Effects on Wildlife

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Pathophysiology 16 (2009) 191–199

Electromagnetic pollution from phone masts. Effects on wildlife Alfonso Balmori
Direccion General del Medio Natural, Consejería de Medio Ambiente, Junta de Castilla y Leon, C/Rigoberto Cortejoso, 14, 47014 Valladolid, Spain Received 10 August 2008; received in revised form 28 August 2008; accepted 30 January 2009

Abstract A review on the impact of radiofrequency radiation from wireless telecommunications on wildlife is presented. Electromagnetic radiation is a form of environmental pollution which may hurt wildlife. Phone masts located in their living areas are irradiating continuously some species that could suffer long-term effects, like reduction of their natural defenses, deterioration of their health, problems in reproduction and reduction of their useful territory through habitat deterioration. Electromagnetic radiation can exert an aversive behavioral response in rats, bats and birds such as sparrows. Therefore microwave and radiofrequency pollution constitutes a potential cause for the decline of animal populations and deterioration of health of plants living near phone masts. To measure these effects urgent specific studies are necessary. © 2009 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved. Keywords: Effects on wildlife; Effects on birds; Electromagnetic radiation; Mammals; Microwaves; Mobile telecommunications; Non-thermal effects; Phone masts; Radiofrequencies

1. Introduction Life has evolved under the influence of two omnipresent forces: gravity and electromagnetism. It should be expected that both play important roles in the functional activities of organisms [1]. Before the 1990’s radiofrequencies were mainly from a few radio and television transmitters, located in remote areas and/or very high places. Since the introduction of wireless telecommunication in the 1990’s the rollout of phone networks has caused a massive increase in electromagnetic pollution in cities and the countryside [2,3]. Multiple sources of mobile communication result in chronic exposure of a significant part of the wildlife (and man) to microwaves at non-thermal levels [4]. In recent years, wildlife has been chronically exposed to microwaves and RFR (Radiofrequency radiation) signals from various sources, including GSM and UMTS/3G wireless phones and base stations, WLAN (Wireless Local Area Networks), WPAN (Wireless Personal Area Networks such as Bluetooth), and DECT (Digital Enhanced (former European) Cordless Telecommunications) that are erected indiscriminately without studies of environmental impact measuring E-mail addresses: abalmori@ono.com, balmaral@jcyl.es. 0928-4680/$ – see front matter © 2009 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.pathophys.2009.01.007

long-term effects. These exposures are characterized by low intensities, varieties of signals, and long-term durations. The greater portion of this exposure is from mobile telecommunications (geometric mean in Vienna: 73% [5]). In Germany the GSM cellular phone tower radiation is the dominating high frequency source in residential areas [6]. Also GSM is the dominating high frequency source in the wilderness of Spain (personal observation). Numerous experimental data have provided strong evidence of athermal microwave effects and have also indicated several regularities in these effects: dependence of frequency within specific frequency windows of “resonance-type”; dependence on modulation and polarization; dependence on intensity within specific intensity windows, including superlow power density comparable with intensities from base stations/masts [4,7–9]. Some studies have demonstrated different microwave effects depending on wavelength in the range of mm, cm or m [10,11]. Duration of exposure may be as important as power density. Biological effects resulting from electromagnetic field radiation might depend on dose, which indicates long-term accumulative effects [3,9,12]. Modulated and pulsed radiofrequencies seem to be...
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