Recently disclosed epidemiological data indicate a dramatic increase in the incidence of autism spectrum disorders. Previously, the incidence of autism has been reported as 4-5 per 10,000 children. The most recent evidence indicates an increased incidence of about 1 per 500 children. However, the etiology of autism is yet to be determined. The recently disclosed data suggest a possible correlation between autism incidence and a previously unconsidered environmental toxin. It is generally accepted in the scientific community that radiofrequency radiation is a biologically active substance. It is also readily acknowledged that human exposures to radiofrequency radiation have become pervasive during the past twenty years, whereas such exposures were uncommon prior to that time. It is suggested that fetal or neo-natal exposures to radiofrequency radiation may be associated with an increased incidence of autism.
Prior to the twentieth century the only sources of radiofrequency (RF) radiation were the hyper-low levels of RF energy originating from our sun and the even lower levels of extra-solar RF noise. It is in this environment of low-level RF radiation that life on earth developed and exists to this day. During the 1940s, primarily as a result of research and development performed as a part of the war effort, industry and the military establishment were successful in bringing the state of RF energy generation to maturity. From that time onward we have witnessed a broad range of commercial RF energy product applications including, most notably, broadcast FM radio, radar, television, public-service mobilecommunication transceivers, residential microwave ovens, and the portable cellular telephone.
Initially, the contribution of each radiating device was imperceptible when weighed against the background of incoming solar radiation. However, over the span of decades the number of terrestrial RF radiation sources, now counted in the billions, has increased to the degree that, presently, the base radiation level is many thousands of times higher than from solar RF energy impinging on the earth. Notwithstanding the proliferation of RF radiation sources during the early decades of the "radiofrequency
age", the 1940s through the 1970s, humans were seldom exposed to RF radiation at levels that might cause concern. Since the late 1970s a number of commercial products have become ubiquitous, which provide human exposures to levels of RF radiation that are significantly higher than either of the previous or present background levels. Research reports indicate that RF exposure levels, typically encountered from some commercial products, may induce alterations of biological processes or damage to the genome.
Concurrently the incidence of autism diagnoses demonstrates a pronounced, approximately linear, order of magnitude increase occurring during the last twenty years. For several decades prior to 1980 autism incidence remained essentially invariant; reportedly at about one diagnosed case per 2000 children. Byrd has reported a present autism incidence of about one per 700 children.
Hypothesis RF radiation sources have become commonplace in the personal human environment from approximately 1980 to the present. Operation of an RF radiation source such as a two-way radio, portable telephone, or a cell phone exposes the operator to levels of RF radiation shown to be biologically active. Operation of an RF radiation source also exposes others, in the near proximity, to similarly biologically active levels of electromagnetic field intensities15. Passive operation, such as from an RF emitting baby monitor, is a widespread postnatal exposure.
Some of the known effects of exposure to RF radiation include cognitive impairment16, memory deficit, EEG modifications, DNA damage, chromosome aberrations6, micronucleus formation, fetal malformation, increased permeability of the blood-brain barrier, altered cellular calcium efflux20 and altered cell proliferation.
RF radiation emissions from residential microwave ovens are, typically, on the order of 1 milli-watt per cm2. RF radiation exposures from cell phones range from about 0.1 to 10.0 milli-watt per cm2. Portable two-way radios provide similar exposure levels. The scientific literature confirms that RF radiation exposures, at levels more than 1,000 times lower than described immediately preceding, or on the order of 1.0 micro-watt per cm2, induce significant changes in biological processes or molecular repair mechanisms. Some of the known effects of exposure to RF radiation include cognitive impairment, memory deficit EEG modifications, DNA damage chromosome aberrations micronucleus formation fetal malformation increased permeability of the blood-brain barrier altered cellular calcium efflux20 and altered cell proliferation.
RF radiation emissions from residential microwave ovens are, typically, on the order of 1 milli-watt per cm2. RF radiation exposures from cell phones range from about 0.1 to 10.0 milli-watt per cm2. Portable two-way radios provide similar exposure levels. The scientific literature confirms that RF radiation exposures, at levels more than 1,000 times lower than described immediately preceding, or on the order of 1.0 micro-watt per cm2, induce significant changes in biological processes or molecular repair mechanisms.
During gestation the possibility of unobservable embryonic and fetal damage is increased as mothers-to-be utilize and are exposed to the emissions from RF radiation devices. Researchers have emphatically reported that an embryo or fetus should not be exposed to radiofrequency radiation such as that emitted by the portablecell phone or portable telephone.
One particular reason to avoid RF radiation exposure during pregnancy is that an embryo or fetus may not be fully protected by amniotic fluid for extended periods of time due to the natural movement of the embryo or fetus within the womb. Secondly, the pelvic structure promotes deep RF radiation penetration and that radiation can be absorbed within the developing embryo or fetus.
Conclusion The hypothesis may be tested and further investigated by employing accepted epidemiological techniques including a carefully crafted retrospective questionnaire. In particular, national or regional health registries,such as those available within California, the UK and Denmark (the Danish Health Registry) can provide the requisite study demography and RF radiation exposure scenarios, while also identifying and precluding incorporation of known confounders.
Robert C. Kane, Ph.D.
The Associated Bioelectromagnetics Technologists, P.O. Box 133, Blanchardville, Wisconsin 53516-0133USA. FAX: 1 608 523-6500; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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