HEALTH ISSUES | Microwave Electromagnetic Fields Produce Health Effects by VGCC Activation

By Martin Pall, Ph.D – Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry and Basic Medical Sciences, Washington State University —

Canadian and U.S. safety standards for microwave radiation are entirely based on the assumption that the only important thing microwave EMFs (electromagnetic fields) can do is to heat things, like heating food in a microwave oven. The belief is that EMFs are composed of low-energy photons, with energy per photon too low to influence the chemistry of the body or to heat up the human cells. Therefore, they assume that if heating is minimal, we don’t need to worry about health effects.

That assumption is false and is not a valid basis for any safety guideline.

How do we know that?

1. Thousands of papers in scientific literature have demonstrated biological effects from EMFs under conditions where they were assumed to not possibly cause such effects.

2. For over 30 years, it has been known that pulsed fields (e.g. nanosecond pulses emitted by cellphone, WiFi, smart meters, and DECT cordless phones) are more biologically active than non-pulsed fields that produce the same very low levels of heating.

3. The main mechanism for biological effects has been discovered. In a whole series of studies, all of the effects from exposure to various low-frequency EMFs could be blocked by calcium-channel blockers—drugs that block voltage-gated calcium-channels. Furthermore, biophysical modelling studies show that EMFs can act through their interactions with the charged amino acid residues, which regulate channel opening and closing to open voltage-gated calcium-channels.

Biological Effects

Well-documented effects of microwave EMF exposure include:

1. Oxidative stress

2. Single strand breaks in cellular DNA

3. Double strand breaks in cellular DNA

4. Cancer

5. Male and female infertility

6. Breakdown of the blood-brain barrier

7. Loss of melatonin

8. Consequent sleep disruption

9. Therapeutic effects


There are also other possible effects:

• Various effects on brain function (these are diverse and the literature has not focused on a few specific effects).

• Effects on the electrical control in the heart including tachycardia (rapid heartbeat) and arrhythmia which may lead to sudden cardiac death.

In multiple studies each of these responses is reported to have been produced by microwave radiation exposures. There is no question that the evidence is substantial.

None of the above can be explained by heating. On the contrary, they can all be explained by VGCC (voltage-gated calcium channels) activation and its downstream effects, without any relation to heating.



A number of researchers have argued for autism being caused by EMFs.

We know it is true that EMF exposure can lead to hyperactivity of the main L-type VGCC in the brain, Cav1.2. A rare mutation in that gene that makes the channel hyperactive causes Timothy syndrome and the main symptoms of Timothy Syndrome are autism (the whole autism spectrum) and cardiac changes such as tachycardia, arrhythmia, and sudden cardiac death. Most Timothy syndrome patients die at a very young age of sudden cardiac death.

A derivative of the Timothy syndrome mutation also causes transgenic mice to exhibit “markedly restricted, repetitive, and perseverative behaviour, altered social behaviour, altered ultrasonic vocalization, and enhanced tone-cued and contextual memory following fear conditioning.”

These are all very serious health issues which could not possibly occur if the current EMF safety standards were correct.

In conclusion, the heating/thermal paradigm should be replaced by VGCC activation. Also, the now-discredited heating/thermal standards can no longer be used for evaluating how consumer electronic devices affect human health. While attempting to develop safer microwave devices, there are particular products that should either be abolished or drastically changed. In my judgment, these include Wi-Fi fields in schools, the so called “smart meters,” and baby monitors as they are currently designed.

Further information:


Martin Pall, Ph.D

Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry and Basic Medical Sciences, Washington State University. Ph.D in Biochemistry and Genetics from California Institute of Technology. BA degree in Physics from Johns Hopkins University. Seven international honours for work in environmental medicine and on the impact of chemical exposures on human health. Published study on the effects of EMFs via activation of voltage-gated calcium channels was honoured by Global Medical Discovery as one of the top medical publications of 2013. Invited as speaker for nine professional seminars about this study.


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