Health issues related to electromagnetic radiation exposure and chemical exposure

#979: Cell phones and blood-brain barrier – new study

From Cindy Sage
CHE-EMF Working Group

A new study from Sweden has been published by Eberhardt et al, and is co-authored by veteran EMF
researchers Leif Salford and Bertil RR Persson of Lund University.

The study reports that cell phone GSM frequency exposure induces pathological leakage of albumin across the blood-brain barrier. Such effects have been reported in prior studies (for example, Salford 2003 and Schirmacher, 2007).

The blood-brain barrier is a critical structure in the brain that separates the flow of blood through the brain from the brain matter itself. Blood contains toxins being carried to excretory organs and also certain molecules like albumin that can be lethal to brain tissue. Exposure to extraordinarily small RF levels on the order of may open’ the blood-brain barrier, making it ‘leaky’ and allowing toxins and molecules to cross directly into the brain, which in turn can cause nerve cell damage and neuron death.

Eberhard et al (2008) report that two-hour exposures to cell phone GSM microwave RF resulted in leakage of albumin across the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and in neuron damage. Neuronal albumin uptake was significantly correlated to occurrence of damaged neurons when measured at 28 days post-exposure. The lowest exposure level was 0.12 mW/kg (0.00012 W/kg) for two hours. The highest exposure level was 120 mW/kg (0.12 W/kg). The weakest exposure level showed the greatest effect in opening the BBB, and in neuron damage and death.

The current FCC exposure limit is 1.6 W/kg and the ICNIRP exposure limit is 2 W/kg.

“The most remarkable observation in our studies on the effects of microwaves on the BBB is the fact that the lower SAR values (around 1 mW/kg) give rise to more pronounced albumin leakage than the higher SAR values. If increase in dose had led to increased response, we feel that the risk of cellular telephones, base-stations, and other RF-emitting sources could be managed by reduction of their emitted energy. The indications from our study that the weakest fields are the biologically most harmful, poses a complicated problem. The most pronounced BBB-opening effect of the mobile telephone may not be in the most superficial layers of the brain, but several centimeters deep in central cerebral structures. It seems quite possible that bystanders in the vicinity of mobile phone users may be affected through passive GSM exposure, as well as larger groups exposed from distant base-stations. More, substantial research is needed, however, before reliable dose-response relationships can form the basis for recommendations for future exposure limit values that take into account non thermal effects of microwaves from mobile communications on the human brain.”
JL Eberhardt BRR Persson AE Brun LG Salford LOG Malmgren, 2008. Blood-brain barrier permeability and nerve cell damage in rat brain 14 and 28 days after exposure to microwaves from GSM mobile phones. Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine 27:215-229. DOI:10.10801536370802344037

Submitted by:
Cindy Sage
CHE-EMF Working Group

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