Biological Effects of Radio Frequency Electromagnetic Fields on the Brain

Electromagnetic fields (EMFs), so called ‘bio-fields’, are ubiquitous in today’s environment. People are exposed to both natural and man-made EMFs almost continuously in daily life. The recent enormous expansion of mobile telecommunication services over the last decade has dramatically increased the amount of EMF irradiation and energy in the environment. Therefore, concerns have been raised about the effects of EMFs, especially radiofrequency (RF)-EMFs, on human health and safety.
In terms of the biological effects of EMFs on the brain, two events have been particularly significant. On May 31, 2011, the WHO/International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified RF-EMF as possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B), based on the increased risk of glioma, a malignant brain tumor, associated with wireless phone use. On May 16, 2016, a study entitled “Report of Partial Findings from the National Toxicology Program Carcinogenesis Studies of Cell Phone Radiofrequency Radiation in Sprague Dawley rats” showed that RF radiation, i.e., the type emitted by cell phones, can cause cancer. However, the long-term biological safety of EMFs is still not clear.
The potential effects of EMFs on human health vary widely depending on the frequency and intensity of the fields. The health effects of extremely low-frequency (ELF)-EMFs generated by power lines, and RF-EMFs emitted by radio antennas and wireless networks, have been studied. Recently, in addition to the potential harmful influence of EMFs, possible beneficial effects of EMFs have generated interest. Intermediate-frequency (IF)-EMFs are being used increasingly not only in telecommunications but also in modern medical practice, especially for bone healing, nerve stimulation, and cancer therapy with tumor-treating fields (alternating electric fields in the 100–300 kHz frequency range). Life-threatening electromagnetic interference (EMI) emitted from medical devices is of practical interest for engineers.
Direct effects of EMFs on human health have been difficult to prove. Animal experiments are valuable for overcoming the ethical and technical limitations of human studies, because of their many similarities with humans. Humans are bioelectrical organisms and their organs, especially the heart and brain, are controlled by internal bioelectrical signals. Electrical signals travel around the brain and body, carrying messages in the blink of an eye. Therefore, RF-EMF might affect the function of the brain. The brain is significantly more complex than any other organ in the body. We have been studying the biological effects of RF-EMF on animal brains, following the research agenda recommendations of the World Health Organization. Today, I will review the research findings including those of my laboratory regarding exposure of the brain to RF-EMF and recent progress in this fields.

Young-Hwan AHN, M.D., Ph.D
Professor / Department of Neurosurgery
Ajou University School of Medicine
Neuroscience Graduate Program, Department of Biomedical Sciences, Graduate School of Ajou University, KOREA
Tel: 82-31-219-5234, Fax: 82-31-219-5238;

Signal and Power Integrity – Research in EMC

Electronic systems with their computing and communication capabilities are an essential part of the “digital society”. Their design and continuous development using the latest technological advances is one of the success stories of electrical engineering. One chapter of this story deals with the “electromagnetic” integrity of these systems, i.e. the control and containment of currents, voltages, and electromagnetic fields that carry the signals and supply the power. The corresponding disciplines of signal and power integrity (SI/PI) are often considered part of the broader field of electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) and have become an important area of research and innovation over the last decades. This presentation addresses some of the trends that have driven signal and power integrity and summarizes “lessons learned”. It then leads to the question of what we actually can consider core EMC contributions and where the field of EMC could contribute in the future.

Christian Schuster received the Diploma degree in physics from the University of Konstanz, Germany, and the Ph. D. degree in electrical engineering from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, Switzerland. Since 2006 he is full professor and head of the Institute of Electromagnetic Theory at the Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH), Germany. Prior to that he was with the IBM T. J. Watson Research Center where he was involved in high-speed optoelectronic package and backplane interconnect modeling and signal integrity design for new server generations. He is a Senior member of the IEEE and several technical program committees of international conferences on signal and power integrity and electromagnetic compatibility. He was serving as a Distinguished Lecturer for the IEEE EMC Society in the period 2012-2013, as a member of the Board of Directors of the EMC Society in 2015, and is currently chair of the German IEEE EMC Chapter.