Is EMF Radiation the Cigarette of the 21st Century?

BARCELONA, Spain — In arguing for widespread adoption of its new My Wi-Guard technology to protect mobile phone users from the dangers of electro-magnetic field (EMF) radiation, James Lawler, CEO of EMX Corp. and Exradia Ltd. told the 3GSM World Congress that 40 percent of consumers believe this form of radiation might compromise their health.

Lawler acknowledged that research on the effects of EMF radiation remains controversial, but cited a series of warnings from scientific groups that ignoring the proven physiological alterations caused by EMF could harm consumers and cripple the electronics industry. EMF, he said, "could be the cigarette of the 21st century."

Exradia's technology, confirmed as effective in neutralizing EMF radiation by some 30 peer-reviewed studies in the United States and Europe, responds to the fact that pulsed electromagnetic energy generated by electronic devices causes stress to the human body. Medical research has indicated that pulsed EMF radiation increases breaks in DNA sequences and inhibits the body's ability to repair those breaks—although there is disagreement over whether such DNA breaks represent a genuine long-term danger.

Exradia's My Wi-Guard, which is already offered as an option in Nokia's 6230i handset, essentially jams the pulsed EMF signals at the sources, overlaying them with the harmless random electromagnetic "noise" that occurs in nature.

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Questioned about the necessity of adding another chip and more cost to handsets, Lawler said that taking the precaution, to "protect people" is worth the extra cost and effort, especially if it prevents the sort of liability catastrophe that the construction industry suffered over asbestos. "I think the evidence is there. I think some people in the industry have an ostrich strategy," he said. "This is one of the learning points we should learn from other industries. Why wait?"

In promoting the inclusion of My Wi-Guard in devices that range from mobile phones to PC's, Wi-Fi laptops and Bluetooth headsets, Lawler conjured the image of "data clouds" of "eSmog" hanging over offices and retail business. He cited the Great Smog in London, of 1952, in which 12,000 people died of respiratory failure and resulted in the U.K. government's passage of a Clean Air Act of 1956.

He quoted a World Health Organization report issued last year that read, in part, "Electromagnetic fields of all frequencies represent one of the most common and fastest growing environmental influences, about which anxiety and speculation are spreading."

Perhaps most chillingly, Lawler cited a 2006 U.S. study, by the Cleveland Clinic that recorded a 25 percent reduction in sperm count among men who used a mobile phone for more than four hours a day. "The men with highest usage," noted the study, "had a 50 percent drop in the number of properly formed sperm."

Lawler also quoted legal experts who warned that, without taking some action, industries whose products generate EMF radiation could face "a potential liability disaster."

Perhaps Lawler's strongest point, however, was consumer anxiety. With 40 percent of possible cell phone users concerned about the health effects of EMF radiation on themselves and their children, the industry should step forward to eliminate these concerns. A technology that scrambles EMF pulses is "the digital seatbelt and the digital airbag of the 21st century," said Lawler.

Lawler said that My Wi-Guard can be built into a handset, as it is in the Nokia 6230i, or installed as a chip in a battery, "for an incremental cost increase equal to the price of a pack of cigarettes." A My Wi-Guard-equipped battery prices out, he said at 34.99 British pounds (about $68).

He added that Exradia has also developed another product called Wi-Space, a "coil" that can be installed above the ceiling or beneath the floor to dispels the entire EMF "data cloud" in an electronics-intensive workspace. For about 2,500 square feet of space, said Paul Yates, Exradia director of corporate solutions, Wi-Space would cost about 5,000 pounds ($9,735).