schumann’s obscure discovery, is likely to be off-putting for people with no physics background. Electromagnetic radiation (EMR) is tough enough to get your head around, much less the concept of wave pulses and frequency. I sincerely hope people will ignore or fast forward the first few minutes. The rest of the film is well worth watching and discusses an alarming body of research about a potentially dangerous technology that was widely implemented without any testing of its potential effect on human health.
In my view, the only physics people need to understand the film is 1) that the microwaves produced by cell phones and cell phone masts, like light and radio waves, are a form of non-ionizing (i.e. non-radioactive) electromagnetic radiation 2) that by definition, EMR are intertwined electrical and magnetic fields that travel as waves and 3) that all life forms produce it. The scientist who explains electroencephalograms (EEGs) and electrocardiograms (EKGs) later in the film this point across quite clearly. In higher animals, the presence or absence of life is measured by their ability to give off EMR. An EEG measures the EMR given off by the brain. When the EEG flat lines, the patient is considered brain dead. It’s all over when the EKG, which measures EMR emitted by the heart, flat lines.
The film mainly focuses on research linking the staggering increase of manmade EMR in the environment and the sudden onset of global bee colony collapse syndrome; the sharp decline in migratory bird species and the current epidemic of breast and other cancers. Obviously the cancer link will be most concerning for most viewers. There are now several dozen studies of the cancer clusters found in people living in close proximity to cell phone masts. The film features an interview with a breast cancer survivor living near a mast who surveyed all neighbors within 0.5 km of the mast. Seventy percent of them had developed breast, prostate or other cancer, leukemia or some other fatal or debilitating illness.
The Link Between Microwave Exposure and Breast Cancer
The link between breast cancer and exposure to toxic endocrine disrupters (found mainly in insecticides, cosmetics, plastics and diets high in animal fat) was established nearly ten years ago. However it remains very troubling that large numbers of women with no genetic history or lifestyle exposures are developing breast cancer as young as thirty-five or forty. The film suggests many of these cases relate to a far more insidious lifestyle factor. With more than 500 million cell phone masts scattered all across the planet, electromagnetic smog is an environmental exposure that is virtually impossible to avoid.
The Schumann Resonance presents some very convincing research about the negative effect of microwave radiation (the type produced by cell phones and cell phone masts) on Melatonin production and the essential role this hormone plays in immune function. This is the first time I have seen a mechanism proposed to explain how wireless technology might be increasing cancer rates.
A lot of people are aware of melatonin’s role in promoting sleep – that low light levels cause the brain to produce melatonin and that this is the hormone that sends people off to sleep. Studies showing that it’s also an antioxidant (i.e. a vitamin or hormone that destroys free radicals) even more powerful that Vitamin C or Vitamins less well publicized. However it’s well recognized that the main cause of aging and most forms of cancer can be traced to free radicals attacking the nucleus of normal cells.
Recent research suggests that the pineal gland (the part of the brain that produces melatonin) can’t distinguish between light waves and other forms of EMR – that this explains why people exposed to high levels of microwave radiation produce less melatonin. Presumably this makes their body less efficient in destroying the free radicals that cause cancer. Studies showing that patients with breast and prostate cancer have lower Melatonin levels tend to validate this hypothesis.
Honey Bees and Migratory Birds
Colony collapse disorder (CCD) is a phenomenon in which previously healthy worker bees from a beehive or bee colony simply vanish. First recognized in 2006, it represents a true agricultural emergency, as all food production depends, either directly or indirectly, on insect pollinators. There has been a lot of debate about the cause, with many environmentalists blaming the high levels of insecticide that have accumulated in the ecosystem. The film presents some fascinating research about the magnetite-containing cells honeybees use to navigate the earth’s magnetic fields to find their way to and from the hive. Other research shows that direct exposure to microwave radiation disrupts their ability to detect these fields. In other words, bees abandon their hives because they can’t find their way back.
Shore birds and songbirds also use the earth’s magnetic fields to migrate vast distances, via a slightly different mechanism involving cryptochromes. These are magnetically sensitive cells found in all plants, animals and human beings. In humans, the cryptochromes in the pineal gland control melatonin production. Ornithologists are extremely alarmed at the sudden rate of decline of numerous populations of songbirds and shorebirds that migrate. The scientists in the film believe, that as with honeybees, excessive microwave smog interferes with their ability to use the earth’s magnetic fields to navigate.
A Public Health Problem of Mammoth Proportions
As the Shumann Resonance points out, there are currently four billion mobile phone users and five million cell phone masts globally. Because this technology is in wide use on all seven continents, there is really nowhere people can go to escape it. In Sweden, patients diagnosed with electrosensitivy syndrome can get government support in insulating their homes against EMR (with tinfoil no less). As yet they are the only country in the world to recognize the condition and subsidize its management.
The filmmakers acknowledge that the sheer magnitude of the problem, given numerous other sources of EMR pollution (such as high tension power lines), means there is no easy or immediate way to reduce or eliminate this apparent health hazard. Among other potential remedies, they make a strong case for establishing a truly independent international body to monitor microwave-related health risks, unlike the International Commission on Non-ionizing Radiation Protection. At present the ICNIRP is totally dominated and controlled by the telecommunications industry. As they point out, a truly independent body would issue safe Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) levels appropriate for children, who generally begin using cell phones at age eight. ICNIRP was forced to adopt maximum SAR levels after the World Health Organization came out with research linking cell phones and brain tumors. Skull thickness is very important in establishing a safe SAR, as the skull protects the brain from microwaves produced by cell phones. Although children have much thinner skulls, for some bizarre reason has calculated SAR based on the average skull thickness of US military recruits.
The scientists in the film also urge telecommunication companies to be more forthcoming with their own research linking microwave exposure to cancer and other health problems. Although imminent reduction in the numbers of cell phones and cell phone masts is highly unlikely, there is a potential for slowing the growth of this technology. Moreover making the information publicly available allows individuals to make informed choices about limiting their exposure.